Nine ACS teachers took on the challenge of further developing their approach to teaching by joining the Harvard School of Education and enrolling in an online course titled” Creating Cultures of Thinking.”
The nine teachers were: Talar Partiyan, Michele Grant, Rana el Masri, Casey Doumitt, Else Saoud, Nadine Bou Rached Hage, Ruwaida Kaed Beyh, Jen Kang and Wafa Kays.
The High School and Middle School teachers committed themselves to working independently and meeting together several times for discussions and reflections between February and May, completing about 45 hours of online sessions.
“During this course we explored a new wave of education that stresses understanding versus knowledge and learning versus work, independence and growth versus dependence and fixed mindset,” explained Wafa Kays, one of the teachers. “We learned to apply the eight different forces that shape a group culture in our teaching: Expectations, Language, Opportunities, Time, Modeling, Routines, Interactions and Environment. We agreed that to change a school culture everyone should be involved, not only teachers but also school administrators, parents and students.”
“It takes all of us to start shifting our minds to a different kind of education that believes in learning as a consequence of thinking,” added Kays.
The course stressed giving learning opportunities and using the language of initiatives and community. For example, teachers were encouraged to use “we” instead of “I.”
Teachers were encouraged to change how they look at the process of teaching and learning. They were also encouraged to facilitate and give positive feedback, and launch new learning routines that help students in understanding what they learn.
By focusing on curiosity, teachers could create a “Culture of Thinking,” that starts in classrooms, spreading into the school environment and society.
“This course provided me with the right tools to help my students become independent life-long learners,” said Nadine Hage Bou Rashid.
“One of the best moments of this learning experience is having the students be part of the process and having them contribute to the research,” said Talar Partiyan.
“Building a “Thinking Culture” within our school is the key to better learning, greater student engagement, and more happiness all around,” said Ruwaida Kaed Beyh.