ET Journal Spring Issue 2023

Page 1


Cover Story

Human Trafficking Prevention Through Student Collective Activism


The Inconvenient Truth: No-Culture Kids in Transcultural Educational Environments

Service Learning

Intent versus Impact: Planting the Seeds for Critical Service-Learning in Schools

Featured in this Issue
A Link to Educational Excellence in East Asia SPRING 2023


The ET Journal is a triannual publication of the East Asia Regional Council of Schools (EARCOS), a nonprofit 501(C)3, incorporated in the state of Delaware, USA, with a regional office in Manila, Philippines. Membership in EARCOS is open to elementary and secondary schools in East Asia which offer an educational program using English as the primary language of instruction, and to other organizations, institutions, and individuals.


* To promote intercultural understanding and international friendship through the activities of member schools.

* To broaden the dimensions of education of all schools involved in the Council in the interest of a total program of education.

* To advance the professional growth and welfare of individuals belonging to the educational staff of member schools.

* To facilitate communication and cooperative action between and among all associated schools.

* To cooperate with other organizations and individuals pursuing the same objectives as the Council.


Kevin Baker (American International School Guangzhou), President

Catriona Moran (Saigon South International School), Vice President

Rami Madani (International School of Kuala Lumpur), Treasurer

Elsa Donohue (Vientiane International School), Secretary

Margaret Alvarez (WASC / ISS International School), Past-President

James Dalziel (NIST International School)

Karrie Dietz (Australian International School Singapore)

Gerald Donovan (North Jakarta Intercultural School)

Jim Gerhard (Seoul International School)

Gregory Hedger (The International School Yangon)

Andrew Hoover (Office of Overseas Schools, REO, East Asia Pacific)


Edward E. Greene, Executive Director

Bill Oldread, Assistant Director

Kristine De Castro, Assistant to the Executive Director

Ver Castro, Membership & I.T. Coordinator

Edzel Drilo, Professional Learning Weekend, Sponsorship & Advertising Coordinator, Webmaster

Robert Sonny Viray, Accountant

RJ Macalalad, Accounting Assistant

Rod Catubig Jr., Office Staff

East Asia Regional Council of Schools (EARCOS)

Brentville Subdivision, Barangay Mamplasan, Binan, Laguna, 4024 Philippines

Phone: +63 (02) 8779-5147 Mobile: +63 917 127 6460

In this Issue

Action Research

34 How can Multi Tiered Systems of Support be Implemented to Meet the Needs Within the PE context

Green & Sustainable

37 Composting at The International School of Yangon

38 Margaret Sanders Winner 2023

Social Emotional Learning (SEL)

40 Types of Parental Pressure and Their Impacts on Korean Juniors and Seniors’ Stress Levels in Korea vs. International Educational Systems


42 Listening Circle Summary

44 Western Academy in Beijing Honored for Strategic

Spring 2023 Issue 1
Culture of Care”
Cover Story
4 Spring Heads’ Institute 2023 5 Faces
6 Teachers’ Conference “Creating a
Human Trafficking Prevention Through Student Collective Activism
Plus ça Change
16 Learning Stories: A Journey to Align End of Semester Reporting with Program Philosophy
18 Refocusing on Teaching and Learning
Teacher-Coach Partnership
and Confidence
Concordia’s Week of Code Fosters Student Collaboration, Creativity,
24 Differentiation in High School Science
The Inconvenient
Kids in Transcultural Educational Environments
By Rentia Smith and Kirstin Hedger 26
Truth: No-Culture
and Raquel Acedo-Rubio 28 Have You Considered Multiage?
By James Crawford
Service Learning 30 Intent versus Impact: Planting the Seeds for Critical Service-Learning in Schools
Student Voices
Veiled Reflection’
48 Notes from the EARCOS Advisory Committee 49 High School Art Gallery
By Rhea Ram

Executive Director’s Message

Is the Next Pandemic Already Here?

Welcome to the final issue of the EARCOS Tri-Annual Journal for the 2022-2023 school year. All of us at EARCOS send you our very best wishes for a restful holiday and hope the break will offer you time to catch up on reading, professional development, family time, and much delayed travel as well as large dollops of time to reflect on the year that has passed.

Looking back, it has been a very positive year for EARCOS with the return of our annual conferences: the CIS/EARCOS University Admissions Conference in September, the EARCOS Leadership Conference in October, the Teachers’ Conference at the end of March and, just recently, the Annual Heads’ Institute in Luang Prabang, Laos, where some 40 EARCOS Heads gathered for a weekend of conversation with psychologists Drs. Sean Truman and James Rosow.

All of those in-person events were bound together by a common thread—the power and joy of being able to be together, in person, face to face and not on a screen. We all need that real human contact and communication with one another. The greatest power of EARCOS has always been in its in-person events and the way those events have supported an ever-growing sense of community across this very large region of international schools.

At this time of year, before we can even finish the current year, before we can take a deep breath, we are asked to plan ahead for the next school year. As we grapple with a process to decide

on a limited focus for the next year, I don’t have to tell you that the number of hard topics to choose from can be daunting. It is difficult not to feel overwhelmed as no single school has the resources to adequately address every concern that vies for our attention.

Despite the depth and breadth of that list of hard topics, there is one truly alarming development that demands to be on every school’s list in bold: the accelerating mental health crisis. Some have called it the next pandemic and it is hard to argue that that is hyperbole. A recent meta-analysis of 80 studies of young people during COVID-19 (Racine, McArthur, Cooke et al [2021]) pointed to a doubling of “impairing symptoms of depression and anxiety.” Blue Cross reported a 63% increase in medical claims for teens (in Truman and Rosow, 2023). In 2019, a CDC study reported a disturbing three-fold increase in the suicide rate for 10-to-14-year-olds and a 56% increase for 10-to-24-year-olds (in Truman and Rosow, 2023).

Some suggest that students in international schools are experiencing an even greater mental health challenge than the young people included in the North American studies. On top of all of the factors young people everywhere are facing, many international school students also experience the challenges of expatriate life,” which has always been a mixed lifestyle blessing for young people, no matter how much we celebrate its many benefits.

2 EARCOS Triannual Journal

Consider the recent interview in the New York Times with Dr. Vivek Murthy, the US Surgeon General, when he said that mental health is ‘the defining public health crisis of our times.’ Hospitalizations are up, as are suicides. There is a great deal of data pointing to a ‘growing crisis of loneliness and isolation… increases in bullying… offline and online…; an information environment that is coming at [students] 24/7 and that often stokes fear and anxiety.” He underscored the dire lack of resources that would allow more young people to seek help. Today, he adds, …”when young people think about the future, [they] see profound threats that we are facing today, like violence and racism and climate change, but they don’t see effective solutions.”

The Surgeon General posed a critical question that requires every school’s (and parent’s) consideration:

Young people tell me they feel caught up in hustle culture… That they felt that they were being asked to chase certain objectives—getting a job with a fancy title, making a lot of money, becoming famous, acquiring power. And not only did many of them say that they were exhausted, but they weren’t sure that was going to bring them happiness. This is where we have to pause and ask ourselves: Are we pushing our kids to pursue what’s really going to lead to their happiness and fulfillment?

There are, of course, so many contributing factors to the mental health crisis. What, really, can one school do? The very first major step is to recognize that students in our schools are not, as we once naively believed, protected by some sort of bubble of privilege in absentia. The crisis is just as real in every one of our international school communities as it is in schools “back home.”

It is not the responsibility of schools, alone, to tackle the crisis, but it is our shared responsibility to work together, as a community, to confront the dimensions of this crisis that we can address.

To start, administrators, teachers and counselors, who work face to face with our students each day, need more information and support. As professional development plans are designed for next year, it is important to prioritize training for all who interact with students on the identification of the red flags of a young person in emotional trouble and how best to respond. And, yes, that means increasing professional development funding to target social and emotional learning initiatives.

Let’s recognize the proverbial elephant in the room as well: our schools, all schools, have long needed more counselors—professionals specifically licensed in counseling and trained in child and adolescent psychology. Furthermore, counselors need to have more time to counsel while being relieved of the administrivia that has historically been dropped on their desks. There is more, of course, that needs to done. But these few suggestions represent a very good start.

EARCOS has established and will continue to offer two initiatives for counselors in our region: the Truman Counselor Cohorts (thanks to a generous grant from the Office of Overseas Schools) and the EARCOS Peer-to-Peer Counselor Project. Together these two initiatives have provided significant support to nearly 100 counselors in our region this past school year. These initiatives provide a viable model for extending support throughout the region to greater numbers of counselors—and potentially, to other groups. EARCOS has also committed to a stronger focus on conference presentations, Weekend Workshops, articles, on-line courses and webinars from professionals who can help all of us gain the knowledge, tools and expertise required.

Many solutions already reside in the schools of the dynamic educators who are reading this message. I encourage our readers to use the pages of this journal to share the programs and approaches they have developed in their schools as we shore up efforts on all fronts. If there is a silver lining, it is that the opportunities to reach out to one another, to share with one another and the vehicles for doing so, have never been more plentiful. Let’s end this school year celebrating all the good that has transpired in 2022-2023. But, let us do so recognizing the importance of coming together as a community next year and for years to come that we do all that is humanly possible to ensure that all students are prepared for a life of happiness and fulfillment.

That is, after all, a pretty good way of encapsulating what it is educators strive to do every day!


Richtel, Matt, The surgeon general’s new mission: adolescent mental health surgeon-general-adolescents-mental-health.html (retrieved May 7, 2023)

Truman, Sean and James Roscow, presentation, EARCOS Heads’ Institute (April 27, 2023).

Spring 2023 Issue 3

Spring Heads’ Institute 2023

The EARCOS Spring Heads’ Institute held in Luang Prabang exemplified the organization’s dedication to professional growth, collaboration, and leadership development among education leaders in the East Asia region. With the guidance of experienced facilitators like Sean Truman and James Rosow of the The Truman Group, the institute provided a fertile ground for knowledge sharing, empowering school heads to navigate the ever-evolving landscape of education.

Additionally, the acknowledgment of the newly appointed EARCOS Board of Trustees reflects the organization’s commitment to effective governance and continuous improvement. By fostering collaboration and embracing innovative ideas, EARCOS remains at the forefront of driving educational excellence in the region, paving the way for a brighter future in education.

EARCOS Board of Trustees

Back row (L-R): James Dalziel (NIST), Gerald Donovan (NJIS)

Andrew Hoover (U.S. Dept. of State REO, East Asia Pacific), Greg Hedger (ISY), Jim Gerhard (SIS)

Kevin Baker (AISG), Karrie Dietz (AISS)

Rami Madani (ISKL), Elsa Donohue (VIS), Margaret Alvarez (Past President)

Catriona Moran (SSIS)

4 EARCOS Triannual Journal
Sean Truman & James Rosow

Faces of EARCOS

Welcome New EARCOS Board of Trustees


Head of School

Australian International School, Singapore

The International School Yangon

NIST International School

International School


Head of School

North Jakarta Intercultural School

JAMES DALZIEL Head of School GREGORY HEDGER School Director
Spring 2023 Issue 5
JIM GERHARD Head of School Seoul

Finally! After a three year hiatus due to the Covid pandemic,the 18th ‘annual’ EARCOS Teachers’ Conference was held from Thursday, March 23 through Saturday, March 25, 2023, at the magnificent Sutera Harbour Country Club Resort in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia. Approximately 600 teacher delegates, presenters, and vendors were present for three days of motivating and inspirational sessions. Unfortunately, we were missing many of our colleagues from Chinese schools due in part to the Chinese government’s late lifting of travel restrictions.

EARCOS Teachers’ Conference 2023

“Creating a Culture of Care”

Each day of the conference began with a plenary session. Day one’s keynote speaker was Todd Shy, Head of the Upper Division at Avenues, the World School in New York City. Todd spoke on the romance of teaching and what we can learn from the stories people tell about the teachers who changed their lives. His stories were uplifting and evoked similar stories in the memories of most in attendance.

Nicholas Carlisle, founder of No Bully, opened day two of the conference with an inspirational message of how we created the cyberbullying epidemic and how we can make the internet a better place for kids.

Michelle Garcia Winner, the founder of Social Thinking Methodology and author of numerous books, initiated the final day of the conference with a talk entitled “How Do Social Smarts Impact Classroom Participation and Understanding Curriculum?”

All three keynoters were extremely well-received by the delegates as were the many other conference presenters. In all, there were nearly 200 sessions available to delegates during the three day conference.

As anticipated, the hotel’s hospitality, accommodations, and food were outstanding. We are ever grateful to Hasnaffina Hassnar and her staff for

their attention to detail both before and during the conference.

Please join us for the 19th annual ETC which will be held from March 21-23,2024 at the Shangri La Hotel in Bangkok. Strands will include Math, Science, Computer Science, Social Studies/Humanities, Global Issues/Global Citizenship, Middle School, Service Learning and General Education topics. We hope to see you there.

6 EARCOS Triannual Journal
Spring 2023 Issue 7

OCTOBER 25-28, 2023





Spring 2023 Issue 9

Human Trafficking Prevention Through Student Collective Activism

We have a problem kids and teachers need to know about. An estimated 50 million people worldwide at any given time are trafficked, up from 40 million five years ago. Human trafficking is a form of modern slavery. According to the 2021 United States Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report human trafficking is a widespread, profitable crime generating an estimated $150 billion globally per year. The average age of a sex trafficking victim is between 12 and14 years old.

One child being trafficking is too many, but given the rise in the already egregious number educators have an immediate need to join in the fight against human trafficking so that not one of our students becomes a victim to this crime. We can do something to solve the problem.

Getting human trafficking awareness programs into our schools is critical as education plays a role in reducing the risk of individuals falling prey to trafficking. Many people become victims of trafficking through false promises, such as employment or romantic relationships. With proper education on the warning signs, students can learn how to avoid becoming a victim. (UN Office on Drugs and Crime, 2022) Education can also provide individuals with the knowledge and skills to recognize trafficking situations and report them to the appropriate authorities.

