SELECTED LEARNING STORIES FROM THE INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL OF PRAGUE ACCREDITATION SELF-STUDY 2016-17
Accreditation 2017 - An Introduction
Engagement and Autonomy
Research and Reflection
Dimensions of Learning
Space and Time
Governance and Leadership
Accreditation 2017 - Council of International Schools 3
ACCREDITATION 2017 TIMELINE PREPARATORY PHASE
SELF-STUDY September 2016 - June 2017
August - December 2017
• Share and Submit Self-study • Evaluation Team Visit • NEASC - CIS Accreditation report
The moment one gives close attention to anything, even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious, awesome, and indescribably magnificent world in itself. – Henry Miller
Dear ISP Community, An accreditation reflection process provides any school with an opportunity and a challenge to give close attention to every aspect of who we are, and who we want to become. As we looked closely at ourselves this past year, we took stock of where we are as a school and what we need to do next in order to improve both operations and learning at ISP. As you will read, we were part of a new combined accreditation process – which we helped create. This provoked us to further innovate, take calculated risks, and reconsider what we do and why. We, as educators, had to design new ways of looking, adjust and redesign when something didn’t work, and be persistent – just as we ask our students to be each day. As a school committed to continuous improvement, we recognize that reaching our ambitious mission is an ongoing challenge. This journey requires the combined efforts and expertise of our entire community in order to unleash our collective potential, so that our school is greater than the sum of its parts. Anthropologists tell us that storytelling is central to human existence – we use stories to make sense of our world and to share that understanding with others. So we chose to capture a good portion of our accreditation self-study through stories of learning. We have come to better understand ourselves, learning at ISP, and our important next steps through this self-study process. We hope that you will, too. It is with this in mind, as we enter this final phase of reaccreditation, that we offer you these small glimpses into learning contexts at ISP seen through the NEASC lens, as well as a synthesis of the CIS self-study report. These are only a tiny sample of the many stories and responses that have been collected and documented as part of this process. We invite you to read and reconnect to what we’re all about at ISP, providing inspired, engaged, and empowered learning across our school community. We know you will give the NEASC-CIS visiting team a warm welcome November 5th through 9th and share your perspective of what’s happening at ISP. We urge you to join us as we continue to shape and improve learning at ISP; and we remain grateful for the close attention our community gives to every aspect of our mission. Sincerely,
Arnie Bieber Director
Teresa Belisle Director of Learning Research & Development
ISP ACCREDITATION 2017 ISP is accredited by external organizations, reassuring current and future families and employees that we provide a safe, secure, fiscally responsible, operationally efficient, and (most importantly) effective learning environment aligned to our mission and our strategic direction.
Accrediting Bodies ISP is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges’ (NEASC) Commission on International Education, which accredits international schools around the world. NEASC also accredits such well known American independent schools as Choate and Andover, and universities such as Harvard and MIT. ISP is also accredited by the Council of International Schools (CIS) based here in Europe. Their Accreditation is recognised by Ministries and Departments of Education around the world as the demonstration of a school’s commitment to high quality international education. In addition, the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO) conducts a regular programme evaluation as part of our reauthorization to implement the IB Diploma Programme in Grades 11 and 12. Evaluation by all three organizations takes place at ISP every five years. 6
Pilot Project Given ISP’s long history as an established and internationally respected school committed to innovative education, ISP was chosen by NEASC to be the first school to undergo its accreditation based on their new ACE Learning Principles. ACE is a fundamentally different approach to accreditation, focusing on what relevant learning looks like, how it is nurtured (or hindered) and why. Organized in 10 core principles, ACE requires schools to examine and reflect on the learning that is taking place in their school, not simply on the systems or structures they’ve put into place. Synchronised Accreditation Process Challenged with meeting the requirements of three different organizations (NEASC, CIS, and IBO) simultaneously, ISP approached the process by aligning the accreditation criteria with our strategies (as outlined in ISP2020).
