International Community School
- Number of Students: 429
- Percent Eligible for Free and Reduced Lunch: 0%
- Percent of Limited English Proficient: 0%
- Percent of Special Education: 0%
ICS is dedicated to providing the best education it can through the PLC process and as a part of this has sent teams of teachers on research and development journeys to other schools to look at best practice. Administrators and Teachers at
ICS have, over the last five years, attended PLC conferences all over the world including the PLC Institute at Singapore American School in October of 2015 and the PLC Institute at Singapore American School in 2017. In March 2017 ICS Addis brought Dr. Tim Stuart, a PLC Associate focused on International Schools to introduce PLCs to the entire ICS faculty. Dr. Stuart further became the Head of School at ICS in 2018.
The implementation faced many challenges at the beginning. Staff members who were unwilling to change their pedagogy. The PLC road map has enlightened and enabled our teachers and students to move towards a team-based approach.
The PLC implementation journey started in the 2017-18 school year with a schoolwide implementation of the PLC process. While the school was already a high performing school with excellent university acceptances and student performance, it implemented this new approach by putting it squarely into its schoolwide and divisional goals. This year (2020-21) our schoolwide goals are:
We will commit to being a Professional Learning Community in order to ensure that all students learn at high levels by being:
Focused on learning
Committed to collaboration
We will love and care for our ICS community by investing in and supporting students and staff in order to ensure our well-being and success (related to the 2020 COVID pandemic).
We will ensure that all students and staff know, understand and apply the ICS Learning Process in order to personalize their learning (The ICS Learning Process is based around the Four PLC Questions).
In addition, the school refocused on its mission with a new perspective. The ICS school mission, one of the Four Pillars is that “We nurture the talents, character and intellect of all learners, challenging them to be a positive influence and empowering them to excel in their world”. Looking at this through the PLC lens the school mission closely aligns with the four questions. At ICS we have our Foundational Principles which consist of the Mission, Vision, Definition of learning and the Four PLC questions, our collective commitments (Values), and the ICS learning process (based on the four questions). These foundational principles guide the school and have all been reviewed or unpacked within the focus on personalized learning.
At this point, several years later, through continual training and a campus overhaul, a culture of collaboration to continually work towards improving the best for each child has been cultivated. As an independent, international school with a strong inclusive program personalizing learning through the PLC process makes perfect sense to our staff to best support the many different needs of our community. This is supported through our RtI approach throughout the school.
Some of the first changes have been structural, changing the schedules and staffing to increase collaborative discussion time . ICS made the decision to embark wholeheartedly into the PLC process, and wanted all educators to be active in the team meetings. To this end extra staff were hired in the Elementary School in order to allow not only the teachers but also the teaching assistants to meet every day as a Grade level team including specialist subject teaching staff such as Art, music, languages and PE. Team leaders were established in all grade and team levels, and additional training provided to these individuals in how to run collaborative meetings with productive discussions on student learning . Consistency in the weekly collaborative meeting across the elementary school was a key focus at this time.
Each week on Wednesday afternoon two sessions were available for staff training. The first was dedicated to continuing professional development including whole school training on the four critical PLC questions, book clubs and work based on the Global Perspectives and Personalized Learning in a PLC at work books. The second session has been assigned to teams as an additional team meeting time while The focus of these meetings was to create a common understanding of the PLC process and clear expectations for the teachers in their practice. Beyond the initial orientation for staff at the beginning of the year and ongoing training throughout the year, ICS Addis has hosted two PLC Institutes (2019 and 2020) which were attended by all ICS Teachers and Teaching Assistants. These institutes featured PLC and Assessment Associates such as Mike Mattos, Anthony Mohammad, Tom Schimmer, Nicole Dimich, Darin Fahrney, Amanda Wood, Sascha Heckmann and Tim Stuart. Feedback is collected from staff both on the training experiences themselves and as a reflection on what additional training staff need in order to develop in their understanding of the PLC process.
Over the last three years the PLC process has been kept as one of the Elementary School’s key priorities (included in annual goals) dictating decisions made within the elementary school such as professional training priorities, scheduling and recruitment. One of the biggest changes has been the establishment of “learning communities” within the elementary school. The four sections of each grade level have been combined so that the grade is considered one cohort supported by the four teachers and supporting staff within one physical classroom “Hub”. This massive structural, psychological and physical change in the organization of the school embodies the commitment to the PLC process. Now all teachers are responsible for all students in their grade and support those students and each other through the PLC process in their team meetings. Finally, the entire elementary schedule has been adjusted to allow for two team planning meetings each day which consists collaborative meetings data analysis.
