Welcome back, everyone! It always feels like it takes forever for the kids to show up and it was so exciting to see them all with big smiles this morning as they arrived. I am nearing the end of week three back in Beijing. It has been a busy three weeks welcoming new teachers and getting ready for the start of school. There is always a bit of a lull for us at this time of year, we work hard to get things ready and support teaching and learning as you come back to school, but then once the kids are back…you are busy and we are always a bit at loose ends as we wait for things to settle down.
As we welcomed new teachers back this year we made a shift in how we spoke about some of our work here at ISB. One thing that is always clear when we are working with new teachers is that ISB has a lot of systems and structures and acronyms…we love acronyms. This year in an effort to be less overwhelming, we thought…we have all these systems and structures to create alignment and consistency to our curriculum, but why? What are the core values that underpin the work we do in the Office of Learning to support student learning? Why do we have things like the curriculum review, common formative assessments, data meetings etc. For us, it was easy to answer the question about why we have the systems and structures we do at ISB: equity, purpose and deep, relevant learning. The goal is to bring clarity to what we do at ISB.
Equity is achieved by:
- Consistent learning goals at grade-levels and in shared courses
- Consistent level of challenge so that students have consistent expectation across grades and courses
- Students with varying needs are provided what they need to succeed
- Experiences will vary from classroom to classroom, that is the art and craft of teaching and what you were hired for, and the quality fo the education you receive at ISB should not depend on who your teacher is.
- Although we’re a highly mobile community, we don’t change our curriculum just because a particular teacher happened to leave—we make purposeful decisions about curricular change.
- We aim for purposeful increases in challenge from grade level to grade level.
- Our decisions are researched-based and intentional. If we cannot answer why and back it up, we should not be doing it.
Deep, Relevant Learning:
- Students should spend their time inquiring, solving problems, analyzing, and creating, not only memorizing.
- Students have voice and choice in their learning as we seek to deepen our work and understanding around personalized learning.
- We are working on integration because the world we live in does not present us problems in silos. They are complex and sticky, requiring a multi-disciplinary approach to understand them and think about solutions.
- We have a focus on design because we feel this is a vehicle by which we can engage our students in these deeply relevant learning experiences
As we work together this year, these values around our work and learning together will come up again and again. We are excited for another year of collaboration and support and looking forward to seeing and learning form you as you deliver amazing learning experiences to your students.
Let the year begin!