Why Does Student Voice Matter in the Curriculum?

Isabelle Wolfe
Language Teacher, International School Aberdeen


As parents, we can all relate to our children coming home from school and we ask when what they learnt today. Very often the answer is “nothing” and indeed, the child probably did not have much to say about what was going on in the classroom.

Formal student voice activities need to be actively promoted and ‘kept alive’ in the culture of the school. There is a clear psychological benefit from engaging in student voice even if the impact is not overtly evident. Being engaged in student voice activities is seen as important regardless of any impact from the delivered curriculum.


Why should we develop student voice in a pedagogical context?

Very often when a high school student is resistant to the curriculum he is exposed to, teachers can be quick to say that  he does not have a growth mindset, is unmotivated or worse disrespectful. The continuum goes from giving no say to the students to giving them complete power as Hart’s ladder demonstrates.


The first obvious reason for developing student voice is the students wellbeing. Research shows that people do better when they have more autonomy. Academic achievement increases when we give more say to the students.


Secondly If we want students to take more responsibility with their education, we have to give them more responsibility. There is a moral compass that we ought to have as educators and values that we should instil. Human beings should have a say whatever their age. We are training kids to live in a democracy


Thirdly, giving a more important role of the students voice in the curriculum also has a positive effect on teachers, It is more energising for both students and teachers when students are helping to plan the curriculum.


How can we foster student voice in a pedagogical context?


Before looking into this and as a preamble, it is important to stress that research shows that a process driven curriculum would foster student voice more than a heavy content one. A constructivist approach is more conducive. Student centred teaching, project-based learning rely heavily on autonomy.


Fostering student voice does not mean giving individual choice although that can be an option. What is more powerful is the idea of a choice, albeit a meaningful choice. Telling students for example that they can choose to read Book A or Book B is not as meaningful as having the students plan the learning  activities or even the curriculum.Real Autonomy comes from construction more than selection. The choice cannot be trivial. Students should have a role in the criteria, the standards, the goals the outcomes, the why we’re doing this.

One strategy to achieve this goal is for example to ask the students what questions they would come up with and ask them for an order of priority. Teachers can then use their questions to construct the curriculum as well as the assessment at the end.


How do we authentically promote autonomy?


Autonomy doesn’t mean that everything in a classroom has to be decided by the students but it means that everything could be. It is essential to tell the students that you have the last word. As the American psychologist Thomas Gordon said, the question is not whether rules and control are necessary but rather who sets them

When a unit is finished, the question is not just how well did the students learnt it but also how effectively how did I teach it and ask the students how can you show me you learnt it effectively?


In summary, how do we authentically promote autonomy?

Ask the students what they want to learn

Negotiate together

Advise and make suggestions

Ask them but tell them that you have the last word


In conclusion if we teach the same curriculum year in year out, we, as teachers, need to reflect on the place of the student in our classroom and if our curriculum is student centred.




Isabelle Wolfe is the Language Subject Leader at the International School Aberdeen.  She teaches French in Middle and High school as well as the French Mother Tongue programme to our French native students. Prior to teaching at ISA, Isabelle taught in England, Australia, and Egypt.




Richter, Max. “The autonomy-enhancing effects of choice on cognitive load, motivation and learning with digital media.” SelfDeterminationTheory.org, https://selfdeterminationtheory.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/2018_Schneideretal_choiceeffects.pdf. Accessed 17 November 2023.

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/09650792.2018.1436079.%E2%80%9D. Accessed 17 November 2023.

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Sweller, John. “The importance of cognitive load theory (CLT).” Society for Education and Training, https://set.et-foundation.co.uk/resources/the-importance-of-cognitive-load-theory.


Telecollaboration: Empowering Students Through Global Connections

Telecollaboration: Empowering Students Through Global Connections
Gosia Jaros-White, MA

In today’s interconnected world, collaboration knows no boundaries. It presents an incredible opportunity for students and teachers to transcend the confines of their classrooms and gain invaluable insights into the global community. Telecollaboration, with its myriad benefits, equips students with essential skills such as cultural understanding, effective communication, and a broader perspective of the world. Whether it’s language, social studies, arts, or STEM, collaboration in a global context can be seamlessly integrated into any subject, engaging students from around the world in hands-on activities, research, and discussions that revolve around global issues, fostering creativity and problem-solving.


While engagement stands as a prominent benefit of telecollaboration, let us delve deeper other advantages it offers.


Nurturing Curiosity through Inquiry-Based Learning

Children possess an innate curiosity about the world around them, channeling their imagination to explore and absorb knowledge. Inquiry-based learning sparks this curiosity by encouraging students to ask questions about subjects that genuinely interest them. In telecollaboration projects, students not only question their peers but also observe and learn from their experiences. From simple queries like “Why don’t they wear uniforms?” to more complex ones such as “Why don’t they have a steady supply of electricity?”, students gain a more profound understanding through meaningful learning, as their questions unlock insights and open doors to new perspectives.


Cultivating Cultural Competence

The advantages of cultural competence extend far beyond preparing students for an ever-evolving world. In the realm of telecollaboration, cultural competency empowers students to navigate real-world problems with sensitivity, addressing issues like climate change, war, gender issues, and growing energy demands. Equipped with cultural competence, students possess the ability to locate accurate information, separate facts from fiction, and apply their newfound knowledge to foster societal progress. Moreover, virtual exchanges reinforce students’ understanding of the importance of global connections, illustrating the unifying power of meeting individuals from diverse backgrounds. Cultural competence not only nurtures appreciation for differences but also instills in students a sense of unity, transforming them into compassionate global citizens.


Teaching the Value of Humility

Consider how students respond to telecollaboration experiences – their reactions mirror those of their initial travel encounters. Every discovery strikes them with a sense of novelty and sparks moments of enlightenment. Statements like “Wow, they speak English so well!” or “They listen to the same music as I do!” or “I never knew they had that cultural tradition in their country!” may appear ordinary, but they hold profound significance in promoting inclusion.

Humility cannot be taught directly, but educators can create fertile ground for its growth. When students express surprise at seemingly universal aspects such as shared love for music, media, and movies, or the popularity of certain foods across borders, they make genuine, personal acknowledgments that resonate deeply with their developing minds. Telecollaboration erases preconceived biases and amplifies connections, providing an opportunity for authentic encounters that build bridges and foster acceptance.


Overcoming Bias

Prejudice impedes acceptance, while apprehension and discomfort hinder inclusivity. Fear becomes the enemy of education. It is our responsibility as educators to prepare students to thrive in a changing world and cultivate courage within them. By creating opportunities for genuine encounters, we dismantle prejudices and biases, forging connections that transcend borders and foster global unity. By engaging in meaningful interactions with peers from different countries or regions, students gain firsthand insights into the lives, traditions, and challenges faced by others. This exposure broadens their understanding and allows students to critically examine their own biases and develop a more nuanced understanding of complex issues.


Students as Empowered Educators

Telecollaboration, particularly language-based exchanges, offers students a chance to become teachers, sharing their expertise with their peers. Through video exchanges, students can alternate between their native language and the target language, seizing the opportunity to teach new words, phrases, and interesting idioms. Additionally, as cultural exploration lies at the heart of telecollaboration, students naturally assume the role of educators as they share their unique heritage and culture with their global counterparts.


Lessons in Empathy

When a fourth-grade class in New York State participated in a virtual project with students from Kenya, they gained firsthand knowledge about the lives and challenges their peers faced. This experience not only piqued their curiosity but also inspired them to take action and support their Kenyan counterparts. Upon discovering that a local organisation aimed to build the first library in the area, they organised a fundraising event to contribute to the cause. Telecollaboration projects like these empower students to develop empathy and foster a desire to make a positive difference in the world.

Language-based virtual exchanges, in particular, serve as profound lessons in empathy. Language learning imparts valuable insights into determination, resilience, and cultural diversity. As students struggle to master a new language, they can relate to their peers who face similar challenges. This fosters compassion and understanding, cultivating appreciation for the effort required to communicate effectively and be truly understood.


A Comprehensive Approach

To harness the full potential of telecollaboration and offer these invaluable benefits to your students, it is crucial to adopt a structured program. Level Up Village (LUV), a learning product of Language Testing International, is a safe, secure, and user-friendly platform that connects schools worldwide, offering standards-aligned, tailored courses in Arts & Sciences, as well as Languages and Cultures, through asynchronous video exchanges. LUV courses place a strong emphasis on collaboration, conversation, and comprehension, as students create video messages and respond to each other’s videos. Designed for students ages 8-18, the program guarantees authentic, hands-on experiences. By matching students with peers of similar age, LUV creates fertile ground for the growth of meaningful relationships. The class-to-class pairing cultivates a sense of community, amplifying the impact of telecollaboration.


Joy Palmer, a first-grade teacher from Mountain Brook Elementary School, has seen firsthand the impact a global collaboration project has had on her students. Her class participated in the Global Sound Artists virtual exchange, in which students in her class collaborated with peers in Argentina and learned about sound, music, and instruments through hands-on investigations and experiments. “This partnership has been invaluable for my students. They are so engaged and excited to learn about different cultures. This week, they enjoyed making instruments and learning about another country. Some students said it was their ‘highlight of the week.’ They cannot wait to see how our partner classroom made their instruments, how they are decorated, etc.”



Telecollaboration is a gateway to expanding horizons, fostering global connections, and nurturing essential skills for students’ future success. By embracing this powerful educational tool, we empower our students to become compassionate, globally minded citizens ready to navigate an ever-changing world.


