Dave Yarmchuk, Inspired Teaching’s Deputy Director, shares about his upcoming trip to Thailand to work with teachers in Chiang Mai.
How did Inspired Teaching connect with the Chiang Mai International School?
We have a partnership with the Literacy Design Collaborative, and the Chiang Mai International School found us through their website. Once the School Superintendent and Director of Curriculum & Instruction at the school learned about us, they did some digging on our website to see what we offer. Teachers had indicated on a school survey that their number one interest was learning about authentic engagement, and they decided our workshops were exactly what they were looking for. After all, authentic engagement is what we do best.
The school leaders posted a workshop description at the school and on the EARCOS (East Asia Regional Council of Schools) website and interest from teachers has been through the roof. We planned to offer a training to 30 teachers but they had 80 teachers sign up relatively quickly. The school leaders cut off enrollment and put about 40 of the teachers on a waitlist for the next workshop. We’re hopeful we’ll be able to return for a second training in the Spring.
What are the main goals of the workshop?
The school leaders were originally particularly interested in combining the elements of our introductory workshop: Becoming an Instigator of Thought, and our workshop The Relationship-Based Classroom.
The main focus of the workshop will be planning and facilitating inquiry-based education using the Inspired Teaching Model of Instruction. This includes the 4 “I”s (Intellect, Inquiry, Imagination, Integrity), as well as our core elements. Teachers are excited about using an engagement-based approach, – but they also have some trepidation. Student-centered instruction is new for many of the teachers, who are more comfortable with traditional teaching practices.
We had originally planned to focus a lot on restorative justice as well, but after talking with the school leaders, we learned that they don’t really have much difficulty with misbehavior or classroom management. So instead of focusing on relationship-based discipline, we’ll discuss the role of relationships in creating an authentically engaging environment.
What is the furthest you’ve traveled for Inspired Teaching before?
While Inspired Teaching has presented around the world, the furthest I’ve traveled for Inspired Teaching was to a conference in California, and the furthest I’ve gone to host a training at a school is College Park, Maryland, so this is definitely something new and exciting for me.
What are you most looking forward to about the workshop?
I’m excited to work with a school that is so far away, and in such a different setting than Washington DC. I am looking forward to seeing the Inspired Teaching model in action with a totally different set of teachers and students. I will get to spend time observing in the school, which I think will be both fascinating and informative. They’ve also made very clear that they want us to get connected with the larger Thai / Southeast Asian education community, so I am excited about the potential for future work as well.
What is something you are curious about (related to the trip)?
I am most curious about how the school integrates students with the local culture and community. Engagement-based teaching and learning has elements of place-based learning; it’s essential that the students’ learning is situated in and relevant to their real lives. While I have seen what real-world connections look like in DC (in our Real World History course and in many of the schools we work with), I am curious what that looks like in Chiang Mai. Because most of the students are not from Thailand originally, it raises a particularly interesting question – what does place-based education mean for an American in Thailand going to school with students from all over the world?
Follow us on Twitter at @InspireTeach for updates from Dave’s trip and keep an eye out for another blog post when he returns!