Our accreditation steering committee consisted of the 12 Leadership Team members, 13 teachers, one member of the support staff, and five parents of ISP students, including the School Community Association Chair and the Chair of the Board Governance Committee. This group provided oversight in curating and synthesizing documentation. Preparatory Phase The reaccreditation started in March 2016 with the ISP Leadership Team’s self-assessment. In May 2016, the NEASC and CIS teams visited the school, during which time they verified our foundational level of operations and our readiness to undertake the next step, our selfstudy. We received positive feedback at this stage with NEASC sharing, “ISP is on the road towards creating transformative learning experiences for the learners in its care,” and CIS stating, “IS Prague is a sophisticated and research-based school that aligns strongly with the accreditation standards.” Self Study This self-study phase (September 2016 to June 2017) began with the CIS community survey which was com-
pleted by students, faculty, staff, parents, and alumni. From November through April 2017, we compiled stories, vignettes, focus group conversations, notes of observed learning, reflections on learning experiences, data, artifacts, and evidence. The steering committee then curated and synthesized this information to draft stories and/or narrative responses that reflected the ACE Learning Principles and CIS Domains here at ISP. Having completed the internal reflection phase, all documentation has been submitted to NEASC, CIS, and the IBO. Final Phase: Evaluation Team Visit The NEASC and CIS evaluation team read our selfstudy responses and documentation before arriving on November 4th. Evaluators will spend five days observing learning and systems across our facility as well as talking with students, faculty, support staff, parents, and board members. As a closure to their visit, the team co-chairs will share general impressions and perceptions with all ISP employees on November 9th. An official narrative report will be sent from NEASC, CIS, and the IBO consisting of their evaluations (based on each organization’s criteria), recommendations, and reaccreditation or reauthorization status. 7
LEARNING GOALS Learners demonstrate understandings, competencies, knowledge, dispositions, and values that will allow them to become responsible and successful citizens.
Studying the various aspects of political conflict in a classroom is an essential part of any Social Studies program. Discussing the opinions and perspectives of those who were actually involved in these historical events puts real-world experiences at the heart of learning. As stated in our mission, we want our students to be critical and compassionate citizens who can take what they have learned from various disciplines and apply them in their daily lives. Taking what they studied in history, psychology, economics, Theory of Knowledge, and Model United Nations, ISP students travelled to Kosovo to learn first-hand about the ethnic conflict from Albanians and Serbs who lived through it. The goal was not to find out who is right, but to understand the complexities of the human experience. ISP students engaged directly with their hosts and showed respect for the views of both sides. They had to use a variety of interpersonal skills, such as asking questions and interacting in a way that showed respect and empathy for the victims of ethnic cleansing. Drawing on their own judgement and observational skills to reach a conclusion or generate further areas of inquiry, students challenged their own assumptions about human behavior and decisions, nationalism, democratic institutions and politics, religious and moral
teachings, social systems and structures, and economic incentives and rewards. “In class, we absorb from the teacher and textbooks; going there, I must form my own opinions. I learned that there’s more than just what’s in a textbook. It’s up to me to find personal stories and connections that interest me to give me a more well-rounded view.” “It is a staple of ISP — form your own opinion.” “Seeing the work of the NGOs and the effects some of these people are having … inspired me — particularly, meeting an ISP Alumna working for the OSCE; it was important to learn how she got from ISP to where she is now.” (ISP student comments) This glimpse into the learning taking place at ISP shows that our students are on track to fulfill the school’s mission of adapting and contributing respon-
Chickens, Walk to Water, Roots-n-Shoots, Model United Nations); and of ISP Alumni, Lifelong Contributors. Through the accreditation self-study, we have been able to uncover and share stories that celebrate our strengths in the area of this ACE Learning Principle. Likewise, through this search for this principle in action, we’ve identified areas for continued growth. sibly to our changing world — or, as this ACE principle says, “demonstrate understandings, competencies, dispositions, and values that will allow them to become responsible and successful citizens.” This is just one of many stories of Authentic, Real-World Learning (Running a Bakery, Personal Passion Project, Curator Project); of Contributing Responsibly and Ethically (Raising
Connected to Learning Goals, our 2017-18 ISP2020 Change and Relevance strategies aim for learners to have greater social and environmental impact and for there to be greater individual growth and personal relevance in their learning.
