Voices (ISL Stories)

Meet Bruce

Learn more about Bruce, Design Technology Teacher in the Upper School

Please introduce yourself briefly.
I am a ‘Third Culture Kid’ and was educated in 4 different countries with many, varied experiences. My favourite quote at the moment is ‘Think outside, no box required’ although I think that my professional version of that might be ‘Think Creatively, only a box required’

Tell us about your role at ISL
I work in the Design Technology department, building a space and course where pupils can learn to apply the design thinking process and create solutions to problems worth solving. I also help the set design student team and as a grade 7 homeroom teacher.

How long have you been working at ISL?
I think that this is my 7th year. Time has flown past so quickly that I could easily have told you that this is my third!

What did you do prior to working at ISL?
I worked an international school in Tokyo where I developed their middle years technology programme (it was an MYP school). Before becoming an international teacher I was a teacher in Britain and before that I worked as a Civil Engineer. 

What does your typical day look like?
That’s a tricky question. I didn’t get in to teaching or come to ISL to have ‘typical days’. Sure I arrive at the same time every morning and leave at about the same time every evening but just about the only other consistent factor in my day is the delicious lunch. I love the fact that every lesson and every class is different.

What do you love most about your work?
In Design Technology there are as many solutions to the problems that we work on as students to answer them. Throughout any project, I get to work with students developing solutions to open ended problems and this means that in any lesson we can be looking at multiple different: processes; tools and methods; ways to troubleshoot; and, of course, solutions.

What do you think is unique about ISL?
ISL is well resourced and continuously looks at how best to support its students. It is good at adopting new ideas and can take some risks where they are in the students’ best interests. Having over 50 different nationalities it is a vibrant learning environment which allows students of all ages to develop an understanding and tolerance of other nationalities.

On a daily basis, how do you contribute to making ISL the school of choice?
I make sure that every lesson is as meaningful and positive an experience for each student as possible. I help student’s ‘future proof’ themselves by getting them to develop their creativity and to work in applying learning and developing understanding. I provide a programme where pupils are required to find real life problems worth solving and then innovate and develop the understanding and skills required to create unique working solutions, I believe that pupils emerge a little more ready to tackle an unknowable future.

Describe how ISL goes above and beyond in teaching and learning?
ISL seems to be very willing to keep an open mind, using and developing what works and always aiming to keep change as a force for good. ISL makes a wide and inclusive range of opportunities available for different learning styles. The drive to a more open style of learning rather than a linear one gives students the opportunity to start to find a place where their passions meet their abilities. This extends beyond the classroom with a wide range of opportunities for all students to pursue what is important to them and to make a difference. 

What are the most important skills a student should acquire today?
Creativity and the ability to innovate; open mindedness or independence of thought; resilience; to have passion for their beliefs.. Creativity is essential to add value in all areas of life, it is a key skill to differentiate yourself and your ideas. Open mindedness allows you to learn from others and build on their successes. Resilience is about dealing not just with the lack of success but also about determinedly developing something that really is optimal and works.   

How did you define the success of a student?
This is probably the hardest question so far, there are so many ways to be successful. For me, an individual’s success can only be measured by that person. We are lucky at ISL to have so many different students with so many opportunities and support to help them achieve individual success. One thing I am always looking for is whether or not a student has (genuinely) done their best. Students who really reach beyond their own perceived boundaries, discover new abilities and emerge from a project or problem better equipped than they went in are successful.  

What is your best memory at ISL?
Here are so many daily experiences that are memorable. Somethings that have really taken root in my mind are: the achievements of the students in the upcycling and set design clubs, particularly seeing the final products; the expedition to Eswatini to work with the local community; dressing as a bearded nun and singing to raise money for charity!

Describe ISL in 5 words
Open, friendly, supportive, challenging, multicultural

Any final thoughts or pieces of advice?
Aim to try everything once, twice if you like it


  • Staff Member