We continue to work together during these challenging times. Our spirit of perseverance and collaboration come out in thousands of different ways so that we can all do our best to support students and families.
I encourage you to review divisional blogs learn more about each program, and ensure that you have access to all the resources and information being shared from our systems of schools on our Parent Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) webpage.
Given the uncertain nature of our calendar, your flexibility and our sense of community will be help us make it through. I know that when we do reunite on campus, we will all share a newfound appreciation of being back together.
In the meantime, I wish you, your family, and our entire community health, happiness, and patience as we move forward.
We conclude our second week of virtual learning, and I continue to be immensely proud of our faculty, students, and parents. It’s clear that the expectations and professional tone set in the first weeks by the faculty and Principals has been supported and adopted by the parents and students. I know the last few weeks of learning have not been without challenges and hard work, but it does reinforce our shared commitment to students.
Our second week did see a shift into smoother learning routines. Thank you.
We recognize that while the second week gave us a better sense of routines, we are still seeking to improve our shared understand of how to best support students within the virtual learning environment. I am proud of our Principals for seeking your continued input along the way with the surveys that went out today. Please take a moment to share your thoughts about the second week.
In regards to school policies and updates regarding the closure and health situation, I am choosing to direct parents to the SCIS Parent FAQ Page which contains all of our communications from Director of Schools Dan Eschtuth along with other useful information.
Our closure has also brought challenges to our lives beyond the academic. I want to encourage parents to explore the FAQ page for the newly added social/emotional resources from our counseling department to help students and families during this time.
I know that we will greatly value our time together once we return, and I look forward to that day.
I wish each of you health and safety during this time.
Our period of school closure has been a time of great anxiety and uncertainty for everyone in our community. Our students, our parents, our faculty have been thrust into a brand new learning environment in the midst of struggling with the endless personal challenges confronting each of us regarding health, safety, travel, and the potential separation from loved ones.
I cannot share enough how impressed I have been with our faculty for their flexibility, creativity, professionalism and work ethic as they create meaningful learning activities, and sustain a personal connection with students. In times like these, it is important to maintain that sense of community to keep the learning personal and relevant. Each of us, no matter where we are located, are a member of a classroom and the SCIS Community. Our children know that their teachers are there with them throughout this time.
I can promise you, we are working very hard to make this a period of meaningful learning and an opportunity to build our SCIS Community. I am so appreciative of the parent and faculty feedback thus far. To be sure, learning in an online environment is different; it poses many more challenges and frustrations. But I have seen so much flexibility from parents, students and teachers as we work through the inevitable bumps. It’s reassuring.
Not every day will be easy, and a child’s reaction to the school closure can manifest itself in many different ways. If you find that the situation is getting stressful for you or your child, please remember to reach out to your divisional counselor for advice and resources.
One of the best ways we can successfully navigate this time of uncertainty is to make sure we keep our community informed. You may have noticed that you have not heard from me much during this time. Instead, our Director of Schools Dan Eschtruth has shared messages to our entire community. This is on purpose. It is considered best practice to have a “one-voice” approach when communicating in a situation such as this.
To promote this “one-voice”, I hope that each of you have visited our newly developed Parent Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) Page. We built this page as an effective resource for information for our entire community. As the situation within Shanghai evolves, we will continue to update this site with our most recent information.
Despite all that is happening within our own community, I hope we all take a moment to reflect and discuss the larger implications of this situation. While I am certain this has been a time of personal discomfort and moments of frustration for many of us, it pales in comparison to those who were directly affected through the deaths or severe illness of loved ones due to the coronavirus outbreak. Our thoughts and prayers go out these families. They are the center of this global story. And, in many ways, they give us a sense of perspective about our role within it.
I am more appreciative than ever of the SCIS community. I have seen countless examples of support and caring. And, I’ve seen educators pull together these last few weeks to work tirelessly to provide some fantastic learning opportunities despite our campus closure.
It is my sincere hope that we are able to see each other face to face soon. Until then, be safe and healthy.
Happy Chinese New Year! We hope you were able to join us this afternoon for our celebration to welcome the Year of the Rat!
