As a College, we provide a holistic education, yet when we discuss students who may need support we sometimes focus on singular evidence. In this interactive workshop, we introduce protocols and tools to help us think about and plan to support the whole child in a broader context.
Our holistic lens includes ecological factors, the unique cultural experiences of students in international schools, as well as the valuable insight offered by parents as partners and those gained through engaged listening to the student voice. We will consider how we can gather the information we need to bring a holistic perspective throughout the whole school.
Renee Gallant Okay. Welcome to seeing the whole child using a holistic lens to see our students with a broader context. This is one of our virtual sessions as a part of the UWC SEA Forum. Learning to Shape the Future. I hope that you've been enjoying the sessions that have already taken place this morning and of course we have so much to look forward to over the rest of the afternoon and again tomorrow.
I want to remind people that all of the sessions are being recorded and will be made available on the social app shortly after the presentation. So we're anticipating that the recordings should be uploaded within an hour to following the live sessions. So if their sessions are currently happening that you're missing, you'll be able to catch those later on.
I also want to remind people to continually refresh the app because there is a bit of a lag. We've had to make a few little updates to links or announcements are constantly coming in. So again, I do think to refresh that from time to time. So you know, you've got the most the latest information available to you. And of course, if you're having any problems, please feel free to email forum at UWCSEA.edu.sg
Or you can pop a question into the Q&A feature in the main menu of the social app. So this session is being hosted on Zoom and audio audience members are welcome to keep their cameras on. We'll ask you to keep your microphones on mute over the course of the presentation. There may be some points later on where we'll invite you to engage, but please wait for those cues.
And otherwise we will be inviting you to join a virtual networking session immediately following and details will be provided later on. I would now like to turn the session over to Stephanie to kick things off.
Stephanie Hepner: Thanks so much, Renee. So welcome to our session called Seeing the Whole Child Using a holistic lens to see our students within a broader context. Good afternoon. The session will be presented by three of us and we're all three working within student support services here at UWCSEA East and we're all also working on our doctorates. So as we go around to introduce ourselves, we'll tell you a little bit about our research and also about what brings us to this topic today.
So as you can see and as I mentioned, my name is Stephanie Hepner. I'm the head of student support services here at the East Campus. My doctoral research is around Self-regulate, learning and self assessment. And what brings me to this topic today is the fact my own experience as the third culture kid I attended an international school in Berlin, and I've also experienced the challenge of being a language learner and educational context.
And so my career then I worked to support students with a variety of learning needs in both U.S. public schools and also international schools.
Natascha Hoff: Thank you, Stephanie. My name's Natascha Hoff. I'm the EAL coordinator here. My research interests involve English, medium of instruction and looking at language and culture. And I began this journey as a public school teacher in London working with classes of English language learners and fully inclusive. And so part of my reason and my why is that I'd like all students to be able to access the classroom and to be able to thrive.
And also, I have two third culture children as well.
Kate McGinty: I'm Kate. I'm head of Infant Learning Support at UWC East and my PhD is an exploration of the lived experience of expat families who have a neurodiverse child and the contextual factors that influence these experiences. And my connection to this is I have a career of teaching diverse learners in local and international schools, and I'm also the parent of two neurodiverse Third Culture Kids.
Okay, so in our session today, we'll be looking at what information we collect and use when we're supporting our students. And we're not thinking just about formal support through learning support or English as an additional language or other support services, but rather about broader support. The support we offer our students through our whole program, including academics, activities, service, outdoor ed, and knowing our students as individuals.
Having a holistic lens is also essential for relationship building, and we'll be thinking about this from a K-12 perspective and the valuable insights offered by our diverse community. You'll have a chance to engage with the models we find helpful for thinking holistically about students. And we hope that by the end of this session you'll have some practical approaches and tools so that when you're working with a student, you're thinking beyond the current assignment or subject or class, and using a student centred, holistic lens to better understand the students context.
So why are we talking about this? Why do we think it's important? We'd like you to take a moment to think about your experiences. We want you to think about a time when you wished a teacher, parent, supervisor, colleague, recognised that there was something more to a situation and that other information may have changed their approach and response.
We've all had these kinds of experiences and we imagine it didn't make you feel good that you felt frustrated, angry, disappointed about it. We want to make sure that our students don't have these experiences. Now, before we get started. We want to take a moment to thank everyone for choosing this session. We know that we've got a really diverse audience today.