Gosia Jaros-White, MA is the director of sales and marketing at Language Testing International. She holds a master’s degree in applied linguistics and is passionate about language and language education. As a bilingual marketer and former English as a Second Language teacher, she recognises the power of multilingualism and advocates for language education in the U.S.

Every Teacher is a Learner

Every Teacher is a Learner


Isabelle Wolfe
Language Teacher, International School Aberdeen


Is a teacher born or made? There is no doubt that talent is essential to be an effective teacher. However, the will to become better as a teacher is a core competency that every teacher should strive to. As John Hattie points out, “We say to students you’ve got to come to school because that is where you learn – surely the same applies to teachers”.


All teachers enter the profession with a teaching qualification. However, is a qualified teacher good enough to be effective and have an impact on students’ attainment? According to the research by Hamre in 2005, students taught by the most effective teacher in a group of 50 teachers learn in six months what those taught by the average teacher learn in a year. Students taught by the least effective teacher in that group of 50 teachers will take two years to achieve the same learning. And even more interestingly, in the classroom of the most effective teachers, students from disadvantaged backgrounds learn at the same rate as those from advantaged backgrounds.


There seems to be clear evidence that highly effective teachers have a strong impact on students’ learning. However initial teacher training programs have very little, if any,  effects on students’ achievements. As Dylan William points out in his paper “Keeping Learning on Track”, teachers are very often creatures of habit, partly because they simply do not have the time to reflect on their practices and partly because these teachers simply do not see the need to change even though it is proven that significant improvements in student achievement would be possible with changes in teachers’ classroom practices.


There seems to be two obvious solutions that would solve the issue. Either mediocre teachers’ contracts are terminated and they are replaced with good teachers or teacher training becomes more rigorous in order to make sure good teachers are qualified. However, in the first instance, terminating contracts or putting average teachers on performance tracks costs money to the school and to the society as a whole. In the second option of introducing a more rigorous selection into teachers’ training, this process could entail a shortage of teachers in the medium term.


There is then a third solution. As Dylan Willam says, schools should adopt the “Love the ones you’re with” strategy. Schools should provide professional development to all teachers so that the mediocre ones become good and the good ones become excellent. Improving practice is not a natural process. If it was, the most experienced teachers in terms of years of experience would then be the most effective. This is not necessarily the case.


It is often assumed that teachers, in order to get better, should develop the aspects of the practices that they are the weakest in. However, as Dylan William remarks in his paper “Keeping Learning on Track”, teachers should actually become more expert in the areas that they are already very good at.


As Harry Fletcher-Wood and Zucolloin demonstrate in their research in 2019 there is evidence that professional development has a positive impact on pupils’ attainment. However, surprisingly, we should not underestimate that research based professional development can actually also have a counterproductive effect on students’ achievements. Brown and Campione referred to this process as lethal mutation, the fact that teachers adapt evidence-based teaching. As a consequence, teachers transform them into such modified approaches that they actually do not reflect what the research was pointing at in the first place. In extreme cases, the evidence-based approaches are so modified that they have a reverse effect on students’ attainment, hence the term “lethal mutation”.


How to avoid this pitfall? Kate Jones and Dylan William identify three different methods to do so in their paper ”Lethal mutations and how to avoid them”. Firstly, teachers should understand the evidence behind the research and develop dialogues with their colleagues in order to share experiences rather than applying a set of instructions. Secondly, it is essential not to implement too many techniques and research-based approaches too quickly. In short, teachers should not go too fast too furious but instead, work things through slowly and measure the impact a small change in their practices can have on their students’ achievements. Finally, not all research based approaches work in all classrooms. Having the perspective of various parameters such as the subject taught, the age of the students, the school context and so on will also make sure lethal mutations do not take place.


To be effective, according to Harry Fletcher-Wood, professional development should be collaborative, subject-based, practice-based  and sustainable. The most effective professional development is specific to the subject rather than being school-wide. The active ingredient of professional development should be its impact on students’ learning and not just in the short term and the limitations of a classroom. Education plays a vital part in our society and economy. Better education leads to longer and healthier lives. The causality between education and economy cannot be ignored and, in that sense, teachers have a societal responsibility.  Hanushek and Kimko, in their research paper called “The contribution of education to economic growth”, report “that it is not merely years of schooling but the quality of schooling that has a significant relationship with economic growth”.


In conclusion, professional development is a source of enrichment and should be taking place for all teachers, as well as being carefully monitored and evaluated. However, there is a risk that too much autonomy for the teacher in adapting evidence-based approaches could lead to a counterproductive effect on students’ achievements.




Isabelle Wolfe is the Language Subject Leader at the International School Aberdeen.  She teaches French in Middle and High school as well as the French Mother Tongue programme to our French native students. Prior to teaching at ISA, Isabelle taught in England, Australia, and Egypt.




“The contribution of education to economic growth.” GOV.UK, https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/media/5b9b87f340f0b67896977bae/K4D_HDR_The_Contribution_of_Education_to_Economic_Growth_Final.pdf. Accessed 9 April 2023.

“ERIC – ED615913 – Effective Professional Development. Guidance Report, Education Endowment Foundation, 2021-Oct-8.” ERIC, 8 October 2021, https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED615913. Accessed 6 April 2023.

Fletcher, Harry. “What makes professional development effective? – Improving Teaching.” Improving Teaching, 1 June 2020, https://improvingteaching.co.uk/2020/06/01/what-makes-professional-development-effective/. Accessed 6 April 2023.

“Hamre, B. K., & Pianta, R. C. (2005). Can Instructional and Emotional Support in the First-Grade Classroom Make a Difference for Children at Risk of School Failure Child Development, 76, 949-967. – References.” Scientific Research Publishing, https://www.scirp.org/(S(lz5mqp453edsnp55rrgjct55))/reference/ReferencesPapers.aspx?ReferenceID=1890767. Accessed 31 March 2023.

Hanushek, Eric A., and Finis Welch. “TEACHER QUALITY.” Eric A. Hanushek, http://hanushek.stanford.edu/sites/default/files/publications/Hanushek%2BRivkin%202006%20HbEEdu%202.pdf. Accessed 31 March 2023.

Jones, Kate. “Lethal mutations in education and how to prevent them.” Evidence Based Education, 13 October 2022, https://evidencebased.education/lethal-mutations-in-education-and-how-to-prevent-them/. Accessed 6 April 2023.

“PD: John Hattie helps focus on key concerns.” SSAT, 3 March 2017, https://www.ssatuk.co.uk/blog/pd-john-hattie-helps-focus-on-key-concerns/. Accessed 31 March 2023.

Rice, Damien, and Matt Galbraith. “.,.” ., – YouTube, 16 November 2008, https://psycnet.apa.org/record/1997-97115-011. Accessed 6 April 2023.

“Teacher learning: The key to improving the world!” Dylan Wiliam, https://www.dylanwiliam.org/Dylan_Wiliams_website/Presentations_files/2016-12-03%20Google%20Education%20on%20Air%20talk.pptx. Accessed 31 March 2023.

Waack, Sebastian. “Hattie effect size list – 256 Influences Related To Achievement.” Visible Learning, 27 October 2015, https://visible-learning.org/hattie-ranking-influences-effect-sizes-learning-achievement/. Accessed 31 March 2023.

“Was (Not Was) – Somewhere In America There’s A Street Named After My Dad.” YouTube, 10 May 2017, https://d2tic4wvo1iusb.cloudfront.net/documents/pages/Teacher-professional-development.pdf?v=1680210207. Accessed 31 March 2023.

“Hamre, B. K., & Pianta, R. C. (2005). Can Instructional and Emotional Support in the First-Grade Classroom Make a Difference for Children at Risk of School Failure Child Development, 76, 949-967. – References.” Scientific Research Publishing, https://www.scirp.org/(S(lz5mqp453edsnp55rrgjct55))/reference/ReferencesPapers.aspx?ReferenceID=1890767. Accessed 31 March 2023.

Hanushek, Eric A., and Finis Welch. “TEACHER QUALITY.” Eric A. Hanushek, http://hanushek.stanford.edu/sites/default/files/publications/Hanushek%2BRivkin%202006%20HbEEdu%202.pdf. Accessed 31 March 2023.

“PD: John Hattie helps focus on key concerns.” SSAT, 3 March 2017, https://www.ssatuk.co.uk/blog/pd-john-hattie-helps-focus-on-key-concerns/. Accessed 31 March 2023.

“Teacher learning: The key to improving the world!” Dylan Wiliam, https://www.dylanwiliam.org/Dylan_Wiliams_website/Presentations_files/2016-12-03%20Google%20Education%20on%20Air%20talk.pptx. Accessed 31 March 2023.

Waack, Sebastian. “Hattie effect size list – 256 Influences Related To Achievement.” Visible Learning, 27 October 2015, https://visible-learning.org/hattie-ranking-influences-effect-sizes-learning-achievement/. Accessed 31 March 2023.

Jones, Kate. “Lethal mutations in education and how to prevent them.” Evidence Based Education, 13 October 2022, https://evidencebased.education/lethal-mutations-in-education-and-how-to-prevent-them/. Accessed 6 April 2023.

“PD: John Hattie helps focus on key concerns.” SSAT, 3 March 2017, https://www.ssatuk.co.uk/blog/pd-john-hattie-helps-focus-on-key-concerns/. Accessed 31 March 2023.

Rice, Damien, and Matt Galbraith. “.,.” ., – YouTube, 16 November 2008, https://psycnet.apa.org/record/1997-97115-011. Accessed 6 April 2023.

