Empowering our teachers to learn and evolve lies at the heart of the BASIS International & Bilingual Schools China mission to deliver unparalleled international education. That’s why professional development is deeply embedded in our learning culture. In alignment with this ethos, BIBSC recently hosted its annual Summer Institute that marks the beginning of our newest teachers’ professional learning journeys.
Each summer, the Institute familiarizes new teachers with the unique teaching culture at BASIS Curriculum Schools. It immerses them in the network ethos, offers opportunities for collaboration with peers from other campuses, and provides mentorship from experienced leaders. Understanding the BASIS Curriculum and education culture isn’t just about adhering to a standard–it’s essential for our new educators to deliver high-quality classroom experiences to their students. But more than that, the Summer Institute fosters connections, reminding each teacher they are part of a bigger picture–a network-first approach.
The network-centric philosophy was at the forefront of the 2023 Summer Institute and is a foundation of BIBSC’s success. Dr. Reford, BIBSC Chief Executive Head of Schools (CEHOS), highlighted this in his opening remarks, “Teachers become part of our network, then an individual school.”
“We are the most academically successful network of international and bilingual schools in China. The foundation of that success is that we function as a network, not as a collection of individual schools,” Dr. Reford elaborated. “This mindset deeply enriches our employees’ professional experience. During the pandemic, it was hard to fully cultivate this network-first culture, so this Summer Institute is the opening of a new chapter for us.”
Remarkably, 2023 saw the first in-person Summer Institute since 2020. Hosted at the BASIS International & Bilingual School Chengdu campus in mid-August, it was our most significant gathering, with nearly 300 new teachers and 200 training leaders in attendance from our eight campuses across China.
This year’s core theme was: How do we deliver exceptional teaching and faculty mentoring?
“The phrase ‘through exceptional teaching and faculty mentoring’ encapsulates our core responsibilities,” Dr. Reford noted. “Everything else we do so that we can focus most of our time, care, intellect, and imagination on exceptional teaching and faculty mentoring. Our culture, our organizational structure, our roles and responsibilities, and our teaching practice all derive from this phrase. We believe education is a service, and the service we provide is good teaching.”
Over 130 workshops and sessions ensured our teachers gained a holistic view of the BIBSC vision and received tailored training for their specific roles.
“The Summer Institute were about bringing the BASIS International & Bilingual Schools’ mission to life and setting the optimal framework for teaching excellence to blossom in their classrooms,” said Doris Ji and Michael Isenring, Director of Educational Operations., who presented on the key network processes and documents. “The idea was to get the teachers to embrace the BASIS Curriculum Schools’ values and how we function as a network as well as to understand the team of people who will support them throughout the year.”
Along with the network, school, and division training sessions, teachers underwent discipline-focused training by department chairs and engaged with Course Advisors for specialized course insights.
BASIS Curriculum training leaders also hosted Teaching & Learning Workshops, addressing topics across the four teaching & learning domains: Knowing Students, Strategies for Learning, Evidence for Learning, and Crafting the Curriculum. Notable workshops included a guided session on play-based learning for ECE teachers, a deep dive into creating targeted activities based on informed decisions for high school teachers, and a look at the significance and practice of co-teaching for primary school teachers.
Jamie Davis, Chief Instructional Officer, commented, “The extensive workshops allowed teachers to gain a comprehensive understanding, specific to their roles, and learn from leaders across our network.”
Feedback from our teachers echoed similar feelings about the value of the Institute. Zachary Samuels, a geography teacher at BASIS Bilingual School Shenzhen, reflected, “The Summer Institute helped me prepare for the upcoming year in many ways. Primarily, it set expectations for me as a teacher of what administrators expect us to do but also reassured me of the support I will have from my administrators as well as my colleagues not just at my school but from all the other campuses.”
Andrew Ballantine, a social studies SET at BASIS International School Hangzhou, describes the BASIS Curriculum Schools as “unique,” “diverse,” and “supportive.” “Here I meet teachers form different schools, we focus on teaching and learning, we share ideas on how to be observed and coached to be better teachers, and I feel like I am part of a large community, not just in a school.”
Among the new teachers, there are nearly 200 foreign teachers from all over the world, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and so on, with different educational and cultural backgrounds, characteristics and interests. Many of the foreign teachers are new to China, but the warm and positive team and the professional and comprehensive support system have helped them settle in quickly. “I’m most excited about joining the BASIS community and the network, definitely the students and teachers I am working with and the support I have from my seniors, the CADs, the chairs, and heads of departments. I’m really looking forward to it,” said Benjamin Dewhirst who will be beginning his first year with our network as an Engineering Teacher at BASIS International School Guangzhou.
This year’s Summer Institute was also attended by over 200 academic managers and administrators from the Ascend International Education Group and all the campuses. BASIS International & Bilingual Schools China arranged an administrative and logistic team of nearly 100 people to ensure quality and organized services, and a rich schedule for each day. Teachers came to Tianfu Feiteng town and checked in at this “hot pot city.” They ate hot pot and watched performances by the lake, on the boat and on the mountain, and enjoyed the charm of Chengdu cuisine in an authentic local aura. Before the end of the training, a canopy reception was held at the field of BASIS International & Bilingual School Chengdu. With the starry night sky, tents and foods, lawn and music, the teachers chatted about their ideals and shared about their lives, and bade farewell to this annual gathering with a wonderful night. After the Summer Institute, teachers went back to their respective campuses for on-site training and to make adequate preparations for the new school year.
Yet, the Summer Institute is just the beginning of our ongoing commitment to training and supporting our teachers. Their learning journey continues throughout the year with regular coaching sessions, professional learning days, network collaborations, and daily interactions with managers and peers.
For more information about teaching abroad with BASIS International Schools, visit our careers website.