As international educators, we often find ourselves stepping into unfamiliar territory, embracing new schools and curricula. This can be particularly challenging at high-performing institutions. Recognizing these challenges, BASIS International & Bilingual Schools • China has developed a unique educational framework to ensure our teachers receive the support they need to thrive.
Unpacking the Course Advisor Role
The Course Advisor (CAD) role, introduced in Fall 2022, has quickly become invaluable within the BASIS International Schools network. As experienced BASIS faculty, CADs assist their peers across the network in courses using benchmarks, comprehensive exams, and other types of end-of-year tests. Their specialized knowledge and deep understanding of the BASIS Curriculum enable them to effectively guide and support other teachers in implementing the material and preparing students for exams.
CADs are responsible for establishing course-pacing calendars, compiling resources, designing benchmark and comprehensive exams, and addressing course-related questions, all of which result in a consistent educational experience across all campuses.
More than just academic advisors, CADs are mentors, guides, curators, and, most importantly, unwavering sources of support for teachers.
Empowering New Teachers
During Summer Institute, an intensive training before the start of school, Course Advisors collaborate with new teachers to familiarize them with the BASIS model and prepare them for the upcoming year. These group and individual sessions with their CADs help teachers gain confidence and traction more quickly.
Ariel Rosenthal has been working at BASIS for eleven years, both in China and the States, and assumed the role of the Math Chair in Shenzhen, as well as the Algebra 2 CAD, during the 2022-23 school year. She not only trained teachers as part of the summer sessions but offered an extensive collection of course resources available in an online format.
“Teaching at BASIS, especially during the first year, can be challenging,” says Rosenthal. “So, if I can help teachers feel more confident by providing resources, then they can experience an easier transition.”
Teachers have a wealth of resources at their disposal, from lesson presentations and study guides to past tests and supplementary worksheets. These materials are organized for easy access, allowing teachers to focus on what matters most—the students.
Neressa Naidoo, a teacher at BASIS International & Bilingual School Chengdu, shared her initial journey with the school. Although she had prior international teaching experience, she said starting at BASIS was daunting. However, the wealth of available resources ensured a smooth year, allowing her to focus on her students and adapt her teaching methods to address their different needs.
Despite missing the summer training due to quarantine, Diana Reichenbach, a BASIS International School Nanjing teacher, enjoyed a positive experience. She attributes this to the exceptional support she received from her CAD. Diana noted that her CAD was always readily available to address her queries in a comprehensive manner. Furthermore, she appreciated the abundance of course resources provided to her, such as lesson plans, study guides, and tests, which “made the transition into teaching at BASIS a wonderful experience.”
CADs also guide the teaching process throughout the academic year, providing expert guidance to new and returning faculty at every step. They answer questions, offer solutions, and share advice, creating an environment of trust and assurance that empowers teachers to excel.
King Wun Vincent Leung, a faculty member at BASIS International School Guangzhou, who has experienced the dynamic of the teacher-CAD relationship from both sides, emphasized the supportive role of the CADs. In his view, CADs function not as managers of the course but as facilitators to help teachers succeed. He pointed out that teachers, often the sole instructor for a course at a campus, find it immensely helpful to have an experienced CAD to rely on for guidance and assistance.
“My Course Advisor has shared information about the BASIS method, given suggestions for differentiation, and explained how content had changed over time,” said Reichenbach. “All this made me comfortable in my classroom and ensured I delivered good lessons.”
Setting Learning Pace
One of the CAD’s primary responsibilities is establishing the course pacing calendar for the academic year. This calendar ensures that all schools within the network align to the same schedule, guaranteeing cohesive experiences for students.
Kevin Moran, a teacher at BASIS International & Bilingual School Chengdu, highlighted the significance of the CAD role. He expressed that although teachers are capable of delivering courses independently, without the CAD’s guidance, there is potential for mistakes that could impact the students. He also placed great importance on having confidence in delivering material consistent with the rest of the schools in the network.
The CAD’s course expertise that enables them to set the pacing calendar also helps them adjust course pacing plans as needs arise. “Having taught these courses for so long, I know which lessons can be combined and which may pose challenges for students,” explained Rosenthal.
Naidoo shared her experience when her school’s start date was postponed by two weeks due to COVID. Her Course Advisor offered advice and guidance on adjusting the curriculum pacing to cover the material best. This dynamic support system allows teachers to face challenges confidently and guarantees students’ learning is not compromised.
CADs not only support teachers one-on-one but also cultivate camaraderie among colleagues from the different campuses. They encourage collaboration and the exchange of ideas and materials, making teachers feel less isolated. “When collaborating with teachers from different campuses who share the same course, it really reminds me, as a teacher, that I am not alone,” Leung commented.
The introduction of the Course Advisor role has positively impacted the success of both teachers and students at BASIS. For teachers, especially those new to the BASIS International Schools network, CADs provide invaluable guidance and continuous support throughout the academic year.
Head of Middle School at BASIS International School Shenzhen, Stephen Howard boasts that monthly network-wide meetings for our teachers with course advisors have been “a really good way for us to learn from each other and make sure we are all getting feedback on what we are teaching students and how we are teaching them.” In our latest blog, learn more about the impact course advisors have at BASIS International & Bilingual Schools in China at blog.basisinternationalschools.com . #CourseAdvisors #NetworkWideSupport #SchoolNetwork #Feedback #Learning #China #InternationalSchools #BASISInternationalSchools #TeachAbroad #Teachers #ContinuingEducation #Support #NewBlog #InternationalTeachers
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