Stephanie Hepner: We've got parents, alumni, admin, staff, students and teachers in the audience today. We also have participants who are members of the Singaporean community and those who are considering joining the community. Why are we here? We're all here because we're committed to student wellbeing and we want our students to thrive. And we're really excited in this session to have so many different voices and perspectives.
And we're looking forward to hearing your valuable insights. So this session, as Renee mentioned, will have some interactive elements. So we'll be asking you to engage with us with a thinking, to contribute some of your ideas. We have a Zoom chat and we'll also have some optional breakout rooms. Now we know that some people are joining from the auditorium or joining in a setting where you're sitting with some other colleagues, maybe you're joining from a time zone, you'd prefer not to join a breakout room or even watching this recording later.
So it all points. We'll always have an option for personal reflection through a stop and jot or some conversations with people you're sitting with through a turn and talk so that you'll always have a chance to engage with your own thinking around this topic throughout the session. If you have questions, you can pop them in the chat and we'll try to address them as we go.
But we'll also be available, as Renee mentioned, for a networking session on the conference and following this session. So we do hope you'll stop by to continue the conversation with us. Okay. So as we get started, we wanted to take a moment for you to visualise yourself as a child. So you may want to close your eyes or lower them so you think about things that you loved.
What were some of the things that brought you joy? Your favourite activities, your strengths and interests? What were some things you found difficult? What were some events or challenges you experienced? Periods of sadness, perhaps. Think about your friends. Who were your friends, your family, close relationships you had. Think about those support systems. What do you have in place to support you through some of those most difficult times?
We really want you to connect your adult self with who you were as a child. Throughout today's session and throughout all the work that we do, we really try to keep the child at the centre of our work. So now that we've connected with your child's self, if you think it's not too cringe, you can just give yourself a little wave, say hi.
Okay, thanks for that. Our intention today is to think about what it means to holistically consider all aspects of our students and their experiences so that we can help them be the best they can be. By thinking about ourselves as a child, we can tap into that holistic view and bring that to our conversations and reflections throughout this session.
Natascha Hoff: So we keep hearing this word holistic. It's in our title, and we just take a moment to unpack what holistic means to you, and also what does holistic mean in an educational context we're going to do a zoom waterfall or a chatter fall. So we want you to write your ideas about what holistic means in the chat or if you're working somewhere else, jot them down.
But please don't hit send until we tell you to. If you're watching in the auditorium, then please turn and talk with the person next to you. So what does holistic mean to you? Please write it down now, but do not send. Okay, hopefully we've got some ideas. Hit send now. Great. So we've got some ideas coming into the chat.
So a lot of them connect with emotional needs. So part of our five elements at UWC is looking at personal, social and emotional health. These comments related to parts of the House are looking at all of the child comments Andrew mentions about diverse experiences and opportunities which will fit in with identity. And again, one of the big things coming out is, is the word whole.
So yes, for the purpose of this session, holistic will encompass all of those things relationships, identity, elements and parts of the whole. Okay, next slide. Thank you. Okay. So in this session, we're going to use a tree metaphor to help us think holistically about students. Why a tree? Well, a tree is an independent organism that represents the me.
However, we often see trees in a group such as a forest or walking along a tree lined street which represents. So we within the forest we can still see the individual different spaces. And this is how we'd like you to think about students in our community as different types of trees and individual trunks in order for a tree to stand.
There's also an impressive structure of support beneath the trunk. There is a complete root system that works together to ensure that the trunk remains healthy. It grows and can help facilitate the growth of branches, leaves, maybe even flowers and fruit trees communicate with each other and support each other through networks connecting their roots to trees nearby. And trees respond to environmental conditions growing faster or slower, depending on how much light they have or if they're responding to disease or drought.
When the tree is not functioning as it should, then we will see signs for example, in an experiment in Dubai, two plants were placed in a school. Students were asked to speak to one plant negatively and one plant positively. And after 30 days, it was obvious which plant had received the negative messages. It did not thrive or grow as well as the plant that had received the positive messages.
So we know that trees and plants are individuals that are affected by local conditions. They community and their environment, just like our students who bring their experiences, their perspectives, their culture, strengths and needs to our school. And when we notice that something isn't quite right with our students, our role is to investigate with an open mind, using a strength based approach to dig deeper, to look at core aspects that may be impacting how the child responds to the environment and how connected their root system is.
