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Home-Based Learning: A Remarkable Experience. Interview with Ryan Witt, Head of School, Tianjin International School (TIS)

Home-Based Learning: A Remarkable Experience

Interview with Ryan Witt

Head of School

Tianjin International School (TIS)

涓撹 Ryan Witt

澶╂触鎬濋攼澶栫睄浜哄憳瀛愬コ瀛︽牎锛圱IS锛夋绘牎闀

TP 202003 01The Tianjin International School (TIS) is a private international school in Hexi District that provides a well-rounded, high-quality education for the children of foreign passport holders living in the city.

 

The TIS program provides for these children from the age of three through to Grade 12. Its campus has state-of-the-art facilities, but their most important and valuable asset is their exceptionally qualified and friendly staff, led by Ryan Witt, Head of School since 2019. We had the pleasure and honour to interact with Ryan and get to know him as a great education leader and an extraordinary person.

 

澶╂触鎬濋攼澶栫睄浜哄憳瀛愬コ瀛︽牎鎴愮珛浜1985骞达紝浣嶄簬娌宠タ鍖烘硹姘撮亾锛屽鏍℃嫢鏈夊厛杩涚殑璁炬柦锛屾嫑鏀朵粠骞煎効鍥熀纭鐝埌楂樹腑鐝鐢燂紝涓哄眳浣忓湪澶╂触鐨勫绫嶄汉澹瓙濂充滑鎻愪緵鍏ㄩ潰鑰岄珮璐ㄩ噺鐨勬暀鑲诧紝闅跺睘浜庡浗闄呭鏍¤仈鐩燂紙iSC锛夈俁yan Witt鍏堢敓鏉ヨ嚜缇庡浗锛屼簬2019骞村氨浠籘IS鎬绘牎闀裤傛垜浠緢鑽e垢鑳介噰璁垮埌Ryan鍏堢敓骞舵繁鍏ヤ簡瑙d粬瀵规暀鑲茬殑瑙佽В銆

5W3A6669You state in your welcome letter that 鈥淭he education is rigorous, but the opportunities and experiences at our school are incredibly rich and give the students that start here the ability to go anywhere.鈥 Could you expand on that a little?

 

The foundations of the American education system are really designed for the purpose of allowing choice in students鈥 education, and so we align all of our education standards to an American system of thought. Students can use the skills that they will develop here to go to any country and do well in any university in whatever field they desire.

 

We're really proud of the quality of education that we provide our students. We really demand our students do well, and get a lot out of them. It's difficult at times, there鈥檚 struggle but we build mechanisms to support students with various learning needs, and we've had a lot of success over many years, and I鈥檓 really proud of that.

 

Could you tell us some of the highlights of your experience since you became Head of School in 2019?

 

The coronavirus certainly took us all by surprise! But there's been some great events that we've held, whether it be Fine Arts performances, International Day that we had this past fall, or China day we had in January. These events celebrate our school鈥檚 diverse culture, and it is always a great joy seeing students participate and express themselves in a way outside of the classroom. A key for me is always relationships and people, and I think that's a strength that we have here.

5W3A6628 What are your goals for the school? What are the future plans that you have in mind after this situation has passed?

 

I鈥檓 continually looking forward to the ability to reach individuals and challenge each individual student to grow in a unique way that they are gifted in.

 

I would like to continue to see us reach out to new families arriving in Tianjin. I also believe that by partnering with local authorities we could contribute to Tianjin becoming a destination place for education, and a reason why people want to move to Tianjin.

 

瀛︽牎鍏虫敞鐨勭洰鏍囨槸浠涔堬紵鏂板啝鐥呮瘨濞佽儊鐨勬儏鍐佃繃鍘讳箣鍚庯紝鎮ㄧ殑璁″垝鏄粈涔堬紵

 

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What challenges have you encountered, and how did you deal with them?

 

There are always challenges, and that's just the makeup of organizational leadership.

 

Often these are misunderstandings, but if we are working through it together then we can get through challenges together.

 

I really believe in teamwork and a family atmosphere, and I try to address every situation that comes up through understanding individuals, and learn from it and do things differently in the future.

