At VMA, we strive to keep consistency in accomplishing our mission and vision by following some practical educational principles. These set of principles not only guides us in our everyday classroom but also throughout our school year through the implementation of different programs and extracurricular activities.
- Building global competency in and beyond the classroom
- Providing instructional design support through coaching
- Designing a lifelong learning community for educators to engage with
- Student centered approach through project-based learning
The question many have asked is how do we implement our principles into our daily life at school.
It first starts with our belief. We believe in our mission of “cultivating global citizens with a Chinese identity”. This means that we continuously push the boundaries and perspectives of our students with the interaction they have with our international faculty and subject matter. Many of our classes are surrounding subjects that may not traditionally fit into a local public-school curriculum, such as art history, dance theory, design thinking and even woodwork. These classes each embody characteristics of culture spearheaded by our teachers and dug deeper into by each of our student. Our goal is to engage students in developing an understanding of this subject area and the world that it brings, no matter the arts, sciences or more. The idea of global citizenry is also wrapped around the extracurricular activities that our students engage with from international competitions to student leadership activities to community driven projects. The diversity in perspective and engagement of issues is something we cherish and provide for our students and we seek to continue this tradition throughout.
Another belief we have is that we cannot achieve our mission and vision without our teachers. Therefore, we have a fundamental principle in supporting our VMA teachers with frequent instructional coaching. This has led us to create our own VMA instructional coaching program. This program provides teachers one-on-one and small cohort team coaching & targeted training to refine instructional practice. By having these frequent sessions, each department is better equipped to guide our teachers in improving their pedagogy, instructions and assessments to support our students in their learning. We also launched this year our first ever Teaching and Learning Center (TLC). Here, we offer more than 50 workshops each semester providing relevant training in the areas of eLearning, classroom management, student-centred instructional strategies, and best practices.
This leads us to our next principle—we believe in the process of lifelong learning. We do this by creating a community for both our educators & students. Students are given the option to choose from a list of over 200 different types of classes to fit their interest and desire to accomplish what they want to learn. On the flip side, our teachers are equipped with the necessary skills and tools which we provide with both onsite professional development sessions (such as US Administrators, Trainers from UCLA Math Project and Cambridge) while giving them the choice of whether they want to receive specialized training on their curriculum (such as AP, Cambridge, etc.) Autonomy to choose what areas should be covered in the class and the types of resources they need is crucial to our success.
Finally, our approach to teaching and learning lies in a student-centred approach that goes through the process of learning inquiry. These practices involve incorporating discussions, debates, seminars, presentations of learning, and group projects. Going back to choice, we believe in students having the ability to choose how they want to learn by providing them with a variety of activities to learn in the classroom. Variability is key, as each student may prioritize a different way to learn that fits their learning preference. That is why we encourage them to constantly inquiry and for our educators to provide them with personalized learning strategies to guide them in achieving the higher order learning involved in future successes.
This is our principles and philosophy at VMA. We hope to continue this wave of teaching and learning to guide our many generations after and to achieve our mission & vision along the way.