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In the Classroom/Academics

Who are your teachers? What experience and education do they have?

TIS teachers are experienced professionals from 16 different countries with native-level fluency of the language that they teach. 100% of our teachers have bachelor’s degrees and 40% have master’s degrees. See more information on the staff and faculty here.

What types of assessments does TIS use? Do TIS students take standardized tests?

As an International Baccalaureate school, we use a variety of assessments to assist the learning process. From the IB web site:

“Assessment is an important part of each unit of inquiry as it both enhances learning and provides opportunities for students to reflect on what they know, understand and can do. The teacher’s feedback to the students provides the guidance, the tools and the incentive for them to become more competent, more skillful and better at understanding how to learn.”

Formative assessments help the student – and the teacher – understand the concepts, how much progress they are making, and what they need to do in order to improve.

Summative assessments are a final assessment of learning, for example at the end of a unit of work, or at the end of the school year. Teachers use rubrics to assess student learning, and they share those rubrics with the students at a grade-appropriate level so students know what is expected of them.

Teachers give grades using the rubric so students can see exactly where they need to focus for improvement.

In addition, TIS students take two type of standardized tests:

  • ACT Aspire tests in 3rd, 4th & 5th grades in math, science, and English. TIS students generally perform as well as or better than their peers on these tests even though the math and science tests are administered in English and TIS students study those subjects in Spanish, Chinese or Japanese.
  • Language proficiency tests in 5th grade administered by the governments of China (the HSK), Japan (Japanese Proficiency Test), and Spain (DELE). TIS students generally pass these tests even though they are generally designed for and administered to much older students and adults.

For more information, please visit: National Standards and International Baccalaureate.

How is technology used at TIS?

TIS has carts of networked Macintosh notebook computers in every building (except PreK) for classes to use in learning activities. In addition, every teacher has a networked large-screen Macintosh desktop computer for lesson planning and sharing resources with students. With our small classes, the large-screen iMac is perfect for sharing on-line resources. The teachers also have access to several projectors if needed for larger groups of students.

How are behavioral issues addressed in class and on the playground?

From the Parent Handbook:

“When students make mistakes, our goal is to present an opportunity to learn and to make better choices in the future. Discipline without understanding on the student’s part is meaningless. So the first step in any infraction at school is a conversation with the child’s teacher or another staff member. If two students have a conflict, the staff member may mediate a discussion between them.

The adult’s role is to help students understand and reflect on their own actions and reactions. Such a meeting can end with resolutions or goals. When a child makes mistakes, behavioral or academic, the best part a parent can play is to let the child own the mistake. If a parent responds emotionally, then the parent owns the incident, and the child becomes a bystander to the parent’s meltdown.

Instead, a parent should ask, ‘Do you understand what happened? Are you happy with the result? Do you feel you did your best? Is there anything you would do differently next time?'”

How much homework do students have each night?

From the Parent Handbook:

Studies show that homework rates are generally higher in independent schools, and they are bound to be higher than the national PTA guidelines in a language immersion school such as ours.

The outside limits for homework at TIS are:

  • Grade 1: up to 30 minutes plus up to 15 minutes of English reading with parents or alone
  • Grade 2: up to 40 minutes plus up to 15 of English
  • Grade 3: up to 45 minutes plus up to 15 of English
  • Grade 4: up to 50 minutes plus up to 15 of English
  • Grade 5: up to 60 minutes plus up to 15 of English

These are outside limits; there may not be this much homework every night. After this amount of time has elapsed, you should stop the child from working further and notify the teacher of what happened. If directions are not clear to the child or to you, notify the teacher. If you think the work is not productive or fruitful, calmly discuss with the teacher what you observed at home.

It is normal human nature to resist work at home after a day of work, but that does not mean we have to have big discussions or dramatic scenes with our children. Instead, we can assist them best by keeping them focused and moving forward, and reminding them that they will have time to spend on their preferred endeavors as soon as they finish.

What is the difference between Montessori and the TIS program?

The best way to understand different schools is to visit each program, speak to the staff and observe classes in session. We are not experts in Montessori, but we have compiled some information that may be helpful. Montessori programs differ from one another, so please consult the schools you are considering for more information.

Program Basics

The International School (TIS): At TIS, students are fully immersed in Spanish, Chinese or Japanese so they acquire another language and culture while learning a rich preschool and elementary curriculum. Lessons are taught through the International Baccalaureate (IB) inquiry-based program with real-world concepts in science, social studies and the arts. Our focus is on developing confident, capable world citizens.