That's the holistic lens. But we also know that a healthy forest has a diversity of trees. There are different types of tree and also some trees that are tall, some that are short, some that do well in the shade, and others that thrive in the light. Again, there's a connection here to our students. Just like diversity is important for a healthy forest, we celebrate the diversity of our students as that makes our school community healthier and richer.
We seek out the assets each student brings to our community to make our community more abundant and healthy.
Stephanie Hepner: So in their book Street Data, Safir and Dugan provide some compelling arguments for looking holistically or looking beyond just assessment data in the classroom, and to consider collecting more holistic information not just about individuals, but about our entire community. A key idea throughout that book and that also resonated with us is this idea that everything is connected and nothing can be separated.
So related to this interconnectedness, we'd like you to we'd like to introduce you to a model for thinking holistically and for learning more about individuals. So the model that will be referring to today is called Bronfenbrenner Ecological Model and some of you may be familiar with it. Kate is using this model as the foundation for her dissertation. We've made a couple of updates to it so that it reflects some of the factors that our students and international schools face.
Kate McGinty: And Kate right now is just going to walk us through the model. Okay. Thank you. So social ecological theory, it's a study of relationships between people and their environment. And Bronfenbrenner's initial theory proposed that an individual's development is influenced by the multi-system context in which they position is theory evolved to include the role of individuals characteristics and place the individual at the centre surrounded by four environment layers, all underpinned by time.
So we're using Bronfenbrenner's ecological model, but we'll also refer to it as a holistic model. So what we're going to do is I'm going to go through each layer and Natasha will be using her own childhood as an illustration of what would be included in that layer. But before we start, I really just want to say thank you so much to Natasha for being open and sharing her personal experiences.
So if we start at the centre we have the individual that's in there, hopefully on your screen, bright orange and that's positioned at the centre of the system. And within this it includes the individual's characteristics such as sex, age, health and so on, as well as their capabilities, resources and coping behaviours.
Natascha Hoff: So from the event that I'm going to be looking at, I was eight years old, but coming back to family, I'm the eldest of four children who are close in age. My mom had four of us under the age of five, so it was busy. I was healthy, but because we were all so close in age and I was the eldest, I took a lot of responsibility in the family.
Kate McGinty: And so the micro system, which I'm going to say is ten is the immediate environment in which the individual lives and interacts with, such as families, peers, setting the individual is influenced by each of these elements and by the personal characteristics of the people within the system.
Natascha Hoff: So at this point of time, I grew up in the country, we had a hill in our back yard and I had a sheep which actually won third place in the local pig competition at this time. I was moved up a grade midyear when I was eight, making me younger than my peers. My father was involved in a car accident shortly after and as a result we had to move to the city for him to receive treatment.
At my new school, I remained in the higher grade, but I was missing some of the key grade level concepts and joining late in the school year. It made finding friends challenging support from my parents was limited due to time and the events that were happening and also having a younger sibling who was diagnosed with learning difficulties.
Kate McGinty: Okay, so the next system, the message system is blue and that doesn't really have examples, but it recognises the relationships between and interactions between the different aspects of the micro system and also relationships between the next system, the exo system and the micro system. So the EXO system, which I'm saying is tail involves elements which are external too, but may influence the individual.
So the outcomes of connections and processes between these elements in this lab may afford or deny opportunities for the individual and may be temporary or have longer term impacts.
Natascha Hoff: So at this time, when we moved to the city, my mom had to take on additional jobs to support the family while my father was in rehabilitation. So that meant that I had to take a lot of responsibility for my siblings as there was no immediate family or support network in the new city. A few months after moving, my grandmother, who'd been an important person in my life, died.
Kate McGinty: Okay, and the metro system, which is peach in colour. The outer ring involves a wider social and cultural environment that surround the inner systems and that encompasses the beliefs, values, attitudes and resources as well as the political and legal systems. And it provides similar experience for all in the community and directly influences the individual. So in different cases, we could have a culture of a city, we could have a culture of a country, a culture of a family, a culture of a school.
