Cheerful Ching Ching from Kindergarten 2 (K2) Busy Ants loves watching clouds – fluffy ones, dark rainy ones and best of all, she loves seeing the rays of sunlight appearing from behind the white clouds and beaming their way into her eyes! Her other favourite weekend pastimes are hiking, sleeping in tents in the great outdoors and spending time with the children of Dulabhatorn Foundation in Sansai. Find out more about Ching Ching’s hobbies in our Student Spotlight in issue 31 of Panyaden Newsletter (the article is in Thai).
We profile Kru Denny, our new Year 7 Homeroom Teacher in the latest issue of Panyaden Newsletter.
“My goal for Year 7 is that students leave Panyaden prepared for secondary school and enthusiastic about learning. I want the students to feel able to solve problems by themselves and that they have the tools to be successful both academically and socially.” Kru Denny is our new Year 7 homeroom teacher at Panyaden. He knows a thing or two about high school because he taught 14 year olds in his last job. “That experience has helped me because I can see where these kids are going to be in a couple of years. They are on the threshold of adolescence now and are moving into more complex ideas, emotionally, socially and intellectually.”
How do you plan to help them make this change? “My aim is that students will be comfortable being challenged; be able to deal with failure and reassure themselves that if they can’t do something, it just means they can’t do it yet. Experts were not born. They had to go through setbacks and keep practising.”
Californian Denny started out as a restaurateur but it was the satisfaction he got from coaching new, young employees that got him interested in re-training as a teacher. Father of Maury in Year 3, Kru Denny loves the outdoors and enjoys hiking and cycling. He has set a personal goal of learning the Thai alphabet by the end of the year! He gets much of his inspiration from his father, who he describes as a guiding light to his community and family through his unwavering service to others.
First impressions of Panyaden? “I’m struck by the spirit of generosity at school. Teachers give so much of their time for their students and colleagues. I’m impressed by the focus on the whole child here. Many schools only pay lip service to socio-emotional education, but here it is integrated into every day and every activity. Everyone, from the office staff to the managers, is involved, open and collaborative.”
We turn the spotlight on parents, Andres and Raquel, in the latest issue 31 of Panyaden Newsletter.
“As a parent, it’s important to develop a sense of timing,” says Andres, father of Leon Y7 and Diego Y5. “We need to ask, when is it the right time to teach something, to pass on knowledge? Is our child ready to hear it? Too often we send out orders or preach about something when we feel like it. But we have to be on the right frequency with our kids and they have to be open. It must be communicated at the right moment and in the right way.” Mother, Raquel, believes in developing good habits at an early age. “If you don’t give responsibility to children in the early stages, you’ll suddenly have a teenager and then it will be really hard to instil good habits. I find that if they are old enough to complain about having dirty clothes, they are old enough to wash them themselves!”
Andres, a trained lawyer who is now a business development advisor, and Raquel, a former journalist who now works in the textile business, brought their two boys on holiday to Chiang Mai in 2013. Having met other students and parents and visited the school, they decided to move here from their home country, Venezuela, and have now been at Panyaden for 3 years. They love what they describe as the ‘desire to be sincere’ of the teachers here. Raquel explains, “All the teachers I have met here strive to be sincere and authentic. They put their best energy into teaching and want the children to learn not only knowledge but values too. That’s what I appreciate most. Primary education should teach values as well as integrate creative arts, physical exercise and academics. And learning should be fun! This is what motivates children.” Andres adds, “Young children need to feel cared for. If they don’t get this sense of love in the early years, I don’t know if you can make up for it later.”
Raquel loves textiles: making, buying, selling, and learning how it is done. She started coming to Chiang Mai to shop for textiles 20 years ago. Andres describes his main hobby as “finding out why I am here”. Not here in Chiang Mai, but existentially, he adds! He loves to read, practise meditation, and gain self-knowledge. They love the Buddhist teachings that underpin the school ethos, the environment and the multicultural community. Their wish list is for the school to open a Middle Years programme and for older children to learn more about world religions. (We will certainly be doing the latter, but no plans for the former at this time!)
Lastly, we asked them what advice they would give to new families from overseas. Andres: “Give time to the school. New parents see the campus and think that everything will be beautiful, right from the start. But in no school in the world is everything perfect. This is human nature! However, the conditions here will bring about change if you adjust your ideas and values to align with school.” Raquel: “Relax! Newcomers are often in a rush and want everything to happen quickly. Things will happen. You just have to wait!”
One-day Meditation retreat for Panyaden Parents and Carers
Saturday, October 7, 8.30am-3.30pm
On Saturday, October 7, we will be hosting a one-day meditation retreat for Panyaden parents and carers. Venerable Ajahn Jiew is kindly leading this event at our school’s Swimming Pool Sala and we hope as many parents as possible will make the most of this opportunity.
The retreat will be appropriate for both those of you who are new to meditation and would like a gentle introduction to the practice, and for those who already practise. Ajahn Jiew will give advice on techniques in English and there will be opportunities for questions and answers in both English and Thai. The retreat will comprise a mixture of sitting, walking and Q & A and will be conducted in ‘Noble Silence’. Parents who attended previous one-day retreats at school shared very positive feedback with us. Refreshments and lunch will be provided.