Montessori: Montessori classes vary greatly – each school has its own approach to teaching. There are no regulations for a school to practice the Montessori ideology. In general, classrooms are deemed child-centric with a prepared environment: filled with hands-on materials designed to stimulate children’s senses and motor skills, and to promote self-directed learning.

Curriculum

TIS: The International Baccalaureate (IB) focuses on the development of the whole child as an inquirer, both in the classroom and in the world outside. The curriculum is based on IB “units of inquiry” that are focused on real world concepts in science, math, social studies and the arts. The IB method encourages children to explore questions that relate to the curriculum and then, with the teacher’s guidance, to find answers to their own questions. Children learn to look beyond the facts, to think critically, and to uncover the “big idea” in every lesson.

Montessori: There is no formal curriculum for Montessori schools. Students are presented concepts and allowed to set their own pace. Much of Montessori schooling is based on students learning life skills, choosing their own interests, and motivating each other when faced with academic challenges. Traditional subjects are presented at different stages in a child’s development.

In the Classroom

TIS: With the International Baccalaureate (IB) program, TIS teachers create lessons for experiential learning including hands-on experimentation, field trips, technology, guest speakers and library resources. Classes have no more than 19 students, with two teachers in preschool if classes are over 10 students. Kindergarten classes also often have two teachers. Children have homework generally beginning in 1st grade to develop independent study skills and to reinforce concepts and language learned in school.

Montessori: Montessori classrooms allow for multi-age learning, usually in 3 year increments. In this multi-aged approach, it is common to see Montessori classrooms with 25-30 children per class. Older kids are typically encouraged to teach the younger kids, and the teacher becomes more of a facilitator. Often, children are learning very different things simultaneously within the classroom. It is common for Montessori schools to avoid assigning homework during elementary school. The programs often thrive on individuality, freedom and learning through discovery and process.

* Seldin, Tim. “The Montessori Foundation.” The Montessori Foundation. The Montessori Foundation, 03 Aug. 2010. Web. 01 Oct. 2012.

What is the difference between Waldorf and the TIS program?

The best way to understand different school programs is to visit each program that you are considering, speak to the staff and observe classes in session. Following is a summary of some of the differences between TIS and Waldorf programs*.

Program basics

TIS: At TIS, students are fully immersed in Spanish, Chinese or Japanese so they acquire another language and culture while learning a rich preschool and elementary school curriculum. Lessons are taught through the International Baccalaureate (IB) inquiry-based program with a focus on developing confident, capable world citizens.

Waldorf: Waldorf schools focus on the developmental phases in childhood and nurturing of children’s imaginations. These schools generally cater to the needs of children rather than “the demands of the government or economic forces”, so there is a lot of emphasis on creativity and free-thinking.

Curriculum

TIS: The International Baccalaureate (IB) focuses on the development of the whole child as an inquirer, both in the classroom and in the world outside. The curriculum is based on IB “units of inquiry” that are focused on real world concepts in science, math, social studies and arts. The IB method encourages children to explore questions that relate to the curriculum and then, with the teacher’s guidance, to find answers to their questions. Children learn to look beyond the facts, to think critically, and to uncover the “big idea” in every lesson.

Waldorf: Waldorf philosophy regards stages in human development and personal relation to material as the primary way to deliver information that a child will learn. In the same way, Waldorf emphasizes verbal learning, crafts and play of the same importance as it does formal material.

In the classroom

TIS: With the International Baccalaureate (IB) program, TIS teachers create lessons for experiential learning including hands-on experimentation, field trips, guest speakers and library resources. Classes have no more than 19 students, with two teachers in preschool if classes are over 10 students. Children have homework generally beginning in 1st grade to develop independent study skills and to reinforce concepts and language learned in school. As students progress through the grades, they will typically have different homeroom teachers for each grade.

Waldorf: At Waldorf schools, the same teacher often stays with a group of students for up to eight grades, and may focus on a single subject for as long as a month. Waldorf classrooms will often have 28-32 students in each class. Teachers and assistants introduce concepts gradually to help children slowly discover the world around them, and children are encouraged to teach one another.

*”Waldorf Answers – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Waldorf Education.” Waldorf Answers – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Waldorf Education. N.p., 2012. Web. 26 Sept. 2012.