Natascha Hoff: So while I moved within New Zealand and English was the medium of instruction, the dialect of Maori between the North Island and the South Island was different to that of my previous experience and it made it feel like nothing was familiar. I didn't have a picture in the city. The city was noisy. It was busy and we couldn't run around and play as we had when we lived in the country.
Kate McGinty: Thanks. And the chronic system in green underpins all of these layers and it refers to the temporal and environmental experiences and transitions throughout the lifetime of an individual. So previous experiences can inform and alter an individual. The other systems and their interrelationships and changes may come from within the individual or be externally imposed.
So at that time I was still receiving A's on my report card. So if you looked at my assessments and the data, it would tell you that I was doing okay. So I went on, I'm the first in my family to graduate from New Zealand, graduate from New Zealand, from university, and then having experienced culture shock, not only from moving within my country, but also moving around internationally, I'm acutely aware of the complexities of that transition, and that's fueled my research interest in language and culture.
Natascha Hoff: It's also why I'm driven to know more and to take nothing at face value and never make assumptions about a child or their circumstances.
Kate McGinty: Thanks, Natasha. So as we can see from this, individuals are situated in and engage in many environments and are influenced by many factors and complex complexities. In Natasha's case, she was getting good grades, but there were a lot of underlying factors that were impacting her life. So now we're going to shift and have a chance to reflect about what this holistic model might be in the context of working with students.
Stephanie Hepner: So think about yourself as a child and the child that you just imagine. What information do you think would have been important or valuable for your school or class teacher to know about? You? So as we can see, looking at a student in a holistic way can be complex. And just like if a tree is sick, we wouldn't all water.
It wouldn't all provided with fertilisers. That would be too much for the tree and it would actually harm it. When we're thinking about students, we also need to be thinking about how we're prioritising concerns. However, considering the long term impact of the student's profile and how we're considering the best support models for those individuals. So what we're going to do now is we're going to give you a chance to chat with some others which engage in some individual thinking about this ecological model, this holistic model.
So we have two sets of prompts, one set of prompts for people who are here as an educator. And that's a very broad scope there where we're thinking about, okay, if you're as an educator, what questions might you ask of students and or families to find out information, holistic information that would help you better understand that the students, if you're here as a parent or a member of the community, think about what information you think would be valuable to share with the school.
We know that we have some students in attendance as well. So think about what information do you have about yourself that you think would be important for your for the school to know? And we want you to be thinking about the different levels of different environments model that mentorship just walk us through. So we've set up a palette that we'd like to use to collect your responses.
You can see a screenshot of the pamphlet on the screen. And so as you're thinking, as you're chatting, please do go ahead and add your questions into the tablet so that we can collect those that thinking of those insects and we've got the link to the tablet in the chat. You can just go through those columns in response.
So we've got a breakout room set up. So if you'd like to join breakout rooms, you can click in to join and have the conversation there and then share your thinking on the palette. If you're in a setting where you'd rather not join the breakout room, then that's fine as well. Then if you're just doing a turn and talk, please feel free to make sure that you are capturing some of the thinking on the tablet, or if you're by yourself, jot down your ideas in your notebook and or add them on the tablet tablet as well.
We'll have some music in the main session for those who prefer to remain here and reflect, or for those who are watching in a bigger group. And we'll have about 8 minutes for this activity for you.
Kate McGinty: You've for whom?
Natascha Hoff: That's fantastic. So there's lots of great questions that were coming out on the peddler and it was nice to see a lot of people were thinking at the macro level, particularly about culture and languages, which is important within an international school. So connections between cultures, looking at values, identity, affinities and a really good point about countries that you have lived in and that you perhaps identify with because often it's not our passport countries from a family community level, again, the languages of the family living arrangements.
Really importantly, if someone's going away and the family leaving the teacher, no student interests, passions and challenges, big events. And my husband and I often joke we send our children to school, slate fed, clean, and we get them at the end of the day, a bit tired, worn down and definitely not their best self. But that's the time that we often hear about some of the challenges that they're having.
We hope that this peddler will be a kid, too numerous to be a resource for you when you're working with students and families. So thank you for your insights and contributions. We'll go through and collate the resource into a document which will be linked to our session on the Forum platform. So now that we've engaged with the holistic model, we wanted to share some tools you might use to gather more holistic information.
