WISS Today Article

Living and traveling abroad is life for Brent Jones, Individuals and Societies teacher in Secondary.  The Jones family, Brent, Liz, Charlotte (Grade 4) and Jack (Grade 2) have been part of the WISS community since 2011. 

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1.Tell us a little bit about your background and how you became experienced in your subject area?

 I am originally from New Zealand and grew up with two parents who were teachers so for a long time I always said I would not become a teacher.

That changed as I got older and particularly working at a summer camp in America helped me decide that maybe I should give teaching a chance.

Growing up in New Zealand is a great place to experience the outdoors so I always loved Geography and especially fieldtrips to exciting places around the country. This continued at university where I studied Geography and Geology allowing me further trips which were highly enjoyable. My love of travel has since taken me to many countries around the world allowing me to see and experience a variety of cultures. Teaching wise I have taught several different curriculums from around the world. This has given me a wide range of knowledge and experience of numerous different topics as each one has different content.

2.What are your personal teaching philosophies?

My main philosophy is to try and make the lessons interesting, fun and relevant to the students as they will learn more when they are engaged in the subject. I do this by having a variety of tasks and activities catering for different learning styles with some individual work and some group work. Where possible I link things to China or make use of student’s knowledge and experience from their home countries as one of the big benefits of teaching in an international school like WISS is the diverse experiences and backgrounds of all the students.

3.Why have you chosen to work within the IB curriculum?

 I believe it is a very rigorous and challenging programme that is internationally recognized and growing in numbers around the world as more and more people choose this option. Having taught many other curriculums, I believe it is better and tougher than the NZ and UK programmes. The IB helps students to be more prepared for the future challenges they will face and also more well rounded with the six different subjects along with EE, TOK and CAS.

4.Tell us more about the importance of your subject area for students overall growth and development?

Humanities gives students a wide knowledge and a better understanding of the world and how it operates. This is increasingly important in the global world we live in. We cover history looking at things such as the industrial revolution and past conflicts to understand important human developments, media studies to look at ideas such as reliable sources and fake news, and geography looking at topics ranging from population and globalisation to climate change and hazards.

I am also in charge of CAS for the Diploma Programme and this ensures students become more holistic having involvement in Creativity (arts), Activity (fitness) as well as Service (contributing to society).

5.Tell us what you have enjoyed most working at WISS?

Simple – the people. People make WISS a special place and that is both the staff and the students who are generally very friendly and accepting making it a relaxed, fun and social place to work.

6.What aspect of your class do students seem to enjoy the most?

They enjoy the fun and interesting activities such as scenarios and simulations that we try to include. For example:

Grade 6 students participating in a Roman Empire Risk type game trying to expand their empires.

Grade 7 students becoming CSI experts as they try to solve a murder mystery from the Renaissance period.

Grade 8 students doing cookie mining to simulate some of the impacts of coal mining during the Age of Industry.

Grade 9 students using their mapping skills to help them navigate around the school campus.

Also interactive class quizzes using either Kahoot or Plickr or possibly me demonstrating my  juggling skills!

7.Any exciting projects for the WISS community to look forward to?

I am hoping to take the Grade 7s to visit the Zotter chocolate factory as part of our current Globalisation unit.

I am also looking to set up and run an event called “The Great Urban Race” giving the students in Grade 9 a chance to get out and explore Shanghai using their knowledge to gather information on various Humanities topics.

The Humanities staff were all set to compete in the “Tough Mudder” event in May but unfortunately this has just been postponed for a second time until October.

On a personal level I am training hard for the upcoming triathlon season where I will be competing in a half ironman event in April in Qiandao lake, along with several other shorter triathlons over the following months.