I am a teacher at Atlanta International School (AIS). I have taught at AIS for 19 years. I started my teaching career as a soccer coach when I was working in documentary production, having previously worked in Latin American human rights in Washington, DC and Atlanta. I quickly became hooked on teaching and have taught Spanish, Individuals and Societies, and Physical and Health Education. In search of connecting students to activism I became involved in the anti-human trafficking movement in Atlanta after two teenage male students asked me to be their faculty supervisor. Atlanta International School Against Human Trafficking became an official student group in 2011. Through the group’s work, I have gotten to know and befriend many in the Atlanta anti-human trafficking community. While planning activities in and around Atlanta, hosted by AISAHT at our school, I became interested in connecting students worldwide who were doing similar work to ours. Being in Atlanta and having access to CNN Headquarters, I met with CNN’s Freedom Project and we created an interactive story in which viewers could learn about what students were doing for human trafficking awareness around the world.

A couple years later CNN created #MyFreedomDay, and asked me to design a template to send to schools in order to get students involved. I am the teacher liaison for #MyFreedomDay, a global day of action in which students raise awareness and take action collectively in a social media campaign leading up to one day in March. This event is hosted and organized by CNN International’s Freedom Project and has given tens of thousands of students a world stage for the past 6 years. During this year’s 7th annual #MyFreedomDay we are asking students to genuinely engage and really think about how students can play an active role in stopping this modern day atrocity in their local and global communities.

After a decade of working with schools and students, I founded FREEST, which stands for Forming Responsive, Engaged, and Educated Students for Tomorrow. We are an international nonprofit that works with schools in order to prevent human trafficking through education by empowering students to take action. Our vision is a global student network taking action against modern day slavery. We need to work year round in our schools in eradicating this problem. We will help schools respond to the need for more ongoing education and activism around anti-human trafficking globally.

Schools are uniquely positioned to share information with students and staff and to be a prevention hub. Schools need to embrace their power, positioning, and role in stopping human trafficking. We will work with schools to

10 EARCOS Triannual Journal COVER STORY

equip them with the tools and empower those populations to connect to the resources available to them. Student engagement is one answer to creating an environment that spreads awareness and stops human trafficking.

There are many resources that we will connect schools with such as Dressember, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s #WearBlueDay and #MyFreedomDay, all that can help mobilize communities in the fight by creating a network of individuals who are committed to preventing trafficking and supporting victims. Generation Global is an organization that gets students together to have dialogues globally in order to solve problems together, and a useful tool to get students thinking about first steps to taking action. Prevention curriculum such as PROTECT, 3Strands Global foundation.

As we gear up for 2023 #MyFreedomDay I hope you’re inspired by the unique ideas schools from around the world have done or are busy planning. Last year’s event consisted of tens of thousands of students getting involved in over 146 countries, on every continent except Antarctica.

• Ambatovy International School, in Toamasina, Madagascar, where Mario Arana’s highlights his school’s plans this March 16th. “We will hold discussions and activities will include research, creating posters and discussions led by high school students.There will be an assembly where students will share a song, poem or story they create to express what freedom means to them.” - Mario Arana, faculty

• Atlanta International School, Atlanta, Georgia, USA. “As a group, our goal is to raise awareness about human trafficking so members in our community know how to look after each other, make sure those around us feel free, and have the tools needed to ensure that we all remain free and appreciate our freedom, in order to benefit the wider community. With the World Cup having just ended it is still fresh in many people’s minds. We want to make sure to use this in order to raise awareness, discuss, and do something about human trafficking. We would like to use our love for sports as a community to bring awareness to such an important issue. We will raise awareness about sex trafficking and mostly labor trafficking in the sport industry. We will be hosting a ‘charity’ soccer match while raising awareness about labor trafficking in the industry open to the whole Atlanta community. We will have tables of vendors speaking about their fair trade products and information about organizations that are taking action and ways everyone in our community can help. Throughout the day we will be having middle school and high school members present to our community of student, parents, teachers, and faculty about the issue of human trafficking with interactive lessons. Leading up to #MyFreedomDay we have created curriculums for teachers to be able to integrate lessons on human trafficking awareness into their traditional class course. We are spending this day to raise awareness and take action in our local community and by partnering with others worldwide.” -Maanya

• Finnish School of Kosovo. “We are planning on doing several activities that will focus much more on refugees and how their rights are at stake. With a special focus on this edition, we will be doing an arts exhibition and raise funds to help Ukrainian refugees in Kosovo and then we will continue our efforts to spread the message globally in supporting them. Besides this topic, our school will be working on raising awareness among our community and the entire country about multiculturalism and freedom as predominant topics in our Global Perspectives classes during this month. We will be inviting guests to lecture our students in such topics, we will be organizing workshops, we will raise funds, will reach out to youth

through various media channels and increase awareness to take action to tackle such issues in our country but also globally.” -Edlira Dibrani, Public Relations & Communications.

• NIST International School, Bangkok, Thailand “We have a week with activities, booth and presentations for homerooms.” -Cristobal Gonzalez Salgado, faculty

• Dansol High School, Lagos. Nigeria “Video displays highlighting modern day slavery and way out, talk shows, freedom march, drama, debates, talks and poems on freedom etc” -Chukwueloka Onyeibor

• Oberoi International School. Mumbai, India To raise awareness of Human Trafficking. TO explore human rights and selfworth. Student-led sessions during homeroom period.

• American International School Chennai, India. Chennai, India, “We will again work with an NGO that helps women and children in the red light district of Bombay. We will do awareness, a video campaign, and a lap a thon.” -Pepper McFarland, faculty

• International School of Ulaanbaatar. Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. Our students in grade 5 and grade 10 are inviting Veloo Foundation and United Nations of Mongolia to partner to raise awareness in our community about human rights and trafficking. This student-led initiative will lead to a whole-school Assembly on Thursday 16th March, Freedom Day. Our students are currently working with Veloo Foundation to see how can we help the local community in Mongolia. At the end of the Assembly, our students and partners will write an article in our Community Voice to demonstrate what actions should be taken. Some of our grade 5 students are keen to present it for their PYP exhibition.” -Jocelyne Pérut, faculty

• Colegio Maya de El Salvador, Ayagualo, El Salvador.

“We are looking into participating in the Generation Global events and to hold different class forums on March 16, to be part of the activities of My Freedom Day 2023.” - Celeste Salinas de Trabanino, faculty

• Colegio La Paz de Chiapas, Chiapas, Mexico

“Our Social Sciences groups (59 students) are going to do a gallery art representing the modern slavery.They are also going to do a debate and finally some outdoor activities (rally) related with the topic, which the objective of reflecting about the freedom that we enjoy.”-Nonantzy Lopez, faculty

About the Author

Veronica McDaniel has worked in education for two decades. Born in France and half-Colombian, and with an International Baccalaureate bilingual diploma, she is trilingual in French, Spanish and English. In 2011 at Atlanta International School, she started facilitating a student-led antihuman trafficking group. She is the teacher liaison for CNN Freedom Project’s #MyFreedomDay where she coordinates schools annually for a global day of action. Last year #MyFreedomDay resulted in nearly 2 billion social media impressions, with students from over 140 countries. She recently created the nonprofit FREEST, whose mission is preventing human trafficking through education by empowering students to take action. Contact FREEST for collaboration at, visit our website and follow up on Instagram @freest. international.

Spring 2023 Issue 11


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Spring 2023 Issue 13

Education is one of the oldest human institutions, perhaps only surpassed by family and tribes. Formal education, in some practice or another, has existed with the rise of all our early civilizations and many long unbroken chains can be drawn connecting our modern institutions to roots reaching their ancestral precursors. A school administrator I once knew was fond of telling a story that went something like this: A time traveler from one hundred years ago who shows up on our streets today would not recognize a bank or airport or supermarket because so much has changed, but upon entering a classroom would immediately know where he was and feel as if nothing had been altered from the time he was a pupil himself. The story was meant to emphasize the need to adapt with the times, but it failed to deliver much of a punch. For one, what this traveler would find at banks and supermarkets are mostly superficial make-overs that come with technological progress, and it is hard to see how these are any different from the changes that are evident in modern schools (would this traveler not be surprised by use of tabs in classrooms, board projectors, online homework submission, and so on?).

Plus ça Change

Bill Maher opened his first Real Time episode of 2023 by announcing humanity obsolete (Maher, 2023). The humor of Maher’s acerbic remark rests on our collective uneasiness with AI advancements, brought to the social foreground recently by the abilities of ChatGPT. The chorus of alarm that we may well be headed over the cliff to losing control of our technologies and societies now sounds more urgently from all corners of our public commentary, from articles in leading publications to popular podcasts. This public confrontation with GPT AI is only the latest in a series of recent tumultuous events, following the COVID outbreak, shift to online living, and war in Ukraine, that make it feel as if there is no stable ground upon which to stand. This is especially true for our profession, as education has both been confronted with the realities of rapid change and tasked with preparing the next generations for a future that is ever more difficult to predict. Times of such uncertainty bring to mind Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr, who lived through upending change probably greater than our own, whose aphorism has reminded the past few generations that plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. I will argue that the wisdom of Karr’s wit not only holds true to education, but forces into view an exceptional opportunity to consider and express the real value of our schools.

On the other hand, much substantial change has taken place in education; I imagine this traveler would be more lost in an elementary school computer class than in a supermarket, and would see great differences in how much active student participation is required in our lessons, how work is assessed by teachers (not to mention the proliferation of standardized tests and externally marked work through College Board and IB), and the number and type of core, elective and seminar classes offered at most schools compared to those of his own time. Still, I tend to agree that this traveler would feel somewhat at home in a school today, just as we might in a classroom in 1923, a medieval lecture at the University of Paris, or even seeing a lesson in Plato’s Academy in Athens. Instead of worrying about how little we have changed, a better focus might be to look at the stability of our institution and consider what this reveals about the value of schools to our students, societies, and world. When we run through all of the varieties of educational practice throughout the ages we can see a unifying telos of bringing up the next generation by equipping them with the skills and knowledge they need to lead lives that are more personally, socially, and civically fulfilling and purposeful. This, I hope, is a mission that is truly timeless, cutting to the core of our purpose as we envision it.

A look through schools’ mission statements, visions, character and service education descriptions, etc. all show that some version of self-development for more rewarding lives and better contributions to our societies remains the value we like to express as being the ultimate goal of our programs. Consider now how daily interactions in your school may signal some of the wrong incentives driving decision-making about how to confront change. A news piece that caught the world’s attention was the decision of Australian universities to shift away from academic essays that are produced at home over several revised drafts and move entirely to in-class writing for graded work in light of the potential for ChatGPT to be used to cheat on written work (Cassidy, 2023). So far College Board and IB have started to set two different roads in addressing GPT use in written work their organizations assess, and every school will have to make its own policies regarding this new technology. The concerns around academic malpractice are real, but hardly new! The structure of Banteay Kdei’s anti-cheating exam rooms gives some

14 EARCOS Triannual Journal

perspective on how seriously this problem has plagued societies in the past, and the marginalia in ancient students’ writing exercises tells us that not to put full effort into schoolwork is a temptation at least as old as the oldest assignments we can trace back in time. Yet many discussions treat our current predicament as one that is uniquely insoluble, ringing the death toll on out-of-class writing, and soon many other types of academic and artistic work. Such a defensive maneuver often comes back to arguments about fairness; push on that just a little bit and I bet it will not be long until you get to fairness in awarding grades. To a limited extent this makes sense in a competitive market-driven model of education, but this is far from the ideals and telos that we like to say guide our schools. Instead of considering why we have students write multi-draft revised essays, and whether the modes of thinking and expression this practice builds are valuable for a liberal education, we risk letting the tail of GPAs wag the dog that is our program. This also ignores that the future is one with AI, and finding ways for our students to work with it (including knowing when not to use it) in essays and art may be more authentic in preparing them for an active meaningful life after graduation. The abilities of open AI GPT do bring a new face to some perennial problems, but the stability of such problems can help redirect our attention to the human quality and value of good education. If we look to a mission of liberating ourselves through enhancing our understanding of who we are and equipping us with the skills and knowledge we need to continue learning and growing in life, this may help guide us through the process of addressing change more meaningfully.

Right now, we have a great opportunity to speak to each other, our students, parents, and communities about the value of education, student responsibility in that journey, how and why we revise our malpractice policies, and how all of this serves school’s purpose for our students and societies. This chance for deep dialogue and renewed understanding of education may be lost if too many schools try to control the narrative and rush to roll out abrupt protective measures instead of leaning into discussion.

Another misguided concern comes in the form of lost future payoff from education as AI promises to transform our professional and social landscapes in ways we cannot fully predict. This is what led New York Times columnist Ezra Klein to express his fear of AI being one of unknowns; asking the reader to “cast your gaze 10 or 20 years out. Typically, that has been possible in human history. I don’t think it is now” (Klein, 2023). Klein’s article goes on to address existential concerns that are real concerns and need to be taken more seriously by society at large. The answer to these concerns will come from the fields of ethics, politics, and technology, and should be made a central part of our public debates. In this area, schools have a special responsibility to inform and foster the discussions and public decision-making now and moving forward. However, more attention in current school discussions still seems to be focused on the existential anxiety our students (and parents, who pay tuition) face when looking toward a future where the professions that have long been the hallmarks of success — law, medicine, engineering — may not be there for humans entering professional schools in a few decades. Schools cannot predict what a more and more AI-run future will look like in terms of job prospects, nor should we be tying our value to alumni job outcomes later down the line. This presents another opportunity to address the purpose of the education we offer, one that has to do with helping people lead more examined

and fulfilled lives. Professions and social status have served as proxies by which fulfilled lives have been identified in the past, but they have also distracted from the core mission of education to a worrying degree, and too easily get miscast in and of themselves as the goal of a good education. We can leverage this generation’s existential anxiety to help shift priorities and call attention to the ways in which good education works as a cure for these fears by offering the ability to find meaning and purpose in a world of constant change.

The unpredictability of what lies ahead offers an opportunity right now to see more clearly and reaffirm our missions while opening dialogue about the purpose of our schools in a world that is poised to face immense change. This may even lead to stronger commitments to statements about a liberal education that define our schools and help families understand what they are and are not being offered as a core focus from our programs. It can also help to establish more confidently understood roles for international schools within their host societies as we continue to innovate and act as bridges for educational development across different global contexts. As we do so, may we always remember that we are a defining human institution, that our purpose, at its core, is and has always been to help people lead better, more examined and fulfilled lives. In education it is what stays the same that defines our real work and gives us the ability to confidently navigate one critical juncture after another without losing sight of who and what we are.