“Teacher learning: The key to improving the world!” Dylan Wiliam, https://www.dylanwiliam.org/Dylan_Wiliams_website/Presentations_files/2016-12-03%20Google%20Education%20on%20Air%20talk.pptx. Accessed 31 March 2023.

Waack, Sebastian. “Hattie effect size list – 256 Influences Related To Achievement.” Visible Learning, 27 October 2015, https://visible-learning.org/hattie-ranking-influences-effect-sizes-learning-achievement/. Accessed 31 March 2023.

Scientific Research Publishing, https://www.scirp.org/(S(lz5mqp453edsnp55rrgjct55))/reference/ReferencesPapers.aspx?ReferenceID=1890767. Accessed 31 March 2023.

“ERIC – ED615913 – Effective Professional Development. Guidance Report, Education Endowment Foundation, 2021-Oct-8.” ERIC, 8 October 2021, https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED615913. Accessed 6 April 2023.


Creating Impact through Collaboration

Creating Impact through Collaboration

Anja Junginger, MYP Design Teacher / Strategic Development Manager, International School of Stuttgart


Defining and building a culture of inclusive high-impact learning has long been a strategic priority for us at the International School of Stuttgart. As with any ambitious and ongoing change process, we have had to clarify our thinking around our s of success, aligned with our guiding statements, and our theories of action for achieving this success. At the heart of our work is the importance of inclusion and learner-agency. Our challenge has been to create the right structures that will positively transform patterns of behaviour and attitudes to amplify our values. This change, we hope, will in turn allow for all learners to be participants in creating a space that enables a visible, collaborative, self-directed learning culture where all can grow, and are seen and heard in the process.


The Program

There are many ways to achieve these aims, however one that we are implementing and evaluating this year is the ISS Teacher Residency Program. The program aims to provide an opportunity for aspiring educators, our Residents, to grow and develop as IB teachers within a collaborative experience dedicated to their professional growth and evidenced through student learning.  Experienced Mentor Teachers support this development not only as guides and coaches, but also as learners themselves. This is aligned with our developing strategic approach to professional learning and building a ‘Coaching Culture’. The program is rooted in the principles of adult learning, the IB Standards and Practices, and the NEASC ACE Learning Principles for all learners, as well as guided by the Learning Forward Standards for Professional Learning.

The Program is intended to inspire, support, and challenge both a diverse group of young professionals advancing on their career path, as well as the ISS Mentor Teachers who collaborate with them.  Our hope is that by enacting this learner-centered and job-embedded form of professional learning that we can lay the seeds for a culture of collaboration and self-directed learning for all learners at ISS. The program currently supports eight  Residents, eight Mentor Teachers, and two coordinators. Our aim is that these 18 educators will begin to create patterns of motivation and energy, clarity of purpose, and growth mindsets inspired by action research within their teams. This will ideally create an amplifying feedback loop.


Our Findings

Although only six months into the program, we have gathered evaluative feedback so that we can iterate improvements into the 2023-24 structure . We used several evaluation methods including surveys, collaborative brainstorming, and Focus Group sessions with the Residents, their mentor teachers, and school leaders. First, we wanted to find out if our success criteria were being met, for which we used the survey, asking participants to rate their agreement with the success criteria statements.

  • Residents express satisfaction with the ways in which they are treated and included as members of the ISS community:
    Average rating 4.4 out of 5
  • Residents can incorporate their prior knowledge into the program to aid and extend their learning:
    Average rating 4.6 out of 5
  • Residents have opportunity to collaborate based on their strengths and abilities:
    Average rating 4.6 out of 5
  • Feedback is used to support learning, in accordance with IB philosophy:
    Average rating 4.2 out of 5
  • The program is a holistic and coherent learning experience for residents in accordance with the principles of adult learning:
    Average rating 4.3 out of 5 for Mentor Teachers | Average rating 4.0 out of 5 for Residents
  • Residents can explore their personal interests and ideas and set meaningful learning goals:
    Average rating 4.40 out of 5
  • Mentors have opportunity to share their strengths and abilities:
    Finding: 4.67 out of 5
  • Mentors can describe their own professional growth because of program involvement.


Residents and mentor teachers


Some examples of what was said:

  • It’s made me more aware of my own practices and it’s challenged me to be a better teacher since I have to model that.
  • It has given me the experience to have/handle difficult conversations and made me focus on solution-based conversations.
  • It has required me to reflect on my own practices, listen and learn about new ones and perspectives, and apply them accordingly.
  • It has been a useful experience to stop and consider why I do things the way I do. It has provided new motivation to re-engage with research in education and to try some new things.

Then we also asked all groups to give us two stars and a wish. A key theme that arose can be seen in these responses:

  • Perhaps clearer expectations of what the teacher’s role is. The freedom is nice but extra guidance beforehand would go a long way in setting out roles and responsibilities.
  • Clearer expectations of the outcome of the program, possibility of residents working with more than one mentor.
  • The expectations need to be agreed and clear for everyone involved / avoid mixed messages (or perception thereof). Maybe even a job description now for the resident and one for the mentor?

As well as:

  • Make the residents and mentors more visible and enable them to contribute more to the school as a whole.
  • Communicate the program more transparently.

Another important aspect that we were curious about was what impact Mentor Teachers thought the Resident Program was having on student learning within their classrooms. Their responses included:

  • The students benefit from another educator, from an additional skillset and from another caring adult.
  • Students adapt to the circumstances put forth in the classroom and see that a teacher residency and the class teacher are both approachable and inspire, challenge and support each and every student.
  • Very positive. The students benefit from a male and female homeroom teacher – they see and respect the resident as a teacher and his relationships with both students and parents are excellent.
  • Time assigned to individual students is priceless, huge advantage for them, there are two of us at any given time. We can differentiate/individualise their learning.


Residents with students


What we have learned

We were happy to see the positive impact that the program is already having on attitudes and skills across the program participants. It was also inspiring and motivating to participate in the feedback and brainstorming sessions. These helped us to think about ways to strengthen the program for even greater impact. The new ideas that the feedback generated included:

  • Develop a clear mission for the program and better define the expected impacts
  • Make more use of the program to support all participants in developing their intercultural competency and international-mindedness
  • Clearer guidance for Mentor Teachers about expectations for observation and feedback
  • More opportunities for Mentor Teachers to share and develop their coaching skills
  • More transparency and communication of the program in the community
  • More touchpoints across the organisation with the program in order to increase impact
  • Clearer guidance on how Residents evidence their learning and progress towards goals


Our next steps

As we are continually working on developing and diversifying the program using a solution-focused design process, this feedback has been immeasurably helpful. Our first action has been to move towards a mission-driven goal, which is to diversify the program so that a greater focus can be put on promoting intercultural understanding. For the 2023-24 cohort we have been lucky to hire Residents from Bosnia, Kenya, the US, Germany, Canada, and Colombia. In line with this, we are developing a program mission rooted in developing intercultural understanding and learning impact. We plan to make the ECIS Global Perspectives courses and the Preparing for International Teaching Certificate modules a core part of our professional learning strategy.

Our next goal is to bolster the role of the Mentor Teacher through clearer support materials and professional growth opportunities within the school. Currently they receive ECIS MLC courses, but we want to embed this work more within the school and create more opportunities for coming together as a professional learning community. We believe that Mentor Teachers will benefit from reflection, sharing, and action research related to their own development as coaches, as well as their development as middle leaders. We also want them to have better guidance on how to observe and give feedback on learning.

For the Residents, we want to continue to emphasise the focus on goal setting and evidencing learning. It is an area to strengthen and be more explicit about. The power of how we document and monitor student learning can be highlighted as we encourage our Residents, and their Mentor Teachers, to focus on this as a vehicle to document and monitor their own growth as educators. We also want our residents to experience being in different classrooms as observers to expand their experience and create more touchpoints for the program in the school.

Lastly, we will place a greater emphasis on making the program and the work of the participants more visible to the community as a whole. The excellent work that is happening should be amplified more so that others might also be inspired, and the ripple effect can be maximised.


A Vision for the Future

The importance of keeping educators in the profession cannot be underestimated. Most notably research findings such as those cited by Johnson et al in their paper Conditions that Support Early Career Teacher Resilience (Johnson, 2010) point us to the importance of creating better induction programs that support new teachers in developing the skills and dispositions to thrive and stay in the profession. Amongst other points made are that:

  • early career teachers confront a serious mismatch between their ‘idealistic motivations’ and the daily realities of classroom teaching (Abbott-Chapman, 2005); and that
  • too few early career teachers experience a quality induction program (Algozzine, Gretes, Queen & Cowan-Hathcock, 2007). Most are left to ‘sink or swim’ and learn by ‘trial and error’ in their first year of teaching (Howe, 2006).

Additionally, our mid-career teachers are another important group to focus on as we aim to create sustainability in the profession. Often the only way to progress and develop in schools is to move out of the classroom into administrative leadership positions. What if we could develop our most excellent practitioners as leaders but keep them in the classrooms where they can have the greatest impact on student learning and act as role models as ‘teachers of teaching’? School systems that excel, such as in Singapore take such an approach. “Singapore invests significantly in teachers as professional learning leaders with leadership roles that recognise excellence in professional learning, helping teachers to lead professional learning within their own schools and to align teacher needs and broader school objectives” (Jensen, 2013).

Our vision is that by bringing these two groups of impactful educators together to inspire, challenge, and support each other we can create more sustainability in the profession, develop greater intercultural understanding, and ultimately benefit students not only at the International School of Stuttgart but also in the schools that our Residents will teach in in the future.