ENGAGEMENT AND AUTONOMY Learners are engaged with and inspired by their learning. They have autonomy over their learning and make informed choices, supported by teachers acting as coaches and mentors.
We don’t just learn science content and follow prescribed experiments. Like scientists in the real world, we nurture scientific curiosity by giving students the autonomy to engage in personal experiments and explorations. The Grade 6 Genius Hour is a great example of how students’ voice and choice powerfully propel them forward as a scientist and as a curious person. Building on the independent learning skills nurtured throughout Elementary School, the Grade 6 Genius Hour starts with students thoughtfully exploring topics of interest and potential questions. Through mentoring, students develop research questions that are scientifically sound and testable. Then using either the scientific method or the design cycle, students decide on a personalized science project of their choice. Ultimately, Genius Hour results in around 70 highly individualised projects designed and led by students, requiring self-direction, teamwork and coordination. Learners are supported by the expertise of teachers, lab technicians, and other members of the ISP community as needed. 10
Wadan (now 8th grade) shared that he was wondering why we use size six basketballs in CEESA. When interviewing the activities director, he found out that some people are good at basketball in CEESA, but are a little bit short. To make it easier for those few people on each team they use a smaller ball so everyone can shoot and dribble comfortably with it and they made sure it wasn’t too big for anyone. “That’s when I thought of my question How does height effect free throw % with different size basketballs? My hypothesis was that the shorter people would be better with the smaller ball and the taller would be better with the larger ball.” Student interest and curiosity are the drivers of the projects, as students construct their learning paths and make choices on how they spend their time. Constructing their personal inquiry means significant autonomy, resulting in greater engagement and motivation for most students. This is one example of so many ISP learning stories that illustrate how our ISP mission and our ISP2020 strategies align with the ACE Engagement and Autonomy principle: Journeys of Scientific Curiosity;
Voice and Choice, Individual Progress and Engagement in Maths; and Inspired and Engaged Learners in student run activities. Through the accreditation self-study, we have been able to uncover and share stories that celebrate our strengths in the area of Engagement and Autonomy. Likewise, through this search for this
principle in action, weâ€™ve identified areas for continued growth. Connected to ACE Engagement and Autonomy principle, our 2017-18 ISP2020 Relevance and Curiosity strategies aim to increase learners regularly engaging with their strengths, challenges, wonderings and interests in authentic, relevant, and rich tasks. 11
LEARNING PERSPECTIVES Meaningful learning is extended when learners explore the unfamiliar, consider a range of perspectives, and take informed risks. Mistakes are seen as opportunities for learning.
Ordinarily, a successful collaboration does not end with a young participant in tears – but in this case, an emotional connection was made, and the tears were tears of joy. Students in Grades 9 through 12 regularly learn craft skills in their design technology class by making electrical controllers, bracelets, and even toys. However, we go beyond simply making things: we test out our products with their eventual users. One 12th grader, Jakub, brought a toy he had created to show a 3-yearold buddy, Tamia. They play-tested it together, speaking in Czech, their mother tongue. Other students did the same, in Korean, English, and other languages. At the end of the visit, Jakub gave Tamia the toy to keep, and she burst into tears of happiness. “Today, our class took a trip down to the PreK classroom to let them play with the toys that we made. I noticed a few things, some of which were problems that I and my buddies were able to overcome, and others were great things that helped me and my buddy connect,” wrote a classmate of Jakub’s, reflecting on the learning process. For Upper School students, PreK is an unfamiliar environment. The PreK perspective may be a new one to consider, and a project designed to work in one way may have an unexpected outcome.
