GIS Learning Culture
Garden International School has a unique learning culture. We believe that we can grow and learn together as a community. At GIS we aim to constantly develop each learner’s full potential by offering our students the best learning environment, at home and at school.
We aim at giving all the tools and opportunities to all our community members to benefit from our learning culture through innovative learning culture for our students, nurturing a strong home-school partnership with our community learning culture and attract and develop the best teachers through our professional learning culture.
Garden International School has some of the best examination results in the world. Although we are very proud of this we also strongly believe that education is more than just letters and numbers on a piece of paper. We therefore strive to nurture well rounded individuals who leave our school with a set of skills, competencies and qualities that will allow them to succeed in the world as young adults and beyond. We call these our Learner Skills.
The Skills Ladders
Each of our skills has a five step ladder attached to it. These steps represent what we believe progression may look like in each area. The top end of the ladders are highly aspirational and we do not expect all students to reach the top step of all ladders by the time they leave the school. The ladders are not age restricted and any student can be at any point on any ladder at any given time. The school curriculum provides students with opportunities and challenges to develop these skills.
Athena is a bespoke application that has been designed by staff and students from Garden International School. Currently in its trial phase the program allows students to upload and peer review evidence against the skills ladders. They build a professional portfolio that demonstrates the skills that they have developed but also a great deal of reflection and thought on the processes of the learning that has taken place. Not only is this a valuable and worthwhile life skill but it is also something we know that further education institutions and industry greatly value.
GIS holds the award for Apple Distinguished program. This recognition is reserved for programs that meet criteria for innovation, leadership and educational excellence, and demonstrate Apple’s vision of exemplary learning environments.
As part of our continued work with Apple, we will soon be publishing an iBook based on flexible learning and large-scale enquiry. For those of you who are interested you can download a copy via your iPad HERE.
The book is currently hosted on an iTunes U course hence the above link will need to be accessed via an iPad. Once in the course you will find the book in the “posts” section.
Moving forward it will be available both via the iBooks store and on the school website. As always we look forward to further developing the program and utilising the skills and creativity of you all to make us the world’s leading school in this field.
Whole School Deputy Head – Director of Innovative Learning
Teacher Professional Development
At GIS we aim to constantly develop each child’s full potential and to achieve this we continually develop our teachers to be the best that they can be.
Numerous studies have shown that the success of any school is directly linked to the quality of their teachers. We are proud of our exceptional teaching cohort and the professional learning opportunities available at GIS. In 2015 we increased the internal professional learning opportunities with the introduction of the Professional Learning Afternoons. This initiative provides 2 hours per week of dedicated professional learning time to all academic staff; which more than doubled the existing internal dedicated time to professional learning.
According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), with 75 hours of internally dedicated professional learning time GIS is now providing similar learning opportunities as those from the highest performing schools in the world.
During this time, teachers are able to critically reflect, collaborate, visit other schools, lead and participate in professional communities, further their studies by undertaking Masters and PhDs, etc.
Our staff are encouraged to acquire and develop skills and abilities which ultimately provide the students in our care with a stimulating learning environment. We believe that professional development is a collaborative effort which develops and supports staff in their commitment to learning. All members of the school community will also have opportunities through annual cycles of performance management to discuss their professional development needs.
The school has a highly rated and comprehensive induction process for new staff members which provides support and guidance in settling into a new living and working environment in Kuala Lumpur or Kuantan.
Training needs are met through a range of opportunities which includes; the above mentioned internal professional learning opportunities as well as conferences and workshops offered by regional organisations such as EARCOS and FOBISIA. The fact that many of our teachers and senior leaders, present and lead on these international conferences further reinforces Garden International School’s position as a centre of professional excellence.
Parent Workshops are weekly one-hour workshops for parents. Held each Wednesday morning, the workshops focus on a wide-range of topics that are of interest and value to our diverse parent body.
The workshops are designed to support the learning and development of our parents, often with a focus on understanding and supporting their child. They might focus on:
- an area of the school (e.g its curriculum or its values) to aid parent understanding.
- a topic that might be of interest to parents (e.g how to use online learning platforms)
- a topic that helps parents support their child(ren) (e.g the stages of child development)
Often parents arrive 15-25 minutes before the workshop starts. They like to grab a coffee and pastry, catch up on their email, catch up with their friends before the workshop begins. It’s common for the room to be buzzing with conversations before the workshops begin!
Generally, there will be some sort of question or activity between 08:00-08:10 to get everyone thinking about the topic at hand. From 08:10 the workshop will begin. Occasionally there will be outside speakers/facilitators who deliver the workshops. Mostly, they will be members of the GIS team who are either expert or passionate about a topic that parents have expressed an interest in learning more about.
We always look to achieve the right balance of facilitation, discussion and personal reflection in a workshop so each and every person is able to benefit from the experience.
All GIS parents are warmly welcome at any workshop. The schedule is available on GIS parents’ portal.
We are always on the lookout for topics that will be of interest and value to our parents. Sometimes there will be specific requests, other times something important will be coming up in the school calendar that will benefit parent understanding. The agenda is generally produced on a half-termly basis so it always remains relevant and timely.
Here are some of the things parents have shared about the Parent Workshops this year:
It was very insightful and it got me thinking a lot more about what I was doing at home with my kids. I think that’s important because we get so used to running on autopilot that we stop seeing how ineffective a lot of the stuff we do at home is.
If all lessons were like this, nobody would want to leave school.
Great session! Full of information & interaction. Our table enjoyed having to think and work together. Thanks to all involved.
It was brilliant to learn about all these resources. They will be so helpful for my children’s learning!