1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.
Developing a guaranteed and viable curriculum is a focus at ICS. The school has developed an Executive Director of Learning position in order to oversee and bring together the three divisions of the school in a whole school approach. Dedicated curriculum staff are also assigned in each division to support the curriculum development. In order that all administrative and curriculum staff are working consistently. A year long program of training with all extended leadership team members was conducted talking through how our work aligns with the school mission and vision and breaking down the school goals. In this way the curricular leadership was unified and empowered to support the development of a guaranteed and viable curriculum.
A methodological process of aligning the curriculum vertically and horizontally was started with dedicated time given to subject group teams to review whole school alignment and divisional alignment. School wide standards were selected to ensure the school aligned with internationally accepted expectations and content.
In the Elementary school an annual program of Inquiry review was established to set up a formal regular review and reflection upon the curriculum by all staff. ICS has also established Math and Literacy committees who review our work in these subjects and adjust Elementary Wide agreements (essential agreements) twice a year ensuring elementary wide alignment of the guaranteed and viable curriculum.
2. Creating systems of intervention to provide students with additional time and support for learning.
Response to Intervention
Helping ALL students to perform at high levels is supported by the use of response to intervention (RTI). This addresses PLC questions three “ What do we do when they don’t know it? and four “What do we do when they already know it?”. RTI is a multi-tier approach used to identify students with learning needs early and provide quick and targeted support for those needs. Beginning with the admissions data collection and explicit conversations are held between Teachers, Counselors and Student Support staff regarding each child and goals put in place. For most support individual learning needs are addressed in the classroom by the educators working with the students directly using a variety of strategies decided by collaborative discussions within the daily grade level PLC meetings.
Students who fail to respond to these supports to meet their individual learning targets based on data collected are then referred to the Student Support Team (SST) who can then place students into higher level tiers with additional structured interventions based on additional assessments of the student’s needs.
Tier 1 support is received by all students to meet their individual learning style and needs. Teams meet together to discuss strategies and interventions which may have been used by other teachers to support individual students. Including the teaching assistants conversation is essential as teaching assistants are a key educator in the room who can provide assistance. In this way the whole teaching staff of the grade are working to support all students together.
Tier 2 support provides extra instruction for students for targeted intervention on a specific skill, delivered by grade level specialists already working with these students and delivering one-off support.
Tier 3 addresses intensive individualised interventions for students who may be missing larger amounts of prerequisite knowledge. At this level staff members from outside the classroom team are involved including learning support teachers, speech pathologists, and/or counselors and may involve pull-out support for focused intervention.
3. Building teacher capacity to work as members of high performing collaborative teams that focus efforts on improved learning for all students.
Professional development is a focus at ICS Addis. Each year the school brings in multiple consultants, Including Erma Anderson (Math), Maria Hersey (IBPYP), and Katie Knight to run in school workshops including Solution Tree in 2019 and 2020 and PYP cluster workshops. Staff are given professional development allowances to participate in training online, and in person all of which is managed through our office of learning to ensure that the training aligns with the schools mission and goals.
Training is essential in the establishment of any new process. Each week on Wednesday afternoon two sessions were available for staff training, since the establishment of this process the second session has been assigned to teams as additional team meeting time while the first was dedicated to continuing professional development including whole school training on the four critical PLC questions, book clubs and work based on the Global Perspectives and Personalized Learning in a PLC at work books. The focus of these meetings was to create a common understanding of the PLC process and clear expectations for the teachers in their practice. Importantly, this includes ALL teachers, including specialist subject teachers who work together with the hub (Homeroom) teachers to achieve learning objectives.
Important to note is that all educational staff have received training in running an effective team meeting, including teaching assistants. While team leaders have a specific Administrative staff are regular members of all team meetings.
Structures are essential to establish and maintain the development of an effective PLC school. To provide easy access to the guiding documents, the elementary school added a PLC tab to the staff dashboard linking in the meetings agenda templates, agreements and the ICS PLC guidebook.
Achievement Data Files
Additional Achievement Data
Since school closed in march because of Covid, our school has shifted to online learning which gave our teachers a chance to guide students in to becoming their own learners. Even though it required a lot of hard work and dedication from teachers and students, it was a good time to see how our students have taken full responsibility in to their learning.
Because of the successful PLC practices implemented at ICS, the result was rewarding and empowering. There was a rise in all grades proficiency scores for MAP reading between 2019 and 2020. The MATH proficiency scores have increased in G2 and G5, but slightly decreased for G3 and G4. While being away from school our students have proved to us that they have gained the skills and techniques they need in order to lead their own learning.