Monday, September 28, 2009

Vice Principal's update

"Every day is a new beginning. Treat it that way. Stay away from what might have been and look at what can be."
Marsha Petrie Sue

Structural changes in KIS academic life
On an administrative level the ES Coordinator is now referred to as K-8 Coordinator who looks after the day to day running of this section. At the Ganga campus we now have two curriculums in operation – Pre-K to 5 being PYP and grades 6-8 being MYP. Thus the follow up to this implied that we have the MYP Coordinator (Mr Graham Lambert) at Ganga campus and the Associate MYP Coordinator (Ms Mataji Sharma) at High Clerc campus. Further at the administrative level changes also needed to be affected from the budgetary perspective, discipline policy, staffing, scheduling, Library, IT and lab provisions. Five new classrooms, the expanded IT lab and staff lounge, the refurbished science lab and the extension of the kitchen and the cafeteria are a blessing in terms of attempting to make the K-8 section a self contained unit. We are thankful to the Council of Directors for assisting in the endeavor to continue to plan the building of the school’s infrastructure. The old Middle School block is now christened the Arts Block. It houses the English department with its 5 classrooms and a second IB recording room, two ESL classrooms, Health room, IT and Food Tech Lab, Classroom Music, Art department and RE department offices, each having two classrooms and an AV room. The MYP Coordinator’s office keeps an eye over the Arts Block and liaisons with the High School Coordinator’s office in the main quad.

Generally the KIS community is happy to have the additional space at its disposal. Now the High Clerc campus is having distinct departmental divisions. The main quad has Maths, Social Studies and TOK classrooms with department offices. All Second Language classes are in one area with their office space. The science and the music departments were already in separate units.

The shift of grades 7 and 8 to Ganga compound has generally meant that departments are able to have their own classrooms, thereby reflecting the subject areas and having proper space provisions for its resources. In most cases, teachers now have their own teaching spaces. All in all these structural changes have been positive though the transition does bring its teething problems which happily aren’t insurmountable.

Formulation of policies
After much deliberation and experimentation we have now articulated an All School Language and Second Language Policy. This is in keeping with the guidelines of the IB and the needs of the school. Furthermore, we have brought together a KIS Professional Development Policy document. This gives both a bird eye view and details with regards to what KIS offers by way of professional development and its aims and objectives.

IT matters
All classrooms in the High Clerc campus now have a LCD projector with a computer thereby facilitating effective integration of technology into the learning process. At the Ganga campus, by the end of this semester, most classes will also have LCD projectors. Recording of absences and tardies are now done online with the facility of automated messages coming from the Vice Principal’s office to remind the teachers in case they have not completed the online class attendance.

New thrusts and developments
SAT and PSAT classes

PSAT classes for grades 9 and 10 have started. Furthermore 90% of the PSAT and SAT classes have been put onto the regular schedule rather than taking place over the weekend as was previously the case. I am happy to report that there is a high level of enthusiasm to join these classes. For example in PSAT Math (grades 9 and 10) 92 students registered requiring us to streamline the numbers for those taking classes in the regular schedule and excess numbers being adjusted on Sunday after lunch. This semester PSAT / SAT Math and English preparatory classes have in total about 240 students. Two consultant teachers in Math and in English conduct these classes which, we hope, will also have positive spillover effects on Math and English standards at KIS.

With most of the PSAT and SAT classes being held in the regular class schedule, we have less study hall periods. Furthermore, some of these study hall periods are now being used to engage students in CAS activities, clubs such as the Heritage Club, Calligraphy, Robotics and Information Literacy.

Schedule matters
The two year IBDP Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Math Higher Level courses have seven periods per cycle as against six previously. This has helped in achieving the stipulated 240 hour requirement of the IB for these courses. In addition to the regular Math classes, two additional math support classes are now being provided to students who aren’t able to cope well in the regular classes. This initiative has been popular with the students and more so with the parents. It is our hope that with this additional Math support the students will be able to achieve better standards in Math. New courses added in this semester include Advanced Creative Writing, Auto Mechanics, Journalism, Art Application: Design and Architecture.

The IB Diploma Program
The initial excitement and nervousness associated with the first IB assessment is over with the final TOK presentation of the IB students held from 24 August to 1 September. The presentation by over 90 students was a time –consuming task but an enriching experience for one and all. The IB students are now moving on to preparing their first draft of extended essay and the orals in English and second languages which is scheduled in September and November
time frame.

The Middle Years program
As a build up to the follow up visit by the MYP Associate Regional Manager, the focus in July and August was to have more of Tuesday in-service devoted to MYP needs. On 3 September we had a successful consultation cum follow up visit by Ashish Trivedi, the MYP Associate Regional Manager from Singapore. We now await his report. This follow up visit has resulted in a better understanding of the implementation of the MYP and thus gearing us up for the program evaluation due in November 2010. After the follow up visit we had two days of MYP workshops conducted by Ashish which were attended by 23 MYP teachers and the two MYP Coordinators.

The Elementary School program
PYP updates: All PYP teachers are currently attending a semester long professional development session introducing them to both the Primary Years Program and Kagan Cooperative Learning led by Brian Nelsen.

Kagan Cooperative Learning + PYP – Balance for Transformational Teaching and Learning: Over the summer holiday Brian Nelson traveled to the US along with four KIS teachers from ES, MS and HS for one week of Professional Development in Kagan Cooperative Learning. They shared a short video of the Kombai School project with Dr Spencer during the Kagan Conference in Orlando, Florida and he showed interest in supporting it in form of research support and implementation of cooperative learning structures in the tribal village school. It is hoped that PYP when combined with the Kagan Cooperative Learning curriculum will provide the balance between social and leadership skills with the academic rigor of the PYP.

Service Learning at ES - Education for All: Last year at the end of April, the students raised $3500 dollars to help build a dorm and two additional classrooms for Kombai School. This summer Pastor Kim led a crew of builders to the completion of the new dorm and two additional classrooms. Without the new classrooms, the education journey for the 5th graders at Kombai School would have come to an end. The new classrooms provided the space for grade 6. We plan to continue to partner with this school by providing new classrooms each year so every student can finish through grade 10.

The ripples going out from KIS will continue to amplify as this place builds on its strong foundation.

Kaisar Dopaishi
Academic Vice Principal