We're going to think about these tools from various levels. So at the classroom, at a school level and in the wider community, these tools can strengthen the roots of a system and work towards building bridges of trust within the community. Before we share some tools, think about what information you have readily accessible regarding your students. Aside from standardised and class based test data, what other information do you regularly collect about your students?
Can you please put in the chat and share some of those tools? If you're a parent or a community member, can you think about what information your child's class teacher knows about your child? So let's have a look in the chat, some tools we've got no tools. Does anyone wanting to share any ideas? Okay. Likes and dislikes. Thanks, Mary.
I perhaps may be settling in conferences, hit activities where you're looking at identity and belonging. Great morning meeting observations, likes and dislikes, starting with the wellbeing. That's a great place to start. Excellent. Tell me about you Tuesday. That sounds exciting. Natalia Yes, definitely. Talking to parents, finding about travels and living backgrounds. Okay Great. Thank you. So in order for all of these tools to collect the data that's needed, we have to be ready to put aside assumptions and listen carefully with the intention to what's being said.
This may not always be what we thought, and sometimes there might be layers that come with that.
Kate McGinty: Okay, so it's really good having a look at the check for some of these like here, which is fantastic. And there's some that we don't have as well. So maybe we have to think of more and add to it later. So in terms of teacher tools, we could be looking at observations. So looking at socio grounds where we look at the relationship students have with each other, their engagement, the degree of attention, curiosity, interests, optimism and passion that they showed when the learning movement and responses who needs to move?
Who's taking frequent bathroom breaks? Who seems like they'd rather be invisible or work really hard to hide? Who always encourages they choose to share this and then looking at student voice, I someone has written this in the chat identity web, so we might invite our students to engage in these to share information about their identity through conceptual lenses, findings about belonging and identity coaching conversations.
Here, we might use an intentional frame for our conversations as part of our mental class to get to know the students better. We might use language portraits, parents as partners rather than parent involvement. I mean, true respectful partnerships. So that might come with constructive learning plans. So focusing on the child's strength and parents funds of knowledge to design learning plans together rather than handing it to them that many in conferences were mentioned in primary, we might use a set of shared questions in these conferences.
Better understand the micro systems that our students live in and student conferences. I think we're there as well. So children sharing their learning with their parents. And then on a schoolwide level, we have some additional tools that we might use both to understand students and also to understand the community a little bit better. So we might look at focus groups.
Stephanie Hepner: We bring together a group of students or members of the community with a focus on listening. And we might use this when we're creating or reviewing processes or policies. We might use this as part of an equity audit to get a real sense of what are some of the concerns and and issues going on in our community. Relationship mapping is a tool that I know many of you are familiar with.
We are looking at the relationships between teachers and students and which students have authentic, positive relationships with their teachers and which students maybe don't have those strong relationships. And we need to be really intentional about building those relationships and getting to know the students more holistically. As a school, you might engage in an equity audit where you're looking at issues of equity across the school, some specific ways you might do that are through classroom observations focused on equity.
Maybe you're looking at patterns of who participates, who raises their hand, who is called on, who receives positive or negative feedback or responses from the teacher. And that might be verbal or non-verbal. You might do an activity where you're walking the walls and you're really examining the work that is on the walls around school to see whose work is represented, thinking is represented, whose cultures are represented.
Another powerful tool is shadowing students. So you might choose some students, maybe from marginalised groups or from a variety of different groups and shadow them for a day. Go go around the entire day, sitting with them, going between classes with them to really experience. What is school like from their perspective? Another tool you might use is structured meeting observations, so thinking about a facilitator might invite an observer into a regularly scheduled meeting to observe for certain things like how does a facilitator respond to different participants?
Are there positive or negative responses? What are the noticeable group dynamics out of the energy in the room in terms of how people build off of each other's ideas, how they respectfully challenge each other, how they ask questions to probe one another's thinking. And I think Natasha mentioned there are resources that we want to reassure you that will be collating all of these tools as well as the ones coming through in the chat in that document as well.
Natascha Hoff: Great. Thank you, said Stephanie. So now we're going to look at some community tools. So based on the focus groups, but possibly broadening it to find information that would help to school to feed into school growth and development might be a listening campaign. So what happens is the listener assembles and organises as a group to come together, gives them an interview, and then collates the responses anonymously together by theme.
