By Jacob Martin, Director of Teaching and Learning

Having the very best quality of teachers at ISZL is an essential requirement for a leading international school. The continuing development of our teachers is a priority and we provide many opportunities for development to teachers individually and also develop partnerships as an institution to help enhance this further.

At ISZL, teachers are involved in ongoing, collaborative professional development (PD) through their professional learning communities (PLCs) in school. These are collaborative research groups teacher are all engaged with. Here they can research areas of pedagogy they are interested in.
In addition to this, teachers require Professional Development to offer our programmes, this is provided by the International Baccalaureate, the College Board and the Regio Emilia organisation. We commit as an institution to providing this training to all teachers to meet curricular, divisional or whole school needs.

As a supplement to programme driven PD, we also provide PD that supports teachers' participation in their PLC or supports self-identified goals aligned with the school's mission. 

Our beliefs about professional development; we believe:

  • We are a learning institution that supports the growth of all members of our community.
  • We have a fiduciary responsibility to our community to maximise the utility of the funds in our care. 
  • The allocation of resources for professional development should be transparent, equitable and aligned with the school's mission. 
  • Professional development comes in many forms and is not limited to attendance at external workshops or conferences. 
  • The allocation of resources seeks to find a balance between supporting divisional and curricular priorities, and the personal growth of individuals in our community. 

We identify four broad types of professional development: 

  • Teachers with a shared goal spending time together; this includes professional learning communities (PLCs), collaborative planning meetings and In-Service Days.
  • Time for teachers where experts or consultants are brought into the school to facilitate professional development; this includes IB Workshops on campus, some aspects of In-Service days, subject or grade-level specific workshops. 
  • Required PD, where PD is linked to a programme we offer at the school or a professional development need which has been identified by leadership for a teacher or group of teachers; 
  • Teacher requested PD; members of faculty at ISZL may also request professional development in an area of interest for them which may or may not be directly connected to the programmes we offer and the pedagogy we use at ISZL.

At ISZL we are very privileged also to have many teachers who are experienced sufficiently to be involved in developing other teachers through the IB network or other partners. We also have many teachers who are part of the inspection and accreditation processes of other schools through our connections with international agencies.

The final part of our professional development programme is the building of special relationships as an institution which allows for more opportunities for our staff.

Joining up locally to collaborate internationally
In January this year Zurich International School and ISZL jointly hosted the Europe-wide Learning2 conference. Our own teachers benefited with a cheaper participation fee and also the local nature of this opportunity. We constantly seek to raise our profile with these larger organisations and seek to develop links that can benefit our teachers and students. We are also partnered with the Council of International Schools ( and teachers at ISZL serve as consultants on committees which organise professional development opportunities in Europe and globally. 

Hosting larger events for specialist professional development agencies
ISZL is one of approximately sixty schools globally who is partnered with the Chapters International professional development network ( This allows us to host educational events at ISZL where our own teachers and teachers from other nearby schools can participate. This brings leading educational thinkers to our school and provides this valuable experience for ISZL teachers. This year we have had workshops hosted by Fiona Zinn and Catherine Murdoch both leading educators on the global stage. 

Collaborating with Universities and Educational Research centres
We have a few teachers currently involved in post-graduate and doctoral programmes in universities in Switzerland and worldwide and this connects us with opportunities to benefit from current research and to participate in the educational research taking place. In addition, we are closely partnered with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) through a collaborative project with the International Baccalaureate called the Compassionate Systems Framework. This extraordinary project involves using new models of thinking and teaching that combine contemplative social and emotional learning, systems thinking and compassion and help teachers and students to apply these skills to important issues in the reality of the current world. 

Our teachers share:

It was a thrill to be part of the Learning2 Conference this year. The conference for teachers by teachers, and it took place in January 2019 at Zurich International School, with support from ISZL. Although the two schools regularly meet on the field/court in sport competition, this was the first time both staff and students worked together in a truly collaborative manner: bringing people together in a fabulous weekend-long learning experience. 

Many of our attending teachers were inspired and empowered to try out new tools and approaches (podcasting; honing visual presentation skills; taking on more leadership opportunities) as a result of the new learning, connections and deeper relationships formed at the conference. The after-effects (inspiration; application; collaboration) of participating teachers continues to live on. 

Holly Fraser
Primary School Educational Technology Teacher

Since joining ISZL seven years ago, I have benefited from many different professional development opportunities including building my knowledge and skills through the International Baccalaureate courses to enhance my teaching within a PYP school, hands-on music development including drumming courses as well as the opportunity to attend conferences and sessions with other music specialists around the world. Over the past three years, ISZL has also supported me in further education as I study for a master’s degree through the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in teaching and learning in the performing arts. The opportunity to study part-time has been a very worthwhile process for me that has positively impacted my daily role as a performing arts specialist. Through studying, I have further explored collaboration and transdisciplinary teaching and learning which has supported the further development of the primary performing arts model as well as me both professionally and personally.

Education is an empowering process and it never stops. ISZL has given me the opportunity to continue to grow as both an educator and a musician. Education is ever evolving, and ISZL supports that by ensuring that their teachers are always growing and building on their skills and knowledge. I feel valued in my job, that the school I work for cares about me both professionally and personally and does this by investing in my development.

Kirsty Kelly
Primary School Music Teacher

I have been involved with many professional development opportunities over the course of my time at ISZL. As Assistant MYP Coordinator I have gone on curriculum workshops offered by the International Baccalaureate (IB). These workshops have allowed me to broaden my in-class knowledge and help other teachers with the delivery of our overall programme. I have been fortunate to attend the Principals' Training Center offerings over the last few years and gain my International Principal's Certificate. These week-long courses have been led by respected educators and have deepened my knowledge of leadership and structuring organisations. I have attended courses offered by ELMLE (European Middle Educators) that were very specific towards the instructional and pastoral needs of middle school students. Most importantly, these opportunities have allowed me to interact with smart, motivated, and insightful educators who have a passion to share expertise and knowledge in order for all students in all our schools to reach their potential and make the world a better place. 

Paul Steffan
Assistant MYP Coordinator
Grade 7 English Language and Literature Teacher


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