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THE MAGAZINE FOR INTERNATIONAL EDUCATORS

International School

In partnership with Independent School Management Plus Magazine | www.schoolmanagementplus.com

WINTER 2020

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Coming through the Covid-19 Crisis PA R T O F T H E

The Importance of the Wider Community GROUP

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Winter 2020

International School THE MAGAZINE FOR INTERNATIONAL EDUCATORS

Contents

EDITORS Mary Hayden Jeff Thompson editor@is-mag.com www.is-mag.com

13

MANAGING DIRECTOR Steve Spriggs steve@williamclarence.com

Re-opening of an Elementary School

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No part of this publication may be reproduced, copied or transmitted in any form or by any means. International School is an independent magazine. The views expressed in signed articles do not necessarily represent those of the magazine. The magazine cannot accept any responsibility for products and services advertised within it.

28

Wider Community

Comment 5 Moving Forward, Mary Hayden and Jeff Thompson Educating in the time of Covid-19 6 Early lessons learned from the Covid-19 pandemic, Malcolm Nicolson and Pascale Hertay

Leading and managing teaching and learning 22 It’s Time to Focus on the Motivation, not the Examination, Liam Printer 24

The Importance of the Wider Community in Developing Opportunities in an International School, Rob Ford

26

A Rebalancing Act, Carol Inugai Dixon

28

Student Agency and the Central Idea, Vanessa Keenan The Elephant Needs a Push, Denry Machin

10

Covid-19: reections of a secondary chemistry teacher, Ana Teresa Risi de Carrillo

13

Re-opening of an Elementary School, post Covid-19 lockdown, Sarah Ford

30

16

Coming Through the Covid-19 Crisis: Ideas Worth Preserving, Catherine Copeland

18

A Radical Rethink: what Covid-19 teaches us about the future of school education, Andrew Watson and Richard Calland

From the schools 34 Alice in Education Land: Missing the Target, Chris Binge

20

Learning From Coronavirus, Richard Pearce FOR INTERNATIO

THE MAGAZINE

with Independent In partnership

School Management

Book Review 36 Migration, Diversity and Education: Beyond Third Culture Kids by Saija Benjamin and Fred Dervin (eds), reviewed by John Nette

NAL EDUCATORS

International School | www.schoolm Plus Magazine

anagementplu

WINTER 2020

s.com

On the Cover

Part of the Independent School Management Plus Group

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Student Agency

ce

Coming through the Covid-19 Crisis THE PA R T O F

The Importan of the Wider Community

WITH

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Alice in Education Land

Vanessa Keenan talks Student Agency and the Central Idea, which can be found on page 28

GROUP

Winter 2020 | International School | 3


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Comment

Moving Forward Mary Hayden and Jeff Thompson

I

n the summer 2020 issue of International School magazine we reported its transfer from John Catt Educational to a new home. In the weeks that followed, we were delighted that William Clarence Education, a leading London-based education consultancy service with longstanding experience in educational publishing, agreed to add the magazine to their publications portfolio. International School will now continue as a digital publication and be positioned alongside the very successful Independent School Management Plus. It will benefit from a significantly broader reach in terms of distribution, and both titles will be supported by the popular schoolmanagementplus.com digital platform. This will bring flexibility and diversity to the ways in which authors will be able to share their contributions. Not least, we anticipate a higher level of interaction between contributors and readers, increased continuity in the development of ideas and issues raised, and a widening of the readership (and, therefore, the contributor base). Thus, we hope that the stakeholder base of contributors will be extended to include sharing of practice and opinion between leaders and managers, teachers, board members, parents and students, inter alia, focussing on ways in which contributions to the magazine will add to increased understanding of international education in schools. Given the prevailing global circumstances, this current issue includes a number of articles with a focus on the responses of individual (and groups of) schools to the challenges of Covid-19, together with news and views on other topics. We look forward to our ongoing work as Editors of International School, through joining forces with Independent School Management Plus, and to receiving further contributions from potential authors! Mary Hayden & Jeff Thompson International School Editors

Stephen Spriggs writes: We are delighted to have had the opportunity to acquire International School magazine into our family of education titles. After admiring (and reading) the magazine for years it is a very exciting time to be able to lead the next era of the title, engage with the readership and provide a new, vibrant and modern approach to international school news, views and opinion. Our intention is to keep everything you and we love about the title, everything that has made the brand so successful over the years; and to broadcast the news, opinion and insights to a wider audience through a variety of channels. Our social media

reach, newsletter subscribers and digital platform traffic is a perfect blend for the title to slot into and bring a new angle of education to our already thriving community. We look forward to hearing from you all very soon and in the meantime, head to schoolmanagementplus.com to subscribe to our newsletter and to make sure you are on our digital subscriber list for our termly magazines. Stephen Spriggs Head of Education, William Clarence Education

Winter 2020 | International School | 5


Early lessons learned from the Covid-19 pandemic Malcolm Nicolson and Pascale Hertay

T

he 2020 Covid-19 pandemic has led to a period of intense innovation and re-thinking of educational practices, as well as sheer hard work. Much has been shared online around changing practices as colleagues across Asia, and then Italy and Spain, adapted and accommodated as the situation changed. In this article we don’t intend to repeat the detailed thinking around online and blended pedagogy as described in many forums, but will look at the crisis from a leadership perspective and consider school readiness for crisis, in addition to ways in which schools and organisations can Figure 1: Prior to the emergence of Covid-19, did your school have an emergency plan in place to ensure continuity of learning?

51 Responses

6 | International School | Winter 2020

respond in the short- and long-term. The thinking in this article is based around data collected in a survey we conducted in April 2020 which was first presented at the ECIS digital leadership conference. The survey of school leaders provides indicative data from 62 respondents, which enables us through this article to: • consider insights on how international schools responded in the short-term to the Covid-19 challenges; • provide tips to help in developing or improving online learning (strategic, technological and pedagogical); and • identify lessons learned or changes that we have implemented that could become the ‘new normal’ or ‘new possible’ in bringing about a positive impact on student learning.

Crisis Planning As can be seen in Figure 1, prior to Covid-19 a relatively small number of schools had formal planning in place to prepare for an event such as a pandemic, terror attack or natural disaster. According to PWC (2020), it is good practice to put in place a cross-functional response team that has the authority to make decisions and keep leadership informed. Schools are advised to convene groups that bring together leaders and other staff who would be responsible

for a crisis plan, response efforts, and health and safety matters in order to close gaps, and to formalise the crisis plan. PWC recommends that schools create an operations centre that coordinates communications and key messages with all stakeholders. As seen from the data we collected, many schools have a plan, but are yet to formalise it. It is time to re-visit these crisis plans to ensure that they are formalised and fit for purpose.

Being away from our schools physically The Save the Children report of 2015 highlights the way in which children see education as one of their most important needs, especially in a time of crisis. Children feel safe and protected at school, and they feel better at school. Save the Children note that education “is the key to their future, their protection, their happiness and their health – and it cannot be delayed”. This Covid pandemic means that many children have missed school, and will almost certainly continue to attend only partially for months or years to come. How harmful is it to students if they miss long periods of school? Sundstrom and Blackmore (2020) discuss students in Christchurch, New Zealand who missed school for several weeks after the 2011 earthquakes. Students’ results didn’t drop,


Educating in times of Covid-19

Figure 3: What was/is the impact of Online Learning on the ability to learn for the following group of students

and many final performances actually went up. According to John Hattie (2020), a similar phenomenon was observed after 2005’s Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. To be relevant, education needs to reinvent itself constantly and adapt to new environments, climates and eras of thought. The challenge at this time of Covid has been that schools had just a few days to turn the whole system around to enable students to continue their learning from home. According to Hattie (2020) it seems that success in such a situation comes from the teacher’s ability to focus on the essential ‘what has to be learned’ instead of wading through a dense curriculum. This is in line with the ‘less is more’ approach presented in this article as top advice for successful implementation. However, one question not covered in our survey is the fear felt by parents.

Anecdotal evidence from conversations with school leaders confirms a resounding view that parents fear that their children will stop learning when they are at home. This is not new. It is also generally the response encountered when we confirm to parents that their child can learn but needs more time, or when children join a school where the cut-off date is different than in their country of origin. Parents feel that their child is being placed ‘a year behind’. The message from Hattie (2020) is clear: “let’s not get stressed about it ... the recovery will be reasonably quick”. This demonstrates the need to spend more time in explaining educational thinking to parents, as stressed by Hattie (2020): “Engage with parents to realize we as educators have unique skills and expertise (and are happy to share them), and not get upset if students are not spending 5-6 hours every day in the belief that school at home is but a mirror of the typical school day.” This thinking may support school leaders who are now dealing with claims for reimbursement of fees because schools didn’t provide the normal schooling, or because following government measures students attend school physically only one or two days per week: “It is not the time in class, but what we do in the time we have, that matters” (Hattie, 2020).

Implementing online learning Many schools adapted very quickly to a new learning environment, having already had systems in place. Others had to adapt

new systems quickly, while others were able to watch and learn from colleagues further east. The survey asked school leaders to rank which areas were the most challenging, for example teacher readiness, technology, student motivation and so on. Interestingly the challenge that emerged in our data was success in terms of support from school governance. School leaders felt that teachers were not ready, but that students were prepared and adapted quickly. They reported that the most successful challenge was around governance, with over 60% saying this was no challenge at all. This is an aspect to consider when developing or revising our crisis management plans. How do we continue to ensure buy-in and support from school governance? How do we support teachers in adapting to changing situations? How important is the style, frequency and manner of communication? There will be few surprises for readers on viewing the data in Figure 2. We were curious to explore the impact of the change to online learning on students at different ages. We expected that online learning would be more challenging for younger learners, and the data bears that out: the older the students, the better able they were to adapt. We were also curious to think about students with diverse learning needs. We can see that this environment is challenging for younger learners, but how about those students receiving support for English as an Additional Language (EAL) or for special needs? 

Figure 2: In your school, how easily were the children/students able to switch to this new learning approach in the different sections of the school

Winter 2020 | International School | 7


Educating in times of Covid-19

Figure 4: To what extent do you believe your school has succeeded in providing quality learning in an online environment? 50 Responses

In Figure 3 we see clear implications for our online learning delivery. Younger learners, EAL and special needs students have found this online experience more difficult. This may come as no surprise, but what have schools been able to do in order to support these students? What are the best practices that can help all students? We can see in Figure 4 that schools feel that they have done a good job in providing quality learning in the online environment. Schools have worked out their own unique blends of synchronous and asynchronous teaching, they have established pastoral protocols and have devised ways in which to provide personal and timely feedback to students.

“Create as many opportunities for social interaction, not just between you and the student, but using technology for students to work, share, interact, and learn together, as you so often do in the regular classroom. Learning at home need not be a lonely activity, with the only or even primary resource the parent.” Hattie, 2020

8 | International School | Winter 2020

Advice for implementing online learning School leaders who responded to the survey were good enough to provide tips for other schools, summarised as follows: • Assess what you can do and don’t try to replicate everything about school •C  ommunicate clearly, with regular updates and using various ways •B  e a good listener • F eedback through survey but also directly face-to-face with parents • Well-being for all stakeholders • L ess is more! (content, timing, ...) Start simple, grow into it, enhance it • Adapt planning: not an automatic transfer from what we do in class; differentiate for age levels, individual needs; use varied and appropriate input •C  onsistency emerges as being of huge importance • Teaching in real-time or not: create a balance according to student age, needs and time in front of screen •B  alance types of screen time and nonscreen time •R  eview assessment and how to gather evidence of learning •H  ave appropriate technology in place, devices and access for teachers; choose your platforms (not too many) • Train the teachers and facilitate collaboration •K  ey is to constantly review and be prepared to adapt plans and direction Preparing for the ‘new possible’ Many of the school leaders we surveyed in April 2020 view this crisis as an opportunity, demonstrating an admirable growth mindset. Across the media we hear about the ‘new normal’, but in education we can think about it more as the ‘new possible’. What can we do with our learning from this crisis? How can we improve teaching and learning with what we have learned through Covid-19? School leaders who responded to the

survey provided a number of thoughts, as summarised below. Do they match with your thoughts? To what extent will school leaders’ thinking have moved on since April 2020? Does the early Covid thinking match what we now know several months later? • Creation and revision of emergency plans: school-wide and per student • Possibility to use online learning in other situations • Embedded use of online learning platform that works for the context, and consistent use of it • Improved teacher confidence and skills in using technology for in-class and remote learning • Heightened levels of collaboration, and more effective • Importance of sense of community • Increased focus on quality learning experiences (select what to focus on and make it count), formative assessment strategies and quality feedback • New teaching strategies. Renewed focus on flipped learning techniques, especially useful with content-heavy courses • Importance of supporting students in developing skills to be self-regulating learners • Self-management of emotions and balance: students appreciating screen and non-screen time • Assessment focus: more authentic, plus use of ePortfolios as part of metacognition • Importance of relationships in any medium • Support parents in ways they understand; learning better, they can be appropriately involved: ongoing communication and collaboration The lengthy transition phase into the ‘new possible’ means that teachers will have to target what they will cover in the school setting and what will continue through online/distance learning. This implies greater tailoring to the needs of students, and what they can do from home or not. The lessons learned from full-time online will help to prioritise for the future hybrid/blended approach. As suggested by Hattie (2020), teachers should “Worry more about subjects in which parents have the least skill, and about subjects and tasks where parents make kids skill and drill and lose the thrill”. This reinforces the idea introduced by Martin Skelton at various International Primary Curriculum conferences over many years in asking us to question our practice with students: “are they busy, or are they busy learning?” This has been repeated often: now is the time to take it seriously!


