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 The results can be clearly noticed throughout all grade levels. To mention one, the FIS Elementary School has embraced a new student-centered, social and emotional approach to teaching and discipline called Responsive Classroom and the positive outcomes have been plentiful. Erin Pade, a Grade 2 teacher, says, “I would say that taking time out, each and every day, to connect as a community, has many positive benefits. With our morning meeting, we start the day by 'checking in’ – seeing where students are emotionally and setting intentions for the day. This 'soft start' prepares students for the learning we will be doing and gives teachers an opportunity to observe and assess the dynamics of the classroom so adjustments can be made to the learning environment, the expectations for the day, or the content being covered in a lesson.”
Since implementing Responsive Classroom and morning meetings, Ms. Pade has noticed that students are more communicative about their feelings and more reflective about what choices and actions can help them have a positive learning experience.
“It is also nice for teachers who no longer feel like they must dive into learning immediately and try to put out fires along theway,”Ms.Padesays”Wearemodelingforourstudentsthat successful learning requires mental and emotional preparation, and we are giving ourselves the time and space to prepare for the workday as well.”
At the FIS Primary School, teachers have been investigating meaningful and intentional ways to encourage imaginative expression in younger learners. According to Primary School Principal Caroline Joslin-Callahan, to reach this goal a group of FIS educators dedicated to uncovering different methods of teaching literacy and language to primary-aged students while respecting their individuality, creativity, and curiosity, were introduced to the innovative Reggio Emilia inspired approach of Story Workshop and Playful Inquiry. Teachers were able to travel to and visit the Oregon-based Opal School in the United States and observe these best practices in action.
Story Workshop and Playful Inquiry allow learners to explore, create and connect their ideas through play and art. It is an authentic experience that allows children to experience, imagine and connect with a story. This method meets the needs of the diverse learners in the classroom, and is a flexible structured way of "doing" writing and oral storytelling. Students are able to see themselves as authors and teachers are able to guide these young learners as they build bridges between their personal oral stories and the written word.
Subsequently, FIS was able to host the founders of the Center for Playful Inquiry, Susan MacKay Harris and Matt Karlsen, who facilitated workshops for teachers interested in implementing this strategy in their classrooms. FIS teachers are now able to constantly collaborate with colleagues around the world by joining a global community of mutual mentorship. This is yet another example of ongoing job embedded and on- demand professional development at its best. The benefits of this collaboration can be seen throughout the hallways of the Primary School where the creative work of FIS’s youngest writers is on display for all to enjoy, including the very authors of these original pieces.
FIS is dedicated to ensuring that all its employees can continually evolve in their practice by offering a wide array of professional learning opportunities that align
with the school’s strategic initiatives.
Recently, the FIS Upper School was able to meet with consultant JenniferChangWathall,authorofConcept-BasedMathematics in support of the shift to Illustrative Mathematics and Concept- Based Mathematics. Teachers were able to dive into hands-on learning to improve their understanding of inductive inquiry and how to provide students with opportunities to find generalizations and patterns which they observe from specific examples. Teachers reinforced their belief that there is a growing need to develop students’ ability to critically think and reason in order to solve complex problems and create new ideas. Thanks to the continued partnership with Dr. Wathall, teachers at FIS are able to add to their toolbox and guide students as they are challenged with rich real-life
mathematical problems to solve.
From Literacy to Maker Space to Artificial Intelligence to Humanities and Mathematics, the professional development opportunities for teachers abound. Everyone in the learning community at FIS has agency, sees themselves as contributors to its strength and success, and can take action to affect change. FIS is full of exciting learning experiences thanks to the school’s commitment to academic and experiential growth.
Adriana Ardolino FIS Parent
  November 2022 FIS World 13

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