KIS Virtual School Experience
Korea International School believes rigor, relationships, and relevance are primary in education. Content knowledge is important but how we learn matters more. KIS provides a dynamic educational experience, meeting students where they are to encourage growth while making connections between the content and our world. During the spring of 2020, KIS demonstrated commitment to its student and parent community by continuing to provide outstanding learning opportunities during a challenging time.
On the last Monday of February, KIS teachers arrived on campus to prepare for the launch of virtual school. Before teachers set up their virtual classrooms and learned new online tools, school director Michelle Quirin reminded staff of the school year goals to assess what matters, and build compassion. Under this banner, administrators and teachers were already committed to evaluating curriculum, developing service opportunities, and guiding students to apply their learning. Now the goals refocused the school, setting the expectation for the virtual KIS experience.
Adaptability is a core value at KIS. The first weeks of virtual school were a challenge as teachers reimagined content delivery and learning activities. Elementary music teachers Lindsey Cayer and David Woods received praise from students and parents as they built their online music program. “At school we work hard to create a safe environment where students can take learning risks, try something new,” Ms. Cayer said. During virtual KIS, elementary students involved their families in songs and dances, joined live Zoom sessions for a sense of community, and compiled a portfolio of their musical development. “It was cool to see how many kids still took risks,” Ms. Cayer said, “I think they felt a sense of joy.”
Other teachers also reshaped immediate learning. Biology teacher Youngjee Kim accepted the pandemic as a way to assess her students’ understanding of viruses. She encouraged inquiry, trusting that understanding a concept empowers students to make wise decisions.
KIS relies on clear communication. Throughout virtual school, KIS valued the feedback students and parents offered, responding to meet the needs of learners. KIS parent Susan was impressed by the school’s quick shift to virtual platforms. She saw her high school student develop greater focus, participate more in discussions, and enjoy the coursework. Susan also appreciated a peek into her elementary student’s learning. Both of her children also practiced self-advocacy, a communication skill KIS encourages.
Compassion is the practical center of KIS, whether school meets on campus or online. “The virtual experience served as a catalyst for areas where we’ve wanted to grow,” Ms. Quirin said. KIS examines feedback and assessment practices, partners with parents, and personalizes student learning. KIS affirms purposeful learning. This perspective clarifies curricula to create authentic, relevant educational opportunities.
More, KIS ensures students’ social emotional wellbeing by creating a safe, supportive environment that empowers students to learn while preparing them to contribute positively to society. “We want students to see the continuum of learning,” Ms. Quirin said, “And to have a confident awareness of what they know, and an excitement at the possibility of what comes next.”