Advice on what to bring and wear will be sent to all those who sign up. Please confirm your attendance by Tuesday, October 3 latest. Contact: Kru Boy at the School Office (mobile 0800785115, email@example.com). Please do not hesitate to ask Kru Boy or School Director Kru Neil if you have questions.
Why tracking student progress tells us more than final scores
By Neil Amas, Panyaden International School Director
First, the good news. Panyaden students are, as a whole, doing very well academically and we have the data to prove it (see charts below)! Our 2016 results in Maths and English show that Panyaden is equalling or outperforming other international schools in Thailand and schools across the US that use our new assessment programme, Measuring Academic Progress (‘MAP’). More on that later. Second, the even better news: while this is encouraging (and a testament to the hard work of our teachers), it’s not the main point. The main point is that MAP helps us measure individual student growth and pinpoint each child’s strengths and weaknesses. Seeing how we measure up to other schools is just a bonus!
(Click on above images for larger view.)
MAP is an online ‘adaptive’ test, as opposed to a standardized test (where everyone gets the same questions and they are either right or wrong). This means each student gets different questions according to their ability. So a Year 4 child could end up answering questions from Year 5 or even 6 or, if they are too difficult, from Year 3 or Year 2. MAP adapts to their ability. We assess the students at the start, middle and end of the year. That means that, from whatever point the student starts, teachers are able to see their growth. A Year 3 student who starts the year way below the Year 3 expectations, say at late Year 1 level, but who ends the year at middle Year 3 level, has made tremendous progress. Standardized testers might describe him as a failure. We see his progress as a huge success. By the same token, a Year 3 student who starts the year at an advanced level and finishes the year at late Year 3 level may be seen to have met the Year 3 expectations, but clearly hasn’t progressed as much as expected.
We don’t get better at football by comparing ourselves with Ronaldo, but by seeing how much we have progressed after hard practice. This is what MAP helps us to see. After every assessment it produces a detailed list of strengths and weaknesses for every student, enabling teachers to differentiate instruction in the classroom and set individual learning goals for all of their pupils. It tells teachers what their students know (what their starting point is) and what they need to know (what their goals are). So, when we speak to students we don’t tell them, you are 6th or 16th in your class; we tell them: you started here and you have moved to there. This is about individual growth.
While MAP is not a comparison tool, it is, however, understandable that parents want to know how Panyaden measures up to international standards. We know that many families choose Panyaden because we focus on social and emotional development as much as academics, but there is a perception that focusing so much on values, emotional quotient (EQ) and environmental education may be at a detriment to academic progress.
We are delighted to confirm that the results show what research has been saying all along – that giving equal focus to these things actually enhances academic progress. It must be noted that these are averages and include advanced students and struggling students. It should also be observed that students start to make significant progress after Year 3. We believe this is due to the fact that in Years 1-3 we have many children who are still developing English skills (and MAP assessments are in English). That being said, we are very pleased with the results.
MAP is used by thousands of schools in the U.S. and over 550 international schools in 160 countries. This year we will be adding Science, so we will now be able to assess Maths, English and Science. No preparation is needed by students. This should be a fun, learning experience, not a stressful test!
This Thursday, 28 September 2017, Panyaden will celebrate ‘Wai Kru’ Day, an annual school event during which students show their gratitude to their teachers. We will have a day of activities to mark this occasion and would like to ask parents to send in a small, simple bunch of flowers with your child on Wednesday (27 September).
The flowers will be used to make a ‘paan’ (traditional flower arrangement). These may be any kind of flowers although ‘dok makua‘ (eggplant flower), ‘dok khem’ (ixora) and ‘yapraek’ (Bermuda grass) are the ones traditionally used. Thank you.
In the meantime, please enjoy the following video of last year’s preschool tribute to their teachers.
Latest news! Panyaden’s bamboo Sports Hall is featured on MSN which described it as an “incredible architecture structure” combining modern architecture and conventional materials. Buzz60’s Maria Mercedes Galuppo (@mariamgaluppo) has more here.
Last Friday was Teacher Training day at Panyaden. All members of the school staff, from the cooks to the Head Teachers, practised basic first aid and other safety skills. At the start of every new school year, we get together to refresh our skills and knowledge so that we can keep our students safe. Visit our Panyaden Teacher Training Sept 2017 blog image gallery to see more photos.
Panyaden Teacher Feature on our Facebook page today: Kru Mallory, our Kindergarten Teacher. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from the University of Illinois, USA. She loves being surrounded by children as it’s a daily reminder of the enchantment and wonder in the world. Visit Panyaden’s Team page to read more of Kru Mallory’s profile!
Panyaden parents, staff and student volunteers recently joined thousands throughout Thailand in making dok mai chan (sandalwood flowers). Our school’s Flower Making Project is a tribute to His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej. The finished sandalwood flowers will be sent to the Chiangmai Provincial Education Office for the Royal Cremation Ceremony in Bangkok on 26 October, 2017. Thank you for your participation.