Teaching at such a progressive school with such a passionate group of experienced educators has been an incredible experience on so many levels. I treasured the opportunity to be a part of our forward-thinking FLoW21 initiative (Future of Learning at WAB 2021). Here is a brief description:
"After meeting with students, teachers and parents, we filtered down thousands of data points into 21 key objectives and understandings that will guide us into our school’s future of learning by 2021 and beyond. At the heart of FLoW21 is the belief that learners need to be at the center of their education to get the best learning gains. We want to teach them not only how to be life-long learners, but disciplined minds. It is our goal to enable our exceptional teachers by breaking down some of the traditional structures they are working in and putting new ones in place. This flexible, innovative approach opens the classroom to the real world and will encourage and guide truly student-centered learning – all while affirming WAB’s founding principles and core values."
As the only first-year teacher leading one of the Working Groups, I was responsible for coordinating a group of teachers towards task-specific goal-oriented action steps, that resulted in clear recommendations for innovative ways for admin to help institute effective change that would sync with the best interests of all of our school's stakeholders, from students to parents to faculty to admin to community at large. Our Service Learning Working Group created a sequence of Key Competencies for Service Learning that students from Grade 1 - 12 should be achieving. We also proposed comprehensive grade-level Service Learning plans, and created some concrete grade-level examples to be used as exemplars.
Middle School Service Learning Coordinator
Working in this role, I focused my efforts on both internal and external initiatives. Within our middle school, I helped teachers integrate Service Learning into their pre-existing curricula, looking for achievable ways they could add an element of service to their units - in order to deepen the learning experience and make it more authentic to students - without having to completely re-design their curriculum. In an effort to deepen our culture of service learning, I worked with admin to integrate the language of service into more of our middle school operations. Noting the overlap between IB MYP language and the key concepts of effective service learning, we worked to make this language more visible to students and teachers, as evidenced by our Service Learning wall here for example. I also helped students develop service-oriented IB MYP Action Projects with activities ranging from helping stray animals to assisting orphanages and senior citizen centers. I also helped oversee and direct some of our inspirational student led initiatives such as support for this children's leukemia hospital in Western China. Our students were invited to participate in the opening of a new hospital wing their efforts helped fund.
Beijing Service Learning Network
In an effort to help coordinate (and share) our Service Learning initiatives with other schools, I created the Beijing Service Learning Network. I hosted a workshop at WAB for our first meeting and helped design and plan our successive meetings at Keystone Academy (Spring, 2019), Beijing Huijia School (Fall, 2019) and International School of Beijing (Spring, 2020). This network allows us to share best practices, train less-experiences facilitators and share resources.
Teaching IB MYP Language & Literature
Teaching MYP IB Language & Literature was an excellent opportunity to not only help deepen my students' engagement with literature, but to also help them develop a literary voice of their own. Highlights included:
noticing students sense of accomplishment when they "actually understand what Shakespeare meant"
facilitating stimulating student debates as an engaging form of assessment
watching once-shy students absolutely shine on stage in our First Annual Poetry Slam
Teaching MYP Individuals & Societies
Teaching Individuals & Societies (IB MYP's Social Studies class) allowed me to help my students understand their connection to the world around them. By combining history, geography and global issues, our class goes beyond traditional studies of topics (like WWI for example) to explore deeper themes that apply to students lives (like conflict resolution as an extension of the WWI unit). Highlights include:
Urban design project-based learning unit in which students learn about green architecture, urban growth in China and sustainable urban design and are then tasked with re-designing a traditional hutong neighborhood for the municipal government
Student-created podcasts based on the Community Radio model used by indigenous groups, in order to explain the threats these groups face, as well as their best means of adapting to a rapidly-changing world in which they are often on the losing end of globalization.
Inter-disciplinary unit (IDU) with Design in which students take on the role of social entrepreneurs, designing a product that addresses one of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) in a sustainable manner; this project-based unit culminates in a business pitch to a panel of judges (i.e. Shark Tank or Dragon's Den.)
Global narratives in which students write hypothetical personal narratives that incorporate non-fiction story-telling tools and an awareness of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs).
Embracing the Global Youth Media model of student-generated audio podcasts, based on data collection and interviews with people in their community
Global Issues Conference
Coordinating with our high school CAS Coordinator, I was responsible for guiding our student leaders in organizing our annual Global Issues Conference, which brings together 900+ middle and high school students from five schools for an enriching conference at our school. Each year, we bring in seven guest speakers and arrange for 150 student-led workshops.
Future of Education Now Conference
Bringing together inspirational keynote speakers like Jane Goodall and Sir John Jones and a myriad of workshop leaders, our school provided an important forum for Asian schools to exchange ideas and learn how WAB has embraced the FLoW21 model to create visible and effective changes in and outside of the classroom. But while teachers attended workshops and listened to keynotes, we were working on developing a new model of student involvement in educational conferences. Working with OWN Academy from Hong Kong, we created a student-track in which students attended the conference sessions, drafted a mission statement to guide their research, interviewed presenters and then created a website to display their findings. They are hoping to help guide the ideals of progressive education at their respective schools (and beyond). The conference concluded with a session in which students explained their work and hosted a Q&A in which teachers from all over the world were able to ask them questions about what they do/don't like. It was truly special to see students' voice not only included, but embraced by an educational conference. My article describing this new model was published by the EARCOS Journal as well as The International Educator (tie.org)