We had a busy week leading up to our CNY holiday. On Tuesday, many of you were at school to interact with our students as they shared their (MYP) Personal Project presentations. The Personal Project is a yearlong exploration by each tenth grader into an area of personal passion and curiosity. This is one of the required parts of the IB Middle Years Program, and there are quite a few requirements that structure the process. But at its core, the Personal Project represents the culmination of a process that started in August, involved countless hours of work and planning, (each student was given a Personal Project Supervisor from our faculty) and presented the action taken on a personal exploration.
The presentations in the Black Box were supported by another great learning experience led by students in our MYP Design Class. These students supplied snacks for the day – but not just any snacks. They followed the MYP Design Process to work in groups and create cross-cultural snacks that they hoped would satisfy the tastes of customers. Blending the foods from different cultures produces something entirely new – leaving the cooks and the customers with a brand new experience to share! To share a few examples (along with the accompanying business cards.)
“Made Indi USA” food truck combined Indian and American cultures. They made spicy vegetable and paneer wraps. The Indian culture was represented by the spicy veggies, paneer and masala spice, and the American culture was represented by the idea of wrap.
“Eco-Chez” food truck was a vegetarian Croatian /Brazilian fusion truck idea. They made Croatian pancake with dulce de leche filling. A Croatian pancake recipe was brought from home. The dulce de leche, a sweet confection from Brazil or Latin America, was added and served as a mild, sweet dessert.
Both the Personal Project and the Food Fusion project are fantastic examples of how we use students’ personal passions and our diversity of backgrounds to create unique solutions to existing problems. The SCIS Mission Statement speaks of students who “contribute positively to their communities.” Those types of contributions happen when students are given authentic opportunities to identify their own interests and apply their learning in those areas. These are the experiences that leverage what students already know and stretch that area of knowledge into new territory. Congratulations to everyone who was involved!
On a related note, in the 3rd floor lobby, many of you may have seen the interactive displays shared by our Grade 6 and Grade 9 students for their planetary exhibits.
I also was lucky enough to pop into Mr. Ruf’s class to see their learning celebration on Light. Congratulations to everyone involved in that project.
Lastly, I am sure many of you share my concern about the coronavirus and its impact during the Chinese New Year. (Please see below for more information.) I share my personal wishes with each of you for health and safety during the holidays – and beyond. We are so fortunate to live within one of the most dynamic cities in the world, and share in their celebration. Being a part of today’s assembly was just a small reminder for me how lucky we truly are.
To everyone within the SCIS community, I wish to extend my best wishes for prosperity and happiness during the Year of the Rat! Enjoy your time with friends and family during the holiday.
Xin Nian Kuai Le!
Derek Luebbe Head of School
All of you should have received an important email on Thursday from our Director of Schools, Dan Eschtruth. (If you did not receive it, please ensure that you have your SCIS Parent Email set up to forward to your personal email account. Contact Barry Johnson – email@example.com – if you want help with this.)
We have remained diligent, mandating hand-washing and taking extra safety and cleaning precautions. The school will stay in close contact with all relevant agencies during the upcoming days to ensure that we have current, accurate information.
COPY OF EMAIL (BELOW) FROM SCIS DIRECTOR OF SCHOOLS, DAN ESCHTRUTH (SENT ON JANUARY 22)
Dear SCIS Community,
As we close out the various Chinese New Year festivities across our campuses, we prepare ourselves to bid farewell to the Year of the Pig and welcome in the Year of the Rat. These celebrations are but one part of the unique opportunity our students have to engage in meaningful experiences as they develop deeper understandings of our host country, its culture and traditions. Before many of you depart on your travels for the holiday season, I wanted to share the following announcements and updates:
2020-21 School Year Calendar
Please find attached the 2020-2021 SCIS school year calendar, it is also now posted on our main website, please follow this link to find it. As always, this calendar represents our effort to optimize learning while covering all confirmed and expected school and national holidays. Further, it provides opportunities for our work with our WASC/IB accreditation process and adheres to the calendar mandates established by our SCIS Board of Directors.
