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No letup in ISB teachers’ development

By Nick Yates, ISB Communications

The International School of Beijing (ISB) is committed to providing training for its staff so they can serve students even better – and it has not wavered in that as campus has been closed due to Covid-19. ISB is forging ahead with an innovative program of eLearning, and it has taken a huge amount of work behind the scenes for faculty to not only create and deliver this unprecedented program but to keep up with best practice in their field.

May 5 will be another Professional Development Day, when students are given the day off and ISB teachers and support staff pause their usual day-to-day work and come together (in person or online) for training and to refine their processes. Many professional development opportunities are provided on PD Days, and they have been even more important than ever in this uncharted territory of sustained eLearning.

ISB has been collecting regular feedback from teachers, students, and parents regarding the quality and effectiveness of its eLearning. The school has been adjusting the program based on the feedback collected, and this takes a lot of coordination across departments. An earlier PD Day during campus closure, on February 21, was very productive in reinforcing delivery of ISB’s curriculum and providing the best eLearning possible. Teachers took part in workshops on issues including use of the school’s digital platforms and library resources, student blogging, and social-emotional concerns among the student body at this time.

On another occasion during campus closure, ISB teachers met virtually with Jennifer Wathall, one of a number of top international consultants with whom the school is in regular contact. Ms. Wathall’s workshop (pictured) was about how to gather reliable evidence on student learning without them actually being present in a classroom.

PD during Covid-19 2

ISB’s programs are intentionally designed to be based on best practice in pedagogy, and the school empowers its staff to consider new approaches and adapt their teaching so that it is most effective for students.

Close to 70 percent of ISB’s school-fee revenue is reinvested on personnel, including funding training for them. While ISB recruits highly qualified, experienced, and passionate teachers, it is also almost unmatched in Asia in terms of the resources it puts into coaching for its world-class faculty, according to Stacy Stephens, the school’s Director of Learning and Strategic Planning. “As a school, you want to take the resources that you have and make sure you have the largest impact on student learning. It’s a model that allows us to be a learning institution on a continuous trajectory of growth,” Ms. Stephens said.

ISB has a year-long program of on-campus and off-campus learning for faculty, regular visiting experts working with teachers, and even full-time coaches on staff. The school offers some of the same opportunities to parents through its Parent Education Series of talks and workshops.

ISB students are certain to get even better teaching after May 5 and every one of the occasions when the school provides training for its staff.

ISB is an extraordinary school, made so by a tradition of educational excellence spanning 40 years. Establishing, nurturing, and growing such an exceptional learning community has been and remains intentional; we work hard to build strong relationships so our learning is at its best.

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