This story captures how learning at ISP is founded on students exploring the unfamiliar and considering a range of perspectives. Such contexts nurture students’ empathy for each other, enabling them to achieve more together than they could do alone—even if one student is more than a decade older than the other. This learning story illuminates one way current learning aligns with ISP2020 strategies and the ACE Learning Perspectives principle. Several others could just as easily have been featured in this collection of stories, based on areas such as: The Outreach of the Robotics Team (pictured above right), Risk-taking in Performing Arts and Field Trips, or developing perspective in Language Arts, Culture & Language, and Design Thinking. Through the accreditation self-study, we have been able to uncover and share stories that celebrate our strengths in the area of Learning Perspectives. Likewise, through this search for this principle in action, we’ve identified areas for continued growth. Connected to this ACE principle, our 2017-18 ISP2020 Relevance and Community strategies focus on: • S upport staff, parents and student mentors contributing their expertise to student learning; • L earners regularly engaging with partners in the Prague community, and; • L earners regularly engaging in authentic, relevant and rich tasks.
LEARNING COMMUNITY Respectful, healthy, ethical relationships and interactions create a true sense of community. Communication is open, honest and transparent. Community values are clearly stated, actively lived and define a distinct, sustained identity.
Everyone in our community takes active steps to learn with and from each other. Perhaps no one in the ISP community embodies this ISP2020 strategy more than ISP’s venerable employee from our maintenance department, Milan Trunecek. As well as their “day jobs” Milan and colleagues (standing in top left photo, left to right, Jiri, Karel, and Martin) contribute in many ways to the ISP community. In Milan’s case, he contributes: as an ISP parent, as a musician who plays regularly at ISP events, as a builder who helps create theatre sets and robotics components, and even as a demonstrator of how to safely make and extinguish campfires for our curious Kindergarten students! A shining example of Milan’s flexibility, energy and boundless willingness to help and share his expertise and skills came during a Grade 9 Stretch Day. The students awaited a lesson with a visiting artist to learn what it takes to work with wood. Unfortunately, at the last minute the artist cancelled due to illness. Without hesitation, Milan stepped in and delivered the woodworking lesson himself. Milan began by familiarising students with basic safety rules related to work with milling and drilling machines as well as hand tools. He demonstrated rudimentary woodworking techniques to the students and afterwards encouraged them to work with the tools themselves under his supervision. Milan worked with the students at their own levels, teaching new skills, and encouraging them to keep trying when a part of a project was difficult. 14
For some of the Grade 9 students, it was the first time in their lives they had used woodworking tools or performed an apparently straightforward task like hammering a nail into wood. Just as important as these practical skills learned, however, is the realization that the more we have individuals within our community share their expertise and experiences, the more ISP can truly be greater than the sum of its parts. Support Staff, Faculty, Parents, Students and Alumni live and breathe the ISP strategy of our community taking active steps to learn with and from each other, fostering an ISP identity and sense of community. Through the accreditation self-study, we have been able to uncover and share stories that celebrate our strengths in the area of Learning Community. Likewise, through our search for this principle in action, we’ve identified areas for continued growth. Connected to this ACE principle, our 2017-18 ISP2020 Community strategy aims to have greater community partnerships with • Support staff, parents and student mentors directly contributing their expertise to student learning; • Faculty and staff feeling a greater sense of belonging across sections and departments and; • Learners regularly engaging with partners in the Prague community.
RESEARCH AND REFLECTION Research, reflection, and future design-oriented thinking are valued and acted upon by the community of learners.
