Dear IAM Community,
The IAM is one of the only schools in the state to begin so early. In fact, our early start date is designed to accommodate the rigors of the IB curriculum, specifically the requirement of increased seat time for IB Diploma level courses. While demanding, it is certainly impressive to witness how our students adjust to this schedule, even while friends in traditional schools are still enjoying their summer vacations. One of the main reasons for this rapid adjustment is the strong sense of community and purpose in our school. IAM students have self-selected and so have chosen to engage in perhaps the most challenging curricula available to high school students. This decision has united them in a special community, and I believe given them a unity of purpose and willingness to undertake the challenge of the IB.
One of the most enjoyable aspects of the summer for me was my trip to China. I was able to meet some great educators from a school in Shenzhen where we will be looking to initiate multiple opportunities for students and staff. The Dalton Xinhua School of Shenzhen (http://sz-dalton-xh.com:8082/e_index.html) is an IB applicant school and would like to cooperate with several different activities including student field trips, camps and curriculum development. Some of the cooperation has in fact already started. This summer the IAM hosted its first ever IB-prep summer camp where students from the Dalton school were in attendance. The camp included IB preparation in science, history and research skills while also providing fun activities like field trips to local universities and action-adventure activities. IAM students acted as camp counselors while Mr. Pete, Mr. Kardon and Dr. Lip led instruction and organization. The camp was a huge success and we hope to expand it next summer.
While in Shanghai I was asked to participate on a panel to discuss IB education along with several other educators. I was asked the question “What makes the IAM different and special?” For me the answer was easy. At our school, collaboration is part of the fabric of our community at every level. From students to teachers, everyone learns to work together towards common goals. For our teachers, this means collaborating to build curriculum and assessments or to identify areas of improvement within our academic program. Academic literature suggests that successful schools are highly collaborative and based on relational trust. This notion of building “social capital” will be a theme for the IAM staff this year as we work toward affecting individual student success. See the attached article we read as a staff: http://www.michaelfullan.ca/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/JSD-Power-of-Professional-Capital.pdf
This year our teachers are working hard to put together a more intentional program around the IB “Approaches to Learning” ( https://www.ibo.org/globalassets/digital-tookit/flyers-and-artworks/approaches-to-teaching-learning-dp-en.pdf) or a set of skills that have been identified as being vital to success in the IB. Some of these skills include “thinking skills” and “research skills.” This year, specifically within the MYP, we will give targeted and focused instruction to students in each of these skills. Our hope is to issue a report on student progress in these areas by the end of the year so that parents can help to support the teachers’ efforts in the classroom.
I am confident that the 2018-2019 school year at the IAM will be a great one!