HBL 01Online classroom

TIS QR CodeQR Code that links to a sample Home-Based Learning video.

 

Why should parents choose TIS for their children? What makes the school stand out? Is there something you are particularly proud of?

 

There are good educational institutions in Tianjin. But what makes us special is we don't just provide a strong academic education. We really want to work with individuals to grow as individuals and to be able to think for themselves and to be able to move on and be global citizens someday, so we have a system of values that we try to build in and teach and help students understand and be able to personalize.

 

We aim for our students to become quality leaders and high level learners, but also to be able to care for the world around them. We teach them to be persistent and to be curious about the world. We have a uniquely qualified group of teachers that are not only strong in academics and understanding of educational practice but also carry that desire to share those values with their students.

 

For the past couple of years, we鈥檝e been working on adopting the AP Capstone Program (Advanced Placement Program). AP Capstone is an innovative program that equips students with the independent research, collaborative teamwork, and communication skills that are increasingly valued by colleges. Students typically take AP Seminar in the 10th or 11th grade, followed by AP Research. Students who earn scores of 3 or higher in AP Seminar and AP Research and on four additional AP Exams of their choosing will receive the AP Capstone Diploma. This signifies their outstanding academic achievement and attainment of college-level academic and research skills.

 

瀹堕暱浠夋嫨TIS鐨勫師鍥犳槸浠涔堬紵鏄粈涔堣瀛︽牎鑴遍鑰屽嚭锛熸湁浠涔堢壒鍒煎緱楠勫偛鐨勫湴鏂瑰悧锛

 

澶╂触鏈夊緢澶氶潪甯稿ソ鐨勬暀鑲叉満鏋勶紝鎴戜滑涓庝紬涓嶅悓鐨勫湴鏂瑰湪浜庯紝鎴戜滑涓嶄粎鎻愪緵浜嗗叏闈㈣岄珮璐ㄩ噺鐨勬暀鑲查」鐩紝鏇磋嚧鍔涗簬鍩瑰吇鑳界嫭绔嬫濊冪殑瀛︾敓涓綋锛屽叧娉ㄥ鐢熶釜浜虹殑鎴愰暱锛岃瀛︾敓浠垚涓轰笘鐣屽叕姘戯紝璁╁鐢熶滑浠庤繖閲屽紑濮嬪皢鏉ユ湁鑳藉姏鍘诲線涓栫晫浠讳綍涓涓湴鏂广

 

鎴戜滑鐨勭洰鏍囨槸璁╁鐢熶滑鎴愪负浼樼鐨勯瀵艰呭拰楂樻按骞崇殑瀛︿範鑰咃紝鍚屾椂鑳藉鍏冲績鍛ㄥ洿鐨勪簨鐗┿傛垜浠暀瀵煎鐢熶滑瑕佸潥鎸佷笉鎳堛佹寔涔嬩互鎭掞紝瑕佸涓栫晫鍏呮弧濂藉銆傛垜浠嫢鏈変竴鏀潪甯镐紭绉鐨勬暀甯堥槦浼嶏紝浠栦滑涓嶄粎鎷ユ湁寰堝己鐨勫鏈拰鏁欒偛瀹炶返鑳藉姏锛岃屼笖闈炲父鍏冲績瀛︾敓锛屾効鎰忎笌瀛︾敓浠垎浜粬浠殑浠峰艰銆

RYAN WITTWhen did you decide to switch to home-based learning for this emergency period? What factors played a role in your planning?

 

We were about halfway through our New Year holiday when I started talking and working with our team of leaders on this. It became very apparent that this was going to be longer than just a few days or a week, and as a result, we knew that as we value education, the consistency or continuity of education, we needed to progress and provide an education platform, even though it would not be the same.

 

It took a few days of working and thinking to figure out what we were going to do and how we were going to be able to communicate it out and get our students prepared for that, but technology has been ingrained into our educational practices over the last 10 years or more, and it allowed us to make a very smooth transition and be able to offer an education even though we could not come to our building.

 

It also provides something to allow students to have a focus on what to do during the day, so they're not panicked or feeling that confinement, would lead to their education falling behind.

