Teach Middle East Magazine - Sep-Dec Issue 1 Volume 9

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Term 1 Sep-Dec 2021 VOL. 9 ISSUE 1

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SOCIAL EMOTIONAL LEARNING CONTRIBUTING TO BETTER LEARNING OUTCOMES

CLOSING THE CULTURAL GAP

INCLUSION IN A MULTICULTURAL WORLD

SHIFTING FROM TEACHING TO LEARNING

IMPROVING STUDENT ATTAINMENT

RETHINKING CHALLENGE IN THE CLASSROOM FROM PRINCIPLES TO PRACTICE

DANAT JABEL DHANNA RESORT RUWAIS THE UAE'S BEST KEPT SECRET

UPCOMING EVENTS STEM MENA CONFERENCE HYBRID EVENT DUBAI, MARCH 15-16, 2022

www.stemmena.com

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A MOMENT WITH SVEN MAIKRANZ


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MY SECRET WEAPON IN GETTING MY STUDENTS TO LOVE STEM it is a requirement for her to be able to pass the course. She reluctantly agreed to log on. Lina was one of these students: a very intelligent young lady with low interest in STEM overall. She often told me that “Math and Science were hard and boring …and not for her “and “by the way, when was she ever going to use any of that”. Fast forward to the following week and all my students thanks to Gizmos have become completely engaged in their learning, even Lina. In fact, Lina was logging on and getting more work done than many others in her class. This may sound too good to be true, but allow me to explain how Gizmos work and I am confident you too will see the value that it can add to your students. When my students started using Gizmos, they became truly engaged. They started thinking like scientists and mathematicians. Even students like Lina, participated in class. I could hear “Aha!” and “what would happen if we changed this variable?”. These online simulations made it possible for us to study complex concepts and develop 21st century skills such as critical thinking, collaboration, communication and creativity, naturally. Every Gizmo (or simulation)

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ike many teachers, I had a really rough time at the start of the pandemic. Trying to move my students to online learning was not easy. I am a STEM teacher, and like many teachers, the best part of my teaching is being in the classroom doing hands-on experiments or solving problems with my students. What do you do when that is all taken away without notice? At first I panicked. I started to try any and every program available. Can you relate? I was fortunate to find Gizmos early in my search. Gizmos has completely changed the way I teach. It is my secret weapon.

In this article I will share with you why I am its biggest fan, and why you simply must try it. Have you ever had a student in your class who does not respond to any of the teaching methods that you have tried? Well, I have one such student. Her name is Lina. Lina was hardly impressed with anything and distance learning gave her the perfect excuse to disengage even more. When I announced to the class that we were going to try Gizmos, most students were ok with the idea and were willing to explore the new program. Lina on the other hand was simply not interested. I told her that


Advertorial Below I outline some of the features of Gizmos and what I have learned using Gizmos. Each Gizmos allow for differentiated accommodations which can be adapted to meet the instructional needs of the full range of abilities and learning styles in my classroom and include questions designed to provoke higher order thinking with real-time online plenaries to assess understanding of key concepts. allowed my students to explore various STEM topics freely. soon enough, Lina and her classmates were changing variables, analysing graphs, making predictions, sharing hypothesis and persevering in finding solutions. These online simulations made it possible for us to study complex concepts and develop 21st century skills such as critical thinking, collaboration, communication and creativity, naturally. Every Gizmo (or simulation) allowed my students to explore various STEM topics.

Lessons Learned It has been over a year that I have been using Gizmos in my class (and remotely) and here is what I have found: ExploreLearning Gizmos bring research-proven instructional strategies to life. With Gizmos, any teacher can supplement and enhance his or her instruction with powerful interactive visualizations of STEM concepts and guide students the chance to think and act like scientists, engineers, and mathematicians.