Although, as demonstrated by the survey results, it was even more difficult to support children with special needs or EAL through this period, a tailored approach seems to work very well for them; indeed many students have been able to flourish at a level not reached when immersed in a physical classroom.

Big challenges to come Hattie (2020) provides some practical suggestions for the way forward using what we have learned during the Covid-19 pandemic. He believes that teachers need to make sure that students learning at home are engaged in useful tasks, not just projects that keep them busy with boring repetition. Teachers can use technology for diagnosis and share assessment rubrics before students begin tasks, and evaluate progress as is normal practice in the physical classroom – building formative assessment opportunities into the activities: “Create as many opportunities for social interaction, not just between you and the student, but using technology for students to work, share, interact, and learn together, as you so often do in the regular classroom. Learning at home need not be a lonely activity, with the only or even primary resource the parent.” (Hattie, 2020) If possible, teachers could use social media and have students send questions, share ideas and discuss what they know, do not know, and want to know. Students in some cases may be more likely to engage in this way on social media. Educators must use this pandemic as an opportunity to learn about learning,

and share stories of success of teachers and students learning from this crisis, paying particular attention to students with diverse needs. They should discover how to develop collective efficacy among teachers and school leaders, and use this experience to learn how to best work with all students. This article has hopefully provided food for thought, or maybe provided affirmation that your thinking and planning is ‘good enough’ or even world-leading.The data and discussion highlighted here takes the discussion above the detailed tips and tricks of what has been learned in terms of online learning and crisis management, and looks more at the role of school leadership. Finally, we turn to the leadership from Cambridge Assessment International Education (CAIE) and the International Baccalaureate (IB) and set some challenges for them. Beyond algorithms and issues around awarding grades, will they show leadership around pedagogy and the role of assessment? We have seen innovation at school level; we now need to see direction and innovation from the curriculum providers/exam boards. •H  ow can CAIE/IB support schools in changing pedagogy?

• How will changing pedagogy impact curriculum? • C AIE/IB have responsibility for providing high stakes qualifications that offer access to universities. Their decisions to cancel external exams inevitably mirrored that of the UK, and it certainly can’t have been an easy decision to make. How can CAIE/IB ensure the reliability of assessment for the cohort of May 2020? • More importantly, for years schools have been asking for more valid ways of evaluating skills, knowledge and understanding, with perhaps greater emphasis on continuous assessment and portfolios. Will CAIE/IB consider quick and innovative changes to assessment methodologies? The discussion will continue. Can the providers/exam boards keep up with school adaptability and innovation? ◆ Pascale Hertay is Head of School at BEPS International School, Brussels ✉ p.hertay@beps.com Malcolm Nicolson is Director of Erimus Education. ✉ malcolm@erimused.com

References

• Hattie J (2020) Visible Learning Effect Sizes When Schools Are Closed: What Matters and What Does Not https://opsoa.org/application/files/2215/8689/0389/Infuences-during-Corona-JH-article.pdf • PWC (2020) PWC’s COVID navigator https://www.pwcresearch.com/uc/COVID-19Navigator/ospe.php?qb • Save the Children (2015) Times of emergency and crisis: they want and education https://www. savethechildren.org/content/dam/global/reports/education-and-child-protection/what-children-want.pdf • Sundstrom K and Blackmore R (16 April 2020) Does missing a term due to Covid-19 really matter? What happened to student results after the Christchurch quake? https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-04-17/willmissing-school-due-to-covid-19-matter-for-school-students/12154266

Winter 2020 | International School | 9


Educating in times of Covid-19

Covid-19: Reflections of a Secondary Chemistry Teacher Ana Teresa Risi de Carrillo

I

am learning many lessons during this unique year: a very important year for me, as I celebrate my 30th anniversary as a teacher. As the year started I printed, and placed in a corner of my class, a 30 year anniversary banner, which I decorated and planned to refer to throughout the year. I knew my students would celebrate along with me. In Perú, our first day of teaching was on 2 March. My lesson plans for the first week of classes were ready before the pandemic began. I wanted to deliver the most engaging lessons, and to have students work independently or in groups. I wanted to differentiate and facilitate their learning. Not knowing what the situation would be 10 days later, I continued to develop lessons as I had initially planned, which took me to unforeseen horizons. I am a middle school/ high school Chemistry teacher and I’ve taught Math as well. Since the year 2000, I’ve had wonderful teaching positions in three countries in Africa and spent my last five years in Guatemala, before returning to my home country Perú in 2015. This pandemic has hit us all and, as a teacher, I can say that we are all learning from each other throughout this process.

Planning innovative lessons Our passion as teachers is what holds us together and what makes us work beyond expectations. We are learning to use new tools that are helping to deliver interesting and engaging lessons; tools that we would have never imagined to be so successful

in impacting learning. Now both students and teachers are behind a screen, and even though I am not in a classroom with my students, I still feel a positive learning connection with them. From the teacher’s point of view, we are growing immensely as professionals. As a Chemistry teacher, I am using videos, Google slides and Google Docs that accompany my slides. Moreover, we connect by Zoom and, in most lessons, students work in breakout rooms where they can support each other’s learning. I visit

where I can immediately assess if students are understanding the content and can provide instant feedback if necessary. PhET simulations are great for visualizing concepts. I also assess participation as students ask and answer questions in class. In addition, Google Forms and Quizizz are great tools to assess students’ learning; both are immediately graded, and in Google Forms an explanation can be included when an answer is wrong. In order to encourage learning, flash cards, Quizizz and mind maps are also great for closing

My medicine is my students’ faces, their rapport with me, and their comments that they are learning in my lessons because of how these are structured and delivered them virtually and see how they interact and discuss their work. An advantage of using online platforms is the ability to record lessons, which students can then refer to later. I have become more innovative, sometimes using my own kitchen for experiments: for example, burning nuts to see how they give out thermal energy. I have also made my own videos to explain the motion of ions in electrolysis, to explain structures of atoms, or other videos that explain other parts of the syllabus. When making my own slides, I sometimes include audios that connect and guide my students to a Google Doc. I have also learned to use Pear Deck and Nearpod online platforms,

10 | International School | Winter 2020

chapters and review. In this case, through Zoom, students can be split into rooms, and can be guided by the teacher. Above all, the magic of learning lies in respect, motivation, engagement and enjoyment on both sides: teacher and student.

Teacher/tutor perspective Most students in my experience are really responding well to this challenging and stressful situation. As teachers we have ‘tutor meets’, where students can contact me if necessary at least once a week using Google Hangout or Zoom. From a tutor point of view, we take attendance every morning; students then go to lessons, and follow a timetable with their

specific courses each day. Single periods were turned from 40 to 30 minutes long, and a double period was therefore turned into a maximum one hour. If issues arise before the day begins or throughout the day, I communicate this to students’ teachers and year coordinator. Teachers communicate with me if needed. Then tutors can follow up on students’ work or involve the parents if necessary. I have also had meetings with parents, to help them understand the timetable, or with parents and the student to help them create a schedule for their days. Communication between teachers who work with my tutor group is great, as well as with parents.

Lessons learned from my students My medicine these days is my students’ faces, their rapport with me, and their comments that they are learning in my lessons because of how these are structured and delivered. From my students I have learned the following: 1. Students who are organized and are strong academically have always been connected to their lessons and followed up their classes successfully. Most set alarms in their cellphones; others have no problem in following their daily schedule through a Google calendar, or write their appointments in an agenda. One student shared with me that she is using ‘Trello’ to organize her day. Trello allows her to fill up her work and classify it as: done, to do, in progress. Students explained that they prefer teachers


connecting through Zoom or Google Meet to present the lesson. 2. Students at school who had organizational issues have been followed up and guided more frequently. Their teachers have been communicating with them and their tutors, and both have been following up on work that was not completed on time, or on absence in any lessons. Their support teachers have been helping them too. Tutors play a key role in this aspect. Through a joint effort with parents, students in my form have shared with me that they are now following their schedule on time and are attending their lessons. They have also said to me that they are less distracted in lessons and more engaged, compared to when they were at school. Like the first group, they prefer Zoom or Google Meets in their lessons. 3. Students who were distracted in school-based classes are saying that, if a lesson is well structured by a teacher, and keeps them engaged, they are not now as distracted as they used to be at school. They say that this is because their friends are not there to distract them, or that they are not there to distract their friends. Some also added that one aspect that prevents them from learning properly in a lesson is when the class is too large, or when several students talk too much during a presentation, and they lose the pace in their learning. Others shared that if parts of the lesson are written or typed, it is much easier for them to follow as English is their second language, and the school is a British School. 4. Some students who were usually distracted or disorganized during classes at school would find excuses that interrupted their learning, such as asking permission to go to the restroom or infirmary, or scheduling dental or medical

appointments during classes. Due to the current situation these excuses no longer occur, and students are therefore more attentive. Interestingly, these groups of students have also noted that cellphones distract them. Some choose to give their phone to their parents at the beginning of the day, or while they are in class. After months of social restriction, we still have areas of growth. Students’ latest concerns arise as their day begins if teachers do not post work on time. Teachers have to actively communicate their daily class routines so that students can see the day they have ahead of them. Planning classes is not easy, and it is important to maintain clear communication which alleviates stress on both students and teachers. As the lockdown continues to be extended, I have learned that work planned by teachers needs to be more concise, agile and varied, as students are more emotionally affected by the uncertainty of this situation.

Students share their ways to relax… a much needed ingredient I was interested to know how students in my tutor group were finding ways to relax and to connect with their friends after the end of the school day. Students have found their own

ways to relax, relating to their interests. They connect with friends every day through social sites. Some spend time cooking or baking, others dancing or exercising, others exercising with a member of their family or watching Netflix series or movies. I have advised students to maintain discipline in going to bed on time, as a few have said to me that the beginning of the day is too early. We talked about this, and compared it to a normal school day where they had to start their day at least one hour before arriving at school. In general, many students have learned to have self-control, to plan their day, to be independent learners, and to give their best during the time that they are connected. Of course for this to happen the lesson needs to be engaging; if not, they find ways to mute their audio and/or video and connect with friends on their cellphones. They are teenagers after all.