“Beyond PD: Teacher Professional Learning in High-Performing Systems – NCEE.” https://ncee.org/book-report/beyond-pd-teacher-professional-learning-in-high-performing-systems/, Accessed 1 Jan. 1970.

Johnson, B., Down, B., Le Cornu, R., Peters, J., Sullivan, A., Pearce, J., & Hunter, J. (2010). Conditions that support early career teacher resilience. Refereed paper presented at ‘Teacher education for a sustainable future’, the annual conference of the Australian Teacher Education Association (ATEA), Townsville, 4–7 July.





Originally from Hamburg, Germany, Anja Junginger grew up in Virginia and experienced first-hand what it means to be an international student and EAL learner. She went on to get a Bachelor of Arts degree and Master of Teaching from the University of Virginia, and later, a Master of Educational Technology from Boise State University.

Anja began her career in education, and at ISS, in 1992. She started as a substitute teacher and has since been a primary school teacher, IB Primary Years coordinator, Early Years coordinator, librarian, technology integrator, and the Director of Digital Learning and Communications, all of which has provided her with the passion and perspective to help in steering the strategic developments of the school so that they have the greatest impact on learning. Inspired through the teaching of MYP Design, as well as her role as a school visitor and workshop leader for the IBO, Anja enjoys supporting collaborations, developing meaningful projects, and strategic thinking.

In addition to her professional connection to the school, both of her daughters are proud alumni of ISS, who experienced their entire K-12 education as ISS IB learners.


LIMIT – A Model for Understanding Healthy Teacher-Student Relationships

LIMIT – A Model for Understanding Healthy Teacher-Student Relationships

Dallin Bywater
School Counselor


Academic research underlines the importance of positive teacher-student relationships for creating an effective education environment (Hamre & Pianta, 2001; Baker, 2006).  While this truth is well known, the intricacies of how to develop and maintain a safe and positive relationship with students is less understood.  In fact, teacher behaviors that are intended to engender a supportive relationship may actually be risky and unhealthy in practice.


Experts have identified four risk factors for unhealthy teacher-student relationships (Wolowitz, 2006):


1. A relationship power imbalance

2. Poor boundary setting

3. Role confusion

4. Isolation


All four of these risk factors are common in international schools.  By understanding and providing training to educators to mitigate these risk factors, both teachers’ and students’ wellbeing will benefit.


The first risk, a power imbalance, is inherent in a teacher-student relationship.  All teacher-student relationships include a difference in power because the teacher is an adult in a position of power, and the students are children or adolescents.


The second risk, poor boundary setting, can easily occur due to the transitional nature of international living.  Professional boundaries are limits in a relationship that protect the space between the professionals power and the student’s vulnerability (NCSBN, 2018).  There are various personal factors that can increase the likelihood of poor boundary setting.  For example, when teachers or students move to a new school, naturally personal boundaries are loosened in order to get to know people, and make new friends.  Additionally, teachers and students often do not have extended family nearby, creating an emotional void that can lead them to look for emotional support from other relationships.


Third, role confusion, occurs when individuals are in an environment where personal and professional life frequently overlaps.  For an educator in a small international community, the lines between parent, educator, coach, family friend, and/or other identities can be blurred.  A teacher’s social circle and work circle have considerable overlap.  Blurred identities are a hallmark of role confusion.


Lastly, isolation is a risk factor because there are opportunities for one on one interaction in residence halls, classrooms, health or counseling centers, and other locations on campus.


Two further complications to teacher-student interactions include the complex cultural influences on social behavior at international schools, and the various training backgrounds of educators in the school.  Each culture has unspoken rules about appropriate social behavior.  An international community may contain a spectrum of high and low contact cultures, and high and low context cultures which impact social behavior (Bywater, 2021).  While this diversity is overall an unquestionable strength, it is also important to recognize that amalgamated cultural expectations about acceptable student-teacher interactions can be nebulous, and the training worldwide about teacher-student boundaries varies immensely.  Some teacher training programs include strong expectations and education about healthy boundaries, while in other programs it is nonexistent.  Culturally, the norm for interactions between teachers and students in some countries might be considered nurturing and positive, while teachers of a different cultural background may consider the interactions highly unethical.  A visible example would be physical boundaries – some cultures encourage touch between students and teachers, while others may forbid it due to concerns of allegations, and/or respect for student body autonomy.


Learning about and applying boundary-setting skills can reduce the risk factors described above.  Having awareness of the power imbalance between students and teachers, knowing how to set firm boundaries, and avoiding overlapping personal identities are all part of developing healthy relationships.  It is important that each school community clearly communicates to staff, students, and the community what is acceptable in regards to staff-student interactions, and what relationship-building behavior is appropriate.  Clarity in guidelines and policy supports the wellbeing of both staff and students, and prevents unnecessary confusion and potentially damaging allegations.


The LIMIT Model


The following model, aptly named LIMIT, has been developed to guide the discussion and training of education staff about healthy teacher-student relationships.


While the model described below may appear to be directed at teachers, the information applies to all school staff and can be used accordingly.  The recommendations provided are generally applicable, however, what is appropriate for your school community may be different depending on the culture of the school and country laws and norms where you reside.




M – CoMmunication

I Identities/Roles

TTime and Touch




Location refers to the places that an educator’s interactions with students occur.  Interactions with students should be viewable by others.  A few other recommendations include:

  • Do not allow students or their parents parents to be in your home.
  • Do not go into a student’s home.
  • Avoid weekend social locations (e.g. clubs and bars) where students might be present.
  • Avoid locations where you may be alone with a student.




Internet refers to communication done over devices – social media, texting, and other mobile phone services to name a few.  Some professionals estimate that around 90 percent of inappropriate teacher-student relationships start through texting or social media (Millweard, 2017).

  • Interactions with students online should be done on school platforms
  • Online interactions should reflect the same language and behavior that you would use in person
  • Students should not be added by teachers as Facebook friends, or on any other social media platform.
  • Set professional limits on when, how, and on what platform you will communicate with parents and students.
  • Photos of students should not be posted on your social media accounts
  • School guidelines should limit student photo taking and video recording for specific learning purposes, and delineate proper storage and destruction of these files.




Communication includes the content and connotations of words used with students.

  • Avoid making any comments about a student’s body.
  • Be aware of what personal information you disclose. For example, students do not need to know where you live or what is happening in your romantic relationships.  Any personal disclosures should be purposeful and meet the needs of students.
  • Students should be asked to call you by a culturally appropriate, respectful title. In many cultures, addressing you solely by your first name, nickname, or name that your friends call you can imply that your relationship is something more than teacher-student.
  • Maintain confidentiality of all student and staff records (including health, disciplinary, academic, etc.).




Teachers must maintain their identity as a teacher and avoid mixing this identity with other personal identities at school.  A common way to conceptualize identities is wearing hats.  Each role identity is a hat.  Professional, balanced decisions and healthy relationships are best accomplished when a person avoids wearing multiple hats at the same time.  Misunderstandings occur when multiple hats are worn together.  This principle can be particularly challenging for teachers who have children in the school, because it is difficult to separate the roles of parent and teacher.

  • Always remember that you are the teacher, not a student’s parent or friend. Having a positive, supportive relationship is not the same as being friends.
  • Be aware of your overlapping role identities, and how they affect your professional relationships.
  • Wear one “hat” at a time whenever possible.
  • When interacting with students and other staff, ask yourself what role you are acting in. As a teacher?  A parent?  A friend?  Is it clear to the individual which role you are in?
  • If you feel a role conflict, excuse yourself from decision-making capacities related to the situation. For example, if you are the principal and your child has entered disciplinary procedures, you should excuse yourself from the proceedings.


Time and Touch


Time refers to the amount of time a teacher spends with a student.  Recommendations include:

  • Set limits on when students and parents should communicate with you (e.g. before 5pm).
  • Only meet with a student during work hours for academic-related purposes.
  • Avoid allowing a student to dominate your break and lunch hours.


Touch refers to any physical contact between a teacher and student.

  • Any touching should be viewable by others.
  • Consider the cultural expectations of touch, including how it could be perceived and received.
  • Context is important – a goodbye hug at the end of the school year is different from an unsolicited hug.
  • Examples of appropriate touch may be a handshake, high-five, or hand on the high back or shoulder. This can be culture-dependent.
  • Whenever possible, ask permission before touching (ex. “Can I put your hands on the proper place of the tennis racquet?”)


Practically every day teachers encounter situations where it is important to set boundaries with students.  In many cultures, adolescence is the time of testing and pushing boundaries, and it is the adult’s responsibility to set an appropriate boundary, and keep it.


The LIMIT model provides a simple way to begin school dialogue about professional relationships, and helps staff conceptualize appropriate behaviors.  Many recommendations appear to be common sense, but administrators cannot assume that teachers are clear about appropriate teacher-student behaviors.  The high turnover in international schools, diversity of cultural expectations, and variability in teacher training programs make boundary training an essential element of any international school professional development plan.


What Positive Teacher-Student Relationships Look Like


In addition to mitigating the risks of unhealthy teacher-student relationships, other strategies can contribute to creating healthy relationships.  Researchers generally agree that the following are qualities of healthy teacher-student relationships:

  • supportive, but not overly dependent
  • high and realistic expectations (Downey, 2008)
  • honest and trusting
  • strives to be conflict-free
  • teacher uses learner-centered practices
  • teacher encourages positive relationships among students
  • mutual respect, caring, and warmth (Birch & Ladd, 1997)


Some other ideas for developing positive teacher-student relationships can be found here:  https://www.apa.org/education-career/k12/relationships


Considerations for Administrators


When teachers have opportunities to understand and be empowered to set appropriate boundaries, it is an opportunity for self care, further benefitting the school environment.  Teachers need to know from administrators that they are expected to set healthy boundaries, and that their leadership team will support them in this process.  Imagine the relief that some teachers may feel if an administrator tells them they are not expected to read or answer emails past 5:00pm.


