Sense of Inclusion: Impact of Social-Emotional Challenges on Learning
By Karine Estadieu, Inclusive Education Coordinator at TIS
The International School of Macao celebrated its 15th anniversary last month. It was a wonderful opportunity to appreciate the significant growth of the school from a few dozen students to the current 1,150 students representing close to 40 different countries. It can be said that cultural diversity is well represented at TIS!
The key challenge for international schools includes serving culturally diverse students with varied abilities and motivation for learning. As a matter of fact, school size, cultural differences, variety of first languages, student turnover all raise challenges for many students during their time at school. For students with special needs these realities can be overwhelming! Emotions can facilitate or impede children’s academic engagement and success; students can feel lost and thus social-emotional difficulties will have an impact on the learning.
At TIS, we want to embrace this reality and hence our dedicated teachers came up with a multitude of strategies and opportunities to support our students. I would like to share with you some of the creative options offered to accompany the students on their journey:
Lunch club: organised by the Inclusive Ed. for students who find the hustle and bustle of the MPR too much and need a quiet space to sit and eat.
Social lunch club: to give new students the opportunity to build friendships, particularly those who speak neither English nor Chinese as their first language. It is also a way to celebrate the cultural diversity when each student is invited to bring something from his own country and share about it.
Go Girls: Grades 5 and 6 young girls unite in friendship. Each week they have lunch together and engage in activities suggested by themselves. They also share motivational stories and literature for girls in hopes of empowering them to believe in themselves and accomplish whatever they hope or dream.
Social Hang Out: offers a quiet place for students from the same division to play and interact with the support of counsellors.
A bunny... In Grade 6, Ms. Little has a secret guest in her class: a bunny! It is amazing to see the impact on the students: it is calming, comforting, reassuring... Many other positive impacts on the students were noted as well.
Differentiation of activities where teachers offer different level of questions in a game to provide an equal opportunity for each student to feel successful and be happily part of the group.
Social and emotional learning: An awareness of your own feelings and how you could deal with them is introduced in each grade, particularly through our curriculum called The Zones of Regulation.
And many more…. Thanks to everyone involved in these activities!
At TIS, in order to contribute to the education and well-being of the students, we offer a holistic and student-centered approach where learning is valued, diversity is encouraged, individual uniqueness respected, and social-emotional needs are considered.
There is no unique solution, it is a permanent creative renewal!