We don’t just take someone’s word for it: all members of our learning community undertake their own research and reflection to improve learning and systems. Many schools work hard to bring inquiry learning to their students - but what if we worked just as hard to see everyone in our community digging into inquiry projects that help us figure out what works (and what doesn’t) at ISP? What is curiosity? What does it look and sound like? How can we nurture it? Among numerous other professional inquiries conducted by all ISP teachers, more than a fifth of our faculty want to know how curiosity can truly drive what and how we learn. A Grade 1 teacher wondered what conditions promote and spark curiosity in our learners. She brought the challenge to colleagues in her LIFT (Learning Inquiry Focus Team), which is one of many school-wide teacher groups that explore the research behind burning questions about teaching and learning, and then she put the results into practice. This teacher focused on figuring out how we might nurture curiosity in six- and seven-year-olds through a series of experiments. The teacher began by observing what stimulated her students’ curiosity. She wondered if students are really curious during their free choice time, or whether they
are just making arbitrary choices. She reframed “Choice Time” as “Curiosity Time” and started asking questions to challenge her students to think differently: “What are you trying to figure out?” “What are you finding out so far?” “What makes us curious?” Now, this Grade 1 teacher provides more open-ended curiosity time, with students pursuing their own questions and interests and begging for more time. One small group of students is working together on aeroplane designs for the future. These first grade students reserve time in the art room to ask questions and get advice about their designs, and research how solar panels might power a commercial aircraft. The teacher constantly challenges herself to understand the impact of her action research on her students. Students seeing their teacher being a curious researcher is an unexpected benefit. The learning about our ISP2020 strategy, Curiosity drives what and how we learn, uncovered by this teacher and her students is visible through the pictures, quotes, and questions that they post. John Dewey said: “We learn from reflecting on experience.” Reflection is at the heart of professional collaboration, but only if it drives action in the classroom. the teacher notices how meetings with her LIFT are invaluable for considering evidence. “We are a group of nine teachers considering five different questions about curiosity,” she says. “When we use the Considering
Evidence Protocol related to one colleague’s questions, it really pushes all of our thinking about next steps and drawing possible conclusions.” Through the accreditation process, we have been able to uncover and share stories that celebrate our strengths in the area of Research and Reflection. Likewise, through our search for this ACE principle in action, we’ve identified areas for continued growth. Connected to this ACE principle, our 2017-18 ISP2020 Coherence strategy aims to increase our regular testing of ideas and solutions to refine or abandon them.
INCLUSIVENESS OF LEARNING The learning community embraces a culture of inclusiveness.
“We are all citizens of one world, we are all of one blood. To hate a man because he was born in another country, because he speaks a different language, or because he takes a different view on this subject or that, is a great folly… Let us have but one end in view, the welfare of humanity; and let us put aside all selfishness in considerations of language, nationality, or religion.” These are the words of the eminent Czech pedagogue, Jan Amos Komenský (Comenius), written in the 17th century and proudly displayed at the entrance to ISP. Inclusiveness is evident when ISP students, families, teachers, and staff understand and value the cultural, linguistic, academic, physical, and socioeconomic diversity of our community while learning with and from each other. Espousing diversity and its merits is something that international schools routinely do. ISP is fortunate to have families with 60 different nationalities. This rich mixture of backgrounds and beliefs gives all community members at ISP an authentic context in which to embrace a culture of inclusiveness, acting with compassion, integrity, respect, and intercultural understanding (ISP Mission).
ISP’s long-standing partnership with Radio Free Europe not only brings a wide range of expertise and energy to the community, but also varied life experiences and economic situations. As a community, our varied life experiences enrich us as a whole, providing the potential to increase intercultural understanding and our capacity to empathize with others. One powerful example of this is the story of Sahar Nahib ‘09, who returned to work at ISP after university. Growing up in a situation where women were free to study and lead professional lives, it was a shock when that life suddenly changed for those living in Afghanistan. As a nine-year-old, Sahar and her family spent 13 days escaping her home country, ending up at a refugee camp in the Czech Republic. Fortunately, Sahar’s father got a job with Radio Free Europe and Sahar came to study at ISP. As Sahar shared in her 2015 ISP TEDx Youth talk, she was able to follow her dreams and realize her hopes. How many other nine-year-old refugees have similar hopes and dreams today? This, and many other stories at ISP, illustrates how the ISP learning community actively supports the value and integrity of everyone, embracing our diverse academic, social-emotional, cultural, linguistic, and physical experiences and expertise. The individual success of every
learner is supported through aâ€Żvariety of structures, processes, and mindsets. Through the accreditation process, we have been able to uncover and share stories that celebrate our strengths in the area of Inclusiveness. Likewise, through our search for this principle in action, weâ€™ve identified areas for continued growth. Connected to this ACE principle, our 2017-18 ISP2020 Relevance and Coherence strategies aim to increase learners being appropriately challenged as they progress and learners knowing where they are as learners and how to move forward.