You will also have received an email from our Admissions Department marking the commencement of our re-enrollment process. Re-enrollment is a vital process for both securing your family’s seat placement for the 2020-2021 school year and our ability to effectively plan for the school year to come. The process of re-enrollment is relatively short and is required for families intending to return and those that are confirming that this will be their final year with us here at SCIS. We are grateful for the opportunity to work with your children and, of course, hope to be doing so once again in the new school year.
WASC & IB Self-Study Update –
Our work focusing on our synchronized WASC/IB Accreditation & Authorization process is well underway. As a reminder, the following dates in February have been earmarked as time available for our faculty to focus on this critical process:
Hongqiao Main & ECE Early Release Dates (2:00 PM Student Dismissal): Feb. 12th & 26th
Pudong Campus Early Release Dates (2:00 PM Student Dismissal): Feb. 10th and 24th
Professional In-Service Day (No School for Students): February 28th
School-wide Learner Outcome Update:
I want to thank the many parents that joined us for both sessions of our School-wide Learner Outcome discussion. Both sessions were inspirational reminders of the incredible community we have here at SCIS. While we had two packed houses, we still aim to get input from as many of you as possible. So, we will take the feedback from the meetings to inform our next steps in gathering parent and, eventually, student feedback into our organizational and educational program.
Health & Safety:
Along with the wonderful opportunities for travel and time with family and friends that this time of year provides, comes the unfortunate increase in illnesses. To be certain, SCIS has already instituted our heightened seasonal cleaning protocols across our campuses and has maintained our effort to remind students of best preventive measures (covering our mouths to sneeze and cough, sufficiently and frequently washing our hands, staying home when displaying symptoms, etc.). However, in addition to the heightened influenza season this year we are also closely monitoring the recent outbreak of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) here in China and now the East Asia region. A critical piece for our community is for us to continue to adhere to our proactive and preventative measures established to reduce the spread of any infectious diseases.
That being said, we are working with relevant authorities, our health and safety team, and our school cleaning and clinic providers to initiate additional protocols that will further support our efforts to maintain a healthy learning environment for students, faculty, and staff. For additional information and advice on staying healthy and further resources on the novel coronavirus, please follow this link.
For now, we turn our attention to bidding farewell to the Year of the Pig and welcoming in the Year of the Rat. May it bring all of us great happiness, health, and prosperity! 新年快乐! Happy Chinese New Year!
Sincerely, Daniel Eschtruth Director of Schools Shanghai Community International School
It was a truly energizing week, largely due to the two fantastic parent meetings we held to introduce our Schoolwide Learner Outcomes (SLOs), shown below.
I want to start by saying thank you to the 20+ Pudong parents in attendance and to Liz Gale for planning and organizing the kick-off process.
After a short explanation about the process and history, we moved into small groups (each facilitated by one an SCIS Principal) to clarify and strengthen our understanding of each of the SLOs. It was an exciting discussion, focusing on the incredible potential we have at SCIS to continue building something special for our students. As Liz shared, “the ideas shared give me goosebumps” about what’s possible.
Prompts for the small group discussion included: – What does this SLO “look like”? Sound like? Feel like? – In what ways is SCIS already meeting this SLO? – In what ways could SCIS better meet this SLO?
The development of our SLOs has thus far included administrators and all SCIS faculty (Hongqiao and Pudong) over the last six months. Our introduction and development with parents and students will continue this semester. Our goal is to have a set of collaboratively developed Schoolwide Learner Outcomes by June of 2020!
Because our SLOs will serve both campuses, we repeated this introductory presentation for our Hongqiao parents on Thursday. It was another exciting meeting.
Our next job will be to compile all of the parent ideas and share with everyone. We will have follow-up parent meetings to build our shared understanding of these outcomes. As an organization that constantly seeks to improve, we have to continue to understand where we are meeting the needs of our students and in what areas we can improve. We hope you will join us on this journey during our future discussions.
On a different note, this week, the Pudong faculty was treated to some important professional development from visiting author and consultant Jennifer Abrams. Her work centers on group development by sharing research-based strategies for structuring difficult conversations. The work with Jennifer ties in nicely to the development of our SLOs. As we consider what our school can become, we must be able to acknowledge and overcome the obstacles that prevent it. That means that all constituents have to become comfortable with effectively confronting about where we can improve.
