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Looking Back - Interview with Anja Bousquet, ISB Teacher

Anja Bousquet has been working at ISB for 20 years. As part of our 40th anniversary celebrations we asked her a few questions about her experiences.

How long have you been at ISB?

50% of ISB’s existence. 2019 saw me completing my 20th year at ISB.

What brought you to Basel and ISB?

I had been working in South America but had promised my grand-mother, who raised me, that I would move back to Europe the year she turned 80. After a year of teaching in an East-London suburb, motivating students to learn German, who had never even made the 20 minute tube ride to the centre of their capital, and where a day without damage to the building, furniture and people was called ‘successful’, I saw an advertisement in the TES (formerly known as the Times Educational Supplement). ISB was looking for a German teacher. I sent an e-mail (pretty advanced at that time), was invited to fly in, and on my return to London started to prepare my move to Basel.

How many students were in your class when you started?

Well, not quite so easy to answer. The Language Acquisition classes were anything between 12 and 20 students. I then began building the Language and Literature German programme. Those classes typically had 6-8 students but grew quickly.

How many students are in your class now?

Class sizes vary from anywhere between as low as 7, if I have a DP Literature class, to as high as 24 for some of my MYP classes

What roles have you held during your tenure at ISB?

I have had many of the years and I am not so sure I remember them but some of them include: German Language Acquisition and Language & Literature teacher (obviously), French and Spanish teacher, homeroom tutor, ‘Life Skills’ teacher, ‘Area of Interaction Leader’, Community & Service Leader. I have also been a member of numerous committees …
But really: TEACHER!

What subjects have you taught and what years did you teach them?

At the very beginning I taught a bit of French, which really only comes under the ‘no fear’ bracket, that is: no fear to make a fool out of yourself; this was a matter of learning with the students, and Spanish, Life Skills and German Language Acquisition. However, I mostly taught German Language and Literature to students in Grades 6 to 12. I stopped teaching grades 6 and 7 when they were moved to their own campus because the Reinach campus was not able to hold so many students.

Have you been particularly inspired by any students or staff members at ISB?

Is that a serious question? That is what makes this such a great job. Every single day there is something that you learn from a student or colleague or both. I am always inspired by people who think – not about the next party, but those who think critically! And who speak their mind.

What is your favourite memory from your time at ISB?

My teacher’s life at ISB is full of ‘Hä?’, ‘Hm’ and ‘Wow’ moments. ‘Hä?’ is quite obviously for: ‘I really haven’t got a clue what this is supposed to tell me!’. ‘Hm’ is for: ‘I have my doubts.’ And ‘Wow’ is for: ‘I have never thought of it that way but it really makes sense.’ So how could I single one of these moments out?

If I had to, I would most likely go for my own son’s graduation.

What is the biggest thing that has changed since joining ISB?

I am tempted to say ‘everything – all the time’. Actually, if we weren’t changing, teaching and learning would be terribly boring. But of course it has to be purposeful.

At the beginning, you pretty much knew all colleagues and students in the years you taught. That has definitely changed. In my time here the school has moved from 12 (this is not a typo!) to 1 to 2 to 3 campuses. When I visited for the job interview, I remember, the director was proud to announce that the coming year was likely to start with more than 300 students across all years (pre-school included) – for the first time. Well, three years later the whole school moved into the Reinach Campus with around 600 students – and the newly built campus was already too small.

Certainly, the urge of people to use technology has changed, even if it doesn’t enhance your learning (or teaching) but rather distracts you.

Do you have an anecdote or story you would like to share with us, from your time at ISB?

You mean like the time that I flattened a card board box in a somewhat unusual way: carrying it down the stairs, missing the third last step and landing on it in the foyer … you know, sometimes one has to take drastic measures to quieten students.