After a few weeks, we tried a STEM Case – a special type of Gizmo that starts with a real-world problem and then takes students through foundational knowledge and virtual guided-inquiry activities as they work to solve it. Students became pediatricians, forensic scientists, agricultural scientists, medical toxicologists, marine biologists, etc.… From case to case, I was able to measure each student’s STEM skills and intervene as needed. I could even measure their skills progress from case to case. Lina delved into these cases regularly because now she could see the connection between math, science learning and real life.

Gizmos enabled my students to be active participants in the scientific inquiry process. The simulations provide clear visualization of abstract concepts and are especially helpful for students with processing deficits who struggle with text.

The bast part of this story is that one day Lina said she had something to ask. She wanted to find out why it took me so long to find a program like Gizmos. I laughed because I guess it was her way of telling me how much she is enjoying learning with Gizmos.

During my classes, I could easily set up experiments as the interactive controls were very intuitive. I did not have to worry about dangerous or expensive lab equipment, paper worksheets to clutter my classroom or even social distancing.

I am not saying that Gizmos is going to solve all the problems you have in the STEM class room but it really does enhance teaching and learning.

We used the available tools in each Gizmos to easily capture and compare results from experiments: With graphing, exportable tables, screen

Gizmos support my English Language Learners with visual and experiential support that connects to students’ background and prior knowledge as well as concepts and vocabulary to realworld experiences, providing a bridge to learning between languages. My gifted students also were challenged with extended activities and questions aimed at extending learning.

shots etc. The teacher guide provided for each simulation included full inquiry-based lesson plans, critical thinking questions, differentiated activities, and so much more so it cuts down on much of my prep works. The customizable student exploration guide and quick assessments helped me provide my students with all the tools and feedback they need to explore, discover, and apply new concepts. I have been encouraging other colleagues to use Gizmos, and one of them sent me her student’s feedback, just after she started using the program:

“I apologize about emailing you during the weekend, but I couldn’t wait to tell you on Sunday. Gizmos is so much fun, and I absolutely love it. I actually learned something, and I like the fact that it is interactive. Thank you so much for making us do Gizmos.” I now feel that I am better prepared to address students’ needs and as they continue on their educational journey. Try Gizmos for yourself: www.explorelearning.com. You can thank me later.


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02 MY SECRET WEAPON IN GETTING MY STUDENTS TO LOVE STEM

28 "PROBLEM STUDENTS" THE ONES THAT CAN CHANGE THE WORLD

08 ARE YOU HARNESSING THE HIDDEN POWER IN YOUR CLASSROOM?

30 REDESIGNING ENGLISH LANGUAGE TEACHING HOW CONCEPTS, CONTEXT AND INQUIRY-BASED STRATEGIES ENHANCE STUDENTS’ LEARNING

10 MEASURING WHAT REALLY MATTERS 12 ASSESSING AS A SUPPORT FOR LEARNING 14 WHY STUDENT WELLBEING IS AT THE HEART OF POSITIVE LEARNING OUTCOMES 16 HOW SOCIAL-EMOTIONAL LEARNING CAN CONTRIBUTE TO BETTER ACADEMIC OUTCOMES IN SECONDARY SCHOOLS 18 CLOSING THE CULTURAL GAP IN A MULTICULTURAL WORLD 20 ENHANCING LEARNING WITH A SENSE OF WONDER 22 GEMS LEGACY SCHOOL DUBAI COMMITTED TO RAISING ATTAINMENT AND ASPIRATIONS 26 IMPROVING STUDENT ATTAINMENT BY SHIFTING FROM TEACHING TO LEARNING

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32 DEALING WITH HEARING IMPAIRMENT IN THE CLASSROOM 34 RETHINKING "CHALLENGE" IN THE CLASSROOM: FROM PRINCIPLES TO PRACTICE 36 ASHA ALEXANDER-LEADING SCHOOLS AND BUILDING A LASTING LEGACY 38 AIMING HIGH IN THE UNITED ARAB EMIRATES (UAE) INTRODUCING THE MINISTRY OF EDUCATION’S NEW CURRICULUM FRAMEWORK FOR EXCELLENCE 42 PERCEPTIVE & PROACTIVE STUDENT ADVISING TO REDUCE STUDENT ATTRITION AND IMPROVE UNIVERSITY GRADUATION RATES