This weekend, send out your “Good Luck Dragons!” thoughts to our Upper School Model United Nations representatives who are at work this weekend at Concordia International School, and to our Varsity Basketball teams as they compete at Shekou International School for the ACAMIS Tournament.
Wishing each of you a relaxing weekend,
Go Dragons! Derek Luebbe Head of School
Invitation to Chinese New Year Celebration
Don’t forget about our upcoming Chinese New Year celebration on January 23rd at 1:00 pm. All parents are invited to attend as we celebrate our host country.
Saturday, Jan. 18:
MUN Conference @ Concordia
ACAMIS Basketball @ Shekou
Sunday, Jan. 19:
MUN Conference @ Concordia
Tuesday, Jan. 21:
MYP Personal Project Exhibition, Black Box, 2pm-2:45pm
Thursday, Jan. 23:
Chinese New Year Assembly, Theater, 1pm-1:40pm
LS Chinese New Year Temple Fair, Black Box, 1:45pm-2:45pm
Just a short update this week to welcome everyone back. It’s always a refreshing surprise to see the reactions of friends re-connecting after the holiday. I want to share a special welcome to our 18 new SCIS students! Just to share a few quick reminders.
The start of the second semester is the perfect time for a personal mid-year review. Have a quick conversation about the progress made in the first semester. What went well? In what areas did you improve? What goals do you have for June 2020? And, where would you like to improve / focus in Semester Two in order to reach your goals?
Parents, you are invited to an important meeting on Tuesday, January 14 at 10:00. SCIS Director of Schools Dan Eschtruth, I, and the Pudong Leadership Team will lead a one-hour parent informational and Questions/Answer Session to introduce our newly developed Schoolwide Learner Outcomes (SLOs). Please see the invitation below. Together, we are beginning the process of defining the future goals for all SCIS students. Our SLOs are in draft form and will be approved at the end of this academic year after gathering additional feedback from all constituents: faculty, parents, and students. Come join us on Tuesday to learn more.
Good luck to our Varsity Basketball Teams, competing this weekend in their SISAC Tournament!
Over the holidays, my family spent time in our home in North Carolina. It was a wonderful time to recharge. While I reconnected with my two daughters currently in university in the USA, I was also lucky enough to take part in another sort of reunion. As the youngest of six boys, I was able to join in a memorable – if chaotic – reunion of about 30 family members. While fun for sure, I think this is one of the rare breaks where I can say that I’m thankful for the “peace and tranquility” of Shanghai.
I’m hopeful that the holiday provided each of you some time to reconnect with family and friends. I look forward to reconnecting with each of you, and wish you the best for a successful 2020!
It has been a very busy and successful semester. That past few weeks has been filled with celebrations, assemblies and program. I want to thank so many parents who have taken part in these events; it strengthens who we are.
I’m happy to share some updates on important initiatives below.
Our enrollment remains stable for the year. To those of you who are leaving SCIS, we wish you all the best. Please remember to stay in touch. Once a Dragon, Always a Dragon! And, of course, we will welcome new families into the SCIS community in January and beyond.
Over the break, there will be a number of facility and construction upgrades. The most notable of these will be new furniture in our cafeteria and some classroom/hallway re-designs to make for a more open learning environment. We continue to invest in making sure we have a first class learning facility.
Our WASC/IB Accreditation process continues to make progress. As we shared last month, we’re are excited to be refining our Schoolwide Learner Outcomes, and look forward to discussing these further with parents in 2020. We have have an initial meetings scheduled for January (one in Pudong and one in Hongqiao) to provide clarity and gather input from parents. Our Pudong meeting will take place during our regularly scheduled January PAFA meeting: January 14 at 10:00 am. We hope you can attend.
With the additional collaboration involved in the WASC/IB process, we will dismiss school at 2:00 pm on four school days in the 2nd Semester. The dates for the Early Dismissal at the Pudong Campus are February 10, February 24, April 6, and April 27. More information is available in an email sent to all parents today at 3:56 pm from our Director of Schools, Dan Eschtruth.
