During SIS snow days and ski camp, SIS students' timetable looks a lot different than usual, not so however, the solid educational concept that underlies it.
A strong network, international education with local insight, a diverse day school community, an independent and value-centred approach to teaching and learning and a bilingual experience are just as crucial during ski camp and snow day as during a regular school day in a SIS classroom.
SIS operates eight bilingual day schools in Switzerland. Being part of the SIS Group, all SIS schools are based on a common, educational concept, which lies at the heart of teaching and learning at SIS. The SIS network ensures consistently high quality standards, as structures and processes at all schools are evaluated, developed and enhanced on an ongoing basis.
A great majority of SIS schools offer snow days or a ski camp as an important and popular part of their curriculum. From January to March, SIS students travel to the snowy Swiss mountains for a fun and diverse excursion, which as a result strengthens SIS' group cohesiveness.
International Education – Local Insight
The SIS community of students, parents and teachers is made up of a variety of nationalities and backgrounds. SIS seeks to offer students a diverse and engaging school environment that simultaneously fosters an awareness of the wider world and a relationship to their immediate environment. SIS' intention is that students graduate as global citizens with a strong sense of their origins.
During this year's snow days and ski camp, students travelled to popular ski resorts in the Cantons of Obwalden, Graubünden and St.Gallen. All destinations offer beautiful mountain scenery and allow the students to experience and try out Swiss winter sports.
"Winter nature and winter sport are integral parts of Swiss culture, which is why it is important to organise snow days," comments principal Joachim Riedl (SIS Zürich-Wollishofen).
"We have such an internationally diverse group of students that many would never be exposed to skiing unless we took them. It's so ingrained in Swiss culture, that we feel the ski experience embodies the ethos of international education – local insight," describes principal Andrew Wulfers (SIS Basel).
Diverse Day School Community
For SIS students, school is a place to learn and thrive – an environment that is stable and nurturing, while presenting them with appropriate challenges. SIS offers a structured and challenging programme, also during ski camp and snow day.
Besides skiing and snowboarding in levelled groups with professional ski instructors, SIS students can also go sledging, hiking, ice skating or build igloos and snow sculptures. During ski camp, SIS Basel's Secondary School students also got the chance to do yoga, improve their avalanche survival skills, play the guitar and sing, take salsa dance lessons, go snowshoeing and much more.
SIS Basel's Primary School students on the other hand, participated in a snowman competition and a talent show with dance, poetry, comedy sketches, magic and more. "SIS snow days are a nice change from class. Students and teachers get to know one another in a different setting," says Marcel Stähli, principal of SIS Zürich.
Independent and Value-Centred Approach
The teaching philosophy at SIS is non-ideological, but founded on clearly defined core values. SIS strives to embody the values it seeks to impart to its students: honesty, appreciation, personal responsibility, and commitment.
SIS snow days and ski camp offer ideal leaning environments for the students to bring forth and cultivate different skill sets than those practiced at home or at school. "During snow day, students can not only practise their driving technique but also their social skills: taking responsibility, having perseverance and showing respect for others," says principal Michael Peter (SIS Pfäffikon-Schwyz).
Moreover, "students who are not so successful in their academic subjects get a chance to shine with other skills during snow day," comments SIS Männedorf's principal Lisa Cummins.
English and German play equal roles in school communication at SIS – in the classroom and in all parts of day-to-day school life.
SIS faculty members are native speakers of their language. They not only use their mother tongue for teaching in the classroom, but also on the school yard, at lunch, and during events and excursions.
During snow day and ski camp, students experience two languages, which provides a further opportunity for them to develop their language skills in a natural way.