About AISJ

22 01 2012

I’d like to take a post to tell you a little about the school here at AISJ and the community we have.  Life at an international school is very different than a public school, and it also is a private school so it’s a very new experience for me.

AISJ has one campus with three schools – an elementary, middle, and high school.  The campus is pretty hilly (I’ll try to post a video tour soon).  And there’s about three different ‘levels’ to the elementary school.  It’s an open campus, so all the ‘hallways’ only have a wall on one side so the sun is always around.  My classroom has windows overlooking the elementary playground and also overlooks a lot of fields.

The elementary, middle, and high schools are somewhat average-ly sized, at least to my experience in schools.  There are 4 classes per grade in the elementary school, but we only have 16 students max in each class, so about 64 students per grade.  In the States the class sizes are much bigger so it’s definitely a change for me.

In addition to the class sizes being smaller, the way that lesson planning runs is quite different. (If you’re not an educator, this next part may not be as interesting to you).  Grade level teams submit unit plans (following a Unit by Design plan) for the various units for subjects, but they don’t submit individual lesson plans.  My experience thus far in the States is that teachers have to submit a lot of lesson plans to their supervisors, but here they don’t.

The school here really emphasizes ‘team planning’ and my co-ooperating teacher and her team definitely do that.  It’s really to bounce ideas off of other teachers, and the teachers on my time also really respect the other teachers and the fact that we all have different students that will respond to lessons differently.

Overall, the students are extremely well behaved, and the staff is extremely friendly.  Since there are only five student teachers (and four in the elementary school) the whole staff knows who we are and are continually checking up on us to see how we’re doing.  It’s a great community and I feel really at home here at the school.

Last week there was an assembly with the entire elementary school.  New students to the school were introduced, and then the student teachers were also introduced to the whole school.  These assemblies happen once every month or so and they also recognize birthdays! One of my students got to go up and the entire school sang happy birthday to anyone with late December or early January birthdays.  There’s also an AISJ song, and here’s a video of the whole school singing, with the music teachers accompanying and a group of fifth graders who also played guitars for the song! It was so super cute and definitely an aspect of the school that I really like.

Being at an international school means students don’t stay for long (one of my students has been at the school for five years, and that’s one of the longest), some a semester, or some a year.  Students come in and out of the school so quickly.  An international school means that English Language Learners (ELLs) don’t just speak Spanish at home, they speak Portuguese, Norwegian, Korean, Chinese, Spanish, French, Afrikaans, and so many more languages.  Our textbooks come from American curriculum programs, and it’s interesting to always read the “here’s how to help Spanish speakers” since that’s more prevalent in the States, but here working with ELLs is much more challenging.

As a private school, the attendance policies are much different (since the parents are paying for the students to be here) and since the families are significantly wealthy, they often travel a lot, and take their children with them.  The private school setting also makes it different in interactions with parents and the connection between the parents and the administration.  There is a strong PTA here, which is great, and super supportive.

That’s all for now.  I have a bunch of pictures of campus and my classroom, and will work on a video tour of the campus soon! Until next time!

Follow this link to see the AISJ song video from our assembly! It’s super cute.  AISJ Song




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