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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! 

StGIS INSPIRING PEOPLE – VOLUME 8 / FLORIAN ORLEY

Snowboarder, Flo Orley, visited St Gilgen International School to give a presentation on extreme sports and risk management.

Reflections on StGIS Inspiring People Volume 8 - Florian Orley

The staff and students of St Gilgen International School were delighted to welcome Flo Orley, Freeride-Snowboarder and extreme athlete, to their school. The former World Champion, who recently retired from professional riding after a hugely successful career, visited St Gilgen’s renowned private school to speak about his passion of extreme sports and risk management. The multi time World Champion and twice Vice-World Champion, who was born in Tirol, gave an interesting insight into his 17-year career as an extreme rider, as well as his film projects undertaken worldwide and not to mention his daredevil stunts as a stuntman for Hollywood productions. Most important to Flo was always passion for sport and calculated risk management. “Being ready for anything at any time” was, by his own definition, his key to such success.

In January 2018, the 42-year-old from Innsbruck will embark on a new project; travelling around the world in a Catamaran. Flo, his wife Nina and their two children Keano (6) and Momo (5), who normally spend their summers in St Wolfgang, on Lake Wolfgang, will start their world adventure, setting sail for the Caribbean on their recently purchased Catamaran. Within two years, the family wish to visit the Galapagos Islands, having previously navigated the Panama Canal. The couple have purchased school text books and learning materials for the first two years of primary school in order to educate their child whilst travelling. Once the family begin their journey in January, they will document their adventure in the form of a blog, which can be found under the following link: www.sailawayfamily.com

STGIS INSPIRING PEOPLE – VOLUME 6 / LAURA CHAPLIN

Laughter-Expert and book author, Laura Chaplin, impressed the students in St Gilgen with facts such as: Children laugh more than 300 times daily, adults as little as 15 times per day.

Reflections on StGIS Inspiring People Volume 6 - Laura Chaplin

The staff and students of St Gilgen International School enjoyed a lecture of a very different kind with this guest speaker. The granddaughter of Charlie Chaplin and laughter-expert Laura Chaplin spoke about the benefits of laughter and the relationship between health and humour. “Making other people laugh and laughing yourself, makes you happy,” this is the motto by which the 30-year-old lives because: “A day without laughter is a day wasted.” The laughter guidebook, with the title “Laughter is the First Step Towards Happiness” highlights many health benefits of happy people. “Laughter makes people attractive and gives positives energy. It boosts the immune system, reduces blood pressure and alleviates tension, stress, anger and anxiety.” Studies show that adults laugh around 15 times a day, in comparison to babies, who laugh up to 500 times and children who laugh more than 300 times daily.

Petition: To make laughter a fundamental right for all.

In the lecture at St Gilgen International School, the laughter-expert who resides in Geneva spoke about her famous grandfather and delighted students with laughing exercises. Laura believes that she laughs around 100 times a day and gave the students advice on enhancing their wellbeing: “try on your way to school, in the bus, during break time or in front of a mirror to be cheerful and to laugh. Being cheerful increases creativity in all aspects of life.”

Laura challenges the UN-Secretary-General to accept her petition to make laughter a fundamental right for all, so that it can be filed with the United Nations.

Further information can be found under the following link: www.charliesmile.org

Laura Chaplin lists five reasons for laughing daily:
1. Laughter burns calories! 10 to 15 minutes of laughter burns roughly 50 calories. 2. Endorphins are released when you laugh, which strengthens the immune system and helps to protect against flu and colds. 3. Studies show that laughing for 20 to 30 minutes daily lowers blood pressure in adults. 4. Laughing for 1 minute can increase your life expectancy by 20 minutes. 5. Laughter is a free face lift!

Class of 2016-2017 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 2016-2017. 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, 12 Diplomas, 15 Bilingual Diplomas and 2 Course Awards came from StGIS (pass rate higher than the IB World Average)
  • Our students achieved an average point score of 33.5 (higher than the IB world average and higher than our 2015-2016 academic year)
  • 11 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)
  • 4 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)
  • 1 of our students earned an IBDP point score of 44 out of a possible 45 (placing her in the top 1% of all graduates world wide)
  • Our students secured places in some of the best universities in the world. Some of these include; Harvard University, USA; University of Edinburgh; Institute of Design, Turin, Italy; Durham University, UK; Paris College of Art; United International Business Schools, Madrid)

Statistics based on the ”IB Diploma Programme Statistical Bulletin: May 2016 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.