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50 DANAT JABEL DHANNA RESORT RUWAIS: THE UAE’S MOST WELL KEPT SECRET 52 IS IT; HEARTBURN, ACID REFLUX, GERD OR LPR? 54 TEACHERS- CHOOSE YOURSELF THIS ACADEMIC YEAR

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PUBLISHER’S MESSAGE “ When we learn how to become resilient, we learn how to embrace the beautifully broad spectrum of human experience.” JAEDA DEWALT

Welcome to the 2021-2022 academic year. I hope you have all had a restful summer. For many educators, this was the first time they were able to travel in the last year and a half. Many took the opportunity to visit family and friends that they had not seen in a while. Others embraced the chance to travel to somewhere new. But many did not have the opportunity to travel, as restrictions are still in place in many parts of the world. As we start the new academic year, it is hard to believe that the global pandemic is still the topic of conversation. Many school leaders and teachers have had to cut their holidays short, in order to come back to get things ready for the new school year. They have been reading through and making sense of the raft of ever-changing safety measures that have been sent down from the education authorities. These educators have all our respect and admiration. The word we will be focussing on as we go into this new school year is resilience. Educators usually are very resilient people; however, the last eighteen months has put our resilience to the test. We have been thrown so many curveballs, but still, we rise. We have learned to embrace all the beautiful and new ways, to ensure that teaching and learning continues. For many, this new school year represents new hope and a new dawn. Some are entering a new phase in their career, others are starting a new school, and many are entering the region for the first time. No matter what our situation is, we can be sure that our reserves of resilience will be needed as we enter this new academic year. With new variants and ever-changing regulations, no one knows what lies ahead. One thing we do know is that if we are willing to embrace all the experiences that are thrown at

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us with a positive mindset, we will not only survive, but thrive. We here, at Teach Middle East Magazine, are delighted to be able to join you on this journey, and we hope to be your companion for inspiration, information and professional development throughout this academic year and beyond. It is with this in mind that we bring you this jam-packed issue of Teach Middle East Magazine. This Back to School issue contains some great articles to help you navigate this academic year with confidence. There is an excellent focus on wellbeing as well as social and emotional learning. We also take you inside GEMS Legacy School Dubai and speak with its principal and CEO, Asha Alexander. Asha shares with us some great tips on what it takes to be an effective school leader in this era. She talks about serving with heart and how to leave a legacy that will be felt for years to come. We are also delighted to announce the second season of the Teach Middle East Podcast. Season one was the start of the conversation, in season two, we hope to go deeper. Click here to join us as a regular listener or visit www. teachmiddleeastmag.com/podcast. We are on a mission this academic year to get educators in the region to connect and collaborate more, so please join us on that mission. We invite you to head over to our social media pages, where we connect with like-minded educators. Follow us on Twitter @teachmiddleeast, Instagram @teachmiddleeast, Facebook and LinkedIn @Teach Middle East Magazine. I am looking forward to connecting with you all. Leisa Grace Wilson Editorial Director @leisagrace

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Teach Middle East Magazine® EDITORIAL DIRECTOR

Leisa Grace Wilson editor@teachuae.com +971 555 029582 ART DIRECTOR

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and How

Discover ‘What Kids Are Reading’ in over 13 countries, including the UAE and Qatar

This annual report from Renaissance combines data from Star Reading, myON and Accelerated Reader with insights from the National Literacy Trust to provide a comprehensive overview of the books read and enjoyed by students of all ages and abilities during the 2019-20 academic year Download the report for FREE: www.renlearn.co.uk/what-kids-are-reading-2021