For the vacation, my family is traveling back to North Carolina, and I am looking forward to a family reunion with two of my daughters in university, and an extended family reunion with my five older brothers and their families. I wish each of you a relaxing and well-deserved vacation with family and friends. We shall see you in 2020.
Derek Luebbe Head of School
Parent Satisfaction Survey
We continue to share our Monthly Parent Satisfaction Survey. It only takes two minutes to complete. Your feedback helps us gain valuable data to improve. Take a moment now and fill out the December Survey to share your feedback.
Monday, Jan. 6, 2020:
First Day of Semester Two
New Family Orientation, Lower Schoo and Upper School, 1pm
Dear Parents, Students, Faculty, and Friends, Come out and celebrate with SCIS this weekend. It has been a busy Spirit Week, and it will be a busy weekend! – Friday 6:00: The Addams Family: Join us for our Upper School Musical and visual arts gallery presentations. (NOTE: This performance is not LiveStreamed.) – Saturday:9:30 Early Childhood Education Presentation: The Power of Play-Based Learning. Room 102 (In English and Chinese). Led by Ms. Hunt – 10:00 AM: Varsity Boys Basketball (home) vs. YCIS. – 10:30: Open House Presentation for families who want to learn more about SCIS. Led by Mr. Luebbe and Mr. Mazer – 11:30-3:00 pm Winter Festival: Come join us for this special event. Fun. Food. Drink. Crafts. Student Performances. Organized by our amazing PAFA! Come out and enjoy the day. – 3:00 pm The Addams Family: Join us for our Upper School Musical and visual arts gallery presentations. (NOTE: This performance is not LiveStreamed.)
As if Saturday wasn’t busy enough, we will be also host 15 math educators from around Asia as they join our SCIS teachers during a 3-day workshop for Math Specialists in International Schools. The cohort is led by mathematics specialist Erma Anderson who has worked with international schools for the last 20 years and has a distinguished career as part of the team that developed mathematics and science standards that are used throughout the United States. We’re grateful to have all the learning on our campus, and congratulate this cohort of teachers for their dedication to completing the first 3 days of an eventual 15 day experience over the next two years to earn their certificate as Math Specialists. Erma has presented to SCIS parents in the past on the power of teaching mathematics as concepts instead of procedures (which is likely how most of us, including me, learned math as a child). Erma will be back at SCIS in the spring and we will schedule some time for her to meet with parents, share her story, and answer questions at that time. Lastly, as an American, I want to acknowledge that Thursday was American Thanksgiving. It’s a special day to give thanks for all that we have. As a faculty, we celebrated at school on Saturday Nov. 23, and the words that I and others shared at that celebration are equally applicable for our larger community.
We are fortunate to be surrounded by people who care about each child.
We are fortunate to work with colleagues who give of themselves, day in and day out, in support of our children.
We are fortunate to live and work in Shanghai. It is an experience like no other.
We are fortunate to be involved in a profession where we make a difference in the lives of others.
I wish you all a restful weekend and hope to see you at school to share in our community. Derek Luebbe
PAFA Transforms SCIS for Winter Festival
A big thank you to our PAFA volunteers who have been busy each and every day this week at the school to transform our lobby and cafeteria area in preparation for the Winter Festival. Thank you for making this time of year come to life for our entire community!
Today, all parents in the SCIS system received an important email from our Director of Schools, Dan Eschtruth. Highlights from his email include:
Background on the upcoming SCIS accreditation process with WASC / IB
Introducing our collaborative process to define our new Schoolwide Learner Outcomes (SLOs)
Congratulations to our Lower School Principal, Liz Gale, on her promotion for the 2020-21 academic year.
I also want to take this opportunity to congratulate Ms. Gale on her new leadership role starting in August 2020. Ms. Gale continues to be driving force in leading our Lower School program, and her continued leadership and support to our SCIS system accreditation process (which includes our Pudong, Hongqiao-Main, and Hongqiao-ECE campuses) will move all of our campuses forward, collectively. While you will still see her on the Pudong Campus year, it will be less often, and it will be with her new title, Deputy Director of Schools: Teaching & Learning.
