Head of School Updates, March 15 2019

Dear Parents, Students, Faculty, and Friends,

A big thank you to the parents who attended the Conceptual Math Workshop with Erma Anderson. Unfortunately, conceptual math is not the way most of us – including me – learned math. But I promise that we will all think twice before asking our children to solve multiplication problems in a procedural manner. For parents who want to learn more about Conceptual (versus Procedural) Math, you can visit the resources section of Ms. Gale’s Principal’s Post.

As I shared at the workshop, conceptual math is just one educational aspect of what we believe and put into practice at SCIS.  Having parents understand our philosophies and practices is an incredibly important part of helping your child succeed. As parents, you may not even agree with every aspect of how we approach each topic, but by better understanding what your child experiences during the day, it helps to strengthen the potential connections and deepens the quality of conversations you can have with your children at home.

Math Lab Site in action in Ms. Meidinger’s KG room

Erma worked with our SCIS teachers on Wednesday and Thursday, participating in what we call Lab Sites. During Lab Sites, many educators come together for a brief period of time to observe and take part in one lesson for one grade level. The power of the professional learning takes place afterwards in the “debrief session” as we lead structured protocols to allow each professional to share strengths and areas for growth. The key to making these powerful conversations is to focus on the children (not the adults), and what evidence we do or don’t observe from the lesson. With that as our foundation, we are able to collaborate and assess the effectiveness of various teacher actions along the way.  I was fortunate enough to be a part of a Lab Site in Ms. Meidinger’s KG classroom. The lesson, and especially the debrief, reminded me of how lucky we are to be in an environment where we openly share and discuss best practices in a safe, supportive environment.

During debrief, one of my important takeaways was to be reminded that math is more than coming up with answers and even following the right procedures. Math takes place in the discussions and thinking that children have to make to justify their answer and provide evidence for why they believe they are right. This is how we can reinforce a conceptual understanding of math in children. (But I can promise you, that to truly value that discussion and honor what children are trying to express requires a significant amount of patience and restraint when we so badly want to help point them in the right direction and get them started on the procedure of solving the problem!)   It’s something I know I struggle with in the classroom as well when I’m teaching.

Speaking of teaching, I will happily self-promote my own Upper School Activity. In recent weeks, I have been leading some sessions for Upper School students at  lunchtime and during advisory to promote Financial Literacy. We call these sessions Financial Fridays. Today, I shared the poster below in the hopes of appealing to Upper School students who want to learn more about saving, investing, and various financial literacy basics. Students can sign up in the office.

On Thursday, we kicked off our 3rd Annual March Madness Student-Teacher Ping Pong Tournament.
What is March Madness?
Well, the official March Madness references America’s NCAA (University) Basketball Tournament with 64 teams to determine a national champion. The SCIS version randomly pairs up 32 students with 32 teachers who have volunteered to take part. During lunch, we take part in a doubles tournament, getting to know one another, building new teacher-student relationships, and just generally having a little fun. It is fair to say that many in the tournament have not touched a ping pong paddle since last year, but that’s what makes it a great time. Matches continue Monday and throughout next week. We’ll share some great photos as the action unfolds!

We are launching another series of Parent Workshops on Positive Discipline which will begin in April. A small fee (500 RMB for 4 workshops) is charged for books and resources . As a small thank you to a few of our parents who substitute at SCIS (or wish to substitute at SCIS), these workshops will be free of charge.  The workshops will allow you to engage in strategies and discussions to help us (as parents and educators) move past rewards and punishments as motivators. Instead we want to help build skillful children who have the capabilities and mindsets to make intelligent choices about their own behavior. Positive Discipline workshops are a great tool to help adults instill this mindset in our children.

Hoping you are all looking forward to Student Led Conferences on March 21. As a reminder, there is no school for students on this day, but students are obviously meant to accompany you (and lead) the conference itself. Families should have received sign-up forms to reserve spots from each Principal.

Lastly, I leave you with one my favorite daily traditions here at SCIS – the personalize goodbye! This video happens to be Mr. Schultz with his Grade 1 class, although each day you can find other teachers taking part as well. Small moments like this have a big effect!

Wishing you all a restful weekend. Enjoy the sunshine!

Derek Luebbe
Head of School

Upcoming Events:

Saturday, March 16

  • ACAMIS Swimming, SSIS and DCS (Suzhou)
  • Shanghai Student Film Festival (S2F2)2019
  • Middle School Cross River Event Volleyball  

Monday, March 18:

  • International University Fair, 2:30pm-4:30pm, Hongqiao Campus,  Grades 9-11 will go as group to participate in this college fair featuring over 100 universities from around the world.
  • DP Recital and Art Exhibition, 4:00pm-6:00pm, Theater/Gallery
  • High School Badminton @ YCIS PX, 4:00pm-6pm, Puxi

Wednesday, March 20, Varsity Boys Soccer vs Wellington, 4:15pm-5:15pm, Dragon Field.

Thursday, March 21:

  • G10 Parent DP Planning Conferences
  • Student-Led Conferences (No School for PD students. Half day dismissal for HQ students)

Friday, March 22:

  • Mid semester Progress Reports released
  • Science Expo, 8:00am-9:15am
  • Varsity Girls Soccer @NAIS, 4:15pm-5:15pm 

Photos From Around The Campus

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