Cassidy, C. (2023, January 10). “Australian Universities to Return to ‘Pen and Paper’ Exams After Students Caught Using AI to Write Essays.” The Guardian. Retrieved from australia-news/2023/Jan/10/universities-to-return-to-pen-and-paper-exams-after-students-caught-using-ai-to-write-essays.

Klein, E. (2023, March 12). “This Changes Everything.” The New York Times. Retrieved from bots-artificial-intelligence-future-weirdness.html.

Maher, B., Carter, S., and Felber, A. (Writers. Maher, B. (Presenter). (2023, January 20). Season 21, Episode 1 [TV series episode]. In B. Maher, B. Martin, D.E. Johnson, M. Gurvitz, and S. Griffiths (Executive Producers), Real Time with Bill Maher. Bill Maher Productions.

About the Author

Mr. Rock joined SIS in 2019. He teaches Communications, English 9, and 12th grade Research. Mr. Rock also advises the G.I.N. club and coaches SIS’s Lincoln-Douglas and Public Forum debate teams.

Spring 2023 Issue 15

Learning Stories: A Journey to Align End of Semester Reporting with Program Philosophy

“Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children, play is serious learning.” Beloved by millions of children and adults, Fred Rogers, more commonly known as “Mr. Rogers,” who I just quoted, was a champion of young children. He promoted the importance of play and listening to children, their thoughts, and ideas. As a preschool teacher at the American International School Vietnam (AISVN), our program shares these beliefs held by the late Mr. Rogers.

AISVN runs a multi-age preschool program that, like many international schools, utilizes the International Baccalaureate’s inquiry-based PYP framework. Through this framework, preschool teachers design their learning provocations and support children in building their knowledge and skills. Our preschool program is called Khám Phá since, in Vietnamese, it means “discovery.” Mr. Rogers’ belief in listening to children is observed through teachers listening to children and ensuring that they have access to materials that will help them learn through play. Teachers become co-learners with the children and support them in their inquiries. Allowing children to inquire and drive their learning is a key principle of Reggio-inspired classrooms around the world.

In 2014, while teaching preschool at Copenhagen International School, I had the opportunity to attend the week-long study group in Reggio Emilia, Italy to learn about their approach toward early childhood education. To this day, that experience remains the most powerful professional development I’ve ever attended. Going into their early learning centers to “see” how they teach young learners and attending presentations greatly impacted how I conduct myself as an educator, how I view early childhood education, and the roles of the children, families, and educators. My biggest takeaway was the importance of documenting student learning. When teachers document student learning and share it with children, it supports children in going further in their thinking. Sharing this documentation with families allows for home school connections and learning to continue at home. Since visiting Reggio Emilia, my aim as an early childhood educator has been making learning visible through the documentation of learning and for it to be the catalyst for how I interact with children, colleagues, and families.

Seeing our preschool program at AISVN as a place for discovery calls for educators to carefully observe students to ensure they can be supported in their discoveries. Understanding the value of observations and their impact on student learning is crucial to a play and inquiry-based preschool program. One goal I had upon arriving at AISVN was to move towards a reporting system that matched our constructivist perspective towards student learning. In addition to using photos and videos to make learning visible to children and help them think and go further in their learning, we post learning stories on Seesaw so that families can support their children at home and know what they are learning.

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American International School Vietnam

In the 2022-2023 school year, my first year at AISVN, I advocated for aligning our end-of-term reports with how we taught children. After sharing this desire with the PYP coordinator, I was allowed to inquire into how best to update our reporting on learning in Khám Phá so that we could have a new reporting system for the 20222023 academic year. This was an exciting opportunity to improve our Khám Phá program.

port cards. Both homeroom and Vietnamese teachers began to feel more comfortable using learning stories to make learning visible to children, inform their instruction, and report to families on Seesaw.

Step 4: Finding a Platform

As an educator, I feel I am tech savvy, but knowing how to set up a system for reporting was outside of my wheelhouse. Collaborating with our school’s IT Manager became the next crucial step. After considering many possibilities and creating templates in different platforms, including Canva, Seesaw, and Google Docs, we decided to utilize ManageBac. Following many consultations with our IT Manager about how homeroom, Vietnamese and specialist teachers would structure their learning stories, we had three separate learning story templates to share with the homeroom, Vietnamese, and specialist teachers to utilize in their end-of-term reporting to families.

Step 5: Support

Step 1: Research

During the research step, it was crucial to find a way to represent the transdisciplinary nature of learning that occurred during the term and ensure that we reported on learning outcomes from the Creative Curriculum and two PYP units of inquiry per semester. I decided it would be best for homeroom teachers to write one learning story for each unit of inquiry for each reporting cycle. In order to have continuity among the Khám Phá homeroom teachers, we agreed to base our learning story reports on one chosen PYP Approach to Learning (ATL) for each unit of inquiry. In the learning stories, we would address the Creative Curriculum learning outcomes assigned to each unit either through the story or through a general teacher comment.

Step 2: Proposal

As I prepared to submit the proposed learning story reports, I had a few crucial areas to consider in addition to the formatting of the homeroom teacher learning story reports. Firstly, I needed to consider how our Vietnamese and specialist teachers could write their own learning stories. Through consultation with the Vietnamese and specialist teachers, I was able to include their ideas so that the process of documenting students and recording student learning would be manageable. This was particularly important for our specialist teachers, who also work with kindergarten to grade five classes and have many students they serve.

Step 3: Professional Development

Training was a crucial element in implementing the learning story reports. During a daylong professional development day, I focused on building a shared understanding of learning stories amongst the Khám Phá and Vietnamese teachers. This time allowed me to work with my team to ensure that everyone understood how to create learning stories and the differences between the learning stories we post on Seesaw and those we will create for the end-of-term re-

As the Khám Phá team leader and the person spearheading this switch, I was the primary person teachers came to for troubleshooting issues that arose as they wrote their learning stories and then put them into ManageBac. Our IT Manager was always available to help, and he was troubleshooting issues with me and the rest of the teachers throughout the whole process. We couldn’t have moved to learning story reports without his expertise. On December 9, 2022, our first-ever learning story reports were sent to families through ManageBac. We received positive feedback from families anecdotally and through a Google Survey. They appreciated the new format of reporting on student learning and shared that having photographs and stories depicting the learning helped to better understand their child as a learner during the first semester.


Through the process of creating a new reporting system, I have learned so much about myself as a learner and leader. I am happy to work at a school that empowered me to identify an area for growth and then supported me in making a change that would ultimately improve the quality of instruction we provide for our students. Mr. Rogers famously said, “play gives children a chance to practice what they are learning” and that “the most important people in a child’s life are the child’s parents and teachers.” For this reason, taking time to reimagine our end-of-term reporting so they could be more closely aligned with our constructivist program’s formative reporting was a crucial step in further developing our program for young learners and building a better communication system for reporting student growth with families.

About the Author

Amy Silverman is the Khám Phá Program Homeroom TeacherTeam Leader at the American International School Vietnam. She can be contacted at

Spring 2023 Issue 17

CURRICULUM Refocusing on Teaching and Learning: Uniting Chiang Mai International Schools Through Professional Development

Refocusing somehow implies that we lost sight of what we were doing, that we took a momentary time-out. Well, that is essentially what the pandemic forced upon the world of education- a pause from normalcy and a feeling of isolation. For international schools in Chiang Mai, the start of virtual learning began in the Spring of 2020 and was off and on until the end of Spring 2022. During this time international school leaders met virtually through the long established Chiang Mai Circle of International Schools (CMCIS) group. During the pandemic, this local gathering helped heads of schools connect and collaborate on the pressing and moment to moment decision changes Covid-19 put upon the education community world-wide. It served, and continues to be, a network from which international school leaders can gain support and brainstorm regarding senior level administrative issues.

With the start of the 2022-23 school-year, the Chiang Mai international school community rejoiced, face-to-face learning was restored and is the present norm. The Chiang Mai Circle of International Schools began plans to resume its Chiang Mai wide professional development day in order to reconnect school communities, re-establish networks, provide staff with an opportunity to showcase areas of expertise and present a variety of workshops to educators who had grown weary of webinars. Chiang Mai International School volunteered to host the event and preparations began at the start of the 2022-23 school year.

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Keynote Address: Grant O’Sullivan

On March 3rd, 2023 eight international schools (Chiang Mai International School, American Pacific International School, Unity Concord International School, American Chinese International School, Panyaden International School, Prem Tinsulanonda International School, Nakornpayap International School, and Lanna International School) over six-hundred and fifty participants, forty one presenters, thirty-eight presentations and a keynote speaker came together on the quaint Chiang Mai International School campus to make the CMCIS professional development day a reality. Workshops and presentations were curated with a special attention towards getting everyone in the mindset of honing their teaching practice and feeling rejuvenated about their work. Keynote speaker Grant O’Sullivan, founding director with CCS and Growth Coaching International who now works in a part time capacity under his own business; O’Sullivan Family Trust, kicked off the day with A Coaching Approach in Schools and demonstrated a live coaching conversation. He also presented concurrent workshops on leaders as coaches and teachers as peer coaches. Jenn Weidman, CEO of SPACE Bangkok, spoke on Resiliency in Education and finding time to care for ourselves when dealing with stressful environments. Visible Thinking, Third Culture Kids, Translanguaging, Game-Based Learning, Second Step SEL, Mindful Behavior Interventions, Orten-Gillingham, Multicultural Education, and an AI software discussion were just a few of the many opportunities educators had to choose from, along with job-a-like sessions to network with others across Chiang Mai.

The feedback received was positive, many left wishing for more time and looking forward to next year’s event. If the ‘new normal’ has brought about a true world learning community, collaboration, a renewed sense of purpose, and increased use of technology, then perhaps the aftermath hasn’t been all bad for the field of education.

About the Author

Kristine Cariello joined CMIS this September 2022 as the Interim Director of Service Learning, Accreditation, Data Analysis and Special Projects. She led the CMCIS PD Day Planning Committee as the Chair for the event.

Participants waiting for a workshop to begin
Spring 2023 Issue 19
Jenn Weidman, CEO SPACE Bangkok, Resiliency in Education

The Teacher-Coach Partnership

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Many schools, particularly in the EARCOS region, are investing in instructional coaching. Hiring coaches means that teachers have access to non-evaluatory, individualized professional learning intentionally designed to support teacher goals for student learning. The ideals of coaching sound amazing - sustainable professional growth, deep reflective practices, professional learning that happens directly in the classroom, and an opportunity to continue to improve student learning through teacher partnership.

Like many new initiatives, there can be challenges in the implementation phase and beyond. That doesn’t mean all is lost! If you’re working in a school with coaches right now, and the reality doesn’t match with the vision that’s been presented to you, don’t give up hope. It’s likely that the intention is there. With some attention to communication and building the teacher-coach relationship your school can make it work.

Understanding the Challenges

Let’s start by recognizing the challenges that teachers may face when starting to work with instructional coaches. Common concerns about entering into this work may include:

• “I don’t know what to ask my coach to work with me on.”

• “I’m worried about where I can find the time to meet with my coach.”

• “What if I get judged or information I share is linked to evaluation?”

• “Will I get told what to do?”

These are all real concerns. Coaches and administrators have a responsibility to provide clarity on their role to alleviate these fears. Concerns like these often come from a place of not having the right information or not having enough agency in the coaching process.

Teachers should play a role in entering into coaching in a way that feels safe and meaningful for them, especially when coaching is new at a school. A coach can help by communicating the various roles they can play in the coaching process. Through conversations with a coach, teachers can let them know what they feel comfortable doing. There’s lots a teacher can do to ensure their needs are met especially when new to coaching.

Teachers can:

• Get informed. Ask your coach questions about their role and the types of ways they’ve worked with other teachers.

• Ask for what you want (e.g. I want to increase the use of thinking routines in lessons in order to promote deeper thinking on key concepts).

• Ask for how you want it (e.g. It would be helpful to look at a series of lessons for where visible thinking routines would elevate their thinking).

• Guide the intensity of coaching by having control over the what and how components of coaching. This way, a teacher can feel safe to enter into the coaching relationships and processes and give time to build a trusting relationship based on positive experiences. Teachers can think of it like a dial that they can control to turn up or down the intensity depending on readiness, time, and level of trust in the relationship.

• Start in a team. If you are part of a small PLC or team, you can

ask your coach to support the group. This can feel less vulnerable.

• Share your concerns or fears so your coach can adapt to your needs. Coaching is not one size fits all and coaches can personalize coaching to meet teachers’ needs.

• Start small. Positive experiences create trust and readiness to go into deeper work.

Building a Relationship with a Coach

The greatest benefit for students happens when there is a trusting, respectful, collaborative relationship between teachers and coaches. Like any relationship it takes time, effort, and intentionality to develop a strong working relationship. There are things a coach can do and there are things that teachers can do to support this process.

Here are some tips and considerations for teachers:

• Enter the relationship with curiosity and in the spirit of possibilities.

• Get to know your coach as an educator by inviting them into your learning community to meet and work with your students.

• If you’ve read an educational article or listened to a podcast that was interesting, share it with your coach. It helps them know a bit more about you and can spark a great discussion which will uncover your values and pedagogies around teaching and learning.

• Recognize that coaching is individualized. Coaches are responsive to the needs, readiness, and time constraints of teachers. Therefore, what a coach does with one teacher may be different than with someone else. Likewise, different coaches may approach their coaching slightly differently due to personal styles and experiences.

• You know yourself best. Reveal things about yourself that will help the coach support you in the most productive way. For example, you can let your coach know how you like to receive feedback (in writing versus in person, straight away versus delayed a few days). You can also tell your coach the goals you have for yourself as a teacher or areas you’ve been working on recently.

One of the best ways to get to know each other is to do something together. You could co-plan and co-teach a lesson together in a way that feels joyful and safe for you. This reveals things about each of your teaching styles and areas of strengths.

Instructional coaches believe in a growth mindset, professionalism, and staying curious. They respect teachers and know that teachers are always working towards improving their craft in order to impact student engagement and learning. Coaches and coaching programs can be powerful structures to support teacher professional development and student growth and are most successful when there is a strong teacher-coach partnership.

