Student Support at WIS: Providing a Caring and Supportive Environment
Many parents wonder about differentiated teaching at WIS. Some have shown their concerns in our last parents’ meeting with principals. They raised questions and concerns such as:
“My child has a poor foundation in English, and sometimes feels it is hard to finish English homework. I’m really worried that he will fall behind.”
“Although Wahaha International School has a small-sized class, I’m still concerned whether the needs of each child can be met.”
“Each child has different abilities. How does WIS evaluate differentiated teaching?”
As mentioned in our last newsflash from the principal, we will have various types of workshops to communicate and answer these questions from our parents.
Today, we will first introduce you to a very important part of WIS differentiated teaching, the Student Support Team.
This is a special tutoring team composed of high-quality professionals. The main task is to discover and help students with specific academic, social, and emotional needs. At the same time, the WIS Student Support Team will also collaborate with teachers of various subjects to provide detailed differentiated teaching.
Below are some comments received from parents concerning WIS student support and differentiated teaching, and we are really looking forward to hearing more.
“There are several children in our class that have made tremendous progress. At first, they could only understand a few words in English. After a year, they had transformed. Not only did they catch up in the class, but they could speak fluent English and were not afraid to communicate and speak out.”
“There is a child in our class who is very shy and avoids looking at people. With the help of the teachers, he has become very active now. There is light in her eyes.”
Introduction to Student Support Team
Currently, our Student Support Team has three teachers, Mark Grummitt and his assistant Michelle, who focus on improving students’ English language ability, and Claire Wang, who is the school counselor.
Mark has a Master’s Degree in the Teaching of English as a Foreign Language and he is a registered teacher in his home state of Queensland, Australia. With more than 16 years of teaching experience, Mark is enthusiastic to bring out the best in each child he works with. His expectation is that children take responsibility for their learning, and he encourages independence and collaboration in tasks set for the children he works with.
In the support team, his main job is to provide help to students to enable success in the mainstream classroom. He and his assistant Michelle, help students develop the language skills, learning strategies, and cultural awareness needed to be successful at WIS. He also collaborates with teachers of various subjects to ensure the effective implementation of differentiated teaching.
Claire graduated from Carson Newman University with a Master’s Degree in Counseling and her specialization is in Professional School Counseling. She had 700 school counseling hours at Jefferson County High School and Northview Junior Academy in the United States. She offered students guidance classroom lessons, group counseling, and individual counseling services. She advocates for students regarding their academic, social, emotional, and career-related wellness.
In the support team, she mainly helps students with social, emotional, and academic issues. Meanwhile, she also engages in counseling with students and even parents.
How to identify students who need special support and counseling?
Observation is the first and one of the most important steps in student support. Teachers will take turns and sit in the different classrooms to observe, record, and evaluate the students’ academic level and class status, and at the same time collect data to find and help students in need.
“It is impossible to maintain a high level of concentration for 45 minutes of a class. I mainly observe whether students are listening and engaging in the class actively. “——Claire
Based on the teaching records from teachers
At WIS, each teacher keeps individual student records of scholastic achievement. The Student Support teachers will work with the homeroom teacher and specialists to locate students who need special counseling through this system.
If a teacher is concerned about a student or group of students who struggle with academic, emotional, or social issues, the teacher may recommend an evaluation from the school counselor. The teacher will provide academic records and observational data dependent on the individual need.
The Student Support Team is always open to welcome student inquiries. The support room teachers encourage students to seek help at any time and Claire, Mark and Michelle give full assistance when necessary.
These approaches work to identify student needs. The determined level of support is based on further testing of the child. For example, in English, there are multiple assessment systems used. STAR and MAP testing provide independent data. Students may also be mapped to the CEFR International Standard for English proficiency, along with other diagnostic tests that determine overall language ability, phonics progression, and aptitude with English. Consulting with homeroom teachers and other specialists is also a priority in determining the need for English support. After each lesson with students, EAL teachers record progress and the areas that need to be focused upon so as to make more individualized adjustments in upcoming lessons.
How exactly does the Student Support team help our students?