And this can be an opportunity for a school to understand if a system is working well or perhaps not, and then reflect and think about how we might move forward. Additionally, welcoming all the languages and cultures of the community. So providing information and workshops on things that happen in school and various community languages. Again, looking at building those bridges between our community and the school coffee mornings are a great way of bringing people together and we're so thankful.
After two years of COVID restrictions that finally parents are welcome back on the campus. And it's so wonderful to see our community members gather. And so, again, that provides a way of listening to conversations and getting a feel for what's happening within the community.
Stephanie Hepner: So all of these systems or all of these tools are really ways for us to think about how are we adding to our understanding of the whole child? And as you as we talk and as you think about other tools that you're familiar with, go ahead. You can continue to add them to the chat, but we can also continue the conversation in our session that comes after this.
So now we want to think about if you're thinking about using some of these tools in your own setting, how are we doing this in a way that we're not unintentionally marginalising anyone? And also, how are we doing this in a way that systematic and respectful? So we want you to think about in your setting, what systems do you have in place to collect this kind of information?
How do you ensuring that student voices are represented, that we're working with parents as partners, as mentioned, that we're using multiple data points to increase student access to the learning. If you have strong systems for collecting that information, how do we share it? Who has access to the information that we are collecting and how do we decide who should have that access?
How was it handed over? We have this information. We have students who stay with us for many years. How do we make sure that the information is kept safe and handed over effectively to the next teacher who will be working with the students? So for example, do you have hand over transition meetings? How do you share your documentation to ensure that that information is shared with the people who need to know?
And throughout all of that, we need to be thinking about how we're protecting our students. So how does this emphasis on holistic support work with our desire to protect students are responsibility to respect students, protect students, and are safeguarding practices that we have in place in the school. And ultimately, we need to be thinking about those respectful, trusting relationships that we are building with our students and with our community.
How are we making sure that people can feel that they can confide in us, that they are listened to in a way that allows them to share the information that they think is valuable for them to share and that we're ensuring confidentiality so that we're not breaking people's trust. And as you think about all those systems, then the final question, of course, is are those systems effective, consistent?
Kate McGinty: Okay. So while we've been focused on children today, this could be applied to anyone you interact with. So based on the session today, what's one thing you'd like to try next week to use a broader holistic approach in your context?
Natascha Hoff: Okay. So in summary, using a holistic lens enables us to consider the many aspects that combine to create the unique individual. Each individual requires different things to help them to thrive. An ecosystem needs diversity to be healthy and balanced, just diversity makes our community richer. The purpose of education is not to mould students into bonsai trees, but my favourite trees at the moment, which are carefully trimmed and cultivated to be small and neat.
When we take a holistic perspective, our forest grows a range of trees, maybe giant sequoias, delicate ferns, and possibly swaying palms. A holistic lens allows our community to give our students the opportunity to grow stronger roots so that they can settle and grow as quickly and comfortably as they can into the tree. They're meant to be.
Stephanie Hepner: So, of course, but we haven't said explicitly yet is that by using a holistic lens to viewing our students as complex, unique whole individuals, we're also being more inclusive. By welcoming the messy fullness of everyone's humanity, we create a truly inclusive environment in which all students well, all of us, really feel included and feel like we belong. Shelley Moore is an inclusion advocate, and she reminds us that teaching to inclusion and diversity doesn't mean doing something special or something different for certain students, but rather it means valuing the very characteristics that make us diverse.
So thank you so much for your engagement with this session today. We hope that we planted some seeds for you to help you to be curious about and bring in a holistic understanding of your students. And we hope that the tools we provided will give you specific ideas for how you might engage in this process in your setting.
If you'd like to continue the conversation, please do join us in the networking session.
Renee Gallant: Thank you so much, Stephanie, Natasha and Kate. I think you've actually given me a lot to think about. I'm not a student facing staff member, but I think there's many ways I can apply this in different contexts in my life as well. So thank you so much. As Stephanie said, we do hope you'll join us in the virtual networking room that's dedicated to this session on the social app immediately after.
I am just in the process of dropping that link in the chat right now, so that should take you seamlessly over there and we hope to see you at other sessions later this afternoon. We have a couple, I think there's one more shorter session and then our keynote at 445 and then a full day of sessions again tomorrow that we hope to see you at.
So if you're on Dover campus, I hope that you will do some of the online or the in-person networking as well. But we will see you momentarily over on the app.