About the Authors

Tracy Blair is a Grade 4 PLC Leader/Coach/Teacher at Singapore American School. Kim Cofino recently presented at the EARCOS Leadership Conference 2022 in Bangkok,Thailand.

Spring 2023 Issue 21

Concordia’s Week of Code Fosters Student Collaboration, Creativity, and Confidence

Concordia International School Hanoi elementary students had the opportunity to create with code and then collaborate with students in other grade levels to share their thinking during the Week of Code.

“We want to create a culture of creative problem solvers who are comfortable and confident sharing their thinking and design processes,” said Elementary school vice principal Mrs. Winterstein.

The Week of Code is dedicated to showcasing student’s STEM knowledge and skills, and aims to celebrate their learning and share it with other grades.

“Our objective was to make the process of learning computer coding enjoyable and engaging for students, while also fostering a sense of excitement and enthusiasm for the subject,” said elementary school STEM teacher Mr. Caldwell.

Part of the program included “Coding buddies” whereby upper elementary students mentored lower elementary students in small groups of three or four, and helped them learn how to code and maneuver robots. In turn the lower elementary students led the older students in some “unplugged” coding activities to navigate mazes and perform actions using the language of code. Depending on the age of the coder, different platforms were used from Scratch Jr to Scratch along with some others.

Concordia Grade 3 students built an electronic piano.
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Concordia elementary students coded using Scratch and Scratch Jr. programing languages.

While some groups built robots, others made electronic instruments like drums, piano, and even “just dance” style response pads using circuits, and learned how humans can be part of a closed circuit to make it work.

Students shared their experiences during Week of Code.

“We worked with Grade 3 students who built a computerized piano, and we got to play it!” said Reception students Olivia, Celia, Sophie and Myky.

“Our robot bounced a ball,” Olivia added.

“The robot had a sensor on its head that helped shoot the ball,” Myky explained.

“I liked Week of Code because I could keep coding in Scratch - I almost finished coding a target game, which I do in STEM class,” said Shih Min (G4). I shared the game with the first graders and they thought it was cool.”

“My friend Binh Anh (G3) built an electronic drum set - you connect cables to it and it makes sounds,” said Bibi (G3).

“I learned you can make a working piano out of cardboard, copper tape, alligator clips and a computer to code it,” said Satine (G4), adding, “I feel like people could really experiment with what they could do in coding, share their ideas, and be creative.”

Grade 5 students also visited the Concordia High School STEM program, where Grade 12 student Thomas showcased his AI program which can analyze live video and gauge the efficiency of exercises. Students took turns doing exercises and were amazed the program could analyze their movements and tell them the exact angles they needed to maximize their performance.

Registered Concordia students in G3-5 will connect with students in Jakarta and Shanghai through a codeathon that will take place on April 18th. Coders will use their creativity and problem solving to create an animation or game for the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 14 Life Below Water, focused on conservation and sustainable use and development of the natural marine resources of the oceans, seas.

About the Author

William P. Badger, Jr. is the Director of Community Outreach at Concordia International School Hanoi.

Concordia reception students got help from a high schooler as their robot traversed a maze. Grade 3 and Reception students coded robots to traverse a course.
Spring 2023 Issue 23
Concordia elementary students collaborated to program and build an electronic drum.

CURRICULUM Differentiation in High School Science

Differentiation means adapting teaching methods to reach all students regardless of skill level or learning needs. At The International School Yangon (ISY), in keeping with our compassionate Mission and strategic theme of inclusion, inclusive instructional practices are used to be sure each student maximizes their potential for learning. However, that does not mean separate lesson plans for every student. ISY Science teacher, Rentia Smith shares how she successfully differentiates in her classroom to meet the learning needs of all her students in her 10th, 11th and 12th grade science classes.

What drives you to practice differentiation in your classroom?

All work is differentiated because the students are at different places with their knowledge of the English language as well as different reading levels. Writing is difficult for some students, and for some verbalizing what they know is difficult. Science builds on itself. All children must have access. If they do not understand, they will not participate. Students already know if they are struggling. I want them to feel a part of the class. If they are questioning themselves, the vocabulary and/or the content they will not engage.

How do you start a lesson?

I start every new lesson or unit with the vocabulary. If students do not know the vocabulary they will not interact with their work. Through MAP testing, collaborating with the learning support teachers and through observation, I identify the students that need things simplified. Any assignment is simplified. I create 2 different slides in google classroom. There is the original slide and a simplified slide. To simplify the vocabulary I only have the important words to define the term. The skill and content are exactly the same for all students.

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The International School Yangon

How do students share their knowledge?

Students get options. They can write, record, make notes and add a visual. Some love the video option. How a student presents doesn’t matter as long as they are showing the learning that is expected.

What does learning look like in your classroom?

It is a practical interactive class.They can build models to explain their understanding.There are many different materials available to build so the students can understand at a more concrete level; like taking a theory and making it tangible.

How do you see success in your classroom?

The children are passing. They have reached goals they have set. I also see the confidence in the students changing. Children are coming in early to have a chat. They feel comfortable.

There are many opportunities for students to collaborate. And I allow the students to choose their groups, but they can work on their own if they’d like. Students who are less confident tend to work by themselves. However, as they feel more comfortable I see them integrating into the groups. This is a sign of success. They are integrating and feeling more comfortable and confidnet.

Do you see some of the learning ISY Learning Attributes or ISY Interdisciplinary Concepts being met through your approach?

Compassion: Showing compassion towards the students teaches them to be compassionate to themselves.

Connection: It is important that the students see the bigger picture and what they are learning has value when they are outside in the world. Connection between the teacher and student, and student to student is important as well.

Responsibility: It is a group effort. I can be available but they need to take responsibility for their learning. When they bring back something they learned or discovered when they were studying or researching, I will integrate that into our next lesson. Students feel they are contributing and valued.

About the Authors

Rentia is a High School Science teacher at ISY. Rentia was interviewed by her colleague, Kirstin Hedger. Kirstin is ISY’s Learning Story Coordinator. In this Learning Story role, Kirstin reaches out to our teachers (and students) who are doing great things so their stories can be told. In telling these stories, others can benefit from the ideas that are shared.

Spring 2023 Issue 25


The Inconvenient Truth: No-Culture Kids in Transcultural Educational Environments

In the heart of one of the world’s most remote and biodiverse regions lies Mt. Zaagkam School (MZS) in Tembagapura, Indonesia. Tucked away in a lush cloud forest, this school boasts a unique multicultural community of 70 PreK to Grade 8 students from 18 different countries. MZS is a melting pot of cultures and backgrounds, offering education beyond the traditional classroom experience.

MZS does not have a dominant host culture or predominant mono-cultural representation within the student body. Thus, student identity is a blending of cultures and is wholly unique. This creates an experience and understanding for students disconnected from a traditional national culture identity supported through the constructs of home, identity, belonging, and connectedness which most of us take for granted. As a result, our students are referenced as No Culture Kids (NCKs), as alluded to in the research on Third Culture Kids (TCKs), with the understanding that our transcultural students are missing the support structures of the “Third Culture”. Similarly to the conventional research on TCKs, No Culture Kids also face repatriation obstacles. However, our current hypothesis suggests that these challenges are more severe than those experienced by TCKs (Pollock & Van Reken, 2009).

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MZS Home Culture Dine and Dance Event (November 2022)

The COVID-19 pandemic caused a substantial disruption in the education system worldwide, including at MZS. Many students were forced to unenroll from MZS due to travel restrictions and health concerns. For the first time, some of these students enrolled in schools from their home countries, resulting in a unique experience for them. As the pandemic subsided and MZS reopened, these students returned with stories of their struggles. Evidently, this was an isolating experience for many students as they were suddenly in a new environment without their significant support structures: their school, friends, and the host country they left behind. In addition, as their parents were truly home, they did not anticipate or relate to the culture shock their children experienced. MZS students felt peers could not relate to their experience in Papua (home). Their descriptions of their life in Papua to newfound peers and family members were unrelatable and fantastical.

Hearing the realization of their struggles was illuminating for the faculty at MZS. This led us to question what responsibilities schools, especially those with significant transcultural populations like MZS, have in supporting the development of students’ home cultures. Should transcultural schools feel an ethical obligation to support students who repatriate? This issue has been overlooked in academia, particularly in the elementary and middle school sections, since these challenges do not manifest until students leave school. In some cases, students may even enroll in other international schools before most transition to their passport country, where the culture is often opaque and unfamiliar. As educators, we must consider our role in supporting our students’ cultural identities in the classroom and beyond, especially during these milestone transitions.

As a result, MZS has taken a proactive approach to address the issues mentioned above. We recognize the unique challenges faced by NCK when they eventually transition from a familiar host culture to their passport culture; a place that is familiar but where they may lack a deep understanding of the societal nuances and social norms. It is important for these students to consider their roles and place within their new environment critically. As a school, we have developed a comprehensive set of actions to support these students in preparation for this crucial transitional period.

1. Educate students and families about the term NCK and the unique challenges and opportunities that come with it. By learning about, acknowledging, and celebrating the diversity of their student population, schools can promote a sense of belonging and inclusivity for all.

2. Maintain appropriate connections with friends and family while overseas. This can be achieved through technology and regular communication, as well as through the learning units in the form of guest speakers, mystery

readers, and school events such as Grandparents Day or Home Culture Dine & Dance Night.

3. Maintaining and/or developing national historical, traditions, and customs knowledge. Through units of study and by celebrating cultural events such as Home Country Clubs, cultural Hot Lunches, Assemblies, Spirit Days, and Book Week, schools can help NCKs feel connected to their home country and peers.

4. Maintain and/or develop the NCK mother tongue to support their language skills and cultural identity. Schools can implement mother tongue development programs that include opportunities to learn the language and culture.

5. Gather social and emotional data on alums. By collecting data on students’ transition experiences, schools can better understand the unique challenges and opportunities of being a NCK. This information helps schools develop more effective transition programs and support systems for future students. Additionally, by tracking alums’ social and emotional well-being, schools can evaluate the longterm impact of their programs and services and identify areas for improvement. The data can also be used to build a supportive network of alums who can offer advice and guidance to current students as they navigate their transitions.

6. Explicit teaching and monitoring of 21st-century skills. These competencies equip students with the tools to thrive in an ever-changing environment. By promoting the development of skills such as communication, collaboration, critical thinking, creativity, and digital literacy, schools can help NCK navigate the challenges that result from transitioning to their country of passport.

The vital role of schools in facilitating NCKs’ transition to their home country cannot be overstated. Although some universities offer NCKs transition programs, expanding such initiatives to the elementary and middle school levels is imperative. Our primary objective is to equip NCKs with the necessary tools to navigate their transcultural experiences and address their multifaceted needs, enabling them to flourish upon repatriation. These programs can assist NCKs in developing effective coping mechanisms, enhancing social and emotional skills, and bolstering academic performance during the transition period..


Pollock, D. C., & Van Reken, R. E. (2009). Third culture kids: Growing up among worlds, revised edition. Nicholas Brealey.

About the Authors

James Crawford is the Head of Campus and Raquel AcedoRubio is the Head of Learning at Mount Zaagkam School, Indonesia.

Spring 2023 Issue 27


Have You Considered Multiage?

Our school

Aoba Japan International School is an IB school accredited by CIS and NEASC. The Multi Age Structure in our school was a pilot program carried out by the Early Years team. Our multi age kindergarten class includes students ranging from 3 to 5 years old. Students stay with the same teachers for three years in a very socially and academically integrated single learning community. In our framework, the learning objectives are met through inquiry and play.

Seeing challenges as opportunities

Transitioning from a single-leveled classroom to a multiage classroom has its own challenges. We, as a team, met the challenges with an open-mind. We saw these challenges as opportunities to be creative, adaptive and to grow. In this article, we will walk you through the challenges we faced and how we were able to create opportunities for development. We have categorized challenges into four domains: Students, Environment, Teachers, and Parents. (see Fig.1)

Challenges in the Student Domain

“The main thing is that the groups should contain different ages, because it has a great influence on the cultural development of the child. This is obtained by the relations of the children among themselves. You cannot imagine how well a young child learns from an older child; how patient the older child is with the difficulties of the younger.”


In Lakshmi Kripalani’s most recent book, More Montessori in Practice: Further Observations of a First-Generation Montessorian, she stresses the importance of three-year multi-age grouping. She says, “A prepared environment means learning in an environment where young and old students can function at different levels. This is why Montessori insisted on three-year groups functioning together.”(Kripalani 2018) In our kindergarten, we are in our third-year of implementing multiage grouping and in this article we present to you our journey in this distinctive endeavor.

The greatest challenge in this domain was the students’ developmental differences. We noticed the older students tend to lose engagement with learning materials as they master the skills more quickly and interest fades away. Younger students, on the other hand, may struggle with these same activities and need more time, support, and encouragement to stay engaged. Maturity-wise, older students could be more emotionally stable and better able to regulate their emotions, unlike their younger peers. Another striking difference that we realized is students of different ages reach cognitive milestones at different times. For example, younger students often struggle with abstract reasoning, while older students are more capable in this area. These differences create gaps in students’ comprehension levels, functional independence and performance. Our multiage classroom also includes students with different stages of language development. The younger children are learning to use simple to complex sentence structures in speaking while the older students have moved on to speaking more sophisticated sentences and transferring language to foundational skills of reading and writing.

Turning Into Opportunities

Developmental differences made us realize that promoting equity for multi age children was something that we had to focus on. This meant that we needed intentional planning to ensure that instruction is developmentally and linguistically appropriate for all. So, in our planning, differentiation became a major player. We created developmentally appropriate expectations for each age group and organized activities where children across all ages can use their strengths and abilities. Another step was to intentionally provide a variety of developmentally appropriate books and materials for students to access. Our activities were designed to fit multi age groups where older children have the opportunity to serve as mentors and take leadership roles. Gradually, as the older children modeled more

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sophisticated skills, the younger children became more able to accomplish similar tasks with less assistance. In turn, this dynamic increased the older children’s skills and competency. The element of competition was removed, whereas cooperation became more evident. To address the developmental differences in language, we adopted steps that provide appropriate language support. This included using visual aids, applying clear and concise language, scaffolding instructions through blended approaches and creating opportunities for peer to peer learning.

