Education is constantly evolving, and school improvement is an ongoing process. At Xi’an Liangjiatan International school, teachers engage in a constant cycle of growth, improvement, and evaluation. As a three-program International Baccalaureate (IB)school, we have had authorization visits and five-year evaluation visits in our MYP and PYP. Next year, we will have our 5-year evaluation visit for DP and our WASC (Western Association of Schools and Colleges) initial accreditation visit.
A unique feature of WASC is that it is a whole school and encompasses the three development areas (primary, middle school, and high school), which brings all the teachers and all the staff members together. We have set up school-wide focus groups that look at all aspects of the school in preparation for our WASC visit. Three focus groups will look at learning across the school.
Jaimala Quinlan (DP Coordinator) leads the group that is evaluating the written curriculum. This group of ten teachers and staff members will triangulate the data, look at units in Managebac, and the taught curriculum in the classroom and have conversations with students and teachers. Maria Zialcita (PYP Coordinator) leads a focus group that is looking at how students learn. The ten teachers will be getting into classrooms looking at how students engage with the taught curriculum across the continuum. Lea Gritner (Middle School Lead Teacher) leads a focus group examining assessment in the school. This team will also triangulate the data, examine assessment practices, and explore the connections between assessment in the three IB programmes. The team will be working to align and make sense of assessment practices.
Focus group leaders talk about the importance of this work. Jaimala Quinlan remarked on the significance of the focus. “We are reflecting on our teaching and learning and then coming up with strategies to improve and set benchmarks to meet international standards.”
Maria Zialcita says that “Seeing the bigger picture helps us to be aware of where we are now and where we need to be in the future.”
The beauty of the WASC accreditation process is that it brings the school together and encourages conversations between teachers in all three programmes. Once the school has gained WASC accreditation, we will align our PYP, MYP, DP visits, and WASC visits so we have a single synchronized visit every five years.
Currently, we have teachers who visit schools across the world (virtually or face-to-face) and take WASC accreditation visits, including Brian Lalor (Primary Principal) and Daun Yorke (Secondary Principal). We have team visiting members for MYP visits in our faculty; Jaimala Quinlan (DP Coordinator) and Emma Yang (MYP Assistant Coordinator) and DP evaluation and progamme leader Daun Yorke (Secondary Principal). Our teachers pay it forward and support other schools with their WASC and IB development. Our team members taking part in these visits help our school as we receive the most up-to-date training development. Last week, Daun Yorke was on a virtual visit to an Australian MYP and DP school and was part of the team that led the first visit with the new IB Diploma Programme standards and practices in the Asia Pacific region.
“There is an increased focus on looking at learning in the school with the new IB protocols. With the new IB visit design in all three programmes, the visiting team spends most of their time going into classes and observing teaching and learning. It is a wonderful new change in emphasis on classroom practices.”
At XLIS, we believe the essential aspect of education is teaching and learning in the classroom every day. Increased focus on learning provides robust education for our XLIS students.
Daun Yorke (Secondary Principal and IB Lead Educator)