This month our Bangkok Faces feature introduces Jennifer Knight DeLashmutt, the Director of curriculum and learning at International School Bangkok (ISB)
Your Name: Jennifer Knight DeLashmutt
Job Title: Director of Curriculum and Professional Learning at International School Bangkok (ISB)
1. What is your nationality and background?
I’m from the USA and this is the sixth year our family has been living overseas. My husband works in the field of aviation and he is currently based in Hong Kong. We have two children, a son, who is 17 years old and a daughter who is 15 years old. We lived in Hong Kong for the last five years and this is our first year in Thailand.
2. What is your profession?
As the Director of Curriculum and Professional Learning at International School Bangkok (ISB), my office is housed in the Learning Design Center (LDC). In its simplest form, The Learning Design Center is a maker space for adult learning. Maker spaces are where learners come together to share knowledge, skills and designs in order to move an idea or concept forward, or even in another direction.
When school communities embrace a culture of constructing or making meaning, there is a mindset of community partnership, collaboration, creation, iteration and reflection. At ISB we believe every space is a space for constructing meaning. The LDC is a space where faculty and staff can tinker, engage and create, with a focus on curriculum, instruction and assessment. As a world premier school, our thinking and learning together is steadfastly centered around students, what they are learning, how they are learning, why they are learning and how we will know if they are learning.
3. What are the key skills and responsibilities of this role?
At any given time in the LDC, there may be team meetings, planning sessions for professional learning, book clubs where faculty have come together to read, listen, discover and share, or action research based on a professional enquiry around faculty passions and student needs. Regardless of the activity or session in the LDC, one thing is for sure, ISB faculty are modeling the very skills we are developing, nurturing and practicing with our students. We are thinking creatively and critically. We are applying resources and tools to gather, evaluate and use to develop innovative products and processes. We are recognising unique problems and persevering in creatively solving them. We are using critical thinking, reasoning and ethical decision-making skills to plan and conduct research, manage projects, solve problems and make informed decisions using appropriate resources. We are practicing our inter and intra personal skills. We are demonstrating the ability to set appropriate goals and persevering in attaining them. We are seeking to understand. We are caring about our students, people and the environment and taking responsibility for making our community more equitable and sustainable. We are making choices to enhance the wellbeing of ourselves and others. We are working collaboratively with others. We are communicating. We are sharing our ideas in writing, discourse and oral presentations for a variety of audiences and contexts. We are generating open-ended questions and seeking answers through critical analysis of text, observations or interviews. We are reading, viewing, listening to learn, to solve problems and to explore diverse ideas and opinions.
4. How did you get involved in your profession?
Interestingly, my undergraduate degree is in International Politics. It was not until my M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction that I channeled my career path as an educator. In both Hong Kong and the United States, I have served as an Elementary Principal for eight years and I think that leadership role complements quite nicely with the PK-12, schoolwide role leading teaching and learning.
5. How does your role enhance the wellbeing or experience of children?
I am proud to say that our Strategic Learning Plan at ISB focuses on student wellbeing. As a part of my role, I get to facilitate the team collaborations where we brainstorm and design opportunities to prioritise student wellbeing. Recently, we analysed our student, faculty and parent survey data with questions designed to seek to understand our students’ needs and ideas in regards to their own personal well being, as well as our school community’s. From there, we co-create with our students prioritised actionable steps to improve our focus and collect further data to monitor our progress. Some of the things we have committed to include supporting our Health and Wellbeing teachers and other interested faculty in getting certified in Mindfulness practices, and creating a map of what Health and Wellbeing looks like at ISB and how we can ensure all of our students have access throughout each year to health and wellbeing teaching and learning. Our leadership team is dedicated to the mantra that student wellbeing is as paramount as achievement.
7. What do you hope to achieve within your industry?
As an educator, this is our chosen profession. This is what we do. These transdisciplinary skills as we call them, thinking creatively and critically, enriching our inter and intra personal skills and communicating effectively, are the fulcrum of learning at ISB, for all learners, in every space. In the spirit of continuous improvement, our structures are in place for us to reflect on our curriculum, instructional practices and our assessments. We must keep these learner-focused conversations going, and thriving at ISB. I feel so fortunate to be a part of the ISB community where the value of making meaning, professional learning, trying new things and creating together is embraced and experienced in a variety of different ways, all together.
6. What challenges do you face in this role?
Trying to find the balance with time. In order to conduct action research with faculty and administrators and staff, we need the time to brainstorm, explore and collaborate together. The trade off is that faculty may be out of their classrooms. I co-plan these sessions in the LDC so that it is meaningful and worth their time away from students.
Another challenge is meeting the needs of all of our learners, both children and adults. Learning takes place in different ways for different people and ensuring access and making meaning for all learners is always the goal, but certainly not always easy!
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