In this week’s Teacher Feature, we focus the spotlight on Ms Polly Tušar, our brilliant Science and Chemistry Teacher, who never misses an opportunity to ignite our students’ curiosity with great enthusiasm and determination.

Completing her degree in the UK, Ms Tušar was excited to be able to return home to beautiful Slovenia and continue teaching in such a diverse international environment, joining BISL in 2019. Her fervent passion for Chemistry is evident in all her lessons and our students relish the opportunity to deepen their understanding of the sciences through her hands-on approach, conducting many exciting practical experiments together in class. Ms Tušar also takes the opportunity to share her love of Chemistry with staff and students across the school, often found promoting the subject and conducting fun experiments during break and lunchtimes. Not only does she support our students academically, Ms Tušar also takes an active role in the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award (MEPI) here at BISL, guiding our students through this programme with the added benefit of personal experience, having completed the MEPI programme herself back in the day.

How did your journey as a teacher begin?

From a young age, I always enjoyed helping my classmates when they didn't understand something. I wanted to do what the teachers were doing, and I was eager to take on leadership roles. I also remember trying to convince my teachers to let me help them mark the tests, as I thought that was super fun. Therefore, growing up, everyone used to tell me I will be a teacher one day. In my teenage years, I moved away from that idea for a short period of time as I didn't want others to tell me what to do, insisting on the idea of becoming an architect. While studying Chemistry, I also considered working in a laboratory, but teaching seemed so much more engaging, challenging, and ever-changing, I couldn’t resist. Plus, I wanted to keep experiencing that incredible moment when someone you are explaining something to, gets it.

Why did you decide to specialise in Science and Chemistry?

I think there are two main reasons for this. Firstly, science fascinates me. It helps us describe and understand phenomena around us, and it makes us think about the things that we do but never really think about. For example - how can I be typing right now? How many chemical reactions must be happening in my body at this exact moment so that I am able to type, think about what I want to write, and see the screen all at the same time? Fascinating!

The second reason for specialising in this field is the fact that I always had brilliant Chemistry and Biology teachers. They made their subjects so interesting and engaging that it kept me hooked and I couldn't stop asking questions, always wanting to learn more. As I specialised further, I chose the world of Chemistry because I liked how concise it was.

What makes BISL such a unique place to work?

I would say that the students and staff make BISL unique. Students because they are so eager to learn and are willing to be engaged and challenged in their learning; and staff because they have a such a passion for education. They are committed to help, encourage, and support students, as well as each other. Being a relatively small school, BISL is also unique in allowing for deeper and stronger relationships to be built compared to my previous experiences, which I very much enjoy.

How would you describe a typical day at BISL?

My typical day would start with me driving to school while listening to the morning news and two uplifting songs on the radio. I like to arrive at school a little early, drink my morning coffee in peace while catching up with my emails and getting ready for the day ahead. Next, I go to our Form room, to welcome our Year 8s. This is an important part of the day, we go through any important notices for the day with the class, followed by some fun activities - engaging in a debate, working on a class project, playing a game, quiz or doing some seasonal crafts. As I teach across the Secondary school, my days are pretty varied, and there is rarely a day without some kind of practical work or demonstration with at least one of the year groups to enhance their learning, so our lab technician is always busy with me too.

Why is the experience of an international education important for a student?

I believe an international education makes students more open-minded. Engaging with peers from different cultures and just spending time with each other broadens their horizons. They can learn so much from each other as they all bring different experiences and prior knowledge to the table. This gives them a real advantage in our increasingly globalised world. Moreover, I believe an international education makes students more resilient. They often have to learn in a foreign language and challenge themselves to build new relationships due to the transient nature of international schools. It is a unique experience and one that I am proud to be a part of.

Despite the recent transition to online learning, Ms Tušar makes sure her students continue developing their practical skills at home too, planning some amazing demonstrations through Zoom to enhance their learning.

More from our Teacher Feature series