Welcome New Lower School Principal: Dawn Brews
Because of Ms. Gale’s new position, we will be welcoming a new Lower School Principal to the Pudong Campus. It gives me great pleasure to welcome Dawn Brews into the SCIS Pudong Community. Dawn will continue the leadership of the Pudong Lower School starting in August of 2020.
Ms. Brews comes to SCIS most recently from five years in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia where she is the Lower School Vice Principal and PYP Coordinator for the Mont’Kiara International School. Prior to that she worked in schools in Dubai for two years and Hong Kong for eleven years.
She holds Masters Degrees in Elementary Education from Phoenix University and another Masters in Educational Leadership from the American College of Education. She also holds a certificate for Dual Language Education (Center for Applied Linguistics) and another certificate in Bilingualism (Harvard Graduate School of Education).
Dawn was one of three finalists to make it past the initial screening introductory interview process. All three candidates were interviewed by three different groups and underwent reference checks with former schools.
We are thrilled to have Ms. Brews join us in August and continue leading our Lower School program. Her background and experience with the PYP fit perfectly to keep our Lower School moving forward. Thankfully, Ms. Brews has already begun collaborating with Ms. Gale; they will have the added benefit of working collaboratively throughout the year to keep the transition as smooth as possible.
Ms. Brews will be joined by her husband Darren and her nine-year-old son Dylan. On behalf of everyone in the SCIS Pudong Community, I know you join me in welcoming their entire family to Shanghai.
Grade Two: Solving Problems with Simple Machines
Lastly, it was a pleasure to take part in today’s Grade Two Learning Celebration on Simple Machines. Thank you to all the parents who came out to allow our students to share their creations and communicate their solutions to everyday problems. When you unleash children’s creativity toward solving authentic problems, it’s never dull! Congratulations to our Grade Two students.
Below, you will find many more upcoming events. We look forward to your continued participation.
Warm regards for a restful weekend, Derek Luebbe
Next Parent Satisfaction Survey
Our final Parent Satisfaction Survey of the year will be sent out next week. Please be on the look out for the invitation to compete the survey. We appreciate all the parent feedback and look forward to your responses.
November 30: Save The Date!
Next Saturday, November 30th we are having a full day of events at our campus. Please read the list of events below and attend as many as you can. It is going to be a great day with our SCIS community!
Early Childhood Education (ECE) Parenting Classes: 9:30AM-10:30AM. If you are an ECE parent at SCIS (or want to invite a non-SCIS parent), join us for The Power of Play-Based Learning Workshop
SCIS Open House: 10:30AM-12:00PM Invite a family to come visit our campus. Take a tour. Meet with administrators, and then join us for our …
Winter Festival: 11:30AM – 3:00PM
PAFA is in need of some more volunteers for the Winter Festival. Please contact Maria Trantow at firstname.lastname@example.org you would like to volunteer
If you would like to sign up for Winter Festival bussing please scan the QR code below:
From 3:00PM – 5:00PM our Upper School Musical, The Addams Family will begin. Support our talented (and dedicated) Upper School students as they treat us to an afternoon musical performance in the auditorium.
SCIS Hongqiao Winter Carnival
Our Hongqiao Campus is hosting a Winter Carnival this Saturday, November 23rd from 11:00AM to 4:00PM. It will be great fun for the whole family!
It’s hard to believe that we have reached mid-November. As can be seen from the photos below, it’s been a busy week of active learning.
A special shout-out goes to Chris Demas and our IB Music students who showcased their talent during the IB-DP Recital on Thursday. Congratulations are also due to Jill Sculerati–our IB-DP Biology teacher–who organized and facilitated a Job-Alike of approximately 15 other IB Biology teachers from across the region here at SCIS. These job-likes are an important way that professionals share strategies and grow as professionals, ensuring we’re doing all we can to support students.
On Saturday and Sunday, 25 SCIS teachers along with 30 additional teachers from the region will take part in a different professional development opportunity focused on inclusive classroom practices and strategies that allow us to better meet the individual needs of students. It’s an opportune time for us to put into practice our progressive view of rigor – an often misunderstood concept in education.