Final thought The planning of lessons and the preparation of interesting and engaging lessons goes hand in hand with the capacity and ability of each teacher to

manage different tools that are there for us to use, and with the free time a teacher has in their daily lives. Free time in teaching is something that we usually do not have. We are always planning, correcting, thinking – even in our yoga classes, or while we sit down to relax. I have sympathy for teachers and students who are away from their hometown, and for teachers who have babies, young families, and older parents. Moreover I feel sympathy for our seniors who had been planning many activities for the coming year, expecting to graduate with their classmates and to spend their last year at school bonding with their friends, when due to the circumstances it has not been possible. I am thankful for what I am learning today and for the lessons my students teach me. I am thankful for my Science team, as we are a cohesive group who support each other immensely. This current situation provides an example of neuroplasticity, of how teachers’ brains are adaptable and ready for challenges – even those that seem at first glance to be impossible. ◆

Ana Teresa Risi de Carrillo is a Science and Chemistry teacher at San Silvestre School, Lima, Perú. ✉ anatererisi@gmail.com

Winter 2020 | International School | 11


Educating in times of Covid-19

Re-opening of an Elementary School post Covid-19 lockdown Sarah Ford Impressions of the first days If anyone had asked my opinion before the re-opening of our Elementary School doors in May this year, my honest feelings were of concern and anxiety for the students as they returned to their place of learning, and of safety and familiarity. We were given a directive to open by the Austrian Government, and therefore my opinion was not important; my job was to re-open the Elementary School in the best way possible, for students, staff and our school community. So much seemed likely to be different – from the moment the children came into school, to the staggered, end of day pick-up. I worried for the mental well-being of children who had not been in school for 9 weeks. But anxiety was dispelled within the first hour of the first day on which we welcomed students back – their excitement, resilience, and unquenchable feeling of trust and fun, were all still there. I love the exuberance of the young! Logistics and organisational changes were huge; one-way staircases, desks or tables spaced out according to regulations, splitting classes in 2 groups without prejudice or possible suggestion of ‘favouritism’, lunchroom guidelines, outside times strictly controlled, no sharing of equipment or resources. This list was endless, and pretty mindless, albeit vital for us to be able to reopen. The many hours of timetable changes, curriculum modifications, blended learning programs for at-home and in-school days, provision for those not able to come at all, and supervision for those who have to be in school every day (in small, self-contained groups, not mixing with others). It was one of the most complex jigsaws I have ever experienced. The first groups of students arrived for day one, in masks, leaving parents outside the door (also in masks), and came in hesitantly, with anticipation. As they entered the building they were greeted by the Director and myself at the door, as we had always done previously (we were described as ‘dental hygienists’, ‘aliens’ or ‘bee-keepers’ by the children!), and by two smiling classroom assistants who helped them to use the hand sanitizer one by one, as they entered, at the required distance from one another, and directed them to their classes, the correct way round the new one-way systems. Then began the rounds of hand sanitizing, heading to classrooms, finding their own space, and… staying there. Trying to help them understand

why all this was happening was important, and almost impossible, particularly for the younger ones. But most were well-prepared, and tried hard to follow what was necessary. And, despite the huge change to their previously-familiar environment – the limited movement, the minimal outside time, and the class groupings that split friendships – by the end of the day every student went home having enjoyed themselves. And every one returned for day two, with a few extras, eager to learn in their new environment. When day three began, we started again – as this was day one for the second group of students. They came in a little less hesitant, and more excited, perhaps because they had heard positive things from peers, or perhaps because they were very different characters. The feeling was similar, but at the same time very different – almost every teacher commented on the ‘feisty’, or ‘active’, group of students who had arrived in group two – split alphabetically by last name, it was a random division, and yet consistent to meet the requirement of placing siblings in the same group. They still shared the excitement, and the joy of being able to talk to friends, to invent games in the playground, though a little less tolerant of the restrictions and limitations. This was how we set the wheels back in motion, allowing onsite learning to recommence for most. We managed to maintain this structure – just – for the remaining weeks of May and June. In total, our students were able to attend school for 10 days onsite, with 10 days online. Was it worth it? Yes, I believe it was: not just worth it, but an essential piece of the puzzle, preparing for what was to come next – though we did not know it at the time. In the short-term, it allowed students to remind themselves of friendships, and to reconnect with school as a ‘safe place’, to restore normality of routine and to bring some kind of closure to the school year. In the longer-term, it prepared all of us to expect the unexpected, and to look for the positives in every situation. For staff, the 4 weeks seemed like an eternity, and were very complicated, as we tried to navigate running 2 programs concurrently, while also accommodating those students who could not return. Complex, tense and stressful in so many ways, these weeks pushed many to the limits of their mental stamina, perhaps almost beyond. And then came summer – a welcome relief for all, where restrictions were eased, and families could return


Educating in times of Covid-19 to a more normal, summertime life. Many were able to take holidays, and the ‘numbers’ seemed to reduce, allowing life to settle into an uneasy and slightly restricted ‘normal’.

Will any of this make a difference? What of the longer-lasting effects and challenges of that time, and the further-reaching implications? Some time and reflection was needed to see what worked, what didn’t, and what needed a rethink should this type of learning environment need to be sustainable for a longer-term – and even to begin to understand what might change permanently for Elementary education as a result of this hiatus. Changing contexts for best learning – what is the essence of ‘school’? Is it the building, the institution, the ‘place’ where learning happens, or is it something entirely different? Did the enforced physical separation, in turn, perhaps create a different understanding of ‘school’? The traditional concept of learning taking place when a teacher is present, in a particular room or building, and ‘homework’ being a continuation of ‘schoolwork’, became somewhat more blurred. So much learning took place over those 9 weeks, and we saw so much learning and progress in our students (even the youngest ones) from their time of ‘home-learning’. Of course, this is contextual, and variable, dependent on access to resources, or help from an adult, but the sense of achievement and the delight of those who managed to complete assignments independently, or of those who realised the point at which they needed to ask their teacher for more guidance, are all testament to the diverse skills development and ‘learning’ that took place. As we moved into a time of blended learning for the rest of the school year, with 2 days in school and 2 days at home on a 4-day rotation, the expectations, planning, support and teaching styles continued to change, while we continued to be impressed with the engagement, willingness and enthusiasm of the majority of our students and the support from families for the new and evolving structure of ‘learning’. The importance of flexibility and creativity in building curriculum No matter the curriculum framework, there are common skills which need to be learned as children grow older. There are key development steps which are vital for progress to be consistent and sequential, but the content aspect, the ‘coverage’ of curriculum and the prescriptive way of doing things, perhaps, reached the time where change is important. Tasks to be completed over a blended home-school time needed to be simple, clear and openended, allowing for diversity in response and creativity in approach. Even the simplest task of ‘writing a journal entry’ could be approached in creative ways. The learning engagements devised by teachers also provided scope for creativity as tasks had to be adapted to ‘static’, individual desk-based activities. I am so proud of my team for their resourcefulness in coming up with vibrant, creative ideas, and different ways to collaborate – from modelling with 5 recycled items (which had been untouched in school for 9

weeks) and a roll of masking tape per student, to building a shared city, or space station or vehicle, to collaborative art projects over a number of days, incorporating watercoloured washes as a background for textured collages, using work created by others to build upon, to video clips of solo performances joined together – the ideas are endless. But underlying all of the activities always has to be the fundamental question of ‘what is really important for learning?’ Maintaining and strengthening the ‘community’ aspect of school, in distance learning, blended home-and-school learning, and conventional school Dealing with the many different family situations in any school brings much of the joy, and a certain complexity in building ‘community’. Our own school community has 68 nationalities, from all continents, coming together in a unique experience of school. Maintaining that sense of community was one of the most important aspects of my role throughout the 9-week lockdown period. Weekly video conferencing with each class set of parents, right from the first week in lockdown, gave us a sense of the journey each family had to take; understanding the physical distance for some families who relocated back to their ‘home’ country as the crisis began, and then had to unravel what this meant as we re-opened but they were not able to return to Austria; and understanding the experiences of those families with vulnerable members, those with health issues or other reasons why they could not come back to ‘school’. Each individual family context is important and deserves acknowledgement for the way students coped, survived or thrived during this time. Weekly virtual assemblies, shared with the whole Elementary community, allowed me to share a thought for the week, and gave an opportunity to feel that this situation is bigger than just us. Themes included ‘together’, ‘stay at home’, ‘rainbows of hope’, ‘how we learn affects what we learn’, and a preparation for returning to school. All of these were appreciated by families, with many saying that they found it a special time to have the family together, watching and reflecting on the themes. One of the first requests on day one when we re-opened was that assembly videos should continue. There are many ways to build and strengthen ‘community’, and this remains an essential element of our school culture. Student and staff wellbeing, both in and out of the school The primary concern of any institution is the safety and well-being of its community. For schools, during this crisis, this has had many facets. Physical and mental well-being is paramount  Winter 2020 | International School | 13


Educating in times of Covid-19

to learning, and every family has a different story to tell. It was very important for us to allow time and space for these stories to be told, either to peers, or staff, or support staff; each one gives insight into other factors that can so easily be overlooked: The child who lost a relative in a country far away; the staff member unable to return home for a funeral of a loved one; the family who got stuck the wrong side of a country border, and had to lockdown in a strange location, away from anything familiar; the family crisis, completely unrelated to Covid-19 which put a student in intensive care, fighting for their life; the parents both struggling to work from home whilst supporting a challenging home-learning program, and feeling they have failed their children; the teachers who are parents too, and who had to sacrifice their own conscience, and send their children back to Kindergarten so they could return to work; the vulnerable person – staff or student, who has to decide whether they can return to the school; the list could go on. What lessons have been learned, and how can we be prepared for these types of crisis responses in the future?

There is always another perspective This account may seem very positive, and rightly so, for we are charged with inspiring the younger generation to embrace what life brings them, to be ready to be adaptable, and to cope with change – and this is what we do. But what of the other side; what of the cost of all this? Not the material costs, but the anxiety, and the challenges faced by so many. Think, for example, of the student who had no support at home, and was not able to access the home-learning activities; for them, it was a traumatic time of tension and arguments. Or the student for whom, prior to March 2020, the school was their place of safety and consistency, where they were listened to and supported in all aspects of learning; this was taken away instantly, since they were not able to return to the school and moved away at the end of the year. And the family who struggled 14 | International School | Winter 2020

to keep their children attending an international school, only to find that they could no longer sustain the financial commitment and their hopes were dashed. All of this is very real too. And what of the teachers and staff? Some were placed on ‘short-time work’, barely able to make ends meet, whilst others had to make choices for their family which changed the path of their future. All of the staff at the school had to work in such a different way, having to embrace a completely new way of teaching – learning new skills without a moment to breathe, or to discern what may be the better way. Stress levels ran high and, at times, the frustration took hold. How to approach videoconferencing with 5-year-olds, which aspects of curriculum can and cannot work through pre-recorded instruction, how to create and build relationships with students that bring out the best in them, and us? For sure, the workload changed – increased need for preparation in multiple ways, the intensity of working online with classes of eager or uninterested students, setting up online protocols and systems, managing parent expectations which range from one extreme to the other, the rethinking of classroom practice, being flexible enough to provide instruction in school, with tasks to continue at home, delivering a strong solid curriculum that meets, or exceeds, the ‘pre-Corona’ standards of which we were proud. The complexity of teaching in small groups, with no differentiated groupings, no movement and no choices, all added to the complexity and the difficult circumstance in which we were placed.

What happens next? At my school we have been fortunate. The initial lockdown scenario has not yet had to be replicated. We navigated the arrival of new staff and students at the beginning of the new school year, and have been able to start the year with full classes, albeit with an everchanging number of new restrictions and regulations. We have found our students are receptive, resilient and above all ready for anything. The way we have all adapted into the ‘new normal’, with masks, distancing, ‘pods’ or ‘bubbles’, disinfection and hygiene measures, shows just how adaptable 21st century educators have become. The school is prepared, at any moment, to return to online learning, yet we spend our time creating best learning engagements for our students, developing key skills and constructing meaning in an uncertain world. In international education there is a real sense of shifting, of transition and of change. With it comes the feelings of apprehension, fear, uncertainty and inevitable insecurity. Open-mindedness, and a sense of shared responsibility and commitment to the unknown future, can move the conversation forwards, whilst the essential aspects of communication, creativity and constructive feedback build the foundations of the next phase in the journey for learning. ◆ Sarah Ford is Elementary Principal at Danube International School,Vienna, working with students aged 3-11 years in an IB World School. ✉ sarah.ford1605@gmail.com


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Above: Keystone Academy G4 Climate Action Project group.