In addition to providing adequate training and support, administrators are responsible to monitor and give feedback to staff regarding boundaries.  Feedback is necessary when boundaries are loose.  Unhealthy and inappropriate relationships rarely occur suddenly – rather, boundaries are slowly relaxed over time until there is potential for the occurrence of completely inappropriate behavior.  The following can be warning signs of poor educator boundaries:


  • secret conduct
  • oversharing personal information with students
  • behavior showing favoritism (Feeney, Freeman, & Moravcik, 2020)
  • minimal separation between work and personal life
  • acting in a peer, friend, or parental role to students
  • dependency meeting a teacher’s need
  • repeated boundary crossing, even if it appears insignificant or harmless


International school administrators, counselors, and other support staff can use the LIMIT model to provide common language for learning about, discussing, and establishing healthy boundaries in teacher-student relationships.  This dialogue can extend past country lines and diverse education models.


At one international school, an hour of professional development time each year was dedicated to healthy boundary training.  The resulting discussions clarified the school’s expectations, shed light on cultural differences, and raised important questions that teachers had regarding their interactions with students.  The training also opened the door for yearlong dialogue with teachers and staff about boundaries.  All four risk factors of unhealthy relationships were brought to staff awareness with a short amount of formal dedicated time, and the guiding principles of healthy teacher-student relationships were reaffirmed in future informal conversations.


Prevention is paramount.  Organizations where boundaries are fully adhered to are likely the safest environments for children (Eastman & Rigg, 2017).  Targeted professional development and correcting initial loose boundaries may minimize the probability of teacher misconduct with students, where the resulting harm and tragedy has no bounds.




Baker, J. A. (2006). Contributions of teacher–child relationships to positive school adjustment during elementary school. Journal of School Psychology, 44, 211−229.


Birch, S. H., & Ladd, G. W. (1997). The teacher–child relationship and children’s early school adjustment. Journal of School Psychology, 35, 61−79.


Bywater, D. (2021).  Touch in International Primary Schools:  A Practical Approach with a Cultural Lens.  ECIS Insightful.


Downey, J.A. (2008). Recommendations for fostering educational resilience in the classroom. Preventing School Failure, 53, 56-63.


Eastman, A., & Rigg, K. (2017).  Safeguarding Children: dealing with low-level concerns about adults.  May 2017, www.farrer.co.uk/news-and-insights/safeguarding-children-dealing-with-low-level-concerns-about-adults/


Feeney, S., Freeman, N., & Moravcik, E. (2020).  Boundaries in Early Childhood Education.  Young Children, 75, No. 5.  https://www.naeyc.org/resources/pubs/yc/dec2020/professional-boundaries


Hamre, B., & Pianta, R. (2001). Early teacher–child relationships and the trajectory of children’s school outcomes through eighth grade. Child Development, 72, 625–638.


Millweard, Christy. “Fed up: Leaders Battling ‘Alarming Rate’ of Inappropriate Teacher-Student Relationships.” Kvue.com, 28 Apr. 2017, https://www.kvue.com/article/news/local/fed-up-leaders-battling-alarming-rate-of-inappropriate-teacher-student-relationships/269-434295513.

Wolowitz, David, Bluestein J., & Broe K. (2006).  Boundary Training in Schools, United Educators Roundtable Reference Materials, December 2006.




Dallin Bywater is an international school counselor on hiatus.  He has presented for parent and teacher workshops, and has published articles on a range of topics related to student mental health.


Creating a STEAM programme in your international school

Amanda Rose Serrano
Lincoln Community School

How can we as elementary teachers and generalists meet the challenges in our 21st century to help provide students with the skills they need in an ever-changing world?

This is the central question that I have explored for the last few years at Lincoln Community School (LCS) in Ghana as an elementary generalist on a mission.



My Story at Lincoln


Exploring interconnectedness with students and in the elementary school classroom is ideal because I cherish working with a relatively small group of students who I get to know well, while teaching all subjects. So, when I came to Ghana in 2020, the first school year that started in the pandemic, I knew I needed to be flexible – as does international teaching in general. Fortunately, Lincoln is an innovative school with a brand-new elementary school building that is designed with grade level pods where we could create whole new programmes.

“I have a background in the arts & design but I wanted a position as a classroom teacher because at heart, I am a generalist.”

The rooms and spaces at Lincoln are well-equipped for the programmes I was set to create. When you enter a LCS grade-level pod, you step into a huge room called The Hub with flexible seating, furniture, bookshelves on casters, and a projector that casts onto an entire wall. Even greater, both sides of the Hub are lined with windows that provide an unobscured view into four classroom spaces.



In these four spaces, there is a classroom teacher in each – including myself. Two of us are also specialists, I am an art specialist and the other is student support. All fourth grade students and teachers exist in one large group. Roles and duties are subdivided, but done so with a function in mind. This highly flexible grouping allows for new and exciting possibilities.

Given the flexible grouping of students, we as the fourth grade teachers ended up specializing in certain subjects. For me, I was very attracted to the innovation and laboratory approach to teaching and learning. It was exciting to drive my teaching with the design-thinking process, but it was also exhausting in the midst of a pandemic. My first school year was an interactive process where I found myself teaching mainly Math, Art and STEM.

Although I like those subjects, the generalist in me was missing the connections and holistic learning that come with teaching all the subjects. I felt limited and that I was not truly able to teach to my full strengths. Fortunately, the school was preparing to combine the Art and STEM programmes in elementary to become STEAM. Naturally, I was immediately drawn to this idea.


Design and STEAM serve our students in unexpected ways


STEAM prepares students how to approach problems thoughtfully and creatively. It encourages process, failure, resilience, and tenacity. “Fail fast, fail often” is a mantra of the maker movement. STEAM and Design helps students learn critical thinking and problem-solving in a way that nothing else can. It’s hands-on, it’s tangible, it appeals to our kids’ love of technology. Design thinking gives students that flexibility of mind to analyze a problem and come up with creative solutions, consulting with others and testing ideas, finding the best option, refining and implementing it.

While they learn it in Design, STEAM, and in makerspaces at school through building with Lego, perhaps creating an app or video game, woodworking, doing set design for a school production, or puppet-making, the fact is that Design Thinking is perhaps the best preparation we can give our students for the future; how to think creatively, navigate ideas, to try, fail & try again – as these are the skills that will carry our students forward.


Building a STEAM Programmes


STEAM is a new subject at LCS. We have two STEAM Labs, which are a kind of bridge or connecting point between the grade two and three Hubs and another between grade four and five. Our STEAM curriculum was something we chose to build from the ground up. Here, I was entrusted with the freedom to create our curriculum while focusing on making concept-based and ATL (approaches to learning) skill connections, rather than thematic units. This was great because it helped me find deeper learning opportunities, driven by process over product.


My guiding objectives in building the STEAM programmes then became two-fold:


1) Create balanced horizontal programmes for each grade level and a spiraling vertical curriculum from PreK through grade five.

2) Use design methods such as design thinking as a focus, rather than a lot of flashy kits and gadgets.

Planning and creating the curriculum began by defining what we wanted our STEAM programme to offer and how we would build our students’ skills to help them find a bridge to MYP Design. What areas of specialization do we want to offer when STEAM can encompass so much? Knowing that students (and parents) are excited about technology and robotics, I wanted to be sure to include coding and machines and mechanisms. Our students are often encouraged to make things out of recycled materials even in their classrooms so I wanted to include 3D thinking and cardboard. These were areas I especially wanted to spiral up through every grade level.

To get started, I made a spreadsheet with a tab for each grade level. At the beginning of the school year I referenced the school’s Programme of Inquiry (POI) and used that to populate my Working Copy of LCS STEAM Programme sheet. The columns include dates, STEAM unit title, Key Concepts, Related Concepts, the classroom’s Central Idea, and the STEAM Central Idea.

“I made it my goal to create more universal, concept-based central ideas that would be possible for specialists as well as classroom teachers to use to generate their own lines of inquiry, in order to meet content or subject area requirements.”

Next, I had a column to identify which STEAM elements I would be focused on and integrating in the unit (I aim for two per unit in order to keep it manageable and focused for students to make connections). There is another column for STEAM content/skill such as coding, algorithmic thinking, robotics, machines, makerspace, circuits, stop motion, etc. another column for kits or resources I knew we had available at school such as Makey Makey, Snap Circuits, Squishy Circuits, LEGO, WeDo 2.0, Scratch, etc. Finally, my last column was for resources such as books or websites that I might find helpful in developing that particular unit.

Brainstorming at the beginning of the year, I filled out as much as I could using the POI, highlighting the Key Concepts and Related Concepts that would be best for STEAM and tried to identify which unit might be the best for coding, makerspace, etc. for each grade level to ensure that I could start developing a spiraled curriculum. I made notations in the Resources, Kits, and STEAM elements column for anything that came to mind.

Then, I started unit planning using slide decks, which I then linked to the unit title in my spreadsheet. Of course, it has taken consistent work and development over the course of the whole school year to get all the units planned and some of the ideas I had written in my sheet have changed once it came time to design and plan those units in more detail.



Each unit has at least two items from STEAM identified. For example, our second grade unit about Balance included the E[ngineering] and the A[rt] from STEAM for special focus. We did many explorations giving hands on guided inquiry to learn about the center of mass as well as kinetic sculpture. All of this led up to the students designing and creating Alexander Calder inspired kinetic sculptures.

