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Guest Blogs

Knowitall.ch often invites local experts in their field to contribute to their own blogs on our site. This means not only you will benefit from the useful recommendations that we make on our News pages, but you can also profit from some of the great advice and tips that these experts have to make on their favorite subjects. Whilst each of these bloggers has been recommended to us at some point during the evolution of Know-it-all passport and  knowitall.ch, obviously we are not able to test out all the suggestions they make on their blogs, nor do we necessarily agree with all their opinions.  So if you do find one of their tips useful (or not!), do let us know!

To make these blogs more accessible to you, we have now decided to group them altogether in one section, entitled Guest Blogs, accessible from our main menu bar.  We will also post the most recent blogs on the home page of our site in the right hand column.

We are still building up this area of the site, and are looking for bloggers in a number of sections, including Your Home, Travel, and Leisure, so if you feel you have a useful contribution to make in either of these areas, and have the time to submit blog entries approximately every month, then please get in touch!

kimmel beatty

Jimmy Kimmel and Warren Beatty photo © indie.com

By Claire Doole, Claire Doole Communications

Did any of you watch the Oscars last month? The format changed with no host - part of an effort to make the ceremony shorter - due to declining viewing figures in this day and age of shorter attention spans.

Whether high profile like the Oscars or for smaller awards at smaller events - think your annual conference or end of year party - ceremonies take planning and preparation.

Believe me, I know as I advise companies and organisations and have acted as host/Master of Ceremonies at a few awards ceremonies.

Ghana journalist with me in background

If you want to make sure your ceremony is remembered for the right reasons and not for the wrong ones - like the notorious "envelopegate" when "La La Land" was accidentally named the best picture instead of "Moonlight" at the 2017 Oscars - have a look at my tips for organisers, presenters, recipients and hosts.

high school tutor talking with male student after UERQDGB

By Sandra Steiger, Academic Support Manager, TutorsPlus

How do you deal with teacher-related issues in a sensitive way, helping you achieve a positive outcome without making matters worse? When it comes to matters concerning your child, it can be hard to restrain yourself from running at the teacher like a charging bull. Have you ever been in that situation?

Comments that I hear regularly:

  • “the teacher is not marking my daughter’s homework often enough”
  • “the school doesn’t push my children to achieve more”
  • “my child hates their teacher this year”
  • “the school just doesn’t care”

I’m right in the middle of the issue as I represent both teacher and student when I talk to parents. I can see both sides of the argument. The funny thing is that both the parents and the teachers are right. It’s tough for schools to satisfy each individual student’s needs and every parent’s desires. But that isn’t to say there isn’t a lot you can do to get your voice heard and improve the situation for your child. And if your concern is proactive and constructive, there’s little reason for the school not to be receptive.

Below are some simple steps that will help get your problem sorted or at least improved. After all your child, and perhaps their siblings too, are likely to be at the same school for a number of years. So, beware of letting emotion take over, keep a cool head and avoid a situation that could make school life difficult in the future for you or your children. The school-parent-child relationship, like any relationship, needs nurturing and respect to be a positive one for all involved.

female student raising hand to ask question in PTLD23C

1. Make sure your complaint is fair
All complaints are fair to a degree, as it is certainly true that if your child is unhappy then you have every reason to contact the school and seek a change. But 9 times out of 10 the problem is more complex than at first glance. Take a child who had taken a sudden dislike to French saying the teacher was always shouting at the students. Upon further investigation it became clear that the student was repeatedly drawing in the lesson and not concentrating on the work in hand. To avoid misunderstanding on either side, do a little digging and don’t always take your child’s point of view as absolute.

2. Make the request into a question
It is just human nature that a question is often easier to receive than a statement, demand, or accusation. So, phrase your concern as a question. After all, parents are not teachers and there might be a good pedagogical reason behind what you don’t like at school. Think about a problem with your electricity. Would your opening conversation with the electrician start with a detailed request outlining exactly how they should fix your fuse box? Usually not, so best to apply the same approach to solving any problems at school.

3. Explain the problem, don’t blame the person
This forms the basics of healthy communication. Focus on what you see as the problem, what consequences it is having for your child or your family that the teacher and school might not be aware of. As already mentioned above – your child’s perspective on the situation is not the only one. The default reaction to blaming can often be defensiveness and this is not a good foundation for finding a constructive solution. If a particular teacher’s approach is not working for your family or your child, most teachers would want to know and keenly investigate a way forward. With a little thought an experienced teacher will find a way to make the situation better.

4. Brainstorm some suggestions to offer
Think of ways, perhaps with your child, that the situation could be improved. Focus particularly on actions and approaches that you and your child could take to move towards a solution. These can be suggested in your communication with the school. It shows the school that you are on side and working positively to try to make it happen. Often you will find that there are a whole range of things that can be done to help and sometimes it will take time to work through a number of options until the situation is resolved.

5. Be open to new ideas and solutions
While it is good and even essential to have your own ideas to improve things, you do need to be open to the school’s solutions too. They have to manage a whole class, year group and even school. So, the solution your child needs has to be amenable to the community. This means you will need to keep an open mind to solutions you may not have thought of yet. Also, teachers often have quite a balanced view of your child. They are present to observe how your child reacts to adversity, feedback, pressure and their peers on a daily basis. So, it’s important to build a complete picture and accept that the solution coming from the school is going to be just as or even more appropriate than the one us parents would come up with on our own.