Challenges in the Environmental Domain

Environment is a major part in the planning as having different age groups and large numbers of students tend to create increased noise levels and distractions. Managing the sound level and harnessing students’ attention could often be challenging. In multiage, material appropriation is a constant necessity, as different age groups often require more materials and more variety. It’s also imperative to ensure that all materials provided are safe for all age levels. Moreover, the classroom spaces needed to be designed for different cognitive and physical developmental stages to meet students’ ever changing needs and interests.

Turning Into Opportunities

To tackle the above challenges, we created corners where children can work in small groups. This helps to distribute the noise level in small pockets, while still keeping the students engaged in activities that are a bit noisier in nature (like inquiries.) To promote material appropriation, we made efforts to provide open-ended materials that have no age barriers. Students of all age groups showed ownership of their learning by making choices with the materials to explore their interests. Addressing the environmental challenges that come with the physical and cognitive gap range in a multiage, we created a collaborative learning space which promotes self-direction and creativity. This collaborative learning space motivated the children of different age levels to share their skills with their peers and co-create their learning paths which reflect their developmental levels.

Challenges in the Teacher Domain

Having multiple teachers in one classroom means having different teaching styles and perspectives. In a multiage classroom, students stay with the same teacher for a continuous period of three years.

Turning Into Opportunities

Anchored on respect, trust, open-mindedness and flexibility, we viewed our differences as our team’s strength. We were keen on making a consistent collaborative working environment to offer a diverse learning experience for our students. As teachers, we were

Children in different age groups captured working collaboratively.

able to constantly learn from each other and improve our practices. We also realized that consistency of teachers throughout the three year period allows teachers to develop a deeper understanding of the children’s strengths and needs thus giving us the privilege of time to tailor individualized learning paths.

Challenges in the Parent Domain

As expected initially, parents were skeptical of this program as we deviated from the existing single grade level classroom to a multiage structure.

Turning Into Opportunities

To alleviate this problem, periodic communication and sharing with families helped parents understand how the multiage program benefits their children and it also built a strong and trusting partnership between families and the school. We have made the classroom more visible to parents by holding parent information workshops, inviting parents to the classroom to observe and celebrate studentled events, hold parent-teacher conferences and consistently collaborate with teachers to support student learning and development.


There were no manuals when we started our journey, we just learned from our day to day experiences and created a program that best suits us. We are still on our journey and we will continue to explore more possibilities to improve our program. We sincerely hope that our experiences will give some of you the motivation to consider a multiage structure for your classrooms.


Cozza, B. (2017). The Multiage Learning Community in Action: Creating a Caring School Environment for All Children. Rowman & Littlefield. Milligan College. (2022). The Impact of Multiage Classroom Environments on Student Social Behaviors at a Selected Elementary School. Ritland, V. a. V., & Eighmy, M. A. (2012). Multiage Instruction: An Outdated Strategy, Or a Timeless Best Practice. European Journal of Social & The Personette, P. (n.d.). Three-Year Multi-Age Grouping in the Montessori Classroom - Ideas & Insights Articles. Montessori Services. Retrieved March 29, 2023, from

About the Authors

Teresa Velez, Paramita Basu, and Hazel Lara are all teachers at Aoba Japan International School. Paramita Basu can be contacted at

Spring 2023 Issue 29

Intent versus Impact: Planting the Seeds for Critical Service-Learning in Schools

personal bias and misconceptions.

Service-learning has been historically driven by the well-intentioned act of helping others in a real-world context and students learning a multitude of skills in the process (Southern Regional Education Board, 1967). However, these same noble efforts have often incurred less-advertised effects, such as disempowering the recipients of such service.

Individuals who serve with good intentions, without exploring the consequent effects of the service on the service recipient, are perpetuating an oppressive situation in society whether they are cognizant of the oppression or not.

When service-learning is done without proper selection of students, without appropriate training, orientation and reflection, it can support ineffective and harmful kinds of service.

Maybach and Brewster warn of the complex consequences of unexamined service-learning exchanges. Research reveals other potential harms of traditional service-learning exchanges, including (white) saviorism (Cipolle, 2010; Cole, 2012), lack of cultural sensitivity (Proyrungroj, 2015), overlooking of systemic issues (Eby, 1998), and prioritization of student benefit over recipient impact (Stoecker & Tryon, 2009). As educators dedicated to social justice, recognizing our own privilege and role as leaders of future citizens, it is our responsibility to push beyond well-intentioned efforts and engage in truly reciprocally beneficial practices with our local communities.

In 2001, Matthew Masucci and Adam Renner coined the term “critical service-learning (CSL).” CSL invites youth to become self-aware of how identity affects their relationship with the community and examines issues of power and privilege, to then take action to improve inequitable social and economic systems (Johnson et al., 2018; Kinefuchi, 2010; Mitchell, 2008). CSL is built on a strength-based approach (Saleeby, 1996), and assumes that individuals and communities possess various funds of knowledge (Moll, 2006). CSL texts refer to “partners in service” as a replacement for traditional terms such as “volunteers” and “hosts” to reflect a more equal level of contribution. In the collaborative action research I conducted with peers in my current school, critical service-learning should include an emphasis on building relationships, be driven by reciprocal benefits for all partners, and incorporate reflection as a means to redress potential

So what might critical service-learning look like in elementary school classrooms? In September 2022, a small group of like-minded educators, sharing a passion for service-learning and an eagerness to engage with the community after a pandemic, met to design a sequence of lessons. We realized that starting with our own school provided a previously untapped opportunity for this practice. So, in October, a second grade and a third grade teacher, Komal Daswani and I co-taught a series of lessons that explicitly focused on building relationships between student-partners in multidynamic ways culminating with the exchange of a hand-made helpful tool specifically designed for the partner. In addition, we incorporated several reflections to capture changes in student thinking and address possible misconceptions. The eight sessions took us 3 weeks to complete. Following is the sequence of lessons that we designed to address the critical service-learning concepts explained above: (see Table 1)

Overall, based on the students’ final reflections, we felt the sessions were successful. The final reflection asked students whether building relationships helped them change their thinking about their partners; here are some excerpts:

• “Yes, because I thought he was naughty (before getting to know him) but (now I know) he has a balance of naughty and good”

• “Yes, because (now I know) he has great new strategies”

• “Yes, I thought she liked creativity but now I know she also likes sports”

• “Yes, because I didn’t know we liked similar things”

30 EARCOS Triannual Journal
Example of Venn Diagram showing student-partner strengths and goals.

Preparation Session, Title (context) & Plan

Plan: Teachers designed a series of learning experiences that addressed CSL concepts and thoughtfully assigned student partners centering social emotional identities.

Preparation Session 1

Title: Starting with ourselves (own classroom)

Plan: Students used a brainstorming web to jot their interests in one color, their strengths in a second color, and the areas in which they want to grow at the bottom

Preparation Session 2

Title: Reflection 1(own classroom)

Plan: We introduced the upcoming G2 and G3 partner unit. We then shared the names of their buddy and students sketched a potential portrait of their buddy. This included a guess (based on potential stereotypes) at their buddy’s possible strengths and interests.

Preparation Session 3

Title: Partner interview (with student-partners)

Plan: We defined the term ‘relationship’ and introduced the student-partners to each other. They shared their brainstorming webs and used a Venn diagram to jot overlapping strengths and interests between the partners using different colors.

Preparation Session 4

Title: Partner interview 2 (with student-partners)

Plan: In this session, we focused on the areas in which we wanted to grow and shared them with our partner.

Preparation Session 5

Title: Reflection 2 (own classroom)

Plan: Students reflected on commonalities, listed things that surprised them, and jotted questions they were wondering about regarding their partner.

Preparation Session 6

Title: Taking action (own classroom)

Plan: Students used an organizer to review what they’ve learned about their partner and brainstormed possible projects specifically designed for them. This session might take more than one period. We recommend using only school craft supplies.

Preparation Session 7

Title: Celebration (with partners)

Plan: In this session, partners exchange gifts and rationales for why they made those gifts.

Preparation Session 8

Title: Final reflection (own classroom)

Plan: Students complete a final reflection where they answer questions about how building a relationship helped them get to know someone new. Students can also re-sketch a portrait of their buddy now that they are much more familiar with them. Whole class conversation is led to highlight differences in the portraits, changes in personal thinking or what they’ve learned about their partners, and to connect the learning to real-world context.








Reciprocity and Relationship


The reciprocal quality of collaboration between the partner teachers allowed Komal and I to co-teach conversations, co-lead teachable moments on the spot, and revise sessions as needed based on our transparent, honest reflections. So what’s next? My hope is that the more we practice building relationships in multidynamic ways and centering funds of knowledge, when engaging with others, students’ mindsets will begin with “I know this person has strengths, interests and desires for growing, just like I do,” “What can we learn from each other?” and finally, “How can I contribute to their growth?” My hope is that, fulfilling the mission of the service-learning definition, young people develop skills to take action towards supporting others in real-life contexts. However, we can’t stop there. Through applying critical service-learning to our practice, students can learn to reflect on their thinking and develop skills to address their potential bias so that engaging with “others” has the true potential to be authentically respectful and reciprocally beneficial.

Example of student-partner gifts with rationales.
Critical Service-
Learning Strand
Spring 2023 Issue 31
Table 1.


Brewster, K. R. (2018). Transformative and transformed: Examining the critical potential of service learner positional identities. Equity & Excellence in Education, 51(3–4), 347–361. 0665684.2018.1546152

Cipolle, S. B. (2010). Service-learning and social justice: Engaging students in social change. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

Cole, T. (2012, March 21). The white-savior industrial complex. The Atlantic. the-white-savior-industrial-complex/254843/

Eby, J. (1998). Why service-learning is bad. University of Omaha. Maybach, C. (1996). Investigating urban community needs: Service learning from a social justice perspective. Education and Urban Society, 28(2), 224–236. https://doi. org/10.1177/0013124596028002007

Johnson, A., McKay-Jackson, C., & Grumbach, G. (2018). Critical service learning toolkit: Social work strategies for promoting healthy youth development. Oxford University Press.

Kinefuchi, E. (2010). Critical consciousness and critical service-learning at the intersection of the personal and the structural. Journal of Applied Learning in Higher Education, 2, 77–93.

Masucci, M., & Renner, A. (2001). The evolution of critical service learning for education: Four problematics. University of Tennessee.

Mitchell, T. (2008). Traditional vs. critical service-learning: Engaging the literature to differentiate two models. Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning, 14(2), 50–65

Moll, L. (2006). Reflections and possibilities. In Funds of Knowledge (pp. 287–300). Routledge.

Proyrungroj, R. (2015). The attitudes of Thai hosts towards western volunteer tourists. European Journal of Tourism Research, 11, 102–124.

Saleeby, D. (1996). The strengths based perspective in social work: Extensions and cautions. Social Work, 41(3), 296–305.

Stoecker, R., & Tryon, E. (2009). The unheard voices: Community organizations and service learning. Temple University Press.

About the author

Francesca Cecchi, EdD is a second grade teacher at Singapore American School. She can be contacted at

SCAN to learn more Courses Online That Fit Any Schedule & Time Zone The University of Nebraska does not discriminate based upon any protected status. Please see 2208.014 AP® is a trademark registered by the College Board, which is not affiliated with, and does not endorse, the University of Nebraska High School. U.S. diploma Accredited, college-preparatory program 100+ core, elective, AP®, dual enrollment & NCAA-approved courses Open enrollment Self-paced, independent study Responsive staff (402) 472-3388 32 EARCOS Triannual Journal
Spring 2023 Issue 33


How can Multi Tiered Systems of Support be Implemented to Meet the Needs Within the PE Context


Multi Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) is a framework which provides teachers with three tiers to help organise curriculum along a continuum ranging from support for all, targeted for some, and intensive support for the few. MTSS focuses on providing high quality, data informed instruction, to meet the needs of every student.

While there are significant MTSS practises that support students in literacy and mathematics there is limited to no research on it’s application specifically within the PE context. Whilst as a school we are implementing MTSS across multiple domains, this research will be focused through the lens of Physical Education.

Gutthold et al (2020) research indicates 85% of children worldwide were classified as inactive, following World Health Organisation guidelines, with the highest area in the world for insufficient physical activity being Asia Pacific for both boys 89% and girls 95.6%. Current research indicates that a decline in physical activity begins from the age of 7. Farooq et al, (2018), Lounassalo, Salin, Kankaanpaa et al, (2018) and Engel et al, (2018). Whilst Capio et al (2015) and Xin and Chen et al (2020) identified a link between a child’s proficiency with Fundamental Movement Skills and increased physical activity time.

Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, students within our context, spent up to 48 weeks, over an 18 month period, in distance learning. During this time various limitations which restricted people’s ability to engage in physical activity supports Kovacs et al (2021) who identified that the closure of schools along with, parks and playgrounds reduced the possibilities for children to maintain active and healthy lifestyles. This supports Stockwell et al (2021) who identified a decrease in physical activity and an increase in sedentary behaviours during Covid.

The goal of this action research project was to examine how the implementation of MTSS could be used to meet the needs of students and support their growth following an extended period of physical inactivity Dunton et al (2020), upon their return to on campus, face to face learning


The school is based in a densely populated capital city, in South East Asia. The school is an International Baccalaureate world school, with the research being carried out within the PYP. Annually, every student from EY to Grade 5 undertakes a Fundamental Motor Skills (FMS) screener in August and is re-screened in January. A total of 543 students were screened, using the 4 Skill Test by ‘Alles in beweging’. The screener provides benchmarks for children from 2 to 12 years with the screener split into four domains.

• Balance - static equilibrium

• Jumping Strength - dynamic balance

• Jumping Coordination - coordination between arms an legs

• Bouncing - Eye-body coordination

Alles in Beweging

The research was conducted by two Elementary school (ES) PE teachers, two co-teachers and an athletic trainer. They engaged in professional development through action research to have a better understanding of pedagogy and the implementation of MTSS while reflecting on enablers and constraints (Reason and Bradbury 2008).

34 EARCOS Triannual Journal

Following the results of the initial screener, the ES PE team identified Grade 4 and 5 students as the intervention group for this research project. This was due the high percentage of students in this age range who were testing at two grade levels below in two of the screener domains. Engel et al’s (2018) research, which suggested that participation in children drops after the age of 7 if perceived or actual motor competence was below age expectations, also impacted the team’s decision due to the need for an intervention with this age group being more critical.

