A Headteacher’s Wonderings; Two Years in! by @susanwalter99

Living History

No one knows what the future holds, and I am certainly no different. What I do know though is that kids generally act upon what we do rather than what we say, and that it’s a far better learning experience for them if we are seen to be adjusting plans to take advantage of opportunities when the future becomes the present, than getting caught up in the disruption and drama of just reacting to the unexpected. I’m therefore confident that our next four year school development plan, which we have just finished writing, not only gives us clarity and direction at this point in time, but also sets us all up to take advantage of the exciting opportunities that no doubt will come as we execute it.

We hear so often that ‘change is the only constant’ but I worry that perhaps we have almost stopped thinking about what this means, and I think that is dangerous. DBIS is not only a rapidly expanding school community, with over 1,100 students, and a newly opened sixth form and senior school in the North Plaza, but it’s also part of the growing, wider Discovery Bay, Hong Kong, South-East Asia and arguably most exciting of all, Chinese communities. We know this, as we already know that there are two de-facto world languages, English and Mandarin, so it is no surprise that all our students get to learn both. But we need to remain flexible and open to change, and new ideas that perhaps are not yet obvious, if we are to continue to ensure that our students get the best opportunity to be ready for their futures.

Our school on Lantau Island screams connectivity, commerce and opportunity due to its central position in Chinese President Xi Jinping’s plan to bring together the key cities in the Pearl Delta into one high tech Greater Bay Area, modelled on San Francisco and Silicon Valley. One of the world’s busiest airports is just a 30 minute bus ride away, 190 of our DBIS families have one or more pilots as parents; the new $15 billion, 55 kilometer Y shaped road bridge to the island of Macau and Zhuhai, in mainland China, is just about to open; the terminal for the imminent $11 billion Express Rail Link connecting Hong Kong into China’s high speed rail network is 45 minutes away. All of this connectivity will put our school at the gateway to an economy which John Follain, quoting HSBC Holdings Plc. in Bloomberg, says “(will) eclipse Japan as the world’s fourth largest exporter”.

I know I said I can’t tell the future but I do understand numbers, so even I can see that these kind of developments mean we will need to flex our plan in order to take full advantage of these, and other opportunities that change like this will bring for our students over the next four years. It really is exciting times.

My Advice to all New Farmers Teachers

So, back to the glass of wine in my hand at the new staff welcome evening, and the realisation that I can say that I really have come to know and understand my school and its culture. I can now see where I have been able to exert some positive impact on it too; from results in the school survey, the numbers of students wanting to stay on for secondary school, improving staff retention, further developed connections with other schools across Hong Kong and increased parental engagement in school improvement. And perhaps, most importantly, I am starting to see more round pegs in round holes, and that makes for a much more efficient, and happier school community. I remain excited about all we can go on to achieve. Two years in and I am proud to say I am part of a school culture that is learning focused and supportive, positive, adaptable and inclusive, and long may it stay that way.

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About Susan Walter 7 Articles
I believe passionately in education; making learning relevant, challenging and exciting for all learners, and in many ways follow the mantra of Dr. Seuss’s Cat In The Hat: “It’s fun to have fun but you’ve got to know how!”

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