Coming through the Covid-19 Crisis: Ideas worth Preserving Catherine Copeland

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t our Chinese World School, Keystone Academy in Beijing, after only two weeks into the switch to online learning in early February 2020 an interesting observation was made. Our computer-literate students and their parents, through student feedback surveys and parent meetings, had decidedly and repeatedly asked for less ‘homework’ (not usually the norm!) and more connection with their beloved teachers. They requested more face-toface contact, more lessons videoed, more video feedback and the like: not necessarily always ‘live’, but more ‘alive’ – if one could try to interpret what they meant. At the onset of the pandemic this felt like an enormous pressure and was highly stressful for our faculty to conceptualize. How could teachers replicate the learning we had planned for our next term at school in these new circumstances, with only a skeleton team on campus, using a completely different approach and whilst enduring a serious crisis? For many educators this is likely a familiar question. When Keystone’s leadership arrived back at campus, the Chinese government had put out online learning guidelines; we were only to review and consolidate 16 | International School | Winter 2020

previous learning. Our families and teachers, who had dispersed when school closed, were spread across time zones, some without their computers and some with little or poor internet connection. The school leadership quickly organized groups to tackle different areas of school operations and our Head of School, Malcolm McKenzie, declared that “Campus is closed, but school is open!”. From the very first day of this new endeavor, our faculty and staff attended daily training sessions from our ‘Digital Learning and Innovation Coaches’, supported by our IT experts. These daily training sessions happened ‘live’, with our entire faculty joining in from around the world to interactively ‘up-skill’ their online teaching capacities. The first level was to encourage the use of our digital hub platform, Microsoft Teams, as a communication and collaboration tool for chatting, information queries and discussion. The second level was how to participate in, and then set up, video meetings. Following that, on our third day back, we started with learning in an ‘asynchronized approach’, including how to upload teaching materials, bulletins and work for the students on our shared

learning platform ‘SeeSaw’. Over the second week we progressed to interactive activities, embedded video lessons, group chats, voice feedback, editing work interactively and so on in this ‘first phase’. Eventually, the government provided new guidelines whereby we could teach new content. In our ‘second phase’ we headed towards a more ‘synchronized approach’, with ‘live’ lessons or recorded lessons as we realized this crisis would carry on for longer than the current term. What became blatantly obvious was that the virus crisis had banded our teachers together in a wave of enthusiasm for this mission, to the extent that even the most technology-reluctant staff members made immense progress in a very short time. The usage of Microsoft Teams as our school online communication platform had gone up 30154% in two weeks! – thus providing support for the old adage that learning needs to be relevant to be most effective. Switching to online learning brought with it a big learning curve: it was a completely different approach from our norm. Decisions in all areas of the school were made in various ways; in leadership meetings at school, on Teams, in chats,


Educating in times of Covid-19 working on documents simultaneously, in conference video calls and emails. There was a lot to follow and keep up with as changes were constant. Adaptability became a key necessity. Online learning was not without its challenges; technology access was an obvious frustration. Other challenges were less obvious, such as the worry about parents having the right materials for experiential and project work, eye strain concerns, or dependency on parental support when parents are working – to name but a few! Our teachers, who were scattered around the world, were facing their own challenges and working long hours to prepare and implement the new approach. Teachers found that their planning, preparation, marking and feedback took longer than it would in their normal routine. Many were quarantined in Beijing, or other areas of China, and had their own families to care for and worry about in the confines of their homes. This factor weighed upon the leadership, as we were aware of the challenges many were faced with under their ‘lockdown’ scenario in China, or in other time zones – especially those with their own children to homeschool. What was heartwarming and encouraging were the discussions that team members were having with regards to caring for their students, and keeping them active, engaged, motivated and positive. Our school counsellors had instructed us in being mindful of ‘connections’ and what a powerful influence we were on our students’ experiences during this difficult time. Every week our provision had become more and more deeply meaningful, more ‘connected’ and more ‘human’. We were seeking, and started to find, a balanced and blended approach for all members of our community for this new situation. School leaders continually referred for guidance to our Five Confucian shared values: wisdom, honesty, justice, respect and – most importantly – compassion. The eight months of our school’s closure were overwhelmingly emotional and mentally tough at times for many members of our community. But what stands out is the deep commitment we had, and continue to have, to supporting each other; the care we have for our students, and the value that our students and parents place on the contact our teachers have with them. We were able to provide an excellent e-learning platform

for our students, and what was difficult to conceptualize at the beginning became more comfortable and effective, which is truly impressive to us all! We are fortunate in Beijing to be in what we are now calling our ‘new normal’, as our students have been back in class since September and all but a few teachers have returned to campus. Led by our Dean of Faculty Office, we have deeply reflected upon ‘Ideas Worth Preserving’, initiated via a whole-school faculty survey and then followed by a whole-school professional growth day where we prioritized the top nine ideas together. Four big themes emerged: Wellness; Communication and Relationships; Student Learning; and Technology. Not surprisingly, the top two were all about caring for ourselves, and caring for each other. In addition, we categorized them in relation to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Almost all related to basic self-care and wellness, and the majority to psychological needs of accomplishment and belonging. In relationship to student learning, both primary and secondary faculty felt that deepening learning and focusing on concepts needed more attention. Collaboration and teamwork were highly valued. In the area of technology, the Primary School focused more on student capabilities, efficacy and independence. To address this, over the summer break we formulated a program to familiarize all students with the technology and platforms needed should we have to return to online learning. This program was called ‘Bootcamp’ and was taught in Digital Learning lessons for the first month of school. As part of our technology and digital learning badging system our students were able to earn badges, and the teachers were able to monitor that students had all the required learning and expertise to be prepared for online learning. This preparedness was important in order to minimize difficulties such as those experienced when the Covid-19 crisis hit. Many of our staff and students were highly impacted emotionally by Covid-19, especially those coming from Wuhan, the epicenter of the Covid-19 virus in China. Our school counsellors have doubled their efforts to ensure that our community members have outlets to discuss their feelings about their unfortunate experiences and to receive counselling. Despite having come through the worst here in Beijing, our leadership team

What became blatantly obvious was that the virus crisis had banded our teachers together in a wave of enthusiasm for this mission continue to look for ways to support our faculty and staff. At Keystone Academy we continue to consider innovative educational ideas. As our Head of School, Malcolm McKenzie, recently stated in a report about education in China: “We now envisage schools focused on innovative talents which combine empathy and wellness with ecological education and environmental practice of real substance”. In the Primary School this has inspired us to delve deeply into our curriculum to highlight these themes using the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to inject new ideas. A focus on sustainability and service learning, climate change and the environment has given us a renewed purpose arising out of lessons learned from Covid-19. As a result of the unfortunate situation of having to fight and live with the Covid-19 virus, it should occur to us that there is a side of teaching and learning that can never be fully replaced by technology – the human side. The best learning and personal growth take place through relationships that are founded on love, respect and care for each other in safe environments. We will most likely have more hurdles to overcome as a team, but this crisis has provided an opportunity to reflect upon ourselves, human nature, learning and resilience. Reflecting upon the ‘ideas worth preserving’ has given us our new directions. As educators, we find it comforting that no matter how impressive our technology capacities become, our mission, our vision and our purpose to be there for our students remain valued and intact. ◆

Catherine Copeland is Head of Primary at Keystone Academy, Beijing, China. ✉ catherine.copeland@keytoneacademy.cn

Winter 2020 | International School | 17


A Radical Rethink: What Covid-19 teaches us about the future of school education Andrew Watson and Richard Calland

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n the wake of death, Covid-19 has wrought a pandemic of decipher the longer-term implications for school education. If they pain, suffering and introspection. Within our various states of do, they will have to confront the biggest and toughest question: suspended animation around the world, it has also introduced are their schools fit for future purpose? Our underlying rebuttable a level of uncertainty that many people have never or rarely proposition is this: education is part of the problem – today’s encountered before. Individually and leadership, who all went to school, have got us collectively, we have been forced into an into this mess – but also part of the solution; intellectual, economic and social exile, radical reform of the way in which tomorrow’s If there is anything compelling us to ask: what possible good can leaders are educated can help prepare today’s come of this traumatic experience? students for the challenge they will face. that Covid-19 has Despite the profound sense of uncertainty, The Covid-19 pandemic is a systemic failure. taught millions of there is one certainty that stands out: the Those who are willing and able to join the way in which we educate the young must dots between the ecological, economic and professionals across change, for two reasons. First, if we are to political causes will recognise it as such. Clearly, the globe, it is how to therefore, it requires a system-level analysis avoid repeating the mistakes that got us to this point of crisis, in which leadership a system-level response. As a key part engage remotely using and has failed to correct the unsustainable path of the broader ecosystem, the education modern technology. sector needs to reflect hard, and fast, on its that humanity had taken, then we have to develop future leaders with a very different priorities: on what the experience of teaching mindset and value system. Second, we need and learning provides for young people. It to prepare them for an even more difficult needs to reconsider why schools exist. Just and dangerous world that, as the Coronavirus shows, will face as private enterprise has been increasingly forcefully asked to challenges of unprecedented scale, complexity and urgency. articulate its societal purpose, so schools need to define why they In the short-term, it has been essential for schools to create exist in terms of what they ‘deliver’ to a particular vision of society. health, fiscal, and educational plans for the 2020-21 academic year This is the why question. But school leaders will also have to think – to offset the many and varied likely negative effects of Covid-19. deeply about what they teach – curricula based on linear learning, But those school leaders who are willing to show strategic in which subjects such as mathematics or history or geography foresight will be looking beyond the immediate crisis to try to are largely still taught in bubbles largely unconnected from one 18 | International School | Winter 2020


Educating in times of Covid-19

another, does not reflect the inter-dependent, inter-disciplinary complexity of the modern world. By analogy, we recently encountered the senior partner of a major law firm who told us that he was not looking for universities to deliver ‘good lawyers’ but ‘legally trained professionals who understand and crave complexity’. He amplified his point: his clients don’t come to him with one-dimensional legal problems, but rather with complex, multidisciplinary problems – one or some of which may be legal. Further down the educational food chain, so to speak, schools must now respond to this imperative. They, after all, are the supply chain for tertiary education. Clearly, different pedagogies will need to be developed and employed to cope with a new curriculum – the how question. Lastly, the school education sector will need to contemplate an even more uncomfortable question: where? If there is anything that Covid-19 has taught millions of professionals across the globe, it is how to engage remotely using modern technology. Profound questions are raised as a result. How important is it to be in the same physical space as other students or teachers? Do the advantages and opportunities of a digitally-connected form of learning not outweigh the advantages of being in the same physical space, with all of the constraints – and vulnerabilities – entailed? Schools thinking ‘outside the box’ might very well come to realise that the whole concept of housing a school in ‘buildings’ as manufacturing hosts its work in factories, is no longer necessary. Rather, infrastructure can be re-thought as a community hub for multi-purpose use, whilst work that requires specialist space – such as a Chemistry lab – can be rented by the hour, much as a company might rent a meeting space in any given city. Now is probably not the time to be investing in new buildings. So – education ecosystems are now, and forever, digital. We need to respond directly to this reality. Teaching and learning will become a combination of online and face-to-face engagement, with a focus as much on approaches to teaching and learning such as creativity, thinking and research skills, where innovation becomes

a habit, to exploring national and international neighbourhoods where customs, culture, and history are an interactive theatre of life and technologies invent the future, examine the past, and make sense of today. Clearly, schools will have to adapt or atrophy. They will certainly have to develop new agility and nimbleness. Other forms of structural reform may also be necessary. Is it also not time for the school year and the school day to be re-imagined – unless, that is, we are going to return to the fields and recommit to working the harvest (actually not a bad idea)? The absurdity of ‘summer holidays’ exists because of an outdated observance to the harvest and the need to release young people to the labour force. How about an academic year of 40 weeks, split into 5 projects of 8 weeks each, all of which are theme-based and inquiry-driven, populated by a community of learners which might incorporate local, regional and global members, representative of the diversity and inequality of the world, as we seek to change the balance? During Sustainability Education’s inaugural European summit last May at the Berlin Brandenburg International School, renowned climate scientist Professor Johann Rockström talked of sustainability being ‘at a renaissance moment’. With the Covid-19 crisis engulfing the world, it appears we all are. So is education. Now is the time to re-imagine, reconsider, re-think, and reboot how a vision of the future can be nurtured by an experience of education. If, as GK Chesterton suggested, education is simply the soul of a society as it passes from one generation to another, then what kind of soul do we wish to nurture, cherish and inherit? ◆

