Approach to Teaching and Learning
Here, at BFIS, we believe that a school that demonstrates educational excellence provides opportunities for students to achieve their individual potential, nurture their creativity, and enhance their wellness through our rich and varied classes, and co-curricular and extracurricular opportunities.
The BFIS community’s Vision for Learning articulates how our American International School creates opportunities for young people to learn how to develop self-esteem, be confident, take risks, fail forward, and be resilient. We aim to help young people learn how to develop empathy, care about complex problems, and prepare them to collaboratively find solutions. Here they find their own voice and can build on their talents and interests.
The suite of learning opportunities we offer means that our graduates are exceptionally well prepared for university acceptances of the IB Diploma Program. Our students have extraordinary IB Diploma scores, especially considering the inclusivity of our program with 100% of our students entering the full Diploma Program annually. A factor that sets us apart from other schools and shows the relentless focus we have on individual student success.
Our students are more successful because they are engaged, flexible, resilient, ethical, and autonomous learners and because of our written, taught, and assessed curriculum is aligned with the goals of our BFIS Vision for Learning.
Our curriculum values concepts over content and gives opportunities for learner-based inquiry and enduring understanding. It is founded on units of study that articulate the written, taught, and assessed curriculum. As students get older, transdisciplinary studies of study in Elementary School deepen to interdisciplinary studies in Middle School, culminating in our IB Diploma Program in High School, where subject-specific disciplinary studies deepen students’ knowledge and skills in areas they have chosen to specialize in as they prepare for higher education and the world of work.
Our curriculum is aligned to progressive standards that have been developed for schools in the USA and are adopted by American International Schools around the world as well as other American Schools in Europe and our close professional partners in the Association of American International Schools in Spain. (AISIS)
- Early Childhood: Reggio Emilia inspired utilizing the GOLD standards.
- English Language Arts K-10: Common Core Standards for Literacy
- Math K-10: Common Core Standards for Mathematics
- Social Studies K-10: C3 Framework For Social Studies
- Science K-10: Next Generation Science Standards
- Physical Education K-10: National Physical Education Standards
- Arts K-10: National CORE Arts Standards
- IB Diploma Program 11-12
Students and teachers work in partnership to enable students to demonstrate and reflect upon what they have learned, assess their progress, and identify specific strategies to maximize their potential on their class assessments. Teachers use multiple forms of formative assessment to inform students of their learning and progress. Formative assessments are the grounding and preparation for students to learn the skills needed for interim assignments and summative assessments. Additionally, they provide opportunities for students to make managed errors and learn from their mistakes. Summative assessments are the teacher’s final opportunity to assess the summation of learning before moving on to new learning intentions.
Grades are neither the result of an average of assignments, nor the result of a single summative assignment. Instead grades take into account the accumulated learning shown by a student. Formative learning with corrective feedback should result in improved performance over time.
Research shows that corrective feedback is the most powerful learning tool for student performance growth. Thus, summative grades are not an average of all assignments; rather, they are an indication of the level the student has finally attained and sustained.
Approaches to Teaching and Learning (ATLs) are deliberate strategies, skills and attitudes that permeate
an IB teaching and learning environment. ATL supports our BFIS belief that a large influence on a student’s education is not only what you learn but also how you learn. At BFIS we explicitly teach Approaches to Learning in five areas; Thinking Skills, Communication Skills, Social Skills, Self management skills and research skills.
At BFIS our teacher professional learning and focus is on the following six approaches to teaching; Teaching through inquiry, teaching through concepts, teaching developed in local and global contexts, teaching focused on effective teamwork and collaboration, teaching differentiated to meet the needs of all learners, and teaching informed by assessment.
“What is of paramount importance in the pre-university stage is not what is learned but learning how to learn ... What matters is not the absorption and regurgitation either of fact or pre- digested interpretations of facts, but the development of powers of the mind or ways of thinking which can be applied to new situations and new presentations of facts as they arise.”
Sir. Alec Peterson (Former Director General International Baccalaureate).
Purpose and Vision
BFIS aims to develop our students as digital citizens, knowledge constructors, innovative designers, computational thinkers, creative communicators, global collaborators, and empowered learners (ISTE Student Standards). Teachers integrate technology to transform learning in a dynamic way, rather than simply to replace “low tech” activities. Students use technology in a creative and collaborative environment, and demonstrate respectful, responsible, and ethical uses of technology in both social and personal contexts.
The following belief statements guide this vision:
- We believe students and staff must be skilled users of technology, and that acquiring and maintaining skills is a continuing process.
- We believe students and staff must have an understanding of the ethical issues associated with the use of technology by recognizing they are digital citizens.
- We believe students and staff must have access to reliable and efficient technology resources.
- We believe all community members must be responsible for the appropriate integration of technology across the curriculum.
- We believe parents play a major role in the education of their children and must work actively with teachers to connect formal and informal uses of technology.
- We believe in being leaders in educational technology, and will investigate, develop, and ensure best practices in the integration of technology.
Information and resources for parents
Technology information specific to resources for BFIS parents is provided in our current parent portal. If you are current parent or guardian, follow the link below to access this page (Login required).
Our staff increasingly use Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Project Zero approaches to teaching and thinking dispositions. Visible Thinking is a flexible and systematic research-based conceptual framework, that aims to integrate the development of students' thinking with content learning across subjects.
Our approach emphasizes three core practices: thinking routines, the documentation of student thinking, and reflective professional practice. Emphasis on thinking through art and the role of cultural forces and other Visible Thinking initiatives, including Understanding by Design, Artful Thinking, and Cultures of Thinking are all frameworks for thinking that we draw upon. .