ISB Brings Experts, Education and Insight to Parents

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( — February 27, 2019) Beijing, Beijing —

At the International School of Beijing (ISB), there is a community of learners eager to broaden their knowledge and understand more about innovative approaches to learning.

“[Our parents] are curious about what the school does and why we do it,” said Stacy Stephens, the Director of Learning and Strategic Planning at ISB.

According to Stephens, partnered with this curiosity and thirst for learning is a certain degree of trepidation.

“I think we all understand that things should be different and the world is different,” Stephens said. “There is that degree of tradition and safety and knowing what you know, that is why I think the parent education series is so important.”

ISB’s parent education series is an initiative that started in 2018 and was brought to the school with the help of Stephens.

“One of our strategic initiatives is to unite the community and the sub-piece of that is parent education so that we can support people understanding why we make the choices we make at the school,” Stephens said.

The parent education series is presented in a variety of different forms including hands-on workshops, expert speakers sharing information at the front of the room and a mix of the two.

One ISB parent, Christine Ren, has been to several talks and sees the many benefits of having this kind of program.

“The parent talks are useful because they give us good exposure,” Ren said. “Parents are also learning in the international school environment.”

In most cases, workshops are an hour to an hour and a half, include a renowned consultant who is an expert in the subject and there’s time for questions at the end in case parents need any further clarification. Consultants can be resident experts – teachers and curriculum leaders – as well as experts brought in from around the world.

“These experts are research-based in the decisions they make, so parents understand why we’re choosing to do things differently,” Stephens said.

Parent Education Shares Research and Intentionality

ISB’s curriculum, campus and the overall approach to learning are ever-changing, given the newest research. According to Stephens, not only is this change important, it’s what ISB is defined by.

“We are a very progressive school, I always say to the parents, ‘If we look the same in five years, we’re actually not doing our job because we’re not taking on new research and new learning,’ this is a school and good schools are defined by change.”

According to Ren, having the parent education series helps the community understand this change as it happens.

“It’s very beneficial for us as parents to look at things not just from the perspective of how we grew up, but from the point of view of advanced research into how to educate children,” Ren said. “We come from a traditional Chinese family and therefore how to educate our kids in an international environment is a new challenge.”

Consultants Define Change at ISB

ISB has put on close to 20 workshops in the past year and even with the growing number of presenters and the many memorable moments, there are some that stand out.

“We had a speaker who talked about the lack of women in the STEM field and explored where that comes from,” Stephens said. “The workshop was about helping parents understand some of the program changes in science.”

Recently, ISB made changes to the curriculum which guaranteed Grades 9 and 10 take both Biology, Chemistry and Physics in order to keep all career pathways open.

According to Stephens, this was one of the biggest programmatic changes ISB has made during her time at the school and not all parents understood why this change occurred. She witnessed parents who attended this workshop experience an “aha” moment as the consultant spoke.

“At ISB, we’re making decisions so that our kids have options and pathways,” Stephens said. “This program change is a decision based on equity and access.”

When asked for her most memorable workshop, Ren stressed how much she learned from one on mindfulness.

“Mindfulness was really interesting because we need to think about our kids not just in the academic environment, we need to think about them psychologically and how they think about the world,” Ren said.

The workshop explored what parents can do to help a healthy emotional growth in their children.

“If we are aware of these things and apply them while we’re at home, we’re in synch with the school,” Ren said. “If you can synchronize, that’s the best thing for the healthy growth of your children.”

ISB’s parent education series bridges any gaps that may exist between the school and the parents by providing transparency.

“Having a parent education series is an opportunity to build trust in the community because of the information we are sharing,” Stephens said. “They can trust our decisions because we’re sharing with them what we’re learning, what the research says and why we’re doing it.”

( — February 27, 2019) Beijing, Beijing —

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