An expert in international education, Andrew Watson is co-director of Sustainability Education (SusEd.org) with Richard Calland, a Fellow of the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership and Associate Professor in Public Law at the University of Cape Town. ✉ a.watson@sused.org

Winter 2020 | International School | 19


Learning from Coronavirus Richard Pearce

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as the coronavirus pandemic any lessons for us? By the time this article is published the virus will have changed the lives of every one of us in some way. First of all, very practically, it may have been an existential crisis. Were you forced to shut the school? What is the role of a school in such circumstance? Did you lose families, teachers, local services? Were you locked down? Did you have anxieties about elderly relatives at home? News comes of international schools giving vital support to expatriate families in lockdown. Early reports suggested a disease less lethal than SARS, but three times as infectious. As the immunologists, from whom we demand instant vaccines, keep telling us, it takes time to discover the things we need to know about it before we can start to develop remedies. But there may also be metaphorical lessons for us. Camus’ ‘La Peste’ or Ionesco’s ‘Rhinoceros’, or even the movie genres of alien or zombie invasions, show how the metaphor makes us reflect on our own

responses to threatening new realities. The first thing we do when faced with hostile forces like carriers of disease is to recognise them; it’s Us vs Them from the start, and the more clearly we can differentiate our enemy the better. This is the same threat as is posed by people beyond one’s community: ‘They’ – the hosts if we are expats, or the immigrants if we are at home – are defined as different. In the present case it will be important to recognise that ‘they’ are not a national or ethnic stereotype, but people like us, just carrying a bug that wants to be shared. The challenge is for us to face; what should we do about it? It is a time for wise actions, certainly leadership, and maybe an element of heroism. I am reminded of the real-life story of the English village of Eyam in the plague of 1666, when the priest led the plague-stricken villagers to hold back from outside contact in order to protect neighbouring villages. This they did, collecting donated food from an agreed dropping point, so that their own awful mortality rate was confined to Eyam. Today

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Educating in times of Covid-19

In a very short time millions of travellers were wearing ineffective masks in airports and stations in search of security, and metropolitan ‘Chinatowns’ were deserted. self-isolation has been widely advocated by governments and organisations, but in our world of entitlements it is more likely to be accepted to save Us than to protect Them. It is no coincidence that we speak metaphorically of ideas spreading ‘virally’. The same could be said of many uninvited and irresistible colonists, from Christianity imposed by the late Roman Emperors to Western values thriving on the internet. Covid-19 appears to be a normal resident in a population of bats, or possibly pangolins. How ironic that by slaughtering and marketing pangolins in the misguided cause of ‘traditional medicine’, humankind may have opened itself to a highly infectious disease. Epidemic/pandemic diseases require a dense urban population where incessant contact allows diseases to multiply. In the same way, HIV emerged when occasional mutant viruses were introduced through the ‘bush meat’ trade into dense human populations in urbanising West Africa, where incidence spiralled. It is we, urban humans, who are the plague. As with any novel situation, we greet Covid-19 with all of our pre-existing attitudes and prejudices. What comes to the surface may not be pretty. Should we blame the Chinese – whose government rapidly, if not instantly, recognised the pandemic and acted forcefully – for starting it? Should we blame the Italians for admitting infected individuals through lax screening? Or the South Koreans for living too close to China – the options for chauvinist finger-pointing are too many to count, but they have probably all been apparent. We demand action! In a very short time millions of travellers were wearing ineffective masks in airports and stations in search of security, and metropolitan ‘Chinatowns’ were

deserted. Stock markets rapidly discounted shares which depended upon international trade as borders closed. Oil prices trembled. Banks begged governments to tide them over short-term insecurities, and airlines withered. Developing resistance, finding a vaccine, or waiting for a mild strain to evolve are outside the attention span of the popular press. Understanding the problem requires a grasp of statistics, meaning that 90% of the population don’t understand. How are we to equip children to evaluate such a flood of information when their dominant media offer only simplistic answers to life’s multifactorial questions? In retrospect it seems that the governments of UK and USA were predictably among the most reluctant to impose restrictions on their citizens, although more collectivist societies in South Korea, Taiwan and Singapore have shown how successful national action can be. Many people have observed that where societies have a predominant sense of membership, the citizens have been more willing to accept restrictions for common good. ‘My good’ does not overshadow ‘our good’. As vaccines, medicines and technologies develop to meet this threat, we may hope to see some heartening governmental cooperation between unlikely partners, under wise guidance from international organisations. Is this to be a foretaste of the way the world must react to climate change? Or will it be a rehearsal for how the rich nations can protect their interests as resources becomes globally scarce? ◆ Richard Pearce has worked in international schools for many years. He now writes and is a consultant on issues relating to international education. ✉ rldpearce@gmail.com

Winter 2020 | International School | 21


Leading and managing teaching and learning

It’s time to focus on the motivation, not the examination Liam Printer

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s a teacher, what frustrates you most about students and competence is concerned with students’ perceptions about their their learning? Asking this question in 2020, when we are capacity to achieve success. all suffering from Zoom-fatigue and fogged-up glasses, is For my Doctorate of Education thesis, I have put SDT to the likely to raise a rich and diverse range of comments. Nonetheless, test, engaging upon a year-long research study with a group of the frustrations we share are inherently similar; students not beginner French students and their teacher, relating to their handing in work on time, arriving late and unprepared, not experiences of learning languages through storytelling. I found that participating in class, low-level chatter, using phones in class, Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling (TPRS) is repeating the same error after we’ve explained it for the 87th a method of language teaching that, when delivered properly, can time… We can all relate to many of these issues that are satisfy all three of SDT’s basic psychological needs simultaneously, commonplace in schools globally. thus resulting in highly motivated and engaged learners. Thanks Now, think about the opposite: the times when you really love to the co-creative story building in TPRS, participants reported your job, when everything is going well in the classroom. Thankfully, believing they could ‘steer the learning’ and direct what would this prompt is also likely to result in a variety of responses: happen next, which led them to feel ‘more involved and in control students all contributing, excited engagement in a topic, insightful of their learning’ while their teacher also felt more ‘freedom’ questions and remarks, assignments that ‘wowed’ us, students and autonomous in her role. In addition, they emphasised how visibly enjoying their learning. the stories helped their understanding, that they could ‘easily So how do we move from a position of frustration to one of remember it all’ and it ‘really improved their speaking’. Their satisfaction? With motivation. When our teacher felt good at her job as students students are motivated, they participate, were engaged and smiling in lessons. She they arrive on time, they hand in quality felt competent. Finally, they highlighted that work, they ask great questions and produce stories meant everybody was ‘included’ Students with more thought-provoking, insightful, knowledgeable and ‘everybody gets to participate’, as answers. They smile, they laugh, they want intrinsic motivation not their ideas are accepted and inserted to improve, they want to learn. When we into the story. This created a strong bond only have improved have motivated, engaged students in our to the class as ‘you don’t get judged’ classes, we feel good at our jobs, we feel because ‘everyone was doing it as a group’: grades but also report like our kids are progressing, we feel like we thus meeting the psychological need of higher perceived chose the right career, we feel like we are relatedness. making a difference, we feel motivated. It’s competence, self-esteem Yet more important than achievement a mutually beneficial cycle. But how do we outcomes, in my view, is students’ mental and lower dropout achieve motivation? What do we need to growth and wellbeing. SDT research shows ‘do’ so that we have motivated learners in that support for the three core basic our classes? Are there any ‘quick fixes’ for psychological needs bolsters students’ motivation that we can apply straight away? wellness, regardless of age, ethnicity, and The good news is yes: there are things we can all do, with culture, and that thwarting these needs causes harm. Students very little time and effort, to increase motivation amongst our with more intrinsic motivation not only have improved grades but learners. Ryan and Deci’s (2000) Self-Determination Theory also report higher perceived competence, self-esteem and lower (SDT) of motivation provides an easy-to-follow roadmap to dropout (Ryan and Deci, 2020). Although not all students can or bolster intrinsic motivation in the classroom. Intrinsic motivation will excel at exams, schools should be inherently compassionate involves engaging in tasks out of pure joy, enthusiasm and interest, contexts that support students’ mental health, and, most as opposed to extrinsic motivation which uses external pressures, importantly, do no damage. rewards or coercion to achieve an outcome. Notably, several Despite the strong evidence base attesting to the importance meta-analyses over two decades point to the significant role of of intrinsic motivation, research from multiple countries suggests intrinsic motivation in school achievement. SDT, which originated that it actually tends to decline over the school years rather than in psychology, has been extensively researched and tested across flourish. Schools are simply not creating a context that fosters this a variety of domains, and is widely accepted as a robust method unique, inner resource. Policies specifically aimed at enhancing the to augment motivation. According to SDT, intrinsic motivation is psychological needs of teachers and students are unfortunately fostered when we engage in activities that meet the three basic few and far between. Instead, we continue to be forced to work psychological needs of autonomy, relatedness and competence. within strict frameworks of mandated curricula and high-stakes Autonomy is related to choice, self-direction, student ownership testing. In short, there remain significant gaps between what SDT of learning and personalisation of themes; relatedness refers to research tells us about motivation and the dominant policies and a sense of belonging, support, inclusion and relationships, while practices in schools. 22 | International School | Winter 2020


Leading and managing teaching and learning So what can we do as classroom teachers? By applying SDT’s three needs to our lesson plans, we can immediately begin to enhance motivation. Think about your upcoming lessons. Do the planned activities meet the needs of autonomy, competence and relatedness? Autonomy: Can I adapt the activity to allow students more self-direction and to develop ownership of their learning? You can still set the task but, by allowing them different ways to show their learning and fulfil the objectives, you are heightening their level of autonomy and creativity, and you are on your way to a more motivated class. Relatedness: Can I re-plan so students have a greater sense of belonging? Can students (or you as the teacher) share a personal anecdote connected to the lesson? Maybe there is an opportunity for you to do the task with them? All this improves connections and leads towards more ‘relatedness’ in the class.

Competence: Is there a way to modify the activity so that students can show off what they’ve just learned to each other? A simple way to augment students’ feelings of competence is just to recognize, highlight and share something good you see in the class, something that demonstrates understanding of the concepts. By explicitly highlighting successes and learning, students feel like they ‘are getting it’; they feel more competent. By making small adjustments to our lesson planning using SDT, we create an upwards ‘ARC’ of motivation in our classes based on Autonomy, Relatedness and Competence, regardless of subject matter or content. If we want engaged, smiling, inquiring students who are achieving their potential and learning, it’s time we concentrated more on motivation and less on examination. ◆

Liam Printer is host of The Motivated Classroom podcast and teaches at The International School of Lausanne in Switzerland. ✉ liam.printer@gmail.com Website: www.liamprinter.com Twitter: @liamprinter and @motclasspodcast Instagram: @themotivatedclassroom Facebook: @themotivatedclassroom Podcast: www.anchor.fm/themotivatedclassroom

References

• Ryan R M & Deci E L (2000) Self-determination theory and the facilitation of intrinsic motivation, social development, and well-being. American Psychologist, 55(1), 68. • Ryan R M & Deci E L (2020) Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation from a self-determination theory perspective: Definitions, theory, practices, and future directions. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 101860.