 

We came up with the idea of home-based learning that we were able to adopt from other platforms. In western education, taking classes online in university is becoming the norm, so all of these students someday will do this, and so it's also a great component of just preparing students for what the future is going to be.

 

I want to give credit to the teachers, because we proposed the idea to them and they stepped up. They care so much for their kids that they all basically stopped their vacation and their holidays, and they went back to work immediately. The things that we are seeing them produce are amazing, and every day is a new learning opportunity for children. Kids are engaged every day, and hearing my own children talk about what they're learning along the way, it warms my heart. It's been remarkable, but it all has to do with the teachers.

 

瀹跺涵缃戠粶瀛︿範鐨勮鍒掓槸浣曟椂鍚姩鐨勶紵

 

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school 01What resources are you using for the home-based learning? Are all these resources readily available and accessible?

 

All our resources are still under the authority of the teacher in the classroom, and every single day they are working I would say anywhere from 8 to 10 hours producing resources, holding video calls. We're using Zoom as a big tool to bring all of our students into the same platform and be able to talk to them.

 

Our IT team has been remarkable. They had already set up a place for teachers to create all of these learning opportunities, save them in a component and then bring the links up, so that we don't need to rely on external videos or resources. We really have relied heavily on just the teacher being able to produce it and do it, and this has led to teachers meeting, even with the young kids, once or twice a week, either in whole groups so that they can see their classmates on the video call, or individual calls so they can work with the teachers one-on-one.

 

Teachers can use the presentations that they would give students in the classroom. They record and save them, so students who are not able to get onto the live call are able to watch the whole presentation later. An unintended blessing of that has been the value to the language learners because they can go back to the video and they can understand what the words are and they can follow along, and it has added a positive component that we never intended it to add, but it's been powerful. It's been great.

 

What previous experience do your teachers, students and the parents have with online or home-based learning and teaching?

 

We've got one or two teachers with previous experience, so the familiarity and the use of technology that鈥檚 already been in place have allowed them to continue on with a lot of their practices that they were already doing.

 

But I would say that nobody has done it this fast in this way before. Some teachers have taught for an online school, so they have had some of those unique experiences already and have been able to help others understand what to do and how to grow through it.

 

It's been a learning process, so we've put out parent surveys to collect data the first couple of weeks, just to compare and understand how is it being received, and what are we doing well, and how can we improve.

HBL 02Student engagement at home.

 

What has been the response from parents?

 

I would say that it has been mostly positive. There鈥檚 always going to be some challenges along the way. We recognize that it鈥檚 not something for a long period. It鈥檚 something that can fill this gap during this emergency time. I鈥檓 thankful that they鈥檙e willing to understand that and work with us and their children.

 

In the home-based learning, is all teaching done online, or do parents do some of it themselves? Could you explain to us the methodology your school is using?

 

The teacher is still fully responsible and engaged every single day, and is available all the time. We鈥檝e found that our middle school, our high school, our secondary, being older, they did not need as much parental involvement or motivation, so the younger the grades go, the more parents are involved.

 

One adjustment we actually made in the second week was to have all directions verbal as well. For some of the young students where maybe English isn鈥檛 their first language, understanding and being able to read the directions was sometimes difficult, but we鈥檝e made changes now; we have now more verbal directions and short videos.

 

So, we have short videos and then a learning exercise for them to work through and understand and grow. And really, school is always about practice, and getting the students engaged into doing it themselves. So it鈥檚 a lot of a balance and the level of parents鈥 involvement depends on the age of the kid.

 

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5W3A6425What resources were used to prepare parents?

 

We communicated the plan, but ultimately all of the resources and all the communication has come out of the individual teacher. We have to find out what resources parents already have in their homes, what technology, and we figured some of that out through a survey. But all of the education resources are coming out each day and are prepared by the teachers.

 

Is there any local and online assistance for students and/or parents?

 

Our teachers have office hours online every single day. They set office hours for a certain period of time. And we have some teachers that are back in the U.S. right now, and they鈥檙e working through the night so that they can support the students here.

school 02What challenges have you encountered so far in this home-based learning initiative?