ASSESSMENT FOR LEARNING Assessment measures the effect of learning on the learner. Assessment for, of, and as learning includes qualitative as well as quantitative criteria.
We don’t just create tests and assign grades: we figure out where students are in their learning and make sure they move forward in what they understand and are able to do. The word “assessment” is derived from the Latin “assidere-to-sit-by”, which exemplifies how ISP teachers regularly talk with learners in order to coach them forward in their learning. As a Grade 11 student commented, “Teachers are happy to sit down to discuss strengths and weaknesses, as well as how to improve... that really helps rather than simply give a grade.” Many schools work hard to articulate an assessment policy that reflects educational research. The challenge is to bring those practices to life with varied learners at multiple ages across disciplines and classrooms. “What are you working on as a writer right now?” “How is it going?” and “Can you show me where you tried that?” are typical questions Language Arts teachers ask when sitting down with students. “I would like to develop my character’s relationship with other characters ... how these relationships affect the plot and the outcome of the story…. carry my tone more to show a reader the difference between the personalities and perspectives of characters,” comments one Grade 8 writer after conferring with her Language Arts and Social Studies teacher. In addition to a teacher taking
notes of student conferences, Middle School teachers have experimented with having students track the key points of these conversations. One of the added benefits of this shift is that students can track how they grow as writers and readers over time. Among numerous other effective assessment practices, many of our faculty confer regularly with their students as part of a workshop model. With this approach, teachers target an individual learner’s needs with warranted, specific, and constructive feedback the learner can use immediately. Like a great tennis coach, a teacher watches the learner in action and then gives specific guidance on how to improve one skill. Such regular and focused feedback to students with modeling ensures maximum individual progress. Through the accreditation self-study we have been able to uncover and share stories that celebrate our strengths in the area of assessment. Likewise, through our search for this principle in action, we’ve identified areas for continued growth. Connected to this ACE principle, our 2017-18 ISP2020 Relevance and coherence strategies aim to nurture greater individual growth with learners knowing where they are as learners being appropriately challenged as they progress.
DIMENSIONS OF LEARNING Learning encompassess creative, moral, social, experiential, and entreprenurial dimensions.
At ISP, thinking critically and creatively is an integral part of school life. Our school’s Mission clearly aims to empower learners with this key competency. In the Grade 5 Diversity Art Project, students applied such thinking when showing their conceptual understanding of diversity using oil or chalk pastels, creating a visual representation of harmony and disharmony. Some students showed their ideas of harmony at a literal level while others created more abstract artwork. Alice, in a very literal piece, said that her idea was to show empathy.
sented “what each of these groups of people wants and are fighting for… I used a zig zag to make it look more powerful, because it is not a straight line.” Yoonah used symbols (the rope) and colors (red, black, and blue) to represent her ideas about conflict and diversity. Visual arts at ISP empower learners to think critically and creatively using varied media and forms of expression. This story, and others related particularly to the Dimensions of Learning and Learning Perspective Principles, illustrate how learning at ISP encompasses creative, moral, social, experimental and entrepreneurial dimensions.
“Empathy is shown because the bunny is small and she gets bullied all of the time...so the fox knows how she feels…the fox hands the bunny a carrot and makes him feel better and included.” Alice described using different colors and blendings in this piece so “that they can stand out.”
Through the accreditation 2017 process, we have been able to uncover and share stories that celebrate our strengths in Dimensions of Learning. At the same time, through our search for this principle in action, we’ve identified areas for continued growth.