6. Work on the basis that the teacher and school want the best for your child
We’ve had so many conversations with parents who feel that any difficulties between a teacher and student is personal, and perhaps it is on occasion. However, if it has reached that point, it has usually developed over a long period of time of not addressing the issue, or not addressing it well. Generally speaking, teachers are professionals who are not setting out to make life difficult for your child. It really makes their day so much easier and enjoyable to have good relationships with their students. So, try your best to believe that the school does want the best for your child, even if sometimes you feel this is not the case. At the very least, this attitude will help you enter into conversations with the school from a positive standpoint, which will make the communication run smoother.

7. Avoid going above the person directly involved
Address your concerns to the person who it involves directly, usually the class teacher. Teachers are expected to attempt to resolve issues first before a higher level of management gets involved. So, it can be very uncomfortable and confusing for a teacher to get the first round of feedback and critique from their Head of Department or the Principal. While it might be tempting to go straight to the top, in an attempt to give more importance to the situation, this can backfire leading to a break in trust and in the schools mechanisms. If you feel the need to get a higher level of management involved it is often best to write to the class teacher and ask them to involve the principal. Then if you find this doesn’t happen, follow up with an email to the head copying in the teacher in question.

8. Be reasonable and polite
Sleep on your email, re-write the next day if necessary. It is sometimes easier to say than do, especially when problems concern our children feel urgent and emotions can run high. But staying calm and politely communicating with the school is essential. We have worked as mediators for parents when the school/family relationship has entirely broken down. This is sad and difficult for all involved and it also makes the problems much harder to solve. This also means avoiding speaking negatively about a school or teacher in front of your children. This can quickly snowball and will affect your child’s behaviour in school negatively. And if you are in fact mistaken about the source of the problem, these negative comments can have enduring unfair consequences for the teacher and the school.

Keeping these 8 tips in mind when resolving a problem with your child’s school will get a faster solution in place, probably a better one and also have the benefit of forging a stronger and constructive relationship between your family and the community of the school.


Author's bio

Sandra Steiger Bio picSandra Steiger is the TutorsPlus Academic support manager and has over 10 years’ experience teaching English at various schools in Switzerland. During her 6 years at the International School of Geneva, she was also the Service Learning programme Coordinator, Homeroom Mentor and Head of Year 8. Now she helps parents and students get the academic support they need.


By Tara Lissner, Swiss Gardening School

From raging snow storms to sunny afternoons in short sleeves the month of March never ceases to surprise. We feel we are just coming out of the cold of winter with length in the day and sunshine on our faces only to be hit with high winds, cold temperatures and snow. At least we know that the garden is prepared and ready for these crazy meteorological outbursts, even the seemingly delicate spring bulbs manage to withstand the wild weather.

For me March signifies the turning point, the new start, the wake up call. The sun is higher in the sky giving my neglected beds the warmth and light they need to come back to life. This of course is also a wake up call for me to get moving. Now is the time to clear these damp and cold beds of the debris from last year, all the frost kissed seed heads that looked so lovely a few months ago are now a soggy mess impeding the progress of my narcissus. I have a busy few weeks ahead of me. I’d just like the snow to stop and for the rain to only fall during the darkest hours of the day.

The vibrance of yellow always takes my breath away in March. The delicate shades of the first primula followed by the pretty narcissus and the billowing branches of the forsythia heralding the end of winter – such joy.

Patty Emmanuel and Claire

French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron, Canadian Minister for the Status of Women, Patty Hajdu, Claire Doole

By Claire Doole, Claire Doole Communications

How many of you attended this year’s gathering of the global elites at the World Economic Forum? If you were there, did you sit through any of the panel sessions? With the good and the great vying to be in the audience and on the podium, Davos panels are a hot, if pricey, event.

But how good are these sessions? Are they engaging, informative and thought provoking?

Many a client has contacted me as a moderator saying they want a Davos-style panel discussion. In the conference/event industry, these panels with their star-studded line-up are obviously seen as the gold standard.

So, I decided to test this hypothesis and watch a panel in which Rutger Bregman, a Dutch historian, made headlines with his remarks about why no one at Davos was talking about the super rich avoiding paying taxes.


By Sunita Sehmi, Walk The Talk

Can you imagine what it's like to be able to completely clear your mind and experience a deep sense of calm whenever you want? What about the power to switch into a state of intense concentration, but at the same time be completely relaxed?

Developed at Google and based on the latest in neuroscience research, the Search Inside Yourself (SIY) Certified Program teaches attention and mindfulness training that build the core emotional intelligence skills needed for effective leadership. This results-oriented program is designed to empower individuals, strengthen teams and transform entire workplaces. This course is coming to Geneva and my interview is with both SIY certified teachers Angelika von der Assen and Robert Chender who will co run the two day workshop. Enjoy!

1. What is SIY about?
The Search Inside Yourself (SIY) program was originally developed at Google end 2007 as an in-house mindfulness and emotional intelligence training for employees. Due to great demand, starting in 2012 it was offered to other companies and to the public through the Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute, a non-profit organization. SIY takes a science-based approach that combines neuroscience, mindfulness and emotional intelligence. Through these three disciplines, SIY helps participants integrate the key building blocks for well-being, collaboration, and leadership. The program is highly interactive. It is approximately one- third content and two-thirds experiential exercises, including one-on-one and group conversations, attention-training practices, listening exercises, and writing activities. Each program is tailored for the client’s needs and presented through a different lens depending on the audience, while maintaining the combination of neuroscience, mindfulness, and emotional intelligence that has made the program successful.

2. Do you need to have any previous training in mindfulness to do the course?
No, this is not at all necessary. All that is necessary is an interest.