Voices (ISL Stories)

Meet Stuart

Learn more about Stuart, Lower School Teacher at ISL

Please introduce yourself briefly
My name is Stuart May and I teach Grade 2. I am from London and have been living in Luxembourg with my wife and daughter since the summer of 2012. 

Tell us about your role at ISL
I am a Grade 2 teacher. I currently teach a class of 16 students aged 7-8.

How long have you been working at ISL?
This is my eighth year here.

What did you do prior to working at ISL?
Before working here, I taught in Primary Schools in inner London and was a Deputy Head of a Girls School in North London. Before that, I taught English to children and adults at language schools and prior to that, I had a brief and unspectacular period as a football reporter.

What does your typical day look like?
I usually  arrive at about 7:45 and go up to my classroom to answer emails, sort out my lessons for the day and catch up with everyone else on the Grade. There’s always someone around to talk to before school and quite often there is something to discuss about the day ahead or plans for the next few days. Once I’ve put the kettle on and had a cup of tea, the day can really get going and once the kids come in at 8:25, it’s the usual mix of questions, lunch orders, missing library books, birthdays and news about brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, Grandparents, cats, dogs and other pets. I always think it’s important for the kids to start the day in a calm, settled manner, so we’ll go through the lessons for the day, talk about anything which might be happening and at what time and then make a start on the teaching. At morning break-time, it’s good to find someone to talk to and just relax for a few minutes, talking about whatever comes to mind and what plans people might have for the next weekend or holiday.

The days seem to go quickly here and although the students do have a variety of lessons with other teachers, there is always something to do, whether it’s preparing something for later in the day, meeting with colleagues, planning activities for a unit of work or thinking about resources we might need further up the line. At lunchtime, after I’ve looked at the football news and checked the cricket scores, I like to find someone to eat with, whether it’s Melissa next door to me or the Pre-School team, it’s good to have a laugh and just relax for an hour, sharing news or stories or whatever seems to raise a smile. In the afternoons, it can be a variety of lessons, and with Grade 2, you need to be thinking about how to keep them engaged and interested at times when they might be running out of energy. At the end of the day, I’ll take the kids down to meet their parents or to their club and then head back to my classroom to think about what I need for the following morning.

What do you love most about your work?
Coming in every day knowing that something is going to make me smile or that somebody no matter what age they are, is going to do something or say something which puts somebody else in a good mood.

What do you think is unique about ISL?
I think we do a very good job at making students feel valued and included in the things which we do. There is a special atmosphere in international schools and ISL in particular has its own unique feel. I think we have a special bond between the students and the teachers and that there is a genuine warmth between them, a feeling of trust and security on both sides. What I feel makes ISL unique, is its staff, students and community. There isn’t the sense of distance or coldness that can exist in some places, we do a very good job of looking after each other, caring for one another and allowing individuals to feel that they can be challenged and supported, free to explore and discover but secure in the knowledge that there will always be someone there to help and guide whenever needed. 

On a daily basis, how do you contribute to making ISL the school of choice?
I try to make sure that all children feel valued, happy, included and able to be themselves. I also try to build good links between school and home, engaging parents in their child’s learning and helping them to feel part of the ISL community.

Describe how ISL goes above and beyond in teaching and learning?
The school does a great job of looking after students and caring for their academic and social needs. The staff really care about the students they teach and always have their interests at heart. Student learning and growth always seem to drive our conversations and so much thought and time is put into providing ways to engage learners, find areas of exploration for them, open new pathways for their interests and  nurture their curiosity and areas of interest.  

What are the most important skills a student should acquire today?
To be resilient and responsible, kind, inquisitive and inclusive, diplomatic and gentle, to know when to listen and when to speak, to be informed and mindful, respectful of opinions but not afraid to challenge them.

How did you define the success of a student?
For me, success is when the environment is in place to make students feel confident and supported, happy to come to school every day and free to be themselves.

What is your best memory at ISL?
It’s either every minute of the four years I spent working next door to Mrs. Jaeger in Grade 4 or any time I’ve been in Pre-School.

Describe ISL in 5 words
Kind, caring, inclusive, friendly and thoughtful.



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