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In-Service Day March 2021

IC Communications

IC was bustling on Friday with teachers participating in Zoom or face-to-face workshops during the In-Service day. Organized by the Educational Resources Center (ERC) and the Pedagogical Leadership Team, up to three In-Service days are held at IC every year to give a chance to teachers to catch up on the latest teaching methodologies, EdTech integration, or self-study for upcoming accreditation reports.

The workshops included: The action taken through interdisciplinary projects, vertical coordination meetings led by heads of subject coordinators, using the Danielson Framework to observe best practices, parent-student relations, and how to deal with problems.

The pre and elementary schools and IB-DP at the secondary school concentrated on the IB Program Evaluation Visit. Different committees were formed as part of the self-study process - crucial in a school's continual improvement. The evaluation visit is  held at least once every five years in preparation for IB re-authorization.

Both Ras Beirut and Ain Aar campuses were abuzz with these self-study sessions, which saw teachers in deep discussion, sharing their best practices, reflecting on them, and identifying the school's strengths, weaknesses, and growth potential.

"These workshops are an opportunity for all IC community members to engage in a reflective process to gain a deeper understanding of both the aspects of the PYP program that are being implemented effectively at IC and aspects that need further development," said Alain Gholam, the PYP coordinator in Ain Aar. "So basically, they support the whole learning community to develop the capacity to work strategically to ensure we are developing the IB program at IC, specifically the PYP."

As per IB bylaws, each IB world school is regularly evaluated to ensure that the standards and practices of its IB programs are being maintained. And thus, a considerable amount of time at IC is allocated to self-study.

"During some of the Program Evaluation Visit workshops, teachers and community members are engaged in planning the program development plan, which is about the ATLs (Approaches to Learning Skills)," explained IC's PYP coordinator in Ras Beirut, Layal Tayara. "They are discussing the importance of addressing the ATLs, why they're needed, and their impact on students. In addition, teachers have the opportunity to learn some more about the ATLs and investigate how different schools around the world are addressing and implementing them." 

But not all the In-Service workshops are teaching-related. Some addressed the teachers' and students' wellbeing. One such seminar found Embrace co-founder and president, Clinical Psychologist Mia Atwi '05 addressing about thirty teachers at the Imad Taher auditorium in Rockefeller Hall. The NGO aims to ensure that mental health and access to care are fundamental human rights. It recently launched the National Lifeline in Lebanon (1564) for Emotional Support and Suicide Prevention Hotline.

She was at IC to encourage teachers to express their emotions about the stress they may be experiencing as they juggle their daily teaching lives amid a dire economic crisis and pandemic.

"How are you doing?" she stated point-blank.

It is not easy, replied her listeners.  

"It's hard for me," said one teacher. "I am overwhelmed. There are so many financial problems at home because of the crisis. Then I come here, and I must face the everyday work problems. It's all too much."

But once at IC, she added, she has to leave all personal issues at the school's gate.

"We know that students' wellbeing comes first," said another. "But what about our mental wellbeing? We do not stop working. Our days' off' consist of grading and paperwork. And yet, the crisis and pandemic are inside our homes. It is not like before. It's become very stressful."

She paused. "I was told that it's ok to say, 'I am not ok.' Well, I am telling you: 'I am not ok.'"

As the therapy talks with Atwi continued, not too far away, in the Ali Ghandour Center, another kind of discussion was underway. The audience, this time, were the deans of students. This was led by Abir Abu Zaki, Youth Development Specialist at UNICEF, who explained the importance of equipping Lebanese youth with positive life skills to survive the country's current situation. She displayed the various modules for positive learning on the active board. Included were topics such as leadership criteria, the qualities of a teacher, the impact of emotions, identifying our strengths and weaknesses, knowing the 'other' and the ability to work with people, understanding the win-lose negotiations, identifying collective strength, and self-exploration on an individual and collective level.

"IC students have to become more aware of what's happening around them," said Abu Zaki. "They must step out of their bubble and understand their own strength and realize their potential."

The reason behind the meeting was to emphasize IC's mission in having the responsibility in empowering learners of today to become global citizen leaders of tomorrow.

"I don't feel enough emphasis is being given to the development of the leader component in our curriculum," said Vice President of Academic Affairs, Paula Mufarrij, who was attending the session. "And so we are getting trained to add the leadership component in our advisory programs. This will teach students to know themselves and others, understand perceptions, and become leaders able to impact society positively. They must learn to serve."

Meanwhile, about twenty elementary and preschool teachers were gathered in a circle singing out the lyrics of a song they had just written in the elementary school. They were apparently on a break – and thought of coming up with a song about the ATLs). It went like this:

Support children's agency through ATLs

The 100 languages  of agency through ATLs

Agency researchers

Active participants

Authentic learning

التعليم الممتاز

Learner identity

صفوف مفتوحة

Environment d’apprentissage

Learning styles

Experts/Facilitators/Human Resources

Authentic Learning

Feedback and forward

Critical thinking

Curiosité

Motive

Song over, they all reverted to their computers to continue working on their self-study.

                                                                                    Written by Reem Haddad      Photos by Dory Khayatt