“Our deep commitment to professional development for educators each year is one of the things that draws educators,” says Singapore American School (SAS) Superintendent TOM BOASBERG. “Almost all of our educators teaching in Singapore are receiving direct coaching that’s tailored to their strengths and areas of growth.” SAS is providing additional training so that educators can create more engaging learning experiences in learning communities on campus.
This is ahead of the completion of its redesign and major upgrade. The school already has new dining facilities and new athletic and swim facilities; and the brand new elementary school building is scheduled to open in 2024.
How has teaching changed at SAS?
One of the things we have found is that educators are incredibly skilled at utilising whatever space they are in. As the learning spaces have changed and improved, teachers have found new and exciting ways to create engaging learning experiences for kids.
The educators have less familiarity in working collaboratively with their adult peers.
Teaching was traditionally a very private profession – you teach in your room and are visited once a year for an observation. Teachers are now being observed daily in these shared spaces. This then allows them to help each other grow and develop through a continuous feedback loop.
How do the teachers feel about the change to learning communities?
When you engage in change of any kind, the adoption curve holds true. There are innovators and early adopters who dive in, explore and try new things. There are also folks who are sometimes sceptical of change.
It’s exciting to see our early adopters speaking openly about the successes and challenges. Their voices have helped spark a willingness in many others to try something new.
Overwhelmingly, many of our educators have told us they can see how this has a direct and significant impact on student learning beyond grades.
It’s important to note that learning and grades are not the same. SAS has a rich history of tremendous academic excellence and success. We continue to perform well on the traditional performance measures.
How has shifting to learning communities and flexible spaces impacted your teacher recruitment?
We have roughly 70 applicants for each available role and the quality is high.
One of the things we hear from new educators is that our reputation for innovation, professional development for educators and well-resourced classes makes us a highly desirable location.
Talented forward-thinking educators want to surround themselves with other educators teaching in Singapore who engage in meaningful work, and explore new and exciting ways to continually improve the student experience.
Hear from two educators teaching in Singapore…
“Teaching is one of the most complex professions because of all the factors that influence student learning and growth. It’s traditionally also one of the most isolated professions. While collaboration regularly happens in meetings, it seldom occurs when instruction is underway. In-the-moment coaching on practices is an incredibly impactful way we can support our educators teaching in Singapore as they navigate meeting the myriad of needs of each student they serve.” – Dr Jennifer Sparrow, Deputy Superintendent
“Working with my PLC Coach in professional development for educators has improved my teaching practice. Through rich conversations, we have determined ways to enhance in-class practice for students. This leads to a better understanding of physics concepts for students.” – Dr Nathan Belcher, High School Teacher
This article first appeared in the November 2023 edition of Expat Living. You can purchase the latest issue or subscribe, so you never miss a copy! To make the most of living in Singapore, read our latest City Guide here for free!