The screening results can be seen in Table 1 below, data from August 2019 has also been included as a comparison of pre covid and post covid restrictions.

Percentage of students 2 grade levels below in 2 of the 4 FMS skill domains.

the students’ learning targets, whilst also covering the same content, (components of fitness) as the Tier 1 group.

In Tier 3, we provided intensive support for those students most at risk. All parents of students who were identified as Tier 2 and Tier 3 were invited to a parent workshop which explained the screening and provided resources for how they could support their child at home. Tier 3 students were identified from the beginning of year screener, PE teacher observations and/or conversations with our Student Success Team. These students received intensive support; three times a week for ten weeks as a pull out programme led by two PE co-teachers and our athletic trainer. Progress monitoring happened throughout the ten weeks with a re-screening happening in the final week.

Results and Discussion

Following the intervention period, all Tier 2 and Tier 3 students were rescreened in January 2023 with the results shown below in Table 2. The results were incredibly positive with only two students in the Tier 2 and 3 remaining two grade levels below in two or more areas of the FMS screener. Further analysis of the data also showed that there had been substantial gains for the students in the intervention groups with 77% of the Grade 5 and 66% of the Grade 4 intervention groups now at grade level expectation across all four areas of the screener.

Multi Tiered System of Support - Applied within the PE context

According to the MTSS framework, Tier 1 is regarded as high quality core instruction that should take care of the needs of 85-90% of the student population. The PE team plans learning experiences and units collaboratively, ensuring differentiation strategies for a diverse range of learners, and being informed ongoing assessment data. Students are scheduled for five 50 minute lessons (250 minutes) over a 10 day schedule of core PE time.

Our Tier 2 instruction became our targeted intervention for students ‘at risk’ or below expectations. The PE team modified the programme of inquiry reducing the number of units taught per year and extending the length of time spent in each unit. This was to enable the teaching team more time to provide targeted support for students who needed it. Modifying the curriculum also created three 2 week blocks where students were placed in targeted intervention groups. Tier 2 and 3 intervention students worked in smaller groups while students at or above grade level expectations worked in a group with a larger student to teacher ratio receiving continued Tier 1 instruction. A co-teaching model with three teachers enabled the team to identify specific students who needed support to reach essential learning targets.

The two week intervention blocks were planned within our year long Health Related Fitness unit, where students analysed their FMS data and set goals. The intervention group conferred with their teacher about their identified goals, and made adjustments as necessary based on these conferences. The small size of the intervention group enabled the teacher to facilitate interventions focused on

Table 2.

Tier 2 and 3 students at grade level expectation across all 4 FMS domains.

The teacher researcher implementing the Tier 2 interventions initially also planned for Tier 2 instruction to also take place during core instruction time, which upon reflection the teacher identified challenges with. Challenges may have arisen from a lack of understanding of how to run Tier 2, whilst ensuring that students did not miss any Tier 1 instruction. The teacher researcher also identified the importance of grouping.Due to the large number of Grade 5 students in the intervention groups this meant that the intervention teacher was working with 14+ students which provided challenges with meeting the students’ needs for the intervention.

Spring 2023 Issue 35

August 2022 EY 3 0 0 EY 4 0 0 K 1.6% 1.6% Grade 1 2.6% 1.3% Grade 2 3.9% 17% Grade 3 7.9% 9.3 Grade 4 11% 20.7 Grade 5 9% 23% Table 1.
Percentage of students 2 grade levels below in 2 of the 4 FMS skill areas. August 2022 Jan 2023 Jan 2023 Grade 5 23% 0% 77% Grade 4 20.7% 3.2% 66%
The teacher researcher found MTSS to be a positive framework for identifying students needing an intervention. The FMS screener and progress monitoring data collected during lessons, enabled teachers to start to plan for more entry points during Tier One core instruction, personalising the learning for the students.
The teacher researcher also identified the importance of time within the schedule to allow for the intervention, this was aided through the adaptation to the ES PE teams’ programme of inquiry. However, challenges that the school schedule placed upon the team also

inhibited effective implementation of the intervention.

The Tier 3 intervention teachers also identified time as a challenging factor. Tier 3 intervention happened 3 days a week for 20 minute sessions, this was to try and embed a culture of movement within the students’ routines. However, once the students transitioned to the intervention space, some sessions they had as little as 8 minutes.


Due to the limited research base on the implementation of MTSS within the PE context, this research aimed to explore the implementation to meet the needs of students following the effects of Covid lockdowns and distance learning. The findings showed that:

(a) MTSS provided a clear framework for identifying students who required support. The data showed that students in the research sample demonstrated a positive response to the intervention following rescreening in January 2023.

(b) The teacher researcher found it difficult to implement Tier 2 instruction within curriculum time with there being a grey area between core instruction and intervention.

(c) Time for Tier 2 and 3 interventions was also identified as a challenge area when working within organisational systems i.e. a fixed schedule.

The teacher researcher believes in the need to develop personal pedagogical understanding and practise, a subsequent inquiry into Universal Design for Learning would help further enhance Tier 1 instruction, continuing to meet students where they are in their learning journey.

With special thanks

The teacher researcher would like to give special thanks to Andy Dutton as the Tier 3 intervention follows on from their personal inquiries and curriculum development at the school.


Engel, A.C., Broderick, C.R., van Doorn, N. et al. Exploring the Relationship Between Fundamental Motor Skill Interventions and Physical Activity Levels in Children: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Sports Med 48, 1845–1857 (2018).

Dunton, G.F., Do, B. & Wang, S.D. Early effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on physical activity and sedentary behavior in children living in

the U.S.. BMC Public Health 20, 1351 (2020). s12889-020-09429-3

Farooq MA, Parkinson KN, Adamson AJ, Pearce MS, Reilly JK, Hughes AR, Janssen X, Basterfield L, Reilly JJ. (2018) Timing of the decline in physical activity in childhood and adolescence: Gateshead Millennium Cohort Study. Br J Sports Med. 2018

Gutthold, R., Stevens, G,. Riley, L,. and Bull, F,. Global trends in insufficient activity among adolescents. A pooled analysis of 298 population based surveys with 1.6 million participants. Lancet Child Adolescent Health (2020) 4; 23-35

Viktoria A. Kovacs, Gregor Starc, Mirko Brandes, Monika Kaj, Rok Blagus, Bojan Leskošek, Thomas Suesse, Elek Dinya, Benjamin C. Guinhouya, Viviana Zito, Paulo M. Rocha, Benito Perez Gonzalez, Anna Kontsevaya, Michal Brzezinski, Radu Bidiugan, Anita Kiraly, Tamás Csányi & Anthony D. Okely (2022) Physical activity, screen time and the COVID-19 school closures in Europe – An observational study in 10 countries, European Journal of Sport Science, 22:7, 1094-1103, DOI: 10.1080/17461391.2021.1897166

Lounassalo, I., Salin, K., Kankaanpää, A. et al. Distinct trajectories of physical activity and related factors during the life course in the general population: a systematic review. BMC Public Health 19, 271 (2019).

Reason, P., & Bradbury, H. (Eds.) (2008). The SAGE Handbook of Action Research. SAGE Publications Ltd, https://dx.doi. org/10.4135/9781848607934

Stockwell S, Trott M, Tully M, et al. Changes in physical activity and sedentary behaviours from before to during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown: a systematic review. BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine 2021;7:e000960. doi:10.1136/ bmjsem-2020-000960

Xin, F.; Chen, S.-T.; Clark, C.; Hong, J.-T.; Liu, Y.; Cai, Y.-J. (2020) Relationship between Fundamental Movement Skills and Physical Activity in Preschool-aged Children: A Systematic Review. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17, 3566.

About the Author

Matthew Magowan is a PYP PE teacher and team lead at United Nations International School of Hanoi. He can be contacted at

High School Art Celebration Seoul International School
Amy Cha, Grade 11 Won Gyeom Yang, Grade10 Ryan Byun, Grade 11

Composting at The International School of Yangon

The International School Yangon

At ISY, we aim to develop lifelong learners who will be a force for

In support of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) around Climate Action, and Sustainable Cities and Communities, our Grade 4 students conducted a compost project during their science classes. While compost is not a new concept at ISY, we wanted to make our students aware of the impact of food waste generated both at home and at school and what can be done in order to reduce it and reuse it.

Our young students can be oblivious to how much waste can be generated until we take the time to look into it. We first discussed how decomposition works in nature by observing how nature works in cycles over and over again. Our students observed the changes in nature, such as the leaves of trees and the quality of the soil. They noticed that places were polluted by all kinds of waste and that negligence affected the soil negatively. They also noticed how well cared for ISY’s grounds looked and thrived when our gardeners took good care of them using compost and keeping it clean.

Our goal as grade 4 teachers was to give them the opportunity to study the decomposition of food waste and to observe and document the changes that had taken place during the observation period. They were asked to bring various food waste from home. Teachers indicated beforehand what should not be included and why. They used recycled containers from home to make their compost, which made them aware of the importance of not only recycling but also the need to reduce the use of non-biodegradable and nonreusable materials at home.

Our students made a list of the type of food scraps they used, the size of the pieces, and the quantities they used for their composting. They collected different types of fallen leaves from either our school or their homes. They put it all together and started a series of observations in the following weeks. This study generated a lot of discussions from them:

• They questioned why people burn leaves instead of using them for compost and the impact of the smoke generated by it in our environment..

• They noticed that ISY has many recycling bins around the campus, including bins in the cafeteria for food scraps to use for composting at school.

• They commented on the effort made by ISY to use reusable cutlery and plates by the vendors and in our classrooms.

This composting project is not limited to our Grade 4 students. It has also been supported by service learning groups in our Elementary and High Schools. The project is still ongoing as the students continue to observe the changes occurring in their compost, but when their compost is ready, they will choose different places in the ISY gardens to put it and then observe the impact it has on the plants. They have already shared their projects in an Elementary School Assembly and they will also use their observations to write information reports.

Ultimately, the hope is that the students will share their findings with their parents and start their own composting at home. By encouraging the students to share their learning outside the classroom for the benefit of others, we will be helping to develop lifelong learners who will be a force for positive change in the world.

Spring 2023 Issue 37


Sara Ashida

38 EARCOS Triannual Journal
K. International School Tokyo

From an educators perspective, we can recognize that to take a student through more than a dozen years of learning requires the efforts of many people. The most exciting part about our job can often be the efforts that come from students, blurring the lines between student and colleague. Sara Ashida has been a student that because of her efforts has provided classmates around her with opportunities that would not exist if she was not an active member of our community. Coming from Japan, there may be a global impression that because of the country’s first-world status, students, especially coming from an international school, may not have much they can do to change this country for the better or contribute to society. However, as with most things, the surface only shows a small part of the story. With Japan placing 116th out of 146 countries in the Gender Gap Index (Statista Research Department, 2023) and 80th out of 111 in the EF English Proficiency Index (EF Education First, 2023), it may not be the location that provides the most pathways for an internationally minded young woman to foster her talents. This is why both Sara’s story thus far and the one she is building into the future are equally inspiring.

Sara has become well-known around our school for being short in stature, quiet in voice, but large in impact.The subjects being on display center around international relations and topics relating to the human sciences, sociology, and politics, where she is challenging herself by taking four higher-level subjects as a part of the International Baccalaureate Programme (IBDP) are Her IB Geography teacher explains:

“Sara Ashida is a self-starter who shows a high level of independence when it comes to her work. Her initiatives to explore difficult concepts on her own demonstrates her deep curiosity and real passion for the humanities and social sciences. I am always impressed by her ability to suggest resolution to difficult geographical concepts in our geopolitical topics where students must learn how to think from different country perspectives. Her strong understanding of the material is rare for a student of her age and the inspiration she provides to her classmates to look deeper into the world outside of the island nation we live on is critically important. I have no doubt her impressive skills and abilities will go far in her university life and make important contributions to our understanding of the world and how we interact with it.”

A member of the Japanese National Diet invited a few students to tour governmental facilities and participate in watching how a few matters of legislation were passed. They wanted to inspire our students to consider how they, as individuals, could make REAL change. While the opportunity was well received, we had to question why it was being given to our students, seemingly at random. The chairperson for the committee mentioned encountering Sara at a speech contest in Tokyo. Following a conversation with her after the competi-

tion, they were extremely interested to know more about where this student came from and if there were more likeminded individuals that they could be introduced to. Before even starting the IBDP at our school, her presence was already being felt around the city.

On the topic of speaking competitions, this is an area where those that are used to the quiet girl in the classroom may open their eyes in surprise. It was not surprising to hear Sara’s name in spoken word or print from outside agencies when she first entered high school. Almost monthly it seemed a presentation was being given somewhere in Tokyo, often against individuals many years her senior. For a future policy maker, these skills being honed at a young age are a necessity and one in which provides assurance that indeed, a future within this field is remarkably possible. Her IB English teacher had this to say regarding her work in her higher-level language course:

“Sara has truly thrived in the IB English A: Language and Literature course, and this extends beyond academic achievement. Teachers often seek to foster deep thinking about the implications and consequences of societal values. In her deep personal connections with literary texts, Sara epitomizes this kind of critical awareness. She writes compellingly about the lessons to be learned from literary texts, including The Great Gatsby and Antigone, with the ability to articulate nuanced understanding of society and human nature revealed by the text. Unlike many ambitious high school students, Sara understands that academic achievement is valuable, but not intrinsically meaningful. She always writes, speaks, and interacts with peers and teachers in ways that reveal the pursuit of meaning and community, not merely of grades. For these reasons, I am especially proud to have been Sara’s teacher and am grateful for her contributions to our school.”

Her goal to reach heights of getting into policymaking is one that is sure to be wrought with difficulties, a strong barrier for entry, and trying to overcome generations of traditions. However, if that is not what an education in an international school is trying to develop, I don’t know what is. We are proud of the accomplishments Sara has made thus far and I hope that others can continue to follow in her footsteps to lead lives that seek to make a real change within our communities and to make the world simply more livable for everyone, regardless of their birthplace.

About the Author

Thomas Waterfall is the University Counselor at K. International School Tokyo. He can be contacted at

Spring 2023 Issue 39


Types of Parental Pressure and Their Impacts on Korean Juniors and Seniors’ Stress Levels in Korea vs. International Educational Systems

In countries such as South Korea that have intensive education systems, the well-being of students is a major concern despite their tremendous academic achievements. In the last decade, South Korea has been one of the highest performing OECD countries in all three major academic domains (reading, math, science). According to Programme for International Student Assessment reports (2018), the gap between the lowest and the highest achieving students in Korea is very small, suggesting that young Koreans as a whole exhibit exceptionally high levels of academic performance.