They learned how to manipulate wire, used hand tools such as pliers and wire cutters, and paper mache techniques in order to transform cardboard and other materials into shapes which they affixed and balanced on their mobile. It was so satisfying to see students let their imaginations take flight and sketch their ideas in their sketchbooks and then learn how to select and use the proper tool to make their project. They became independent, helped each other, and took great pride in their kinetic sculptures, which were displayed in-progress in the STEAM Lab and once completed moved to the elementary school lobby for the whole community to enjoy.



For the second objective, using design methods as a driving factor rather than kits, I felt this was important so that students develop both creative and critical thinking skills. When using kits, I prefer to use them as provocations or a kind of library for students to find out how things work. Students can use kits to further their learning if it helps them ask questions that help them transfer what they learned in order to actually make something themselves. I try to be careful to make the projects in our units open-ended so that when students leave the STEAM Lab they are outfitted with freedom, confidence, and understanding about how things work so they can think of their own ways to be creative and have the skills and knowledge necessary to make things.



Key features of the learning process of my units include; making prototypes, sketching ideas and plans. We use brainstorming, presenting in-progress work, talking about problems and questions with each other and sharing ideas and skills. This can take time, especially when we only have classes for 45 minutes, twice a week. At first, students wanted to do quick projects, something different every time they came to STEAM.

It has been a process to help them readjust their expectations and find the possibilities and satisfaction that comes from this kind of exploration, getting nervous or uncomfortable because their idea seems too hard, and then working through that with their classmates and teachers’ support to stretch and learn what they need in order to achieve what they have set out to do.


Conclusion – My Impressions


My STEAM units have a structure to how they are created, spiraled and communicated to colleagues. They are also underpinned by some fundamental concepts designed to push student thinking, encourage creativity with time dedicated to the design process. During the implementation of these units, we have seen evidence of students changing and growing not only in their understanding, but in the process in which they work and think about problems that they aim to solve.

I have been very fortunate to have such a supportive and well equipped school to build a STEAM programme for. My knowledge of Design Thinking, my efforts in planning and organization have helped me create a solid foundation for the programme. Through my situation and effort, I have managed to create a meaningful and rewarding STEAM programme for LCS.





Amanda is an International educator at Lincoln Community School. With over 10 years of classroom experience, she works on designing learning experiences that inspire students, opening portals and pathways for interdisciplinary connections and transference.  She also guides teacher candidates as an instructor and mentor in Moreland University’s Teacher Certification Programme.  Connect with her on Twitter @ASerranoEDU.


What do you think about the points raised in this article? We would love to hear what you think below.

Times are changing, let’s run with it and move forward again

Juliette van Eerdewijk, Chair of ECIS Leadership Special Interest Group
Head of School, International Primary School Khuzam


The world of education has rarely experienced a more dramatic push into the unknown as during the last two years, in which educators have been trying to educate the future generation during a pandemic. Educational systems were turned upside down as educators around the world were desperately trying to teach a traditional curriculum to students online. We were asking teaching staff to follow a curriculum that was designed for face-to-face interaction and using pedagogical approaches that suited daily physical presence in a school, and fit it in a distance learning capsule.


Reflecting back, some schools were forced to upgrade their access to technology whilst others were well prepared with technological equipment. There were teachers who were struggling to cope, working their way through the use of apps and online meeting tools, lacking the skills needed to deliver quality lessons, and reverting back to old-fashioned styles of teaching. Others blossomed into technological wizards, creating learning opportunities that would never have existed had it not been for enforced distance learning. As teachers and students learned to become more skilled at dealing with this challenge, the leaders in the school were pressed to make decisions on what staff and students could handle during these stressful and trying times.


Curricula were adapted, content was cut or shortened, staff training was put on hold, performance management might have been slowed down, etc. What we saw in some schools, was a cut back version of a traditional educational system and exams and pedagogical approaches that no longer worked effectively for the new situation. As some of us were waiting for things to return to normal, others were asking whether going back was what we really wanted.


Schools have been given two years of enforced research! We have moved into a position where we can now evaluate what has been happening during the pandemic to our provision. We can identify the pros and cons of distance learning, which will be different for schools according to their national or cultural setting, the type of school, the availability of resources etc. There is a lot out there that can drag us down and make us depressed about the situation we find ourselves in.


However, I do not believe this will help us get out of the rod of negativity. As leaders of our schools, I believe that we need to focus on the positives. We need to rediscover the passion that we have for our profession. Let’s celebrate what worked well for teachers, what worked well for students and what worked well for specific curriculum areas. All of us were forced to accelerate and upskill our approaches to learning, using the digital platform where students, curriculum and teachers met. As a result of this pandemic, educators became performers as they pre-recorded sessions of their subjects. There is a huge wealth of pre-recorded lessons out there now. What are we going to do with that? How are we going to use this in the future? How can we tap into the positives from the distance learning?


For two years, we slowed down, we learned to accept the uncertainty and we gave in to an attitude of waiting and watching and for some stagnation. Now we need leaders whand innovators. We have the perfect moment right in front of us. Let’s not waste it! The potential for apathy that was created by the slowing down and take us out of this dip and demonstrate leadership that inspires, encourages and stimulates growth again. It is time to stop the pause and start focusing on moving forward, to become risk takers and to protect staff, students, parents and caregivers, we now need to shift back into gear. I urge school leaders to take the lead and grasp the opportunity to truly make changes to the educational system.


As we start evaluating what worked well, we need to keep the following in mind:

What worked well for specific students?

Who were the students that blossomed in these circumstances?

What worked well for them and their situation?

Which students have we missed and how can they be truly included?

How can we use what we have learned, to improve and innovate our education now?


Questions we need to ask ourselves:

Do all students need to be in school every day?

How will what we have learned inform new ways of teaching the curriculum for meaningful learning?

How can we use the bank of resources to benefit the students in a face-to-face setting?

How might resources and accommodations change our teaching mindset and establish a culture of change?

How does student voice and choice shape opportunities for differentiated resources and learning approaches?

What are the small steps we can take to change?

What are our best hopes for teaching and learning in a truly inclusive setting?

What bold decisions should we consider?


So therefore, my questions are to all school leaders.


As leaders of international and national schools, what are we going to do with the positives that has come out of distance learning? Are we going to grab the opportunity and make the changes we need to make or continue as if nothing has happened?


We are now reaching the point where a different leadership is needed, leaders need to take charge of moving the school forward again. The time has come to recognise the great learning that has come from this unexpected world problem and using this as a springboard to initiate a dialogue to push for reforms. Educational reform is more than ever possible. Let us start the conversation amongst ourselves, to lead, to be brave and tackle the question: How will we use what we have learned to intentionally shape education to include all students, so they all benefit from the learning/teaching relationship?


Now is the time for our school leaders to take a stand and use this impetus to make the urgent changes needed in our curricula, in our approaches to teaching and learning, in our school systems. Let the student learning become the driver to instigate change.


Times are changing. Let’s be intentional in how we shape/drive this change.



Juliette van Eerdewijk, Chair of ECIS Leadership Special Interest Group
Head of School, International Primary School Khuzam




Abramson, A. (2021). Capturing the benefits of remote learning. American Psychological Association


Fullan, M. (2001). Leading in a culture of change. Sand Francisco: Jossey-Bass


Fullan, M. (2008). The six secrets of change. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass


Hazari, S. (2021). The benefits of Online learning during the pandemic. London College of Contemporary Arts


Li, C. & Lalani, F. (2020). The COVID-19 pandemic has changed education forever. This is how. World Economic Forum


MacBeath, J. & Dempster, N. (2009). Connecting leadership and learning. Abingdon: Routledge

Changes in maths pedagogy: Making maths accessible for all

Karen Morrison and Lisa Greenstein


According to Oxford University Press’ 2021 survey of maths educators, a massive 84% of teachers say they have changed how they teach maths in the last year or more. This situation has been exacerbated by the impact of the global pandemic, but maths pedagogy is continually shifting as learner needs and resources evolve. Here, we reflect on the changes in maths pedagogy over the last 10 years and explore how educators can now make maths more accessible for all.


Ten years ago, the buzzword in maths teaching was problem-solving. Teachers already had a sense of wanting to move away from drill and practice. They wanted to move towards giving students the tools to solve problems in creative ways, but there wasn’t a lot of commonly-used vocabulary around how to do that. This vocabulary issue was complicated further recently by the COVID-19 pandemic as 75% of educational professionals stated that school closures had impacted children’s understanding of mathematical language (Oxford University Press, 2021).


Some students struggle to visualise and communicate ideas in written or oral forms, and there are some students who don’t understand the task instructions (Lyttle, 2021). This lack of understanding is more profound with EAL students or those who are neruodiverse, such as with Attention-Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Therefore, there is a need to not only plan maths lessons, but the specific language within those lessons, so we say what is mathematically meaningful (Prescott et. al., 2020).


Today, we (teachers) have so much more awareness of what it means to think mathematically. We talk about questions with an open middle. We talk about exploring mistakes. We’ve come such a long way from agitating over whether kids could remember the 7 times table.


The biggest change in the way we approach maths now is the shift towards asking big, open-ended questions from the beginning – before we teach kids a given algorithm or formula. You don’t want to start off by telling them how to do something, and then ask them to do it. You want to start off by posing a question that they can genuinely grapple with.


