How Faculty at International Schools Help Make School Feel Like Home

An IST engaging with her students in class

Faculty, especially the teaching staff, are essential in making a new school - especially after such a big move - feel like a home away from home. Teachers are the ones who inspire a love for learning in your children and help them become curious inquirers. 

Teachers should

  • Have a presence in both the classroom and extra-curricular activities
  • Bring inquiry into the class in authentic, meaningful ways
  • Inspire and challenge students to achieve depth in their understanding of major concepts
  • Create a welcoming atmosphere at the school

Teachers at the International School of Tanganyika (IST) go above and beyond to make sure their students feel at home both at the school and in the classroom. 

Evelise Togi Vaoga has been a teacher of Grades 8, 9 and 12 for the past three years at IST. Over the three years, and the many years teaching all over the world before that, she has honed some exceptional techniques when it comes to the classroom. 

“[I make sure] not to waste students’ time or undervalue what they already know, no student comes to us knowing nothing,” Vaoga said. “They have their own bag of knowledge, just maybe in a different language, with different experiences.”

These differentiations are something she capitalizes on when teaching. 

“We start the class with reflection on a big idea that they can all have a say in,” Vaoga said, adding that she loves how each opinion is vastly different from one another because all the students bring different lived experiences. “Then I introduce the point of the lesson.”

Another exceptional teacher at IST, Deanna Milne, understands that the move can be intimidating at first, but the school does an excellent job of making it feel like home.

Originally from Ontario, Canada, this was her first job in the country.

“IST did a great deal to make the transition to Tanzania one that felt like I was supported and welcome,” Milne said, referencing the time the school took new staff on a safari.

“[It] showed me that they care about showing new staff what an amazing country this is, and it gave us a chance to get to know each other away from work and share an amazing experience together that many people dream about.”

With regards to students making the initial transition, the faculty and the school, in general, have specific ways of helping to make it easier.

“As teachers, we focus on making sure they settle into their classes with as little stress as possible,” Milne said. “Some new students come from schools that offer a different curriculum than we do, which means making sure students feel comfortable and understand how they will be learning here at IST.”

Milne also referenced IST’s counseling department and how they make a point of checking in with the new students to see how they are settling in. 

Aside from the faculty and the programmes at IST, Milne expressed how students make their peers feel comfortable and welcomed. 

“International school kids are the most welcoming kids I've ever met. Finding out a new kid is coming to school is comparable to Christmas morning - they can't wait to meet them, find out where they're from, their interests, etc.,” Milne said. “Our students at this school are by far the leaders in making new students feel at home.”

Both Milne and Voaga agree that the students and the faculty work together to promote a welcoming atmosphere. 

“We are all in the journey of learning together,” Vaoga said.

Want to find out more on what the ideal school should contain? Click here to read our new eBook to find out this and so much more!

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