However, 353 Korean students between the ages of 10 and 19 died by suicide in 2010, a rate of nearly one death per day (Geumcheon-gu Facilities Management Corporation, 2012). The mental well-being of South Korean students is also in jeopardy. 23% of students surveyed in Korea reported “very low” satisfaction with their lives, which is nearly double the OECD average of 12% (PISA, 2015). The students’ tight academic schedules, which are heavily influenced by parents, may be a strong contender for causing such high stress levels and low satisfaction rates. Parents in Korea invest a significant amount of money in their children’s education, devoting 15-30% of their family budget to private education.

Numerous pre-existing research projects effectively identify the harsh education system and tight schedules Korean students follow. However, not much pre-existing research indicates the correlation between parental pressure and its impact on Korean students. Therefore, this paper can assist with the measurement of different types of parental pressure that affect students’ mental health negatively. To analyze the significant amount of Korean parental involvement and measure their impacts on students, the guiding research question is: What type of parental pressures are exerted the most between Korean versus American-based curriculums?

40 EARCOS Triannual Journal

Several reasons can explain why parents exhibit indirect negative pressures most often. Parents may believe that critical comments to their children will serve as motivation. This desire can be rooted in a legitimate concern for childrens’ financial security – like a desire for them to not end up “beggars.” For example, they think that discussing “expensive tutoring fees” will make students work harder to make the high amount of investment worth it. Parents might also feel that academics is the only topic they know how to discuss with their children. Especially with a sizable age gap and generational differences, parents try to find common ground on a topic they also know well: school. They also might not know what their children have as passions and hobbies.

There were no significant differences in levels of general academic stress and level of parental pressure between Korean public school students and international school students, 73.3% of Korean public students indicated a high level of general academic stress, and 75% of international students indicated the same (high level = indicated number between 7 to 10 on the “daily stress” scale question). 63% of Korean public students and 58.7% of international students indicated a high level of parental pressure. Their answers may be nearly equivalent because all students and their parents share the same cultural/ethnic backgrounds as Koreans. Conversely, there may be other confounding variables like the family’s economic background that causes similar levels of stress and parental pressure despite the difference in countries.

Out of the 9 most common effects of stress reported by surveyed students, five of them – “depression,” “anxiety,” “changes in sleep pattern,” “long-term pain,” “changes in

appearance,” and “feelings of hopelessness” – are suicide warning signs according to The Cleveland Clinic. Furthermore, more than 50% of all students are experiencing each of the 9 most common effects of stress (with the exception of one), implying that there may be serious and urgent problems with their health. Despite this alarming situation, only 34.2% of the students indicated they are good at coping with academic stress.

From this research, it is evident that students are prone to receiving parental pressures, specifically indirect negative parental pressures. The most plausible explanation of this trend is the South Korean cultural belief that parents have the right to intervene in their children’s educational progress for the optimal outcome. However, this behavior does not produce the most ideal environment for children because of the high levels of parental pressure they receive. Parents should create an environment for students to be able to demonstrate their self-efficiency, develop their own academic success and future, and lead conversations about academic life with their parents.

On a broad scale, this research can constitute the first step in assessing the current state of how students experience parental pressures. Future studies can examine which methods children prefer their parents to use when communicating about academics. The ideal type of parent-child communication would effectively convey high but reasonable hopes for academic performance while creating a positive environment for mental health.

About the Author

Soo Yoon Ryu is a Grade 12 student at Surabaya Intercultural School.

Positive Negative Direct Not Applicable 10 Indirect 23 47
Table 1: Number of occurances for each type of parental pressure.
Spring 2023 Issue 41


Listening Circle Summary

During the 2023 EARCOS Teacher Conference, DEI practitioners conducted two listening circles, attended by ~40 conference delegates. The purpose of the listening circles was to model a powerful protocol, while gaining an understanding of participants’ experiences with DEI & belonging in their schools, and to surface opportunities and needs related to DEI. Participant comments were captured in an anonymous way and grouped into themes. Themes are summarized below with example comments (shared as captured) and key recommendations.


Delegates shared that they appreciate EARCOS’ and, for some, their schools’ commitments to DEI, but desire to see more tangible actions and change in their everyday experiences. Delegates desire a cohesive vision and message as well as clear action steps and are looking forward to the potential impact EARCOS can have on accelerating their schools’ DEI efforts.

Example Comments

• Similar at my school - open to initiatives but not a lot of action; whole lot of roadblocks and barriers or prioritizing other things; students who don’t feel safe or accepted or belong and feel they only have a few teachers they can talk to

• My school also part of ISS – has felt like DEI didn’t exist before – hope our school moves from talk to action – right now a learning committee

• Actions not matching words – we want more diverse leadership but then it doesn’t look that way; yes important to start with self and then build on curriculum, etc.... but refusal as whole school to look at own biases


Many delegates expressed the need and desire for a comprehensive DEI focused strategic vision and plan to guide their efforts. Right now DEI seems like an add-on versus an integral piece of most schools’ overall ethos. Delegates desire more clarity on EARCOS’ and their schools’ DEI philosophy, approach, and plan. Delegates shared they would like to see more inside and outside expertise leveraged in regional DEI efforts. They

42 EARCOS Triannual Journal

wondered if their schools had the right structures, resources, leadership and accountability mechanisms to help execute and realize a transformative DEI vision, including the expertise and capabilities to lead DEI work both on a leadership and staff level.

Example Comments

• Want DEI to be a full commitment – positions, resources, embedded, training, tools to support students; want it to be valued w money and time. Want someone to see my frustration and respond

• Leaders need to demonstrate they are trustworthy; brave people need to be celebrated; also about really good HR to bring in more representation on staff. Can’t be only white men and be effective

• Authenticity – are you really behind this or is it just because accreditation is coming up; also need more time.


Delegates expressed the need for all schools to have clear guidelines on what it means to be a diverse, equitable, and inclusive school community, much like the current Child Protection standards that have been adopted and operationalized across the international school community. These standards, guidelines, and subsequent policies can support shared understanding and practice across schools and begin to provide space for schools to engage in authentic dialogue on the DEI challenges they experience in their community and guidance to collectively chart a path forward.

Example Comments

• Wonder what is the shared vision? Want to know who is doing well and what it could be?

• We need a policy – in our school policy is “frozen power” so we can have shared values


Delegates shared both similar and varying DEI challenges they face at their schools. Many of these variations depended on the specific school context, including host country laws and norms, type of school, family/student demographics, embassy and business relationships, etc. Delegates expressed a desire for targeted, site-specific training, support and guidance, practices and policies.

Example Comments

• Coming to Taiwan from US – have wondered is (DEI) just another form of colonization?

• Some countries the laws are draconian; we have consulted legally to be clear on what we can say

• As local staff I don’t understand what DEI is until recently; need to know as local staff – in China – we don’t discuss the Chinese cultural differences, just the expat concepts

• We don’t have anything – in a Catholic school – have never seen any example at my school; no one to go to–wouldn’t know what to do


Delegates expressed the desire for more community connection with more intentional efforts to build authentic relationships across cultures and lines of difference. Some delegates also shared there are many identity-based breaches that happen in their school community (e.g. microaggressions) that often go unaddressed. They requested specific support for repairing these breaches and providing the necessary education and follow-through so these breaches do not continue to happen. They shared the need for more vulnerability, learning, and growth as a way to call each other in and accelerate DEI change efforts within their communities and across the region.

Example Comments

• Encouraging to come here and see some colleagues similar to me and similar struggles – even if not enough

• Wonder what it would look like if schools made space and time for learning and reflection; schools can be dominantly white and have lack of understanding of what that means


1. Conduct additional listening circles with regional educators to understand where experiences converge and diverge with the data presented here and build upon the analysis of current experiences and conditions

2. Share initial findings with leaders at the October Leadership Conference and provide space for leaders to respond and share their thoughts, perspectives, and challenges

3. Consider ways to further leverage EARCOS’ resources and influence to support regional DEI efforts, including partnering with other agencies and DEI practitioners to provide ongoing support and development for leaders and teachers, and modeling/sharing DEI principles and best practices based on global and regional context.

About the Authors

Jacinta Williams is a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) practitioner with over 20 years of experience in education and 10 years of experience in leading and facilitating DEI strategy. Shelley Paul Founder is a Designer, Consultant & Coach–Human-Centered Design & Strategy of Second Circle LLC.

Spring 2023 Issue 43

Western Academy in Beijing Honored for Strategic Leadership

Shortlisted for the 2023 strategic leadership award

Western Academy of Beijing is a non-profit, independent international school founded in 1994. We offer a student-centered education with a mission to Connect, Inspire, Challenge: Make a Difference. WAB strives to continuously innovate in our approaches to learning and teaching to best meet the needs of each individual student. Based on the fundamental premise that children need to be active participants in an inquiry-based learning environment, WAB believes students have a special responsibility within the global community, and we, as a community, strive to equip each of them with the tools necessary to be engaged and positively impactful global citizens.

How and why the initiative has been strategically developed and implemented at a leadership level?

WAB’s new “Strategy 2022+” was designed at the leadership level alongside students, to chart the course for the future of learning at our school. With student agency at the core, we created an inclusive, student-led process, bringing in perspectives of all stakeholders as we refined our focuses for action. Structured by the Director of Innovation in Learning & Teaching and Head of School, we empowered student teams to create workshops to explore futures thinking and to generate community-wide data on ‘Portraits of WAB Alumni’ that would emerge dispositions, skills and knowledge to ensure our alumni are positive agents of action in a changing and unpredictable world.

With the support of Inspire Citizens, our students co-created workshops to inspire, inform and engage peers, teachers, Board members, parents, support staff, and alumni in reflection on our school, the world and potential futures. Following data collection and processing through these workshops, students led data-analysis and action-planning workshops for parents, faculty, leadership, and the Board, looking for patterns and trends. What would we affirm?

What would we amplify? What would we need to create anew?

In later stages, students co-led a deeper workshop with our Board and leadership teams, from which emerged an affirmation of our Mission and Core Values, a renewed emphasis on learning innovation and wellbeing, and two new areas of community focus for 2022+:

• “WAB Alumni Will Be Champions Of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Justice”

• “WAB Alumni Will Be Agents of Sustainable & Ethical Approaches To Living & Learning.”

Evidence of how the initiative has involved all stakeholders

All stakeholder groups at WAB were actively involved in student-led workshops, consultancy, and portrait-creation. This included assembly-sized sessions for students, faculty & leadership meetings, parent workshops, Board meetings, and focus groups for our non-teaching support staff and Chinese staff.

Through data visualisations, stakeholders could see the patterns emerging from the whole school, as well as dive into the perspectives of specific stakeholder groups. All resources and data were published as we went along, with regular posts on our news site and updates on our podcast to engage ongoing dialogue.

We were committed to collabaration with the world beyond WAB, learning with and from colleagues in peer schools, as well as taking on new deepdive pathways from our accreditation partners: the IB-NEASC Collaborative Learning Protocol and CIS’s new Pathway 2. In collaboration with AAIE,

44 EARCOS Triannual Journal

we created and hosted the innovative “Future of Education: Now & Next” virtual conference, centering student voice in all sessions, including high-profile keynotes and showcases of real student action and agency. We learned with and from each other, to inform our future planning and build partnerships for schools to collaborate on meaningful action.

The emergent “Strategy 2022+” represents the diversity of views of our community, reaffirms our founding principles and focuses and has created new areas of action that our whole community can support and contribute to. Even the final graphical representation of Strategy 2022+ was designed by students.

Action-focused strategic committees now include parents, students, alumni, Board, leadership, newly-appointed teacher-leaders and, mostly importantly, our students.

How the initiative has demonstrated a positive impact on the school community?

Through the ever-present challenges of COVID-19, the Portraits process and resulting Strategy 2022+ have provided an opportunity for the community to reflect on our school, build on the previous strategy, and align our actions to the changing world. The visible and capable leadership of our students throughout the process has showcased the power of student agency, inspiring confidence and renewed action.

Through the workshops, data analysis, and further planning, we were encouraged to find strong affirmation of our founding principles, Mission and Core Values. We have not had to change who we are as a result of COVID-19, but instead have a renewed commitment to innovation and well-being. The new areas of focus of Sustainability & DEIJ provide anchors for deeper community engagement and the contributions of all stakeholders to continue connect, inspire, challenge and make a difference as an international school.

Early action towards Strategy 2022+ has been powerful. A student sustainability summit and the work of the teacher-leads and steering committees have connected projects and inspired new actions. The DEIJ teams and students have been actively learning, creating definitions, and presenting, including at online international conferences such as Learning2 Asia.

script, this outlines the impacts we want to see: on the learning of our students and their actions in the world.

In uncertain and challenging times, Strategy 2022+ can give purpose and hope to our community, and agency to all our learners.

How the initiative has been developed as a sustainable initiative that is demonstrably linked to the strategic direction of the school?

This work is the strategic future of our school, and has reaffirmed the sustainability of our founding principles, Mission and Core Values. We have chosen “Strategy 2022+” to reflect that our new actions will be ongoing, blending short and long- term goals through a network of projects designed to ensure WAB’s future is more inclusive and sustainable. The Alumni Profile will give focus and visibility of the impacts of our actions.

As 2022-23 is a self-study year with our accreditation partners, we elected to take both new innovative deep-dive pathways in alignment with our strategic direction. The CIS Deep Dive Pathway 2: Global Citizenship & Intercultural Learning will empower our work towards sustainability & DEIJ, providing relationships, resources, and reflections on our work. The IB & NEASC’s Collaborative Learning Protocol strongly aligns with our on-going innovations in teaching and learning, elevating our work on the future of learning and wellbeing in international schools.

Moving into the 2022-23 school year, our inclusive strategic steering committees will design further actions, involve all stakeholders, and align our efforts to ensure energy and sustainability of the projects towards our new vision. Project structures allow for varying levels of engagement contributing to a greater whole of progress, to ensure our community can find purpose, meaning, and wellbeing through their contributions.