Sharing Good Practice

ARE YOU HARNESSING THE HIDDEN POWER IN YOUR CLASSROOM? BY: CATHERINE O'FARRELL

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s we approach the start of a new academic year, schools are getting ramped up to reopen and deliver their induction weeks, welcoming a brandnew batch of fresh teachers to the UAE and embracing returning teachers to their familiar classrooms. As we plan for training on all subjects from school routines to cultural awareness, how many school leaders are accounting for our shadow teachers (learning support assistants, classroom assistants)? Are we scheduling them for training and skills development? This critical army of support warriors is often overlooked, and so a vital resource is being neglected. A recent study in the Journal of Inclusive Education (2020) investigates the role of the Shadow Teacher (Learning Support Assistant) in inclusive schools finding that; if deployed well, the shadow teacher can positively impact students' reading, writing, speaking, listening and peer to peer interactions. In short – they can be superstars! The research outlined that, with the right training and skills development, the shadow teacher can support not only the student but the teacher.

along with collaborative learning can accelerate student attainment by up to 5 months per annum. With an estimated 8,000 shadow teachers deployed across the UAE, there is a huge opportunity to develop this highly valuable battalion of support. So, how can we prepare fully before schools open to harness the power of this key support in our classrooms?

This is supported by research from the Education Endowment Foundation in the UK, which analyses the cost, effectiveness and impact of a broad range of educational interventions.

One of the first steps to take before our return to school is a clearly outlined job description and memorandum of understanding (or service agreement where appropriate). Does the school, the class teacher and, most importantly, the shadow teacher know precisely what their duties and expectations are?

They have found that small group teaching (lead by a teacher or assistant)

The Educational Journal outlines the importance of training and skills

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development for shadow teachers. This should be clearly defined and shared with all stakeholders- parents, teachers and, where appropriate - the student. The research further states that one of the greatest barriers to successful support from a shadow teacher is a lack of clarity around classroom practice and obligations. Communication between the shadow teacher, the class teacher, the student, the inclusion team and the family is key. Does the shadow teacher fully understand the school schedule, their responsibilities and obligations in terms of duty of care? Do they have the lesson plans for each week, and do they know how they can work with the teacher and student to deliver the lessons effectively? Setting aside 15 to 20 mins on a Thursday afternoon or Sunday morning to sit with your shadow teacher and go through the upcoming week's planning can have a profound effect on your teamwork. When the shadow teacher and the class teacher come together to set up the weeks delivery and to learn, they can clearly


Sharing Good Practice define what is happening and when. They can mark out how they can work together, who is strong in different areas and share the lead role, where appropriate, to ensure variety in delivery and to free the class teacher to work more closely with individuals in the class. Defining where you can schedule some fun activities- role play, acting, or dance can create a more fun and engaging classroom for all. Where possible, team teaching can be a powerful tool in engaging the whole class. This not only increases the learning impact but a well-developed relationship and good dynamics can make a classroom fun and exciting, and the students will love it! In ensuring quality support with your shadow teacher, a clear outline of the student's needs must be agreed upon in collaboration with the student themselves – their voice is vital in this plan no matter what their age. Ask the student and the family - what do they find difficult, what are their barriers to learning and how can the team work together, under the guidance of the inclusion department, remove those barriers and improve the student's experience. It is imperative that both the teacher and the shadow teacher fully understand the student's area of need. Full knowledge of the barriers caused by those needs will ensure the best possible approach to alleviating those needs.

start of the school term, activities can be well structured and laid out, student's needs will be fully understood and catered for, and support can be implemented successfully from day one. Some questions to ask before the first week of school begins in September might include: Does everyone know the student's specific needs? Does everyone understand the barriers to learning associated with those needs (e.g. what is Autism, how does it present, how does it affect my student)? Is everyone clear about the role they will play in the student's educational journey? Does everyone have the IEP, and are they clear about their role in meeting its goals? How are we tracking and monitoring the impact of collaborative support?