Rather than simply focusing on questions and answers, it’s now important to have wider conversations about maths. For example, by asking learners to explain how they arrived at an answer and discuss this with them (Sylva et. Al 2020). We need to create opportunities for rich interactions that involve lasting activities where children work together to solve problems, giving learners the thinking time they need to develop their own ideas and discuss them openly (Williams, 2021).


Today, we need to pose questions which include mixed units, reasoning and thinking, justifying your answer, and solving a problem that can have different solutions – and yet it doesn’t seem frightening or off-putting. This allows for everyone to feel included and encourages them to share their ideas.


Teachers are talking about growth mindset more than ever, and embracing this attitude in classrooms is slowly becoming the norrm. A growth mindset, put simply, is the realisation that there is no such thing as “good at maths”.


Not knowing the answer is part of the learning process and in fact, research shows that the brain can only make new connections when it experiences challenge (Wathall,2021). The human brain has incredible plasticity and learning is a process of stretching ourselves through the struggle of doing something that seems difficult – impossible even – at first. Children learn that this sense of struggle is ok. That it’s fine (and necessary even) to find maths difficult. The difficulty is not a sign of failure; it’s a sign of learning.


In order to encourage a growth mindset in pupils, teachers must utilize inquiry-based learning to promote debate, problem-solving and critical thinking to help build understanding. Allowing learners to work through problems with their friends can also make them more engaged and help to remove any stigma about struggling. Furthermore, high-ceiling, low-threshold activities allow every learner to demonstrate what they can do, without worrying about what they can’t do (Wathall, 2021).


Put simply, “Individuals who believe their talents can be developed (through hard work, good strategies and input from others) have a growth mindset” (Dweck, 2016).


The interventions carried out with struggling students in disadvantaged communities have shown that a more flexible approach and questions that genuinely make students think increase engagement, and lead to improved academic performance (Boaler, 2020).


When educational authors develop a primary maths course for children, they are now thinking about how best to start every child (and level of learner) on a lifelong journey with maths. They cover traditional bases of number sense, sorting, measuring, identifying shapes. Making the link between numerals and quantity is still, and always will be, essential for young learners’ understanding and they need access to many opportunities to experience and explore this (Williams, 2021). But authors also celebrate exploration and investigation; developing a sense of playfulness and fun, as well as a willingness to struggle when things get tricky. These things are often the intention of today’s mathematical education authors – to introduce challenge and struggle.


Another wonderful aspect of developing maths content today is social media. Just following a few hashtags – #mathteachersofinstagram, #mathsadventure, #numberchat, or #iteachmath – can turn up such a wealth of information and knowledge.


Teachers are having conversations in these spaces on how to cultivate a growth mindset in the classroom (Wathall, 2021); they are sharing moments of challenge or success from their own classroom experience; educators are sharing online resources and conferences and courses. Social media has its detractors, but ten years ago, teachers just didn’t have access to all this wonderful shared knowledge and experience.


Maths teaching in international schools is continually changing. But now, more than ever, teachers are focused on challenging traditional approaches to teaching maths, by changing perceptions of it in order to build curiosity, joy, and wonder in order to celebrate growth mindset and reduce anxiety. Developing and practicing behaviours such as problem solving, collaboration, and resilience will only continue to gain importance and focus in the years to come (Neale, 2021).


Introducing Nelson Maths

International Education experts, Karen Morrison and Lisa Greenstein have combined their knowledge and experience in the creation of the new edition of Nelson Maths – a rigorous, whole-school programme for teaching and learning maths from early years through to the end of primary education, from Oxford University Press. Written for learners across the world, it enables all children to start and sustain a lifelong journey with maths. The new edition includes a brand-new look and feel, vocabulary support and activities that prompt engagement with the latest mathematical thinking, such as problem solving and growth mindset. Find out more about the new Nelson Maths at: www.oxfordprimary.com/nelsonmaths


Bibliography & further reading


Boaler, J. (2016) Mathematical Mindsets, San Francisco, Jossey-Bass.


Dweck, C. (2015). Carol Dweck revisits the growth mindset. Education Week, 35(5), 20-24.


Greenstein and Morrison. (2022) “Making maths accessible for all: Behind the scenes with our writers”. Oxford University press [blog article] via: https://educationblog.oup.com/international/nelson-behind-the-scenes [Accessed 18/02/22].


Lyttle, D. (2021) “Lessons from the pandemic: Putting our findings into practice”. [Oxford University Press: Online Article] via www.oxfordprimary.com/mathswhitepaper [Accessed 18/02/2022]


Mitra, S. (2012). Beyond the Hole in the Wall. Ted books.


Mitra, S., & Crawley, E. (2014). Effectiveness of self-organised learning by children: Gateshead experiments. Journal of Education and Human Development, 3(3), 79-88.


Oxford University Press. (2021) “Maths and the impact of Covid-19: survey of international teachers”, Maths survey of UK teachers, Oxford University Press 2021.


Oxford University Press. (2021) “Preparing for the future: Using curiosity and creativity to boost confidence in maths. A whitepaper for international educators”. [Whitepaper] via www.oxfordprimary.com/mathswhitepaper [Accessed 18/02/2022]


Rowland, T (2008). The purpose, design and use of examples in the teaching of elementary mathematics. Educational studies in mathematics 69/2, 149-163.


Williams, H. (2021) “Building solid foundations”. [Oxford University Press: Online Article] via www.oxfordprimary.com/mathswhitepaper [Accessed 18/02/2022]


Wathall, J. (2016). Concept-Based Mathematics: Teaching for Deep Understanding in Secondary Classrooms (1 edition). Thousan Oaks California, Corwin.


Wathall, J. (2021). “Develop a growth mindset”. [Oxford University Press: Online Article] via www.oxfordprimary.com/mathswhitepaper [Accessed 18/02/2022]


Watson, A. (2021). Care in Mathematics Education: Alternative Educational Spaces and Practices. Springer Nature.


Newsletter 101: A self-directed course for English Learners

Hatty Fryer Smith, Bilge Kalkavan, and Paul Magnuson


Veteran teacher, Hatty Fryer, is part of a group of teachers in an experimental program focusing first and foremost on transferable skills, e.g. collaboration and self-motivation. She creates room for students to practice these transferable skills by helping them create a school newsletter. The non-native English-speaking students are in US grades 8 through 10, with a range of language proficiency.


Hatty starts at the whiteboard, suggesting students break down their goals for the next newsletter into smaller steps to reach those goals. She asks her students to write these steps in bullet points using Google docs. Hatty leaves the board after a few minutes to speak with students individually about how they are planning to contribute to the next newsletter.


Bilge and Paul watch as Hatty speaks with the students. They notice the variety of topics the students are choosing to write about, from sports and video games to drug addiction and the LGBTQ+ community on campus. They also notice the numerous types of contributions students are planning: writing, interviewing, collecting art from students, collecting writing from students, talking to teachers in other classes, taking photos, and designing the pages.


This is an English writing course for non-native speakers, but in no way is the content limited to writing. Because the students are focused on an end product (with just a bit of the peer pressure that comes from publishing something for everyone else at the school), and because they have the freedom to determine both the end product and the work process themselves, the project does not seem contrived. Not only do they have to pull the newsletter together, they have to work on larger organizational issues, like balancing the complexity of the project with considerations for what is actually doable – and doable in what time frame. As students told us: Maybe we don’t have ideas so we have to think for ourselves, it’s hard to work by yourself without the teacher, and we have to find the things that we are going to do.


Their comments exemplify the goal of this class, and others like it in our Edge program’s set of elective courses. We are supporting student growth to greater self-agency. Along the way the students in this class are also very likely to improve their English writing skills.


Hatty had this to say:


Teaching an Edge class at Leysin American School (LAS) has caused me to examine my expectations and assumptions about students and learning in general. It brings into stark relief a point about learning that I, and perhaps other teachers, habitually lose sight of – namely, that the process is more valuable than the product.


In an Edge class, I am more conscious of myself than usual. I make an effort to step back and allow the students to get on with it because that’s the philosophy. When observing students I often think “Why would you do it that way when it would be so much better and quicker to do it this way?” It’s hard to resist that feeling after years of teaching students in a traditional way. But I have learned to keep quiet and to hope to be pleasantly surprised by the outcome.


About fifty percent of the time I am proud of the product. Typically, students work quite slowly without teacher assistance but do a fine job in the end.


The value of the process is clear: students are learning self-reliance. Sometimes the final product is great but completely different to what the student had talked about at the outset. In these cases learning is also clearly happening. When the teacher steps back, students have some space to discover what they are really interested in. Any interference from an authority, positive or negative, might stop them from changing tack and following their own instincts. Students learn to have self-confidence and to trust their own instincts and decision-making.


But I would say that about fifty percent of the students produce a final product that is disappointing. Do these students also benefit from the Edge class experience?


I haven’t yet experienced a student who didn’t submit any work at all, because although students are not graded and cannot fail, there is something about letting the group down that forces them to finish something, even if of poor quality and at the last minute. A common scenario, for example, is that a student starts a project with enthusiasm and then gets bored of it as the classes go on.


But I think that even if the student is not proud of their final product, they know that it is due to their own lack of work, making the process a valuable experience. Here is where my skills as a teacher are fully in play, because feedback to the student needs to be managed carefully. There must be a balance through helping the student learn through the experience of producing poor quality work so that the student sees the experience as a chance to learn rather than a failure.  This is tricky since students have been trained most of their academic lives to avoid failure and they may be fighting feelings of shame or constructing all sorts of defense mechanisms.