Winter 2020 | International School | 23


Leading and managing teaching and learning

The importance of the wider community in developing opportunities in an international school Rob Ford

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hree dreaded words in organisations looking for something to motivate colleagues and build cohesion: Team Building Event! What made this problematic for me as a new director of a school was that this planned event had to settle international colleagues into Moldova and attempt to bridge the gap between them and local staff. Heritage International School, set up in 2017, was the first international school to be established in a part of Europe where networks are few and far between, and connections to develop everything from training to curriculum events take far more effort and thought than I was used to in the UK. Isolation for international schools, even those in well-established networks such as COBIS (the Council of British International Schools), CIS (the Council

24 | International School | Winter 2020

of International Schools), the International Baccalaureate, Cambridge Assessment International Education, or United World College groups, is a constant issue: being connected, sharing good practice and feeling less on your own as an international school. The event? Simple. We harvested grapes at a colleague’s home, had lunch, made wine and bonded on a sunny September day. This August, even in the midst of Covid-19, we again spent a day in the beautiful countryside, only this time at a colleague’s farm and beehives. All because we utilised the wider community to find an answer that had a strong positive impact. Answers to developing wider connections, becoming less isolated and creating something that positively benefits education as an international school, are

often nearer and less costly than we might think – if we utilise what already exists in our international school communities. Six simple steps are suggested for all international schools to consider: 1. Parents and carers: All parents want to help their school whatever the setting. In international schools there is a strong pull together for the common good, and used effectively this can have a significant impact on connections to improve opportunities and education. For example, at Heritage, we wanted a focus on Stretch & Challenge learning, with an emphasis on giving our students real life experience in a range of careers. We put out a call to parents interested in contributing to our new Founders’ Lecture series and as a result we have had diplomats, NGO heads and business


Leading and managing teaching and learning

leaders volunteer to speak with students, providing an impressive narrative to the wider curriculum. This year, the second series has already included the UK Ambassador to Moldova, His Excellency Mr Steve Fisher, speaking to students about Brexit, Europe and the role of an ambassador, as well as the Head of the UN in Moldova, Mr Simon Springett, on the 75th anniversary of the UN. 2. International organisations: The fantastic work of the UN Development Programme (UNDP) in Moldova on Sustainable Development Goals made this an obvious international organisation to contact and explore ways in which our students could link their Science and Technology lessons to their work here, on everything from green energy to green technology. The UNDP were delighted to provide support, and there are numerous international organisations operating around the world that are happy to support learning in schools. Our Climate Change Action work has really grown, and we represented Moldova in October at the Global Showcase of schools for World Education Week. 3. Local schools: This may not seem obvious, but some of the most powerful connections for an international school are with local, national schools, collaborating on a range of educational projects. In Moldova and Eastern Europe, we are involved in the local English language association of teachers. We work together on global learning through networks including eTwinning and the British Council; we are involved in leadership fora, as well as in sporting

and academic events: competitions such as debating and the World Scholar’s Cup, for example. Recently, we hosted a technology and learning conference that brought educators together from all over the country, sharing good practice and all taking something positive away from the day. 4. Charities and social responsibility: For so many international schools it is a moral duty, and integral to their ethos, to support others. These connections also play a vital part in supporting schools’ outward-facing mission. At Heritage, the Founders’ mission for the school to develop a strong sense of social responsibility is realised through our links with and support of local charities such as the Areal animal centre in Chisinau, the centre for the prevention of human trafficking, and vulnerable children centres in Moldova. These links are about more than just abstract altruism: they are a key part of how we develop societal values of civic responsibility in these potential future leaders. This autumn, we are working with the Collaborate Red Box charity in Moldova for the school’s PSHE curriculum and, in December, will support the Winter Food campaign for the Areal dog shelters. 5. The wider business community: perhaps obvious, but often under-utilised by many international schools. We are currently working with the National Bank of Moldova as a pilot scheme to develop financial literacy in the country, and this is supporting our wider curriculum. Radio Free Europe is interviewing staff for programmes that support their reporting of the country to show a fuller, reflective

and less hackneyed approach towards Eastern Europe. The European Union is working with us to explore grants to support STEM education that will also support education in Moldova. 6. The diplomatic community: Last but not least, ambassadors love working with schools, and a range of embassies here in Chisinau have given so much time and support to us as an international school, from Chevening Scholars inspiring students, Mandarin teaching from the Confucius Institute, French language resources from Alliance Française, America House providing brilliant support, and the ever-wonderful British Council allowing the first ever UK school exchange to Moldova last November. The key challenge for international school leaders and their communities is to stop thinking that they are an island in their national country and, instead, develop a wider outward-facing strategy of utilising connections that takes full advantage of being a global school in a local community. The impact will be transformative. We see clearly, in the Covid-19 crisis this year, the power of international schools and their communities collaborating globally in sharing ideas and solutions. We need hope right now in our schools, and to know that better things lie ahead in 2021; the power of education gives our community and young people that hope. As a school, you are never isolated when you immerse yourself in your local community. ◆ Rob Ford is Director of Heritage International School, Chisinau, Moldova ✉ robert.ford@heritage.md

Winter 2020 | International School | 25


Leading and managing teaching and learning

A Rebalancing Act

D

Carol Inugai-Dixon

ogs bury bones, squirrels store nuts, and we all know the story of the profligate cricket. Once it was common and considered sensible to have ‘bottom drawers’ and larders stocked with items for future use, in expectation of unpredictable shortages. Yet any sensible behaviour can decay, grow in excess to become unbalanced, cease to serve its original purpose and thus become unhealthy. An example of unbalanced and unhealthy behaviour is the selfish storing and stocking of more than we need, at the expense of the whole group to which we belong. African bushmen know this, and traditionally have employed a shaman to heal what they see as a spiritual sickness. The shaman goes into a trance, and draws out from the victim the malicious spirit causing, for example, the hoarding of meat. In the UK in 2013 there was a redefinition of hoarding (which in the UK context is most likely to be of old clothes and electrical appliances rather than meat) as a mental illness. Previously it could constitute a crime, such as child neglect due to a lack of space. Somehow, this leads me into thinking that hedge funds and the hoarding of most of the available wealth on the planet by a tiny percent of the global population might also be a sign of severe sickness, perhaps an ethical one. It certainly is weakening the health of the whole group –the global group as it is today – so that attenuated supply channels fail, like fragile arteries, in the face of the unpredictable, such as a viral attack like corona. Ethics and values are closely connected to the surviving and thriving of the individual and the group, and should maintain a well-balanced state of health for both. When, instead, they cause sickness of any kind to either, be it physical, mental, or spiritual, they need to be reconsidered and replaced. Material capitalism generates most of our values today and fuels a belief in, and the desirability of, an unlimited accumulation of monetary wealth, as evidenced by that of the corporation elites who boast of trickledown benefits from them to the rest of us. I ponder

Ethics and values are closely connected to the surviving and thriving of the individual and the group

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what kind of feeble trickle it is that has led to workers in factories wearing diapers because there is no time for a toilet break. Where are our present day shaman equivalents, or redefinitions, to deal with this global sickness of unbalance? Could they be in the making in some schools around the world? It once seemed a hopeful assumption that from international schools that embraced International Baccalaureate (IB) programmes there would emerge graduates committed to actions to make the world a better place for everyone. But for the most part that has not happened. Instead, in many of these influential schools there has been a subtle takeover of the meaning of the term ‘better’ where it has come simply to mean better grades for a better university, for a better job with better spending power in the markets on which the capital materialistic paradigm depends and, at the very top, elite opportunities to hoard excess wealth. Openings to alternatives of what a better, more balanced, healthier humanity could be and how we might act to bring it about are being lost in this race. However, some good news is that the IB is now in national schools in places, including Japan, where education is constitutionally bound to serve democracy, and not merely material capitalism. It is worth noting that democracy and material capitalism are not exactly the same thing although they have become conflated, perhaps deliberately manipulated to be so, partly through the demonization of communism in the West. If communism is to be feared then its antagonist, democracy, must be supported – and we in the material West are democratic so all is well. Such fallacies confuse clear thinking. Democracy, when clearly articulated, is about choice and also voice. We have participatory political systems to support representative actions based on these ideals of course, but they can often seem remote. Recently,


however, there have been calls for education to promote more immediate and individual democratic action by focusing on developing a student’s sense of personal agency. The OECD Learning Compass 2030 heralds individual agency as a way to create new values. The IB has also embraced the idea of agency in its Primary Years Programme (PYP), and this will inevitably become a feature of all the other IB programmes too as they move through their review cycles. But through individual agency, can we really create new values and bring forth a better, more balanced and healthier world? Although this may sound like a daunting aspiration, its feasibility can find support in the science of systems or systems theory. The science of systems recognizes that in any system the whole is greater than the sum of its parts as a result of their relationships and interconnections. It further recognizes the potential power of small individual parts to bring about change in outcomes for the whole system by the way in which they relate and interconnect to each other. In educating students, who will become citizens of an increasingly globalized system, we must ensure they understand the power of their agency as an individual within it, through choice and voice, to bring about change. Beginning with the conception of a classroom community as a system of interconnections and relationships, students can learn how their agency impacts outcomes that are healthy for the whole group. They can learn, for instance, of the importance of everyone sharing information with authentic goodwill so as to bring about broader and deeper understandings for all. Fundamental realizations gained at this local level of classroom community, such as of the value of sharing with authentic goodwill for balanced healthy outcomes for all, as opposed to selfish hoarding or wasteful excess with unbalanced unhealthy outcomes for many, can be

transferred to thinking about personal responsibility and agency with regard to issues in wider global systemic contexts. The issues identified in the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are examples of global outcomes (or systemic symptoms) resulting from local actions. Through alternative local actions, the global system may be changed and healed. Understanding and appreciating how systems work should be woven into any school curriculum that aims to be suitable for our times and that hopes that the world can be rebalanced to become better as a whole as a result of how we choose to act as an individual part. Hiroshima Global Academy (HiGA) in Japan is weaving understandings and practices of systems thinking across the whole curriculum as it aims to foster a holistic learning community that will develop leaders through learning. HIGA is a public boarding school on a small island off the coast of Hiroshima, and follows the Japanese national curriculum (JNC) along with the IB Middle Years Programme and Diploma Programme (for which it is currently a candidate school) and the Social Emotional Ethical (SEE) Learning program developed by Emory University in Atlanta. The JNC, IB and SEE Learning are synergized in the core program ‘Creating Our Future’. It is hoped, across the whole school, to create balanced, healthy individuals committed to peace and sustainable development who will, through their agency throughout life, participate in creating a future that is a balanced, healthy, peaceful, and sustainable world for all. ◆ Carol Inugai-Dixon is Visiting Professor at the University of Tsukuba, Japan, President of the Japan Association of Research into IB Education, and Senior Director of Hiroshima Global Academy (HiGA). ✉ c-inugai@higa.ed.jp

Winter 2020 | International School | 27


Student Agency and the Central Idea

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hould students see the central idea that the teachers set in collaborative planning meetings? Does this take away an opportunity for them to reach deeper levels of thinking and develop personal connections to conceptual generalisations? As a teacher I have always believed that planning units of inquiry is not a secret process to be hidden from the students. The central idea was prominent in my classroom. However, I am now of the opinion that the teacher-written central idea is not necessarily something that students need to see during the unit. Why? On the one hand, if we really feel the need to share a central idea, surely it should be at initial conception and construction during the

Vanessa Keenan planning stage. It is true that in the enhanced International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme (PYP) we have an opportunity to support students’ voice, choice and ownership – but by sharing teacher-written central ideas we are stealing the opportunity for students to reach deeper levels of thinking on their own. Student agency may be better served during a process of reaching an enduring understanding independently. On the other hand, in a concept-based unit we should remember that students are creating connections between facts, processes, skills, strategies and concepts. We call this synergistic thinking between lower and higher levels of thinking. Erickson (2019) suggests that ‘to develop the intellect and

28 | International School | Winter 2020

increase motivation for learning, curriculum and instruction must create a ‘synergy’ between the lower and higher (conceptual) levels of thinking’. This synergy is a combined effect of how students can come up with their own unique connections, sometimes – and more often than not – even stronger and richer than teachers can anticipate in planning sessions. The reason for this is because students are immersed in the learning and construction of ideas in a way that teachers are not, during the planning stages. By allowing students to develop their own generalisations or independent central ideas, their statements show us their summative

thinking about the concepts in the unit of inquiry. If we give them the ‘correct’ central idea it suggests only one correct answer, but how can the personal connections students make to a unit be wrong? It is the conceptual lenses we use during units, including concepts and related concepts, which engage the personal intellect. In order for students to reach a generalisation they need to think about the relationships


between the concepts in order to form a statement of understanding. There are strategies that we can use to help with this process. Students can articulate or communicate their generalisations through verbal, written or drawn representations. Connect 4 (Marschall and French, 2018) is one particular strategy that allows a constructivist approach for students to develop a generalisation. This strategy also supports a self-management approach to learning through group decision-making. Students work in groups of four to look for commonalities and contrasts through different individual case studies in order to draw out the concepts and then express a relationship between concepts. Each member of the group chooses a different case study and identifies any similarities and connections within those representations. The next step is to complete a statement of inquiry which can be written as a stem sentence by the teacher. Let’s consider a grade 1 example under the transdisciplinary theme Where We Are in Place and Time. The initial teacher-written central idea during planning for the unit was ‘Traditions give us a sense of where we belong in the world and how we connect to others’. Key concepts included Connection, Perspective and Change. We begin with each student looking at case studies about traditions from their home countries. Students are asked to begin to draw out ideas about when and why we have traditions, and how we represent them. Through group discussion students are asked to complete a sentence stem. Examples are as follows: Traditions allow us to… Student response: ‘Traditions allow us to see how we are connected to other people’.