Yoonah used symbols and colors to represent different ideas in a more abstract piece of art. She explained how she drew white people on one side and people of color on another. She used “red in the background because of the madness people feel and blue because it goes from mad to sad.” Yoonah’s use of a black rope in her piece repre-
Connected to this ACE principle, our 2017-18 ISP2020 Coherence and Relevance strategies aim to be more explicit, clear and consistent in communicating and facilitating the learning we value at ISP, including learning principles and dispositions in the academic as well as the social emotional domains.
LEARNING SPACE & TIME The design of learning spaces and the structuring of learning time are driven and shaped by the learning community’s intended learning impacts.
Form follows function, an architectural principle, means the purpose of a space should be the driver for its design. ISP uses this principle in its approach to the design and creation of new learning environments. In order to provide space which is responsive to our learners’ needs, we want to create flexible and fluid learning environments.
more powerful for co-teaching and flexible to use rather than the larger, rather unwieldy moveable glass walls connecting to the hallway. Flip-up, rolling tables and writable walls and tables have been the most efficient and beneficial to student learning.
Over the years, all aspects of our facilities and campus have been enhanced and expanded to respond to our vision of teaching and learning. A few years ago, the school designed and built a new wing to the school, called the North Wing Project (NWP). While ISP could have simply built an extension which mirrored the form of the existing Middle and Upper School classrooms, we decided instead to design and build NWP as a pilot for new learning environments with flexible spaces and furniture to match our student-centered, collaborative approach.
As a first phase of our Master Plan, we have transformed the early childhood wing into a Reggio-Inspired learning environment with an atelier, flow between classrooms, and natural colors. In many ways, changing how we design and use time is proving to be a greater challenge than space. Some progress has been made in this area, with one example being our Middle and Upper School Stretch Days.
In preparation for the construction of NWP, new types of furniture, such as rolling chairs, were piloted with students and teachers giving input as to how well or poorly certain designs worked and why.
Through the accreditation self-study, we have been able to uncover and share stories that celebrate our strengths in ISP’s design and structuring Learning Space & Time. Likewise, through our search of this principle in action, we’ve identified areas for continued growth.
Since NWP was built, we experienced first-hand the designs of these new learning spaces in action. We continued to learn what works well and what doesn’t. For example, movable walls between classes is much
Moving forward, in addition to realizing the Master Plan, as part of our ISP2020 Coherence strategy we will explore and test ways to have learning improved by innovative design of learning environments.
GOVERNANCE & LEADERSHIP Governance, leadership, and management support, embody, and promote the organization’s intended learning Impacts, norms and values. “The Strategic Plan is Dead. Long Live Strategy” was the title of a seminal article from the Stanford Social Innovation Review (2013), which had an important impact on ISP’s thinking about strategy making. As the authors noted, “Creating strategies that are truly adaptive requires that we give up on many long-held assumptions.” Through their ongoing work and regular training the ISP Board and Leadership Team (Upper School Principal Mark Frankel, Human Resources Director Petr Draxler and Board Member Jan Sýkora are pictured to the right) understand their strategic role in moving ISP forward. An example of this adaptive strategic approach is apparent in ISP’s master planning process. To create a master plan for the ISP campus, the Board and Leadership Team embarked on an extensive search to find innovative architects whose philosophy matched ISP’s vision of learning. Subsequently, for almost a half a year, architects from Jestico & Whiles “lived” with ISP in order to deeply understand the needs of the community. The Board and the Building and Grounds Committee understood that to create a visionary design, the solution would not be off-the-shelf. The Board and Leadership Team worked closely with the architects as they engaged in numerous workshops with all school constituents. ISP students, young and old, were at the center of the
process, as they “voted” on what they felt were priorities and discussed design ideas with the architects. Middle School students built models for certain parts of the school, which helped the architects understand their vision for an ISP of the future. Through this inclusive process all voices in the community were invited to share their thinking. This and many other ISP stories, encompassing areas such as; Strategic and Future Focused Governance, The Road to ISP2020, Building a School for the Future and Creating a Culture of Philanthropy, are connected to the ACE Governance and Leadership Principle. These stories exemplify how ISP leaders are willing to wrestle with ambiguity, take initiative and risks, and to “fail forward” in order to remain relevant to our learners. Through the accreditation self-study, we have been able to uncover and share stories that celebrate our strengths in the area of Governance and Leadership for Learning. Likewise, through our search for this principle in action, we’ve identified area for continued growth. Connected to this ACE principle, our 2017-18 ISP2020 Coherence strategy, aims to manage the design, funding and implementing of Phases 02 and 03 of the ISP Master Plan where learning is improved by innovative design of learning environments.
