The most important factor in improving student learning is ensuring that ASIJ has inspiring and skilled teachers in every classroom.
ASIJ identifies and recruits outstanding teachers who possess the mindset, values and skills that correspond with our commitment and mission.
Once they join our school, teachers engage in a culture where reflection, collaboration, and professional learning are not an event, but are ongoing and integrated into daily life.
Beyond the systems and structures in place to support continual learning, professional learning and development at ASIJ aims not simply to engage teachers, but to create a culture where teachers and teams are empowered and motivated to innovate, create, and be their best selves—just like our ASIJ students.
When a new teacher arrives at ASIJ they can expect to engage in understanding ASIJ’s mission, commitment, vision of learning, and strategic priorities to understand where we collectively are headed and then, through a variety of systems and structures, engage with teams committed to continuous improvement at ASIJ.
To be part of a collaborative team that uses student work and learning data to identify and incorporate powerful teaching practices
To engage in K-12, division-specific, and team-based learning in service of ASIJ’s strategic priorities during student early-release days and scheduled professional development days.
That anytime they take part in curriculum review, the observation process, committee work, etc, that teacher learning is as much a goal of these processes as any external goal
That if/when her learning needs go beyond our internal capacity she can expect ASIJ to bring in outside experts or to send her to regional conferences or workshops to support that learning.
Beyond these structures, ASIJ is committed to professional learning that is not just ongoing and purposeful (though those are critical), but also innovative.
To that end, ASIJ has started to integrate alternative pathways for professional growth that allow for a more personalized and agile approach to working and learning toward ASIJ’s mission, commitment, and strategic priorities. Within these new professional growth pathways teams of teachers are empowered to self-initiate, identify and explore interests, and direct their own learning.
I have so appreciated and benefited from many valuable and varied PD experiences that I have participated during my time at ASIJ. In addition to learning new teaching strategies and improving current practices, these experiences have enabled me to keep my teaching license current over the years, which is an important personal priority. I have also had the chance to collaborate with some of the best educators on the planet. Through ASIJ's PD program, I have participated in learning cohorts, such as COETAIL (Certificate of Educational Technology and Information Literacy), online courses through Heinemann and various universities, literacy and social studies conferences, and other workshops—offered on campus, in Japan, and around the world. I am especially excited to be able to attend the Columbia University Teachers College Summer Reading Institute in August 2019 with a colleague from my department at ASIJ.
Having the opportunity to attend PD inspires and energizes me to achieve more as a teacher and a learner. As a world language teacher, the OPI (Oral Proficiency Interview) training was the most impactful for me; particularly, going through the certification process gave me the practical experience to understand language proficiency as per the ACTFL standards ASIJ adopted for our program. Now, I feel more confident assessing oral skills. Cultures of Thinking with Ron Ritchhart was a cross-disciplinary opportunity where I learned thinking routines to use in the classroom to help students better understand their own metacognition.
The collaboration and research through the Global Responsibility steering committee have also significantly impacted me as a club advisor. As a Habitat advisor, adjustments have been made to guide the students more intentionally towards service learning next year. The IFSEL training introduced me to what social-emotional learning entails, which helped my work as an advisor. This year, I also participated in the ACTFL conference in the US with a further focus on SEL and Social Justice and was able to collaborate with other language teachers as well as the presenters. It was an inspirational experience and one I hope to do again.
In my experience teaching internationally, I've seen different PD models and the strengths and struggle of each. The strength of ASIJ’s PD model is that funds are not wasted; they are used purposefully and connected to professional growth. When I was hired, I was offered the opportunity to join the Math Specialists in International Schools (MSIS) cohort in the first semester. I am very grateful for this opportunity. The course made me look at my own classroom as a fly-on-the-wall and challenged me to do certain things differently in order to make a safer, more challenging and better math class. The MSIS institutes didn’t give me answers, they made me reflect on my own practice and pushed me to try new things to fit my group of learners.
Personally, I’ve been keen on inquiry and concept-based learning and so I applied for two workshops in Tokyo with Kath Murdoch and Lance King. These were completely supported by my administrators and the learning allowed me look beyond curriculum. I was one of the first teachers to put my name in to attend Learning2 at ASIJ. The L2 experience is one that all teachers should experience: It’s like a fresh coat of paint. Effective PD is not always about learning something new, sometimes it’s about seeing teaching and learning from a different perspective.