Traditions… in the world Student response: ‘Traditions change as we look at different places and people in the world’. Traditions tell us… Student response: ‘Traditions tell us about different celebrations and how we are similar to people from different places’. To ensure that students can fully articulate their understanding it is helpful to have them provide examples which support their understanding. The teacher can provide the opportunity to analyse each group’s understanding by recording the thinking, and having students rank the strongest articulation of the relationship between the concepts. Remembering that generalisations are true, universal, transferable, abstract and supported by examples, students can also consider success criteria for their written generalisations. When students share their own central ideas or work together to develop combined conceptual generalisations, they are engaging the conceptual mind, personal relevance and reinforcing a constructivist approach to learning. Facilitating learners’ understandings in their own central ideas means that students are using their own thinking – and we as teachers are valuing their intellect. I think about how much time, during the annual collaborative programme of inquiry review, teams of teachers spend on revising central ideas. We edit, review, scrutinise and, year after year, have several different statements basically saying the same thing and using the same concepts and related concepts. If as adults we need to do this, then surely students also have the right to revise and expand their thinking and understanding to express their own statements of understanding: understandings

This synergy is a combined effect of how students can come up with their own unique connections, sometimes – and more often than not – even stronger and richer than teachers can anticipate in planning sessions which transfer through time, across cultures and situations based on relationships between concepts which are timeless, abstract, and universal – and which can often be expressed better by the learners themselves. Studentdriven central ideas provide new opportunities for student voice of thought, choice of expression and ownership of ideas.

So – why not give your students the opportunity to craft, produce and express their own central ideas? ◆ Vanessa Keenan is Deputy Head of Primary and PYP Coordinator at Raha International School, Abu Dhabi. ✉ vkeenan@ris.ae Twitter: @globalpyp

References • Erickson H L, Lanning L A and French R (2017) Concept-Based Curriculum and Instruction for the Thinking Classroom (Second Edition) Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press • IB (2019) PYP: From Principles into Practice, Available via https://resources. ibo.org/pyp/framework/The-PYP-Framework/? • Marschall C and French R (2018) Concept-Based Inquiry in Action: Strategies to Promote Transferable Understanding. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press

Winter 2020 | International School | 29


Leading and managing teaching and learning

The Elephant Needs a Push Denry Machin

A

s James Hatch pointed out in Volume 22/Issue 2 of International School magazine, there is an elephant lurking in the international school room. And, as diversity is gaining long overdue priority across the field, that elephant is becoming even more obvious. We all know it’s there, and most of us are likely uncomfortable with its presence, but few have yet been brave enough to draw attention to it. Credit to James for doing so. The core of James’ argument is to point out inequality in remuneration (expressed through employment contracts) for different categories of international school staff. Broadly, the distinction is between local staff (local nationals), locally hired staff (of any nationality) and expatriate staff, with benefits and salary usually increasing in that hierarchy. Which raises an interesting question: do international schools really value diversity? Critically, value here is expressed financially. Are international schools willing to put their money where their mission statements are? Most international schools make efforts to foster a sense of social responsibility in their students, and most

Type 1

Type 2

Local Staff

Local Hire

Type 3a

Type 3b

Overseas Hire

(if not all) promote tolerance, but given potentially divisive human resource policies, is this merely window dressing? Does differential pay inherently devalue (financially at least) diversity? This is not an easy issue to address. Thanks to James though, a dialogue has started. Here I hope to contribute further to that debate. Before I do, an important caveat: these arguments do not apply to all international schools. Differential contracts operate in many, but by no means all, parts of the world. My arguments relate only to the former.

Expanding the Typology Building on the typology offered by James, and acknowledging that other employment categories will no doubt exist, I offer the following: Type 1 teachers are likely to be local nationals, most often teachers of the local language. Sports coaches, activities staff and learning support staff may also be employed within this category. Type 2 staff are those who were resident in the country at the point of employment. As ‘local hires’, they may have differential access to the salary scale and

Qualified

Local scale and fewer benefits

Qualified

Some restrictions on access to salary scale (possibly on a different scale) and fewer benefits

Unqualified Qualified

Full access to overseas hire salary scale and benefits

Unqualified

Some restrictions on access to salary scale (possibly on a different scale) and fewer benefits

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to benefits – flights and accommodation being obvious omissions. Typically, these staff might be defined as qualified or unqualified (ie holding a recognised teacher licence or not), with different levels of remuneration dependent on status. Staff on a Type 3a contract are ‘overseas hires’ who, for a variety of reasons, may not fit a school’s criteria for qualified status. They might, for example, hold a PGCEi rather than a PGCE, or not yet have the requisite years of experience. Type 3b are the traditional expatriate hires, with full access to the salary scale (or to a different scale entirely) and to full benefits: most commonly flights, accommodation and health care. Senior managers and Principals are, of course, likely to be on a different salary scale again and may have different benefits; a more generous housing allowance perhaps. For the purposes of this article though, they can be treated as Type 3 staff, albeit relatively well-remunerated ones. Cognisant of the moral point under discussion, it is important to recognise that schools also have an additional category of staff: administrative support staff, usually on a different local scale to that of academic staff. The points below apply equally to these staff.


Leading and managing teaching and learning

West shouldn’t be considered ‘best’ Despite the best efforts of some curricula (eg the International Baccalaureate), it remains the case that (some) international schools are not only sites of privilege, exclusivity and elitism, these are the very reasons why they flourish. International schools may exist in the space between the local and the global, and indeed draw on both realms. Their fundamental attraction though is opportunity beyond the local; for their students to enjoy access to ‘international’ (most readily defined as ‘Western’) modes and mediums of

education. This is precisely what parents are paying for. However, one consequence of this bias towards the West is that local and locally-hired academic staff are often paid less than their expatriate counterparts. Moreover, they are often paid less for doing the same job. A local language teacher, with the same teaching responsibilities as an expatriate, may very well be remunerated differently. The question is whether such practices are ‘right’? The answer, of course, is a resounding: No. Yet, as James argues in his article, this practice not only exists in

(some) international schools; it persists to the point of being normalised and, despite staffroom grumbling, accepted. Cast in the light of school mission statements claiming justice and equality, the elephant starts to look very awkward indeed. There is some justification for shortterm expatriates (however defined) receiving additional benefits. They face actual costs in relocating (compensated through flight and relocation allowances) and they face the emotional and cultural challenges of overseas living. The market also rewards their expatriate status; parents value, and are willing to pay for, teachers with the ‘proper’ (again, however defined) qualifications, experience, credentials and cultural background – the latter, as readers will be aware, a very loaded and very contentious criterion. There may also be justification for ‘unqualified’ staff to be remunerated differently. Few would argue that study and experience should not be rewarded. I maintain, as I did in writing in Volume 21/Issue 1 of International School magazine, that a PGCEi and requisite experience should be recognised equally alongside a PGCE and QTS, but that is a different debate. The core of the issue then is the local or locally-recruited teacher doing the same job as an expatriate teacher. Should a teacher of the local language or an EAL teacher be paid any less than a similarly experienced and similarly qualified expatriate teacher? Again, the answer can only be: No.

Time for a push? Superficially, the solution is simple: equal pay for staff within the same job category, regardless of nationality, place of hire or

The core of the issue then is the local or locallyrecruited teacher doing the same job as an expatriate teacher. Winter 2020 | International School | 31


Leading and managing teaching and learning

International schools may exist in the space between the local and the global, and indeed draw on both realms qualification. Variables such as qualifications and experience can be accounted for by differential placement within bands on a salary scale. Key is that staff undertaking the same roles are on the same salary scale, regardless of place of hire. That may be easier said than done, but it has to be the ideal. Indeed, there is an argument that accrediting bodies should include ‘equal pay for the same work’ amongst their criteria. That would, at the very least, lift the debate from these pages – forcing us to acknowledge the elephant’s presence. Whilst few might disagree with this moral position, the counter is market forces. Teachers’ willingness to work for a given school (supply) and parents’ desire for a particular type of teacher (demand) dictate that expatriate teachers command better packages. There is the (valid) argument

too that, if alignment of remuneration leads to an increase in fees, parents are likely to be vociferous. I do not deny the truth in this; the market is a cruel master. But if international school missions are to mean anything, the moral imperative is to challenge the status quo, one difficult decision at a time. There is little justification, economically or morally, for paying different rates for the same work. A second possibility, and this is where my opinion diverges from James, is localisation. This practice, now common across many industries, sees expatriate benefits reduced after a given number of years or when expatriates commit themselves long-term to a given locale (by marrying a local and/or purchasing a property, for example). Rather than seeing this practice as colonialist as James does, I suggest that it is the opposite. Localisation reduces the differential between local and (long-term) expatriate hires, increasing equity. International schools may well be instruments of neo-colonialism, but here I see this as naturalisation rather than colonialisation. Indeed, localisation may be the only practical way to reduce inequality and increase diversity. Few schools can afford to unilaterally align local packages with expatriate ones, and it would be a brave Head who would reduce expatriate packages across the board. Nor would market

Dr Denry Machin is a researcher and commentator on international education. linkedin.com/in/denrymachin/ ✉ denry@denrymachin.com

forces support such a strategy. Localisation, however, addresses both market forces and the moral argument.The need for expatriate benefits is much mitigated when one becomes naturalised; and, with many wedded to their locations (literally in some cases), whilst they will certainly complain, most long-term resident teachers are likely to stay rather than jump. Introducing such a scheme would be painful and unpopular, but so are all challenges to entrenched privilege. It would also be less painful if all, or a majority of, schools introduced this practice.