ACCREDITATION 2017 COUNCIL OF INTERNATIONAL SCHOOLS As part of our CIS re-accreditation, we submit foundational information regarding admissions, attrition, achievements, financial procedures and regulatory requirements, which can be found on our website and/ or in our annual report. The heart of the CIS self-study is related to five Evaluation Domains: Purpose and Direction; Governance, Leadership and Ownership; Students’ Learning & Well-being; Staffing, and Premises and Physical Accommodation. Please read the following synthesis of our report. Purpose and Direction From the ISP Mission (2008-09) to ISP2020 and current Master Plan, we have used a highly inclusive development process with representatives from all constituents. This clarity of our purpose and direction drive all aspects of ISP including activities, admissions, assessment, child safety, curriculum, facilities, governance, and staffing. ISP2020’s objective to Unleash our collective potential, so our school is greater than the sum of its parts, will guide our community as we move closer to our mission. Governance, Leadership and Ownership The ISP Board of Trustees has a clear understanding of its role as a strategic governance body. The Board, an effective partner of the Director and ISP’s senior leadership team, keeps ISP’s Mission and Strategic Plan ISP2020 at the center of all its committee discussions. Through a comprehensive annual review of the strategic plan, the budgetary process, as well as subcommittee work, the Board ensures the future readiness of the institution. The Board reviewed and is finding ways to address CIS’s recommendation that “The Board... increase its efforts to become more diverse and representative of the cultural diversity of the school community.” Students’ Learning and Well-being ISP provides high quality health services through our nurses, counselors, school psychologist and Prague
experts. Our Wellbeing Coordinator is now expanding our impact in this area through consolidating and developing resources, processes, and procedures to ensure the academic, physical, social, and emotional well-being of all students. Lastly, we mitigate risks to our learners through our Child Safety policy as well as security and risk management procedures. Staffing ISP employs a professional, dynamic, effective, well qualified faculty and staff to carry out a constantly improving learning program. The average number of students per teacher ratio range from 7.2 in Upper School, 7.7 in Middle School to 8.8 in Elementary School. The majority (72%) of our faculty have advanced degrees (Masters and Doctorates). Due to ISP’s high standards and reputation, we have relatively low levels of attrition (below 10% on average) while being able to attract top-quality candidates. Relevant background checks are carried out for all of ISP’s regular employees to confirm their identity, right to work in the Czech Republic, clean criminal record, previous employment history, as well as professional references. Premises and Physical Accommodation ISP’s physical facilities and equipment support our mission and sustain learning programs through high quality maintenance and ongoing investments. In addition to existing facilities, ISP’s Master Plan will create new innovative and revitalized spaces for increased flexibility and learning that is more in line with where ISP is headed strategically. In response to the CIS recommendation regarding funding for the ISP Master Plan, realization has been assured for Phase 01. The Finance Committee is reviewing funding options for Phase 02, and the advancement office is focusing intently on fund-raising efforts for Phases 02 and 03. ISP continues to support high quality IT resources to ensure operational efficiency and enhanced learning.
To unleash our collective potential, so that our school is greater than the sum of its parts.
• We create change that’s bigger than we are. • Personal relevance, individual progress and real-world experiences are at the heart of our learning. • Curiosity drives what and how we learn. • How we learn is coherent and connected through the school. • Everyone in our community takes active steps to learn with and from each other.
Selected Learning Stories from the International School of Prague - Accreditation Self-study 2016-17
Published on Oct 11, 2017
Selected Learning Stories from the International School of Prague - Accreditation Self-study 2016-17