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Our Teachers’ Hidden Talents! - 2nd Edition

Did you know my math teacher is also a chartered mathematician?

Interview between Eva-Sofia Meindl (Communications Prefect on Student Leadership Team) and Malcolm Williams (Head of Mathematics AND Chartered Mathematician). Mr Williams has been leading the Mathematics department at StGIS since 2016.

Have you heard the joke about the math teacher? Why should you worry about the math teacher holding graph paper? He is definitely plotting something.

This is definitely true for Mr Williams! There is always something exciting in his department; inspiring speakers, mathematics field trips, special mathematics evenings, or mathematics competitions; there is always a new challenge and plenty of support! His passion for education is recognised by his students and colleagues. 

Interviewer: You recently became part of the Chartered Mathematicians. What did getting this qualification entail?
Mr Williams: There are four aspects to it. Firstly, you need to know how children learn. I’ve spent my career working on that. Of course I’ve done teacher training, and how people learn is a big part of that; we’re thinking and discussing it all the time, so I felt qualified for that part. The second part was mathematics. I have a degree in that and I’ve been doing it all through my career, so I felt confident about that aspect. The third part is about experience. I’ve taught in three different schools in the UK before coming to StGIS and I’ve met lots of different students with different learning needs. And the last aspect, CPD, Continuing Professional Development, that’s something I’ve been doing as well. For example, I did a course called Thinking Mathematically with the Open University. I think as teachers we have to carry on learning because there’s always a subject we might not have seen before or an area we could improve on. So, having been confident that I met the requirements, I had to fill out a detailed application and write quite a lot about each aspect, detailing what experiences I have had and how I felt I met the criteria. I also needed two references before I received my certificate. What a ‘chartered mathematician’ really means is that you don’t just have the academic qualifications, but that you also have the experience and you continue to learn about teaching mathematics.

Interviewer: What is the process of continuing to learn and ‘keeping up’ with your subject as a maths teacher like?
Mr Williams: What’s different about maths is that we study things that have been discovered many, many years ago and of course the field is moving on but it’s way too complicated for anything we teach at school. The same ideas and concepts continue to lie at the heart of teaching mathematics, but what does change are the different methods of teaching it. New resources become available all the time. Kognity, for example, which we have chosen to use. You need to wrap your head around everything that’s available, which takes time. Another aspect is that syllabuses change; from September, there will be a whole new IB Mathematics curriculum. That’s something else that’s a part of professional learning since all of us will have to understand the new material thoroughly before teaching it.

Interviewer: How do you manage to balance personal learning alongside work?
Mr Williams: You need to take a short-term view and a long-term view. Some tasks are more urgent; I know I have to mark some things or prepare lessons this week. And then you need to leave some time for more long-term, less urgent but also important tasks. What we do in Maths is we have a department meeting every week. We try not to spend all that time on administration but instead use that time for long time planning and professional learning. Otherwise, everything would get on top of us.

Interviewer: What is your favourite thing about your subject?
Mr Williams: I think it’s really lovely when I come across something I hadn’t really thought about before. Or sometimes a student comes up with a way to solve a problem that perhaps isn’t the standard way or how I would have done it. Something else that’s really lovely is what we call ‘magic moments’, which is when someone works on a problem they really don’t understand and all of a sudden they say: ‘Oh, I get it now!’ That’s something you don’t have so much in other subjects.

Interviewer: What is the worst thing?
Mr Williams: I think the worst thing about teaching math is when people say: ‘Maths is really hard.’ Especially when parents say: ‘I was really bad at maths at school’, which doesn’t really fill their children with confidence. I believe it’s not harder than any other subject. How well a student does depends on their motivation.

Interviewer: Sometimes students are frustrated because they feel like there’s no real-life application for the things they are taught in maths. How do you respond to that?
Mr Williams: There is a sense in which maths is the most abstract of all the sciences. What we try to do is to give maths a context and to show how it can be applied to different situations. Sometimes they can be a bit contrived because really, the situations where you need to apply the kind of math we teach, students haven’t met yet. Giving mathematics a context that everyone can relate to is another challenge of teaching maths.

With gratitude to our talented Mr Williams! 

Class of 2017-2018 IBDP Results

The IBDP results are one measure of excellence and just one small (but important) story our students will tell as they continue another step along their path of excellence and onward with a lifelong love of learning.

We are extremely proud of all of our StGIS Graduates from the class of 2018. In addition to a full life at StGIS, packed with challenge, creativity, adventure, culture and fun, they have also completed one of the most rigorous and demanding educational programmes in existence: the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP).

The IBDP results are one measure of excellence and just one small (but important) story our students will tell as they continue another step along their path of excellence and onward with a lifelong love of learning.  

We are pleased to share with you the following wonderful news.