We can do better Acknowledging that contentions about money are rarely rational – opposition usually being based on emotion rather than evidence – this article is a (perhaps risky) attempt to further nudge the elephant into the spotlight. The suggested solutions may be imperfect, but we would do well to heed lessons from the schools who, laudably, already offer equal pay for equal work. Perhaps, with our collective might, we can usher the elephant out of the room. I encourage readers to join the conversation. As James’ original piece concludes, we can do better. ◆


From the schools: Alice in Education Land

Missing the Target In which Alice debates the direction in which one should be travelling; backwards or forwards

This article is the fourth of a series to be included as occasional contributions to International School magazine, created by Chris Binge in response to some of his experiences in international education. Intended to be provocative and amusing, they are also used to provoke discussion when he leads workshops. Alice walked back into the classroom and addressed the like anything she had seen before. She was drawn Cheshire Cat. to stop and look carefully at one or two of them. ‘Cheshire Puss’ she began, rather timidly, as she did not The paintings were so different that they asked some at all know whether it would like the name: however, it only interesting questions of Alice. I don’t mean that they grinned a little wider. ‘Come, it’s pleased so far’, thought caused questions to form in Alice’s mind. No, these Alice, and she went on. ‘Would you tell me, please, which pictures actually asked the questions which she could way I ought to go from here?’ hear quite clearly. There was a clamour of voices saying ‘That depends a good deal on where you want to get ‘What am I about?’, ‘Do you understand me?’, ‘Explain to’ said the Cat. this to a friend!’, ‘Look harder!’ and ‘I don’t much care where–‘ other comments and questions. said Alice. The first painting had a series of To be told that it ‘Then it doesn’t matter which way dials on it, or were they flowers? you go’ said the Cat. didn’t matter where As she looked at it Alice heard ‘–so long as I get SOMEWHERE’, it say ‘How would you use this she went, but she Alice added as an explanation. painting in a Maths lesson?’. After ‘Oh, you’re sure to do that’, would be sure to get she had got over the shock, Alice said the Cat, ‘if you only walk studied the painting more carefully somewhere, was long enough.’ and saw that she could indeed find [That first section is taken straight a way of using it in a Maths lesson. rather interesting. from Lewis Carroll. The rest is mine.] As she looked at the paintings, contemplating the beauty of lice reflected on the Cheshire Cat’s comments complex numbers, she heard a scuttling and a as she walked down the corridor. She was muttering. Looking round she saw it was the White used to people telling her where to go, or Rabbit, still dressed in his waistcoat and still looking at least telling her where she should be trying to get at his pocket watch. ‘I’m late, I’m late’ was the familiar to. She felt comfortable with targets to aim for and refrain. expected outcomes to achieve. To be told that it didn’t ‘Oh, Mr Rabbit, how nice to see you. Have you seen matter where she went, but she would be sure to get these paintings?’ ventured Alice. somewhere, was rather interesting. ‘Of course not. I have no time. I have my targets to On the way down the corridor Alice noticed meet and deadlines to chase.’ returned the agitated bunny. some beautiful paintings up on the wall. Each one ‘But Mr Rabbit, you must find the time to stop and different and in a style of its own, they were nothing look at these. They are beautiful and so full of ideas. You will find so many new things to do with your students, just by looking at them.’ ‘I already have enough things to do with my students, thank you very much, and too little time to do them in. If I don’t reach my targets, the students won’t reach their learning outcomes. They won’t learn all the things I have on my list of things to learn. And what will happen then?’ asked the rabbit. ‘Well, what would happen then?’ ‘Well, erm, they might learn other things that are not on my list instead!’ The White Rabbit was clearly shocked at the suggestion: ‘My Learning Outcomes are very important.’ Alice had a strange feeling that sound and vision were becoming confused. First she had had the experience of the paintings speaking to her, but now it

A

34 | International School | Winter 2020


From the schools: Alice in Education Land

looking at more abstract goals than just getting to Rome. Let us suppose the outcome was a particular type of communication skill. Perhaps we want you to be able to summarise the meaning of a piece of writing.’ ‘Er, yes.’ said Alice cautiously. ‘Well, I need to ask myself what sort of activity you could do that would demonstrate that you have acquired the skill I want you to have. Then I teach you to do that activity, and so demonstrate your mastery of the skill.’ The White Rabbit looked pleased with himself. ‘We call this Backwards By Design’, he concluded with a smug grin. ‘But does it always have to be like this?’ asked Alice. ‘Of course’, said the Rabbit, as though it were the most obvious and most certain thing in the entire world. ‘This is what Education is about. This is where Backwards by Design becomes Understanding by Design. The role of educators is to define the outcomes we require in our students, design the assessment that will demonstrate that these outcomes have been reached, and teach our students to perform the assessments. Then we can measure the students’ progress and, just as importantly, measure the teachers’ success by how well the students do on the agreed assessments. Now, I have to go.’ – and off he ran in search of a target. Alice was left with an unsatisfactory feeling that combined mild confusion with disappointment that something exciting had been taken away from her. Some of the joy of uncertainty, anticipation and surprise that she felt should be central to learning, seemed to have been wrapped up in a formulaic procedure that left no room for any of these things. She couldn’t yet put her finger on what had gone wrong, but knew that this was a task for her to take on. You will see what she thought later. To be continued… ◆

IMAGES: TENNIEL

was the other way round. The sounds carried pictures. Even though she had only heard the White Rabbit say the words ‘Learning Outcomes’, she was absolutely certain that they began with capital letters. ‘But why’, she asked, ‘are your Outcomes so important?’. Mr Rabbit sighed, glanced again at his pocket watch, and reluctantly decided to devote some of his precious time to explaining the paramount importance of Learning Outcomes. ‘You see’, he began, ‘Imagine you were planning a journey. You get up in the morning and decide that you want to go to, erm, Rome. That is the first decision. Only then can you work out what steps you have to take to get there.’ Alice was astute enough to see both the power and the weakness of analogies. ‘Surely not all journeys are like that. Sometimes I get up in the morning and go for a walk in the park without a particular destination in mind, and have a wonderful time. Secondly, education is not really like a journey, at least not one where we all decide to go to the same place. All your students, being individuals, might want to go to different places. And finally, or at least thirdly if not necessarily finally, all roads lead to Rome. Although, that may not be actually relevant.’ ‘The basic principle is that, unless we know where we are trying to get to, we won’t know what direction we should be going in. We must begin at the end and work backwards.’ the rabbit explained. Beginning at the end and going backwards seemed, to Alice, a very looking-glass way of doing things. She was much happier moving forwards than backwards. She demonstrated this by taking a few confident steps down the corridor, and then trying to walk back to the White Rabbit, only succeeding in banging into the wall, tripping over her dress and falling on the floor. Mr Rabbit ignored her plight entirely and continued in his discourse. She could imagine him in class as a figure of great authority, determined to reach his Outcomes regardless of any tumbles the student might experience on the way. ‘You are right that education is more complicated than a journey.’ he continued. ‘The challenge in education is how we find out whether we have got there or not.’ ‘That’s not like a journey at all. If I managed to get to Rome, I would know that I had got there.’ ‘Yes, but let’s suppose you told me that you had been to Rome. How would I know that you are telling the truth?’ Alice was aghast. ‘Because you know I am absolutely not the sort of person that fibs about this sort of thing! If I say I have been to Rome, I have been.’ ‘If it was someone who didn’t know you very well, and you were persuading them that you had been to Rome. No. This will not work. The journey analogy has completely lost its direction. In Education we are

Chris Binge is Headmaster of Markham College, Lima, Peru. ✉ chris.binge@markham.edu.pe

All the Alice in Education Land stories can be found on Educhanges.com, where there is also a link to an Alice Art Gallery of illustrations by such artists as Tenniel, Dali and Steadman, as well as an Alice playlist.

Winter 2020 | International School | 35


Book Review

Migration, Diversity and Education:

Beyond Third Culture Kids

I

by Saija Benjamin and Fred Dervin (eds). London, Palgrave Macmillan (2015). Reviewed by John Nette

n the quote inset below from the opening exploration of the differences between paragraph of the Introduction to this cultures and groups within the TCK book, the editors set out the book’s aim, community. However, a wider lens might which is to explore the problems associated have considered other migrant groups with the concept of ‘Third Culture Kid’ beyond the traditionally identified TCK (TCK), raising questions about some of the group. The terms transnational youth assumptions made about TCKs – as well and transnational spaces are introduced, as about groups who are not described but there isn’t an exploration of groups as TCKs but, in the minds of the editors, such as the children of refugees or should be. The book has challenged the economic migrants from the wider carefully constructed narrative about TCKs migrant community. In today’s world there that I held as a TCK myself. are a large number of children from a The book has four sections. Section I range of contexts who could potentially focusses on the term TCKs and the reality be considered TCKs, yet who belong of the concept: are they to groups that are not who the literature and usually recognised as “The field of research say they are? such. The ideas of nonSection II, Belonging education contains space and nationless or Longing to Belong, belonging are explored many mythical explores issues of in Section II, and are figures that belonging, identity and offered as alternative home, framed by identity ways to understand educators have not being tied to a place. the experience of the invented or may Section III considers the TCKs and the issue of importance of friendship have borrowed. This belonging. This section and social connectivity in discusses the importance volume unpacks the lives of multicultural of ‘place’ in establishing college-age students and one of these figures: one’s sense of identity, adult TCKs, while Section ‘Third Culture Kids’.” particularly through IV addresses global questions such as ‘Where nomadicism and the are you from?’ The contradictory positions of Adventuring dilemma for TCKs is that the frequency and Vagrancy. with which they move and the pattern of In the Introduction, the question is asked mobility make it difficult to answer that ‘Does the phrase TCK still make sense, often-asked question. The concept of given the reality of the world today?’ The NationaNILism explored in this section first section argues that the foundational questions whether identity is intrinsically narrative of TCKs is informed by studies connected to territory or location. It of a select group of privileged children argues that the process of globalisation living in ‘enclosed and insular environments’ has created communities whose culture such as international school communities, is shaped by mobility rather than place. who engage with the wider local society Their shared experiences draw them on their own terms, engaging and together and creates a sense of belonging disengaging with it as and when they to a larger group. Participants interviewed choose. The idea that TCKs are cultural indicated that they felt a sense of pride in chameleons (being able to fit in and feel their nationless identity. For TCKs from a at home wherever they go) may only be range of cultures, the concept of ‘home’ relevant within these environments.’ is explained and understood in a number There is no question that a deeper of ways, shaped by a range of influences. analysis of the TCK concept is important, It would appear that the indicators used and in the first section – and more by TCKs to explain the concept of ‘home’ specifically in Chapter 1 – there is an are more diverse and less easy to draw 36 | International School | Winter 2020

together than the concept of belonging, which is in itself hard to define. Section III explores the importance of friendship groups amongst TCKs in the USA, and the experiences of a group of Polish TCKs compared with a group of US TCKs. This deeper exploration of the world of TCKs highlights some of the differences amongst non-American TCKs, often informed by their ‘home’ culture and values, and shines a light on the differences between American and non-American TCKs. This section can leave the reader in no doubt that the TCK concept is not as simple or coherent as it is sometimes presented. Section IV, Mobility and Beyond, considers the TCK world post-school. It explores the challenges faced by locationindependent global nomads who face the question ‘Can’t you return to your home country?’ and the differing narratives of adventuring and vagrancy. As is pointed out, this area is under-explored in literature and research, and this chapter opens the door to the world of adult global nomadicism by exploring the views of mature individuals who have chosen a life of fluidity and location-independence. Does the book achieve what it sets out to do? Does it move beyond the myth that there is only one story to tell about TCKs, as set out in the Introduction? It does certainly explore the singular narrative of TCKs as a homogeneous group sharing similar characteristics, and shines a light on the diversity within the recognised TCK world. However, the Introduction also asks why the notion of TCKs seems to apply mostly to privileged people and not, for example, to migrants or refugees. Although the book does not really expand the concept of TCKs beyond the notion of a small select group, it does introduce the idea that the traditional notion of TCKs may be broader than the commonly understood concept. ◆ John Nette is an international educator turned House Parent at Dallam School, UK. ✉ jonette_bw@yahoo.com


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What does the research say about the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (DP)? DP in Turkey

According to university admissions officers, how well do A Levels and DP develop the following qualities in UK students? 1 The DP

Compared to non-IB students, DP graduates in Turkey had higher subject grades, overall grade point averages (GPA) and graduation rates .

A Levels Cumulative GPA *

Encouraging independent inquiry

3.04

94%

English *

3.27

2

2.69

49%

2.58

DP graduates Non-DP graduates

Nurturing an open mind 93% 24%

* Differences were statistically significant (<0.05) Developing self-management skills 91%

Outcomes at university

47%

Encouraging a global outlook 7%

1

2

3

4

45.7% 32.9%

In the UK, DP students outperform their A Level peers in terms of enrolling in top universities and achieving firstor second-class honors.

97%

0

Enrollment in a top 20 university

5

Perceived capacity for 21st century skills Compared to non-DP peers, DP graduates at universities in Australia and East Asia reported higher capacities for 21st century skills.

Achieving a first-class honors degree

22.9% 19.4% Achieving at least a second-class honors degree

DP students A level students

84.8% 80.4%

3

IB

Non-IB

Australia

East Asia

Cultural sensitivity

Cultural sensitivity

Time management

Time management

Leadership

Global-mindedness

Global-mindedness

2

3

4

5

1

95% 79%

DP students in the US have higher rates of university enrollment and graduation at four-year institutions compared to the national average.

Leadership

1

University enrollment and graduation

2

60%

39%

DP cohort National cohort 3

4

5 ENROLLMENT

GRADUATION

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powerfully shape

the lives of students at your school?

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38 | International School | Winter 2020

1

Click the titles to read the full research study or download the research summary, or visit www.ibo.org/research.

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International School Magazine - Winter 2020  

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