#67 Thomas Hitchings – Endurance athlete thrives in BISS’ high performance learning culture
Originally from the UK, Thomas has been in Shanghai for over 6 years and just recently had a baby girl with his wife, Jules. As a keen sportsman who has enjoyed many years as a competitive cyclist and endurance athlete, Thomas’ position as the Director of Sport for the British International School Shanghai Puxi campus is a perfect fit. In this episode, Thomas shares his insight on life as a laowai, and more specifically the ins and outs of working at an international school in Shanghai.
If you’re someone who wants to continue to be at the forefront of education, BISS is the place to be. It feels like it’s ground zero where education is moving fast.
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While working at an inner city Manchester school, Thomas experienced a year of change within his personal and professional life and was keen to make a big change! He looked at some of the recruitment agencies and decided that overseas was the place to be. After, he was invited to interview for a PE teacher post by his current principal. Had it not been for his explanation of what it is like in China, Thomas notes that he doesn’t think he would have moved out here; however, after hearing how he’d still be able to maintain is active and highly competitive sport lifestyle while working in an exciting city like Shanghai, he knew it was a good fit.
A typical day
Thomas doesn’t like to be idle, and it sounds like his days are chocked full of enough excitement, energy and responsibility to keep him challenged.
Thomas shares that his job and the job of many BISS Puxi PE and Sport staff is very intense. As an avid cyclist, Tom leaves for work at around 6 AM and rides his bike the 17km to work and arrives with plenty of time to eat breakfast and get a shower before the first training session begins at 7 AM. This is usually part of the BISS lions swimming team training or a fitness session for other sports. At 8 AM the staff meet to discuss the day and/or the week ahead, then Thomas has a bit of time to do admin work. It is Thomas’ job to manage arrangements for student athletes competing in different parts of the Asia region and within the city, whether it be visas for travel abroad, refs for home games, or just a bus drop off to another school in Shanghai, Thomas handles it all.
Thomas’ first class is at 8:50 AM and he has a time table which has him teaching 19 hours a week. At 3:35 the sports training and competitive fixtures begin. BISS usually has 10 – 15 teams competing across the week in various leagues, tournaments or friendlies. Thomas does coach a little but his job is mainly to oversee the success of teams, meaning that everyone had an exciting experience, the teams/individuals were competitive (achieved their realistic goals) and they all made it home safely.
Thomas usually heads home between 5:45 – 6:30 PM after the sports have finished up for the day and gets home just in time to get dinner with his wife and to enjoy bath time with his young daughter. This part he says, “Is the high light of his day.”
Gaining cross-cultural knowledge
Unlike most educators in an international school environment, Thomas’ role keeps him interacting with the local community often – namely, local gear vendors. Each year, amidst the hustle after Christmas holiday, he undoubtedly finds himself rushing orders in time for factories to produce what his teams need for March. Thankfully after years of experience and building rapport with these guys, he was able to really pull some strings for an on-time delivery. Of course, in return, he’ll need to be super flexible for the next few orders for sure! What an incredible skill set to be able to pick up while overseas!
A culture of high performance learning
What’s unique about BISS? Well, Thomas says that it’s all about high performance learning – achieving results that are not only academically high but helping students develop the mentality that hard work breeds success in all areas. Their goal as BISS educators is to bring students to the highest level possible that they can achieve and make sure that students are challenged appropriately. Thomas certainly has a passion for high performance learning, and right from his interview with the principal nearly seven years ago, he has always felt he fitted into the schools character.
Who would be a good fit
Thomas says that working at BISS “feels like it’s ground zero where education is moving fast!” Therefore, in such an intense environment, the right teacher for BISS is incredibly hard-working, challenge-minded, collaborative, innovative, and constantly looking for the best way to do something. In such a fast-paced environment, the right fit needs to be energetic, desires to continue to build a career and be at the forefront of education.
Keep an open mind. So many people come out here expecting the place to get better for them. It won’t change for you so you must be willing to be flexible from the get go.
Connect with Thomas
Follow Instagram: @bisslionspuxi
linkedin: thomas hitchings