In preparation for the new school year ISB created a training module for teachers to learn about the various models of learning we will employ next year. Due to the dynamic situation of COVID-19 we need to be ready for any scenario to meet the needs of our students. I’m incredibly impressed and proud of the work our Office of Learning has done to create such robust, intentional, and thoughtful models in place. What I value the most are the decisions to update our previous eLearning model based on purposeful feedback from teachers, students, and parents. Our community leverages our strengths as professionals to be leaders in these new methods of instruction and while we make mistakes like any other organization, our ability to reflect and continually improve our practices is inspiring.
The revisions led to primarily two new formats of learning, Partnered Instruction and Online Learning. Partnered Instruction actually has two versions depending on whether you are in Beijing or outside of China. I am still unable to return and will be beginning the year with both Online and Partnered Instruction models based on our staggered start to the school year.
As a specialist teacher my scenario for Online Learning and Partnered Instruction is very similar. We added a Dragon Day into our weekly schedule for students to engage in community events and specialist classes. I’m excited about this addition and I believe it will positively influence nearly every aspect of their engagement with the performing arts and their social/emotional wellbeing. My favorite elements from teaching the Summer Online Music Institute are embedded in this Dragon Day model, mainly the synchronous lessons that lead to asynchronous activities. I’m optimistic about increased participation during this time. Below is a sample of our Weekly Planner for the first week of lessons for Early Years 4.
I have chosen Care and Collaborate to focus on for my professional growth for this school year. When choosing professional goals I try to align them into two categories, one that benefits students and one that benefits my individual personal growth. Undoubtedly developing my skills in both Care and Collaborate are beneficial for all. It helps my thinking to understand the primary purpose behind both. Is this mainly for students? Is this for my team? Is this to help me? Knowing the purpose gives me clarity and helps me create benchmarks towards that progress that are meaningful.
The three pillars for creating a caring environment are identified by Cohen-Vargas and Gogolewski (2020) as: promoting trusting relationships, inclusive interactions, and creating a sense of belonging. I plan to integrate the following into my teaching based on these pillars.
- Create a system to track non-academic interactions with students
- Create or modify activities where students can share their unique identities and characteristics
- In EY introduce song tales using photos or videos of their friends and family.
- Integrate Morning Meeting greetings at the beginning of class.
This “C” is important to me to develop as helpful and supportive team member. One of the reasons I chose to work at ISB is to be a part of a team, to learn from one another, and to lend our individual strengths to support each other. From my perspective, the best areas that work well for our team to collaborate together are lesson plans/curriculum, weekly overview sheets, communications to students and parents, and assessment/feedback protocols.
The second guiding question I reflected on was, “How can we do less individually and share more collaboratively?” As the only member of my team not currently in Beijing, I want to continue contributing as much value as I can while away. A fear of mine is that I will let down my team, or my students, because I am away. I believe that the best way to share collaboratively is to clearly identify tasks each of us can do individually that best suit our individual strengths. By focusing on what we are each best at we can leverage that strength to the group and resulting in stronger results as a whole.