As the summer holiday comes to an end, we begin to plan for the coming school year, getting our children's uniforms and bags ready and preparing them for a new academic schedule.
With this in mind, we asked Shanghai teachers to give their thoughts on how they embrace a new school year: from how to help children transition from lazy summer days to structured school schedules to the moment they know it's going to be a great year with their students.
So, as a new school year begins, let's see what the teachers of Shanghai have to say about embracing the year ahead. This week, we chat with Stewart Paterson, who is currently the CP Coordinator / CP Sports Teacher of Western International School Shanghai.
In August 2017, I moved to Shanghai to become a part of the team at the Western International School of Shanghai (WISS). When I arrived last year, I found myself surrounded by a plethora of new sights, smells, challenges and opportunities. WISS was my first international teaching post and arriving in Shanghai was the first time I had set foot in Asia. As well as the expected culture shock of ransitioning from Scotland to Shanghai, I was also quickly submerged in an entirely different education system. In the initial few weeks, I found myself drowning in acronyms: IB, CP, MYP and PPS to name a few. At the time, I felt that I had lost some of my experience as an educator and had to start afresh with a whole new playbook. Not only was I new to WISS, so was the program that I was delivering; the International Baccalaureate Careerrelated Programme (IBCP).
The IBCP formally launched at WISS in August 2017 with a small cohort of students passionate about either production arts or sports. At the time, those were the only two pathways that WISS offered through the IBCP; fastforward one year, and we have added a third pathway in Art and Design. This exciting opportunity is made available through collaboration with the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), and it is a unique opportunity for students passionate about the Arts, to do university-level courses while still working towards achieving their IBCP Diploma at WISS.
As I settled into Shanghai life, I began to love the quirks of China and more readily accept the cultural differences. This process was expedited significantly by a fantastic week-long Grade 6 trip to Nanbeihu, just three weeks into the school year. As the academic year progressed, the city gave me a feeling of opportunity and helped me stay positive through the trials of launching a new program in a new school. As I reflect upon my first few months in Shanghai, I realize that many features of the IBCP curriculum would have helped me prepare for international teaching. Being taught about international mindedness, cultural awareness and the coping strategies that can help deal with change, were not part of the Scottish curriculum. Thankfully, I am now in a position where I design a curriculum that encompasses all of these aspects while enabling students to explore their passion in production arts, sports or art and design. The challenges I had faced throughout this year have helped me see the value in the IBCP and the opportunities it offers to students.
At the end of my first year in Shanghai, I feel optimistic and excited about the future of the IBCP at WISS; more importantly, I have also managed to learn the meaning of a few of those acronyms along the way. As for Shanghai itself, I still have no idea what is going on, but I certainly enjoy the experience!
[Cover image via WISS; Profile image via Stewart Paterson]
Stewart Paterson is from central Scotland and is currently the CP Coordinator / CP Sports Teacher. He obtained his bachelor's degree in sports studies, professional education and physical education at the University of Stirling. Stewart started coaching sport at the age of 16 and spent many of his summer months during university coaching a variety of sports in New York. Stewart is genuinely passionate about the role that sport can play in life, and he enjoys working with pupils to improve their leadership skills and confidence. Stewart believes he is a good all-rounder and he particularly enjoys football, badminton and volleyball.