As COVID-related uncertainty continues in China, Strategy 2022+ will anchor our retention and recruitment, providing a place to thrive in international education; a place to come to really make a difference.

How have you been sharing this initiative with other international schools to support best practice?

• Website:

• Strategy Resources & NEASC-ECIS Leadership Conference Presentation:

• Data Visualisations:

• Sustainability Strategic Development: sustainability/home

• DEIJ/I-DEAS Strategic Development: ideas

Future-ready, mission-aligned competencies surfaced through the work will inform our Alumni Profile. Inspired by the Mastery Tran-

‘The Veiled Reflection’

Anastasia giggled, straining her thin arm over her head in a futile attempt to touch the tiny drew drop gathered at the tip of the broad leaf towering over her, casting her surroundings in bleak darkness.

Scrunching her face in concentration, she wriggled her fingers before crouching down, knees tensing in preparation. Darting up like a coil unsprung, her nails grazed the underside of the leaf before gravity took hold. The plant shuddered, its peaceful tranquillity shattered into a million jagged pieces. The drop teetered for a moment, on the precept of falling before dropping splat on the muddy field.

Hunching her dress with dainty hands, Anastasia delicately jumped over the dirty stream, her tiny feet colliding with the damp mud as the thin, white cloth stained with deep brown. Turning her wandering gaze to her surroundings, the small girl regarded the forest with wide blue eyes, the ghastly white branches looming over her ominously.

Unnoticeably, the moon had slowly crept up, an eerie glow seeping through the cracks. Aimlessly wandering about, Anastasia hummed a quiet tone under her breath. Ducking under a twisted branch, the young girl suddenly bolted forward like a puppet yanked by its strings.

Halting in her tracks, Anastasia curiously peered down at her navel.

“Woah.” She whispered, wonder blooming behind her baby blues, “I just went vroom.”

To Anastasia’s delight, her body slipped again, a stumbling fawn drawn toward the inconspicuously placed bait. Letting out a squeal, the girl allowed herself to be ushered, jerkily tumbling towards the dark horizon.

Giddily, Anastasia skipped along the path, the silent presence nudging her with sudden jerks and tumbles. Ducking under a bundle of twisting branches overhead, the young girl twirled in place with a giggle, waiting for the succeeding shove. Receiving none, the girl pouted in disappointment, curiously taking in her surroundings.

At first glance, the area seemed nothing out of the ordinary. A canopy of towering trees loomed overhead, tangles of murky green snaking over the muddy ground. Clusters of fallen leaves were littered across the forest floor, the whistling wind lifting the autumn crisps.

Although, once one stares a tad bit harder, and rips through the subtle facade, something truly evil can be seen brewing under the surface. Perhaps the inherent stillness in the air, the layered tension hanging over the entire forest floor, or the mirror that lay nestled in the dry, dirty green.

The object had undoubtedly lived past its years, dust laying a thick grey layer upon its blue-tinted visage. Owing to the passage of time, the fine

glass had been robbed of its sheen, almost opaque in its nature. A long splinter ran through the centre, thin spiderweb cracks twisting across the surface. The dimmed gold rimmings were peeling off, dirt clinging to the edges. The entire decorative piece whispered of forgotten times, an antique left behind in the attic. Yet, under the dirt, it hinted at an ornament that would have adorned a king’s crown.

“That’s- that’s a m-mirror!” Anastasia exclaimed, slightly stumbling over her words. Furrowing her brow in concentration, she squinted into the blurred glass, aiming to make out her reflection. Seeing that it was a futile attempt, Anastasia frowned, unknowingly reaching out a hand to wipe the dust.

A spear of pain stabbed the outstretched appendage, crimson welling around the jagged edge of the mirror. Leaving a trail of murky brown in it’s wake, the drop slowly ran down the dirty glass.

Darting back, Anastasia cradled her injured arm, unshed tears welling in her eyes. Whimpering as her eyes fluttered shut, she trembled uncontrollably as realisation slowly dawned upon her. However, before the floodgates could truly open, a spark of light refracted off the cracked glass capturing her attention.

And a glance was all it took.

A shiver slithered down her spine as the hairs at the back of her neck rose. Anastasia felt weightless, a flurry of nonsensical static flooded her ears, vague lines painfully forming slightly coherent words. Whispers, needling her, twirling their way around her. And slowly, the twisted presence of the mirror burrowed deep into her mind.

The tendrils of that foreign force reached around her body, slowly twining around her, and as the seconds inched past, she learnt. Of the guiding hands shaping the past, present and future. Of the impartial flow of time, ancient in nature. Of the old gods, left forgotten by the world - Gaea, the colossal, thunderous hand behind nature, Ma’at, the ageless, vast force guiding creation or the three facets of Hecate, chained away in a crumbling mirror as the result of a long forgotten war.

Anastasia could feel a burning anger, a deep, ancient rage that she knew wasn’t hers.

Slowly, the rage clawed into her mind, dragging her deep, down into the recesses of her mind until she was drowning..

Anastasia’s surroundings faded to pitch black as a wave of numbness washed over her. Sluggishly, her eyelids drifted shut, long lashes brushing her cheeks as the world dimmed, black spots crowding her vision.

Then, right at the edge of her consciousness, Anastasia could make out a faint whisper, an almost unnoticeable ray of light piercing through the inky black. Straining her ears in an attempt to perceive the words, she furrowed her brow, receiving nothing but an incomprehensible murmur, too quiet to be understood.

However, with that whisper came another, twirling through her prison, like an arrow, rising in intensity.


Something, buried deep under that ocean of numbness, cried at the world as a dawning notion of alarm rose within her.

46 EARCOS Triannual Journal STUDENT VOICES

Wrapped around her, the presence softly crooned into the shell of her ear. Don’t go. Everything is alright.

Trapping her within itself, the presence viciously yanked her back into the turbulent water.

However, something far inside her stirred at that, a small spark lighting the blaze. Like an inferno lit from within, her body was suddenly flooded with feeling, the numbness seeping from her skin. Gasping at the slight reprieve, Anastasia grasped onto the light like a lifeline and pulled with a singular focus, emerging from the deep, inky waters with a sudden heave. The world splintered all around her, thousands of cracks running along the sides, like a violent, destructive earthquake breaking the ground into a million jagged pieces. With the last shake, the strained seams holding the world together tore and it exploded around her in a rain of glass and light.

Blinking bleary eyes open, the shaken girl squinted at the hazy figure in front of her. “What the hell happened, Ana?”

“Jonathon.” She breathed, before looking down, tears building in her eyes.

“I don’t know,” She whispered, gaze blank as she stared over her brother’s shoulder..

“Can we just go home, please?” Ana mumbled, linking his trembling hand with hers.

“Sure, Ana. Let’s go home.” He softly agreed, gently tugging her out of the clearing.

Pushing open the worn, oak door to their home, Jonathan winced at the creak that resounded through the empty halls. Treading cautiously through the dusty, dark corridors, Jonathan came to a sudden halt in front of a worn, elegant stairway, the imposing structures of two angels standing guard. Gently holding hands, the two began to ascend the spiralling archway, taking care to keep their steps silent. Approaching the upper level, the two immediately froze as they caught a glimpse of a shaft of light bleeding into the rickety floor.

Jonathan slowly inched towards the open door, peeking into the thin opening. In the room, their parents were busy unpacking, an unopened bottle of wine placed on the oak table beside them.

“Honestly, I really didn’t expect this much work to accompany moving,” Mama confessed, sitting down on a plush chair with a sigh. Reaching down, she quietly poured herself a drink and took a small sip, cradling the wine glass in her lap.

“I know.” Papa sighed, slumping down beside her, “I mean, have you seen the paperwork? It’s like I am drowning in them. My hand is cramping!”

“Well, strangely, this house was mostly unwanted. Apparently because of the rumours.” Mama mentioned, trailing off, trading a meaningful glance with Papa. Indulging herself with another deep sip, Mama frowned, worry lines etching tranches across her wrinkled forehead. “I know there is no truth to them, but it is uncomfortable to live in a place stained with the blood of others.”

“Such a strange story too,” Papa mused, thoughtfully staring out into the distance, “A suicide with no explanation, no motive.”

“Some say it’s a haunting, others an abandoned relative out for blood. One wild whisper even suggests that it’s a possessed mirror. Contains the devil within, apparently.” Papa scoffed, shaking his head in disbelief.

“A mirror? Honestly, don’t people have better things to do with their time rather than spinning fairy tales? Mama asked, raising a delicate brow.

Slinking back into the shadows, the siblings traded meaningful glances before Jonathan ushered his younger sister to her room.

“Go to sleep now, Ana. You have had quite a rough day.” He chided, hand reaching over the lights in her room.

“I know, I know.” She said, waving her hand as she nestled herself into the blanket. Raising a thin eyebrow, Jonathan shrugged before closing the lights with a soft click.

“Are you sure you don’t want me to sleep with you?” He asked quietly into the dark, hovering at the threshold of her room.

“Yes, I do need to grow up one day.” She huffed, tilting her chin up, though her eyes were slightly shaken. Jonathan sighed but nodded, shaking his head wistfully.

“Don’t grow up too fast, okay, Ana? Besides, don’t worry about what Mama said, there is no magic mirror preying on the weak unless you have encountered one?” He assured her, lips curling into a smile before turning and softly closing the door.

Anastasia dropped the blacket, hands pale and trembling.

“Yes,” She murmured, “A mirror.”

Hunching into herself, Anastasia curled her thin arms around her shaking legs. Listlessly, she started at the white-washed walls, eyes blank and unseeing. That mirror-

“I don’t want to go back.” She whispered, voice hitching on repressed tears as she rocked herself back and fro.

“Are you sure about that?” A voice crooned from deep inside her, a note of detached amusement in its tone.

“No, no-” She gasped, breaking off.

“What do you want to do, Anastasia?” The voice purred, the sound resonating from all corners of the room, rolling the syllables of her name along its tongue.

“I want-” She halted, conflicted as unidentified emotions washed over her.

“To go to the forest, don’t you?” The voice pressed, mocking laughter seeping into the air.

“The-” She stopped herself, a bubbling rage of emotion stopping her from saying it. Silent tears rolled down her face, even though she couldn’t realize why.

“The forest.” The voice sang, burning her wave of emotions into the mist.

“To go to the forest.” She agreed, dutifully. Something within her rebelled, screaming that it was all wrong-

“Then we go, love.” It crooned, as she listlessly rose, her eyes blank and unseeing.

Spring 2023 Issue 47

Notes from the EARCOS Teacher Advisory Committee

The Teacher Advisory Council convened prior to the start of the Earcos Teachers’ Conference in Kota Kinabalu on March 22, 2023. The group, comprised of educators representing the regions of the more than 200 EARCOS schools, met to look ahead to the 2024 and 2025 ETC with much excitement.

The educators expressed a desire to reconnect with their students, communities and colleagues across Asia as we move forward with hope and a desire to bring about change in a world where things we long took for granted no longer seem as certain. As we discussed local initiatives and global issues that touch our lives and those of our school communities, we kept returning to the importance of being connected and collaborative as we consider what we can do. This determination is reflected in the theme of the 2024 ETC: Awareness, Agency and Action. We are excited about the ways in which educators from all disciplines can work together to foster passion for important causes and empower their students to act.

To this end, the Advisory Council is committed to bringing back the much-loved raffle/auction to support a designated charity in 2024. For those new to EARCOS, each school in attendance at the ETC donates an item that represents its country, and teacher delegates are able to place bids on the donations, with winners announced on the final day. In the past the auction and raffle has raised thousands of dollars for various charities such as The Hug Project, After the Wave, and Operation Smile. The charity selected for 2024 is Days for Girls International, whose mission is to “increase access to menstrual care and education by developing global partnerships, cultivating Social Enterprises, mobilising volunteers and innovating sustainable solutions that shatter stigma and limitations for women

and girls.” Days for Girls International started in 2008 and has since grown into an organisation that reached more than 400,000 in 2021. We are happy to be able to contribute to their work, so come to Bangkok with an eye for a treasure that you would like to bid on to take home.

Keynote speakers and presenters who are recognized for their expertise are an essential part of any successful conference, and we came up with a long list of names that would complement our many wonderful teacher presenters and reflect the conference theme. Stay tuned for more information when details about the 2024 ETC are published this fall.

Another important topic of conversation was the best way to organise future conferences: is it better to continue with strands that rotate every three years, or consider conferences organised around a practice or pedagogy? There was a sense that because EARCOS ETC is one of the few regional conferences that attracts a range of teachers while still meeting the needs of specific disciplines, it is best to keep it as is with strands. A priority for selecting conference proposals is to offer multiple high quality sessions for teachers in each strand. With so many outstanding teacher presenters in our member schools, conference attendees will certainly come away with many ideas to add to their own practice.

We hope that you are making plans to join us at the Awareness, Agency and Action ETC at the Shangri-la Hotel in Bangkok in March 2024. We are excited about the many opportunities to learn from regional colleagues, develop and renew professional networks, and hear from experts in our disciplines and areas of interest from other parts of the world.

About the Author

Betsy Lewis-Moreno is a High School Humanities teacher at Hong Kong International School. She can be contacted at

48 EARCOS Triannual Journal
(Front L-R) Tom Pasquini, Nicholas Stonehouse, Marsha Hillman, Isabel Davis, Betsy Lewis-Moreno, Amanda Jacob, Ben Robertaccio, Mr Bill Oldread, Chris Smith, Matthew Johnson & Chris Bell.

High School Art Celebration



Anu Nomin


“Self Portrait”

Oil in Canvas


Sumber Boldsaikhan


“Super Bounce”


Bilguunzaya Chuluunbaatar



Acrylic on Canvas

International School of Ulaanbaatar


Akari Ito, Grade 10

Title: Enchanted Forest

Medium: Digital Art

Tsukuba International School


Rino Takeuchi, Grade 10

Title: Mon Petit Dior

Medium: Acrylic on board paper

Tsukuba International School

Brianna Nguyen, Grade 12 Oil Painting Concordia International School Hanoi San Luu, Grade 10 Charcoal Portrait Concordia International School Hanoi Hai Nguyen, Grade 10 Lino Cut International School Hanoi
Spring 2023 Issue 49

Sung Yeon Park, Grade 11

Charcoal Portrait

Concordia International School Hanoi