Many people may define rigor as a high bar that schools strive to have all children reach. Parents may equate rigor with difficult and time-consuming tasks. “If it is hard, it must be rigorous.” While this sounds logical (and slightly mean!), that concept of rigor is flawed. The bar can be arbitrary, an appropriate learning experience for the “average” student. 1) Some students will find it far too difficult and 2) some students will still find too easy. Progressive schools are now redefining rigor. At SCIS we have adopted this definition:
“the goal of helping students develop their individual capacity to understand content and approach dilemmas that are complex, ambiguous, provocative, and personally, physically, or emotionally challenging.” Strong, Silver and Perini (2001)
What’s different about this definition of rigor?
The big difference in this definition is that rigor is personalized for each child. As a school that subscribes to this definition of rigor, it is not OK for educators to say, “Here is the bar for everyone, I’ve done my job.” Our job is to strive to create experiences that are challenging for each individual student.
“If everyone’s standard of rigor is individualized, how can there be a standard for learning?”
At SCIS, we are guided by our adopted content standards in each subject. For example, our curriculum for English Language & Literature is aligned to the US Common Core Standards. These standards are the indicators for what skills and content students must demonstrate at each grade level.
We use our understanding of rigor to design experiences that support students’ ability to reach or exceed the standard, always building on their knowledge, skills, and understandings they bring, and facilitating their extension. That can only happen when you begin with the premise that all children are unique, and all children have learning strengths and weaknesses.
What else is different?
A progressive concept of rigor changes the type of tasks that students are likely to encounter.
If you believe that rigor is an arbitrary bar, then it’s easier to teach with rote tasks that allow students to demonstrate their ability to reach (or not reach) a certain level.
At SCIS, teachers collaborate to design experiences which allow students to struggle within tasks that are “complex, ambiguous, provocative, and personally, physically, or emotionally challenging.” These tasks are far closer to the real world. As an example, compare these two tasks:
Read chapter 2 and take this quiz.
Create and give a proposal to your Principal in order to …
The first task relies on a textbook selection to determine the level of difficulty. The task will be easy for some students and difficult for others.
The second task is for more likely to be “complex, ambiguous, provocative, and personally, physically, or emotionally challenging.” Students can approach this problem at their current skill level. From the outset, the task differentiates itself for each student, providing a challenge for each.. The teacher’s job is focused on building on each student’s strengths and addressing areas of weakness in order to improve. This is true for students who have already exceeded a particular standard as well as for students who are struggling to meet a particular standard.
To be clear, both tasks may allow teachers to assess progress towards learning standards. But the authentic tasks not only provide real-world context, these tasks naturally differentiate the learning so that students can approach this task for their proximal zone of development, in order to improve to the next level.
This weekend, 55 teachers will be studying inclusive classroom practices. It is with this understanding of rigor that we define inclusive learning. Inclusive learning is far more than learning strategies to support learners who struggle. We define inclusive learning as a “rigorous environment where all students are inspired to become increasingly expert learners.”
I’m grateful to be a part of an educational team that sees learning through this lens, and I’m appreciative of our SCIS teachers who are dedicating their weekend to learning more about it.
It’s something that makes us special.
Our goal is always to partner with parents, so if you have any questions, please reach out a Principal or me.
There are two important events on the horizon – our Upper School Musical The Addams Family and our Winter Festival, put on by our ever-dedicated PAFA! Attending these events is easy because they both happen on the same day: November 30. See more information below, and reach out with any questions you might have.
Wishing you and your family a pleasant weekend. Enjoy the sunshine!
Derek Luebbe Head of School
Saturday, Nov. 16:
CISSA CRE Soccer, Boys @ SAS-PD, Girls @ Dulwich Shanghai
SSL Swim Meet #2
Varsity Boys and Girls Basketball @ Concordia, 10am
Wednesday, Nov. 20:
Varsity Girls Basketball Home Game vs Dulwich College, 4:15pm
Varsity Boys Basketball @ Dulwich, Away, 4:15pm
Thursday, Nov. 21:
Lower School Assembly (3J), 3rd floor theater, 8:15am