Ticking all the boxes
The Hong Kong International School (HKIS) has already started its drive to recruit 20 new teachers for the next academic year starting in September 2013.
The school is increasingly hiring locally recruited teachers. Last year, local recruits made up 20 per cent of new hires, compared with a school average of 12 per cent. International school experience, however, is still preferred, says Joy Okazaki, HKIS director of human resources.
Positions are open at every teaching level in subjects such as social studies, maths, Chinese, art and science. Applicants should have a bachelor’s or master’s degree, teaching qualifications, and at least two years of work experience.
Equally important is a teacher’s attitude. “At both primary and secondary levels, teachers need to have excellent communication and diplomacy skills to be successful at our school,” Okazaki says.
“As we are an international school with students of over 40 nationalities, employees need to be able to work in and respectfully engage with a culturally and religiously diverse environment.”
The school is looking for professionals with high standards and a strong motivation to serve and engage children. “Our faculty is made up of collaborative individuals who are global-minded and understand, respect and appreciate diversity,” Okazaki says.
New hires are welcomed to the school with a week-long orientation, which introduces them to the mission, philosophy, culture, programmes and strategic initiatives of HKIS.
They are also provided with useful information on areas such as the local health service and Hong Kong’s tax system.
“In addition, when new faculty members arrive, we hire a relocation consultant to assist with the practical aspects of settling into Hong Kong, such as obtaining an ID card, setting up a bank account, and [getting to know] the public transportation system,” Okazaki says.
The school’s 250 teachers, together with another 250 staff in various functions, take care of about 2,600 students.
Classes are small, with lower-primary classes consisting of up to 18 students and higher-level classes averaging 22 students.
A student-services team comprising specialists in counselling and guidance, special learning needs, language acquisition, and enrichment is on hand to work with teachers and students to facilitate classroom learning and offer support in difficult situations.
Applicants should be passionate about life-long learning to enjoy and appreciate the opportunities offered by HKIS for professional development.
“Our school emphasises the importance of professional development to keep faculty members equipped with the latest developments and best practices in areas such as curriculum and assessment,” Okazaki says.
Teachers have eight full work days set aside each year for professional development, while the school provides professional development opportunities both in-house and through workshops and conferences.
HKIS’s Learning Academy also provides a China speaker series, which introduces staff to different aspects of China.
Three years ago, HKIS was one of the first international schools to embark on an integrated performance pay system. Known as “Career Structure”, the system focuses on teachers’ knowledge and performance and includes professional development, career planning and compensation.
“Knowledge and skills-based compensation specifies the knowledge and skills that are believed to contribute most to teacher effectiveness. It then aligns both professional development and compensation with identified knowledge and skills such as instructional strategies, assessment, knowledge of content and pedagogy,” Okazaki says.
The school believes this system is attractive for high performers, as it is not based on years of service but level of performance.
The system has a three-year cycle. In the profile year, observations are conducted a minimum of 14 times, with verbal and written feedback offered to the teacher by their supervisor and another administrator. In the following two years the teacher engages in self-directed study and professional development based on the feedback.
This allows a well-performing new hire to move to the top of the salary scale in the second year of their employment based on their performance – something that would not have been possible under the old “step system”.