ISN Nice's 'spotlight series' highlights the work of our teachers and staff.
This week, read our interview with John Radford, a secondary school Maths teacher and our STEAM coordinator, to find our what innovations are happening in his classroom.
Please could you introduce yourself and your role at ISN?
I am John Radford. I am half English, half American, with Swedish grandparents, and I have spent more than half my life in France.
I am the father to three children - Clara, Charlotte and Benjamin - who my wife, Cathy, and I bring up in our bilingual home.
I have been teaching Mathematics at ISN for close to a decade, and I am also the STEAM Coordinator as well as the Digital Literacy Coordinator.
Could you tell us a little about your background?
I was born in Epsom, Surrey, and moved to Paris at the age of 7 where I entered the French school system (at what is now a Globeducate School : ICS Paris) and obtained my “Baccalauréat Scientifique Spécialité Mathématiques”. I then moved to London to study Engineering at UCL, as well as Mathematics at Imperial College London.
After that, I spent several years working as a Structural Consultant in London and Paris. Looking for something else I then made a ‘side step’ and worked as the Director of Guest Services at the Four Seasons Hotel George V, Paris, an amazing experience.
Despite loving that industry, I missed academia and little by little, through tutoring engineering and medical students, I realized that teaching was my true calling.
Shortly after I had my first full-time teaching job, at what is now ICS Paris, working as an IBDP Mathematics teacher. The holistic approach found in the IB program was something that I felt perfectly at home with.
How would you define your approach to teaching and learning?
Part of my approach is to help my students to want to learn and to see a purpose in it all. This is predominantly done by using real-world examples/applications of what they are learning, and it is always accompanied by positive energy.
For instance when I show them that the topics covered in functions’ transformations are then used in their noise-canceling AirPods to cancel-out external sound-waves in real time, they tend to all agree: “ok, that’s awesome!”.
If we stepped into your classroom, what would we see?
I like to think you would see happy students, who alongside feeling challenged feel at ease and in good hands.
How would you define the community at ISN Nice?
The family feel of our ISN community is unparalleled. We all care about each other, help one another and I like to think it shows.
What is your proudest achievement?
A billion years ago, when I was still a full-time student, my dream / goal was to study Mathematics at Oxford University; a dream that may seem silly to some but to me, at the time, it: meant everything. A few weeks after going through what felt like a dreadful interview there, I opened my mailbox and found a letter from Oxford University: I was accepted, I got in! Receiving my acceptance letter from Oxford University is a moment I will never forget. Although, in the end, I turned Oxford down to accept a full scholarship at Imperial College London: receiving that acceptance letter remains, to this day, one of my proudest personal achievements.
In your field of teaching, what innovative and exciting developments are you putting in place for this next generation of students?
I love challenging students to create videos, in which they demonstrate their understanding of a given topic by teaching the viewer. Whether it be with iPads, Apple Pencils, or their phones, … they are free to create as they please.
I’m currently looking into the possibility/feasibility of creating an ISN Mathematics YouTube Channel made by our students to help others learn. Watch this space!