  • Of more than 150,000 IB graduates from around the world, 10 Diplomas, and 14 Bilingual Diplomas came from StGIS (pass rate significantly higher than the IB World Average at 96% and our highest in the past four years)
  • Our students achieved an average point score of 32 (higher than the IB world average)
  • 7 of our students earned an IBDP point score of 35 or higher out of a possible 45 (placing them in the top 25% of all graduates world wide) 
  • 2 of our students earned an IBDP point score of 40 or higher out of a possible 45 (placing them in the top 6% of all graduates world wide)
  • Our students secured places in some of the best universities in the world. Some of these include; University College London, UK; King’s College London, UK; Cenral Saint Martins, UK; IE University Madrid, Spain; Medical University of Vienna, Austria;

Statistics based on the ”IB Diploma Programme Statistical Bulletin: May 2017 Examination Session”

While there are many wonderful individual efforts in the IBDP, we would like to take this opportunity to recognise the family effort required for students to achieve their goals. Everyone, including parents, teachers, administrative support teams, maintenance crews, boarding teams, housekeeping staff, and technical support, plays a critical role in helping our students achieve their best. This is the StGIS way.

Finally, a challenge for our graduates: we are proud of you all for what you have achieved here at StGIS, for how you have grown, and for the young men and women you are today. You leave with an IBDP ranking number, but you must never forget that you are more than this number. What you have achieved today is only a fraction of your remaining potential to achieve excellence in the next eighty years of your lives. Today you have taken one step in a thousand-step journey, what lies ahead is up to you. Be curious, be courageous, be brave, be caring, work hard, be just and honourable and stay in touch. You always have a home at StGIS.

STGIS INSPIRING PEOPLE – VOLUME 10 / ANITA GERHARDTER

Wings for Life CEO Anita Gerhardter visits St. Gilgen.

St. Gilgen International School is organising a virtual Wings for Life World Run on the Wolfgangsee.

Anita Gerhardter, director of the Wings for Life foundation, was the most recent visitor to St. Gilgen as part of the St. Gilgen International School “Inspiring People” lecture series. She gave a presentation to the students on her work with spinal cord research.  

Wings for Life is a long-standing passion for Anita Gerhardter, who coordinates activities, initiates various projects and manages many partnerships. Always at the forefront of her mind is the organisation surrounding the next Wings for Life World Run.  

Miss Gerhardter, who is delighted by the overwhelming interest in this unusual running event, explained “On the 6th May at 13:00 (CET) the start gun will be fired to signify the synchronised start for thousands of runners worldwide, taking part in this year’s Wings for Life World Run. The number of participants is so large for some running events, in Vienna for example, that there are no longer any competitor start numbers available. As an alternative, there is the option to take part in the world run using a smartphone app.” St. Gilgen International School is one of 150 worldwide organisations hosting a so-called “App-Run.”   Anita Gerhardter was delighted to receive a donation in the sum of 1000 Euros from the students of the private school; revenue created from last year’s charity run.

STGIS INSPIRING PEOPLE – VOLUME 9 / LOUIS LEWITAN

Louis Lewitan, author of the book “Stressless”, gives tips to overcome stressful situations

With the new year in full swing, the “Inspiring People” lecture series is back at St. Gilgen International School

Reflections on StGIS Inspiring People Volume 9 - Louis Lewitan

Stress is important and signifies vitality, Louis Lewitan, the French-German Stress Expert, psychologist and Management Advisor explained during his visit to St. Gilgen International School.  During special workshops, the psychologist inspired students with ways in which they can convert stressful situations into positive energy.

“There is no such thing as a life without stress. Whether you are a student, teacher, professional athlete or top manager – no one can escape stress.” Mr. Lewitan, who was born in Lyon but resides in Munich, has a long-standing career as a consultant and counsellor, working with influential managers from various sectors. “It is important to recognise how stressful situations influence us, and what we can do to positively channel negative energy. A person who is unaffected by stress, is by definition dead.”

Stress is not an illness and also not a sign of weakness.
Mr. Lewitan, who regularly interviews prominent politicians, entrepreneurs and artists for the renowned “Zeit Magazin”, views stress as a normal reaction to the many challenges of daily life. In fact, positive stress can be useful and inspiring. “Stress itself is not the problem. Stress is not an illness and also not a sign of weakness. It comes down to interpretation, but above all, the possible ways in which we can cope and whether the stress is perceived as positive or negative”, the trained psychologist revealed. 

The Author of “Stressless” gave the following advice when it comes to managing stress in a positive way: “it is important to differentiate between what is essential and non-essential, and to prioritise things; to challenge oneself, but not to constantly push oneself beyond his or her own limit. The following can help accomplish positive stress management; self-composure, respecting oneself and environment, as well as the people around us.”  Louis Lewitan’s final advice to the students was to “occasionally switch their mobile phones to silent or place them on the side for an hour.”