 

The biggest challenges have been, although the teachers are still working almost the same amount of hours, the fulfilment of not being able to see their students; helping them and celebrating with them when they succeed, and working with them when they struggle.

 

鍒扮洰鍓嶄负姝㈡偍鍦ㄨ繖椤硅鍒掍腑閬囧埌浜嗗摢浜涙寫鎴橈紵

 

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How are levels or assessments standardized? It is a challenge, right?

 

It varies from age level, but some teachers are using project-based assessments; they can submit a project and they can determine the project based off a rubric. Others are assessing based upon some sort of picture or video, whilst others are having all the students live in the classroom and interacting with them and assessing them in that way on how they are learning. It certainly is a challenge, but we have put some mechanisms to ensure that things are being done and that students are grown.

 

How will you transition back to normal classes once the emergency is over?

 

That鈥檚 the question that everybody wants to know. We continue to follow and work with the local authorities, particularly the Education Bureau, the Municipal Education Bureau, and they have been great support for us; helping us understand the situation and the needs of the students.

 

We are doing some planning for multiple situations to occur because we don鈥檛 know which one is going to happen. But one thing we will for sure do is have the two-week quarantine if that鈥檚 still required, and we鈥檒l make sure all our staff and students fulfil that.

5W3A6655Please tell us something about your personal life. What does your family enjoy about living in China?

 

My family loves the people that we鈥檙e around. The thing that we鈥檝e most enjoyed about Tianjin has been the community and the people, and its great institutions.

 

I think it speaks a lot to the quality leaders that they have provided a safe, professional, comfortable place for us to live and enjoy even just in Hexi District. We鈥檇 love to be here for a long time.

 

鎮ㄥ拰瀹朵汉鍦ㄤ腑鍥界敓娲绘劅鍙楀浣曪紵

 

鎴戝拰鎴戠殑瀹朵汉寰堝枩娆㈣繖閲屽拰鍛ㄥ洿鐨勪汉銆傛垜浠渶鍠滄鏄ぉ娲ョ殑绀惧尯鍜屽彲鐖辩殑浜轰滑锛岃繖寰楃泭浜庨瀵间滑楂樿兘鐨勭鐞嗭紝涓烘垜浠彁渚涗簡涓涓畨鍏紝涓撲笟锛岃垝閫傜殑鐢熸椿鍦烘墍锛屽敖绠″彧鏄湪娌宠タ鍖恒傛垜浠笇鏈涜兘鍦ㄨ繖閲岄暱鏈熷眳浣忋

tisIs there anything you would like to add and share with our readers?

 

I鈥檓 just so thankful for the ex-pat community, and the opportunity to be able to provide an education in our community is a privilege and a joy, and our school has been able to do that since the mid-1980s. It is a rich heritage and I鈥檓 so glad that we can continue on and be a part of that.

 

I also just want to just thank the Municipal Education Bureau, the Hexi Education Bureau, and other bureaus that have been able to take care of us and our school.

 

鎮ㄦ湁鍏朵粬鎰挎剰鍜屾垜浠鑰呭垎浜殑鍚楋紵

 

闈炲父鎰熻阿锛岃兘澶熸彁渚涙暀鑲叉満浼氭槸涓绉嶈崳骞稿拰蹇箰锛屾垜浠鏍′粠1980骞翠唬灏卞紑濮嬩簡锛岃繖鏄竴椤逛赴瀵岀殑鏂囧寲閬椾骇锛屾垜寰堥珮鍏存垜浠兘缁х画涓嬪幓骞舵垚涓哄叾涓竴閮ㄥ垎銆

 

鐗瑰埆鎰熻阿甯傛暀鑲插眬锛屾渤瑗挎暀鑲插眬浠ュ強鍏剁粰浜堟垜浠鏍″叧娉ㄧ殑閮ㄩ棬銆

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TIANJIN INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL (TIS)
No. 4-1 Sishui Dao
Hexi District
Tianjin 300222

 

澶╂触鎬濋攼澶栫睄浜哄憳瀛愬コ瀛︽牎
涓浗澶╂触娌宠タ鍖烘硹姘撮亾4-1鍙 300222
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