Head of School Weekly Notes (Archives)

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A Team Effort to Keep Our Community Safe; NIS will remain Online until Jan. 28

As we wrap up our first week back to school in a new semester and new year, I wish to express how impressed I am with the flexibility and understanding shown by our entire community. Though we always knew pivoting to online learning was a distinct possibility - perhaps even a certainty - we kept feeling extremely lucky week after week during our first semester. This week was a test on the . . .

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Closing Semester One with Hope

We’ve made it to the end of the semester and the end of 2020. It has been a year that has changed the world for generations to come and in ways that we still do not yet fully know or understand. Ironically, this pandemic, which is a massive global issue, has also made our world much smaller as it finds us looking to family, friends, and community, centering in on the human connections that define us. Not only . . .

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MYP Artists Shine on Stage

We had an excellent day of performance art in full display on the stage in the MPH today. As we wind down the first half of the school year, the MYP students had the opportunity to demonstrate what they’ve been working hard on all semester. Grade 10 students found it a perfect opportunity to practice some of their performances that will be assessed later in the year, thanks to the stage setup, lights, and seating in the MPH. They warmed up the stage for the Grade 6 and Grade 9 students, who . . .

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Library display with autumn theme

It has been another busy week at NIS. On Wednesday, we enjoyed our online PTA meeting planning with parents around the events and semester ahead. One of the things that became clear was that even though our students enjoy many of the experiences they would have enjoyed pre-pandemic - lessons, sports, events, and activities - one of the most significant differences is that we simply don't get to welcome our parents to campus. This is tough for all of us as we try to partner around your children's success and happiness. Of course . . . (Click "Read More" for a "Head of School Coffee Morning" sign-up!)

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NIS teachers meeting in groups in the Multi-Purpose Hall for professional development day

It goes without saying that to be an effective teacher, you need to be a good student. What sets NIS apart from other schools is the deliberate and regular efforts to improve our own skills in the classroom. This past week, we dedicated Monday and Tuesday to the professional development of our teaching staff. Over the two days . . .

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Nine Elementary students gathered around a poster writing about "making connections"

One of the best parts of the job as Head of School is the opportunity to spend time with kids and teachers in classrooms learning together – and this week, I’ve had the chance to see some incredible teaching and some remarkable learning. It is sometimes hard to get a sense of how the NIS (IB) framework comes alive for parents. This is especially so during COVID when access to campus is limited. I encourage you to talk to your children about their learning and have them explain to you what they learned and how they learned. This week, for example . . .

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Sharing Our Teaching and Learning

Collaboration, connection, and support...these abound around our school on a daily basis, but sometimes it is worth calling out for recognition. Because when we share our knowledge or our talents, it isn't just a nice thing to do, but it is essential in shaping how we learn now and retain what we are learning well into the future. A wonderful example of this is . . .

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Teacher online for Three Way Conferences

Thank you to all of our parents for your enthusiasm for the Three-Way Conferences held on Tuesday. We always say that our partnership with parents is essential as we work together to support your children's growth. And though we encourage parents to reach out to teachers any time they feel the need to, these conference days are a very important part of the school calendar when together we can sit – student, parent, and teacher – to reflect on progress and learning. This year we were online, and it was . . .

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From Walkathon to Halloween

While many things in 2020 are not the way they used to be (!), this has been a week in which I have been very grateful and proud of our staff and students. We were able to keep some of the important annual traditions alive – again, making us thankful to be learning face-to-face at this time, unlike so many children around the world.

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Back at The Place We Call 'School'

How great it has been to start off the year, face-to-face, with our returning and new students, families and staff – and with our brand new building! The long period of online learning has taught us many things. One is to be proud of the resilience, determination and autonomy of our young learners and staff who were able to keep the learning going throughout. But the other is . . .

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Ready to Inquire, Inspire and Impact!

It was such an amazing joy to welcome our new students to campus today. Around this same time 52 years ago, a gathering of NIS students cut a ribbon and entered the original Raymond Building at NIS for the very first time full of hopes and dreams – and some nervous fears, I’m sure – about the year that awaited them in their new school.

Today, half a century later . . .

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End of a Week, End of a Year . . . and WHAT a Year!

2020 was a year we at NIS have all been thinking about for a long time – especially here in Japan with the promise of the Olympics and of course our own NIS ‘2020 Vision Project’, there was so much hope and optimism as the dawn broke on Jan 1. Who could have imagined the craziness that would start off the year of 2020; our school, families and lives turned upside down by COVID-19. In many ways, though, this still has been an exceptional year. Not only . . .

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Importance of Physical Space

It is hard to believe that we only have one final week remaining of what has been quite an exceptional school year. A highlight this week was of course the Graduation ceremony of our grade 12 students who were able to come to campus, face-to-face one last time to celebrate and share their memories of school. At the other end of the school, our ELC preschool students are busy decorating and painting the fairy house (or is it a butterfly house!?). In the middle school . . .

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Thanks, Congratulations and Farewells

I would like to thank you all – our community pulled together and we managed to being our students back this week – with a little over 80% of students coming in on their designated days. I can’t tell you how much better, real and human our school feels now that the campus is once again ringing to the tune of students voices and laughter. Our students have been great – following the guidelines and looking after each other with care. They have been creative to find solutions for . . .

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Celebrating NIS Arts Online!

I am so impressed with how virtual interpretations of our students' artistic endeavors are having a #NISimpact this week. As I walk the halls, they remind me that although the students haven't been here, they are still creating and NISinspiring us with their talents! Thanks to our art department, the hall displays will be ready in time to welcome back students for the last three weeks of school. The Primary students have been . . .

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Finding Connections

It was a pleasure to share in our parent coffee morning today. I always value hearing from parents directly about the challenges of supporting your children and families through COVID-19 and online learning. Today we discussed again some of the common themes families are facing . . .

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It Takes a Team

As we close out on another week of NIS Online I’m reminded of how far we have come from those first uncertain few days of trying to build our systems, schedules and methods and get up to speed as a community with online learning. I’m incredibly proud of what has taken shape here . . .

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The Learning Continues

I thank our entire community for your patience and understanding this week; a week in which we made the difficult decision to continue to offer online learning. I know that while this decision had the support of the large majority of the community, a strong minority take a different and equally valid view. I understand these ...

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