By being fully prepared and organized, the teacher and shadow teacher can work together to form a superpower duo! Following the huge success of the Inclusion & Wellbeing Forum, which has been running for nearly two years now, we will be launching

a Forum specifically for Learning Support Assistants – shadow teachers, classroom assistants or anyone working in a supportive role for students of determination. This will be a free forum where LSAs can come together to share practice, experience and ideas. We will invite LSAs to speak as well as special educators and specialists to deliver sessions on a range of areas like understanding specific needs, tools and methods to use in schools and wellbeing support. Hosted monthly by myself and Ms Harmeet Kaur Dhillon, we will launch the first one on Tuesday 24th August at 4 PM with guidance on preparing for the return to school. Please do come and join us and share the article link with any LSA who you think might benefit from this forum.

References: Faiz, Z., (2020), Role of Shadow Teacher in the provision of Academic and Social Support for Children with Special Needs at Inclusive Schools. Journal of Inclusive Education, Vol. 4, Issue 1, 2020. ht tps:// jie.aiou.e du.pk / wp - content / uploads/2021/01/Paper-9.pdf Education Endowment Foundation, 2021, https://educationendowmentfoundation.org. uk/evidence-summaries/teaching-learningtoolkit/

Talk about using assistive technologies, tools and methodologies to reduce the effect of barriers. The inclusion team will be key in these initial discussions and can guide everyone on best approaches and practices. As a team, the shadow teacher and class teacher should talk to the parents and the student together to investigate what works at home, at play or while out & about etc. Discuss how you can emulate these practices at school. If everyone is fully prepared and communicates well before the

Catherine O’Farrell is an experienced educational leader and consultant. She is the Director of the Knowledge Hub at iCademy Middle East and hosts an international voluntary forum for Inclusion & Wellbeing leaders. She is an advocate for inclusive education and sustainable improvement of educational practice across the MENA region working under the Global Sustainability Network stiving toward the UNSDG Goal 8. Catherine is a regular media contributor and conference speaker.

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Sharing Good Practice

MEASURING WHAT REALLY MATTERS BY: MATTHEW SAVAGE AND DR HELEN WRIGHT

#betterboards perform a vital function when exam results are released. In this article, Matthew Savage and Dr Helen Wright explain how international school boards can get this right.

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chools across the Middle East proclaim the premium they place on wellbeing above all else. For example, one group of schools proudly aims to provide “as much emphasis on the emotional, social, moral and physical development of our students as on the academic”, and KHDA itself seeks “to create a high quality education sector focused on happiness and wellbeing”. It is hard to disagree with this; after all, if a student does not feel happy, safe and well, how can they learn effectively? However,

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academic year, leadership teams across the region will be busily preparing to report to their Boards on the academic performance of their students in the Summer 2021 series of public examinations. This is a challenging time for schools, as they seek to demonstrate their success with metrics capable of withstanding the scrutiny of the most exacting eye. But how many of these reports will reflect the #wellbeingfirst agenda enshrined in the Guiding Statements to which their schools increasingly subscribe? As part of the training the two of us provide to international school boards worldwide, we directly address the dissonance at the heart of this process. It is perfectly possible, after all, for a Board to hold their school, and its leadership, firmly accountable, and to maintain maximum stretch and challenge in terms of the school’s

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performance, without compromising on the prioritisation of what really matters. Schools will measure and report whatever metrics are expected of them, so the Board needs to be bold and brave, and root their expectations in holistic, compassionate soil. Ever since the introduction of school league tables in England and Wales in 1992, schools have been compared against each other with a ferociousness that has often become existential; schools have risen and fallen, or disappeared completely, on the strength of the raw attainment of their students, regardless of the multiplicity of complex factors which feed final academic outcomes. However, in the international schools’ sector, there is typically more freedom for a school to measure and report what it deems to be most important – or, rather, what its Board deems important to measure and report.