Mark and Michelle can usually be found in different classrooms supporting students who need extra help. Understanding that language acquisition is a developmental process that takes place over a number of years, we strive to provide a customized support program that may include both in-class assistance and small group lessons outside of the regular classroom as needed.
The EAL curriculum focuses on the development of oral communication, both listening and speaking, as well as reading and writing skills in English. Students learn the social and academic language in these lessons, allowing them to interact socially with peers and be successful in their classes.
The EAL team works with an individual child.
In-class assistance allows students to feel safe in a familiar environment and to study in a relaxed manner. Alternatively, students also receive individual or group lessons in the EAL classroom depending on the need and the level of their English skills.
“Generally speaking, the student support team aims to support students academically, socially, and emotionally.
As a school counselor, my job mainly focuses on helping all students apply academic achievement strategies, manage emotions, and apply interpersonal skills. “ —— Claire
There are three main types of school counseling: class-wide intervention, group/individual intervention, and responsive intervention.
The class-wide intervention is in collaboration with the class teacher. The counselor would conduct a teacher survey prior to the lesson. The group/individual intervention is for children who need further support, the frequency of counseling service is based on need, including weekly sessions or even daily sessions.
Regarding responsive intervention, the counselor would take immediate action to de-escalate issues or emergency intervention. An example of responsive intervention is a child who is having difficulty in managing emotions and potentially harming others. Such a child would be removed from the situation and receive immediate intervention. With the help of responsive intervention, the student was able to regain self-control and calm down and rejoin the class without issues.
Q & A
What can parents do to better support children? Here are some questions posed by parents and some suggestions from our Student Support team.
Q：For students with a poor English foundation, do you think it is necessary for them to take extra courses to learn English?
At WIS, we have an integrated and immersive environment. The level of each child does not need to be the same. The teacher will adopt differentiated teaching methods to ensure that each child understands what they are learning. Those children who have some proficiency in the English language may still require EAL support, however, they do not necessarily need to take external English classes. Often having that extra level of EAL support is enough for the child to learn effectively in the class environment.
“If a student has very low English proficiency, taking outside lessons can be helpful because we need to enable students to be able to understand and fully participate in classroom language and activities.” —— Mark
Q：For those parents with limited English, how can they assist their child to improve in their English?
While all facets of English learning are important, probably the best way to support your child at home is to read with him or her. Reading assists children in further developing their listening, speaking, reading, and writing. It is something parents can do easily at home as well; one does not need a very high standard of English to have your child read to you. This support only requires twenty minutes in the day and is great for their English and Chinese language growth. Furthermore, it is a great bonding opportunity for you to talk with your child about his or her day and spend quality time together. Taking an interest in your child’s education promotes holistic development, confidence, and high levels of self-esteem.
Q：In today’s competitive society, how can I alleviate children’s anxiety?
If children feel stressed or anxious, they may exhibit some of the following symptoms. Poor sleep, nightmares, and difficulty in concentrating in class amongst other difficulties. If parents are concerned, they can contact the school counselor for further support. At home, high-quality companionship includes paying attention to your child, engaging him or her in regular conversation, and taking an interest in your child’s affairs. Studies have shown that hugging children 5 times a week can significantly reduce their anxiety levels. In addition, the school counselor hopes to provide parent workshops that target effective parenting and active listening.
Q：For introverted children, how should the school counselor help them build self-confidence, and what advice do you have for the homeroom teacher?
The question needs further analysis; introverted children are not necessarily lacking in self-confidence. If children lack self-confidence, my advice for the homeroom teacher is to use a variety of activities in their lessons, such as team projects and inclusive practices.
A student who has confidence difficulties are encouraged to see the school counselor on a regular basis. Students could build a relationship with the school counselor, and work together to create goals to improve the student’s confidence level.
Q：Some children are unwilling to speak out or cannot express themselves clearly. What interventions are necessary?
Any effective interventions start with building good relationships. Offering a non-challenging, interesting activity in a safe environment empowers students to speak out and show pride in what the child can do. Examples of such activities include playing games, drawing, and role-playing. These activities build rapport and a foundation for continuing dialogue. As children gain confidence, they become more willing to share in the classroom environment.