If I as the teacher do not address what’s happened, they may withdraw (literally or figuratively) from the class – or they may decide that I really do not care if their final product is of poor quality.  They will say they didn’t get the help they needed or that the course is ‘too easy’. But if they see that the teacher is non-judgemental and actually interested in ‘what went wrong’ – and genuinely not concerned about this particular final product – they will pick themselves up and try again.


Bilge and Paul leave the class to discuss the experience. Bilge noticed some of Hatty’s specific moves to keep the students in charge. To the student with an idea for the newsletter’s cover page, Hatty says: “Why don’t you ask the class if you can be the one to do the front page?” Hatty offered a strategy to move forward with the work – but didn’t use her status in the class to determine the course of the work. To the student who asked, “Miss, do we have to have the contents on the front page?” Hatty answered, “No. You do whatever you want.” It’s the process that counts, after all. Hatty’s approach gives important pedagogical insights for teaching contexts and reminds us to be facilitators for our students rather than a dominant teacher figure. From topic selection to design, Hatty allows her students to make their own decisions as autonomous learners. During teacher-student interaction, she hesitates imposing her opinion and assists them with her questions to help them to set their own goals and design their own work.


Paul smiled as he recounted what another student told him. “We don’t have to think about the grade. I think it’s super good. No grades is the best point [of the class]. It’s a workplace environment. You do it by yourself. If there’s a mistake … you can try something else. We can learn.


Exactly. We can learn.


We would love to hear your thoughts – please share them below.



Hatty Fryer Smith graduated from university with a Masters in Contemporary Fiction and has taught EAL and English literature. Currently she teaches a Creative Writing class in which seven students from different nationalities and abilities in English come together three times a week to create a magazine for the school.


Bilge Kalkavan is in the Faculty of Education at Hasan Kalyoncu University. She has a PhD in Language and Communication, an MA in Applied Linguistics, and an MA in Business Administration. Her research interests include interaction studies, second language acquisition, language, culture, and communication. She visited Hatty’s class during her second stay at LAS as a visiting scholar.


Paul Magnuson is director of Educational Research at Leysin American School and Academic Development Specialist for Moreland University. He has a PhD in Curriculum & Instruction and an interest in furthering student agency.


LAST but not least: The adaptive work of the teacher

Jonathan Butcher (Primary School PYP Principal, Berlin Brandenburg International School)
In dialogue with Anne van Dam and Fiona Zinn


The adaptive work of the teacher is much to be admired. The acronym LAST – Looking ‘closely’ At Student Thinking, is the prerequisite to: conferring with a child, directing them to take their next steps, modelling strategies and techniques, and creating scaffolds. These are just some of the powerful impacts on learning a teacher has and one would hope that these are not only worthwhile engagements for learning, but also joyful and rewarding experiences for the teacher too.


Carlina Rinaldi, describes documentation as an act of caring, an act of love and interaction. It enacts careful observation, listening to both the voices and the silences, actions and inactions. It facilitates further questioning, so that we can better understand the learner, through what educators in Reggio Emilia refers to as a meaning making process. Documentation can come in many forms: still photography, video/ film, drawings/ writing, or perhaps listening in on self talk/ peer-to-peer exchange/ group discourse.


One should always ask why we are documenting. I believe it has to be learning centric, not driven by the documenter’s guilt, or purpose-lose admin request, or parent pressure to portfolio. The process of documenting learning brings us closer to the learner themselves. In a webinar last year Fiona Zinn reminds us not to interrupt, but to consider – Listening with all senses, to observe, to see how the moments unfold.


Last year I created this documentation panel (Andrea Morgan was the teacher, and images from Aisha Kristiansen). My aim was to create, and model a documentation panel with multiple audiences in mind. The written narrative provides the context for any reader and photograph galleries for our early readers. The educator’s quote qualifies the approach used, together with the pedagog’s metacognition for professional insight of best practice. Publishing the student’s individual expressions advocates for the learner.



This panel work inspired Alanna Mazzon, an exceptions teacher, to work with me in creating an ebook using Apple Pages, following the same layering described above. The ebook allowed the documentation to unfold, be shared electronically, and to contain the multimedia clips that set a deeper context, allowing the reader to experience more.


Above: Excerpt from Alanna’s eBook on Apple’s Pages.



“Documentation is a highly personal strategy, we must take time to explore strategies, to refine our listening and to come to know both documentation and the processes of learning with depth and complexity. Indeed, time, collaboration and reflection are essential travelling companions in the journey toward becoming a better documenter.” Fiona Zinn


“Documentation is such a complex process, so rich in the possibilities it affords to create reflective collaborative learning communities who think deeply about their work alongside young children.” Anne van Dam


In the process of sharing my work, and writing this article, I was fortunate to engage in dialogue with both Anne van Dam and Fiona Zinn, two educators I highly admire. In my role as Principal, I felt responsible to promote best practice amongst my staff, to celebrate our learning and to bring parents on our journey and gain confidence and trust.


However, they point out that whilst the schematic patterns and episodes of childrens play is important, it is their personal belief was that the function of documentation is not to understand the schema of the children or to record what they have ‘done’, but rather “documentation offers something much more valuable:


“the chance to meet and tease apart the ongoing construction of ideas that children’s learning processes bring forth in relationship with others. It offers us a way to see ‘inside’ the learning process and understand the complex strategies children and adults have as they build new knowledge together rather than record ‘what happened’ or ‘what resulted’ at the end or ‘what type of play’ this might be. Documentation is about seeking to understand how (not what) learning happens.”  Fiona Zinn


“This process brings us closer to the learner. It is a disposition of research, a curiosity to learn more about learning. It offers us material that we can use to think about how we can support students with their working theories, deepening and adapting their ideas.” Anne van Dam


Our reasons for documenting must be clear and understood by all. Our efforts should be child centric – front and centre.


Looking At Student Thinking (LAST) is a Project Zero routine. Earlier I added the word ‘closely’, borrowing the term from Agency by Design, because it requires a level of sensitivity. In earlier conversations in 2021, Anne Van Dam challenged my thinking by asking me to consider the ethics of listening in. She recalls Carla Rinaldi ‘you are not documenting what has happened, you are documenting your point of view’. Through research I began to consider: Are we quoting the child in the right context? Do we fully understand what we are observing? Does the child consent to our listening in? Have we checked in with the learner and asked for their point of view? An opportunity to model how we respect the rights of a child, to be truly curious in the process. Intentionally I draw parallels to AdD and JusticexDesign (JxD), crediting Jaime Chao Mignano, power and empowerment, as indeed we are designers of content, curriculum and learning experiences, as well as the documenting that comes with this.


Capturing or collecting work samples gives us a volume of data to get to know the learner better, to reflect on how best to support them, and design next steps. I can’t think of an argument against this relational learning; teaching and learning is indeed complex, which is why the partnership between the child and adult is crucial.


Documentation is not exclusive to the work of Early Years, in fact I have tried to disseminate their practises throughout the school. The documentation gathered can ultimately provide compelling evidence of growth that may be reported out. But reporting alone shouldn’t drive documentation. The Harvard LAST protocol guides teachers to raise one another’s awareness, to describe the work, to speculate on the student’s thinking, to ask deeper questions, and discuss implications for teaching and learning. It informs teaching, compliments our conferencing and generates meaningful conversations. Not only have I always found this work valuable, I find it highly rewarding and enjoyable.


I would love to hear from you. What documentation practises work for you? How do you ensure your approach is ethical? Who are your audiences? What is the link between documentation and planning?


But if learning is the driver, I ask about your planning experience. Do you believe it is worthwhile? Is it joyful? One would hope so, and if not, I would suggest the team talked about that elephant in the room. Perhaps this deserves another article? Please share your thoughts below.



Rinaldi, Carlina. “The RELATIONSHIP Between DOCUMENTATION and ASSESSMENT.” Innovations: The Quarterly Periodical of the North American Reggio Emilia Alliance, NAREA, 2004, https://www.reggioalliance.org/downloads/relationship:rinaldi.pdf

LOOKING AT STUDENT THINKING PROTOCOL: Roles: Presenting Teacher, Facilitator, and Documenter (Optional). Cultures of Thinking Project, 2005 http://www.pz.harvard.edu/sites/default/files/LAST%2Bprotocol_New.pdf

Agency by Design (AbD), Project Zero http://www.agencybydesign.org/


Interested in reading more?

CONSTANT CONVERSATIONS – UNPACKING PEDAGOGY https://unpackingourpedagogy.blogspot.com/

Working with working theories: the teacher’s role:

Inquiring minds, meaningful responses: Children’s interests, inquiries, and working theories, Helen Hedges and Maria Cooper (The University of Auckland) in partnership with Daniel Lovatt, Trish Murphy, and Niky Spanhake (Small Kauri Early Childhood Education Centre) and Bianca Harper and Lindy Ashurst (Myers Park KiNZ Early Learning Centre) July 2014


Jonathan Butcher holds a M.Ed in International Education, and continues to learn how to maximise learning through meaningful projects. At a time where the world needs compassion, innovation, and action, he is committed to working with others to call for Education for Sustainable Development. Jonathan is the Primary School Principal at Berlin Brandenburg International School.


Fiona Zinn is an Education Consultant based in Hobart, Australia. Fiona collaborates with International Schools to re-imagine early years and primary pedagogy, curriculum and learning environments in response to contemporary theory and research. She has a keen interest in collaborating with teachers to develop a ‘shared pedagogy’ as an authentic reflection of their culture, community and context.


Anne van Dam is an educator and educational consultant with a passion for play as young children’s active, complex, vivacious meaning making process. She views documentation as a way to grow as educators as they dig deeper into the threads, ideas and connections underpinning these investigations.