ISKL’s Future-Ready Pathway Series: Preparing Students For The Journey Ahead

At The International School of Kuala Lumpur (ISKL), we believe our success in preparing students for their future depends on how well we support them in developing 21st-century skills today.
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At The International School of Kuala Lumpur (ISKL), we believe our success in preparing students for their future depends on how well we support them in developing 21st-century skills today. In a three-part online series featuring ISKL administrators, faculty, and students, the innovative Future-Ready Pathways explored how an ISKL education is designed to enable students in Elementary School (ES), Middle School (MS), and High School (HS) to develop and practice these critical skills.

Established in 1965, ISKL has long been recognized as a forward thinking school, and our role as educators is to prepare our students for their future, whether, like our Seniors, they will graduate next year, or our Prep Reception students who will graduate in 2036. Guided by our mission and vision, ISKL is committed to supporting students in being ready for what the future may hold and equipping them with the lifelong skills they will need to thrive and succeed, including critical reasoning, creative thinking, constructive collaboration, effective communication, living ethically, and learning enthusiastically.

ISKL’s Head of School, Mr. Rami Madani, set the scene for viewers by explaining why ISKL believes that its focus on empowering and encouraging students to explore their passions and take on new challenges is one of the characteristics of the ISKL educational approach that he is most proud of.

“There is nothing more inspiring than to hear our students share their views about learning and life, and I am continually impressed with their insights, thoughtfulness, and ability to express themselves,” he said.

Mr. Madani also congratulated ISKL’s Grade 5 Red Hats, who shared their learning experiences during the series. He added: “It was humbling to hear these ES students explain their learning and thoughts about inclusion, empathy, leadership, and innovation to the participants, and I was so proud of them.”

He then posed an important reflection on a school’s purpose, especially now that we are faced with a global pandemic. Mr. Madani’s message on how ISKL’s purpose is not only to prepare students to get good grades and go to university or college but to be successful in their lives is a reminder that here at ISKL, learning is for life. “Going beyond university and the workplace, we know that it will be important for students to understand their purpose in life, know how to nurture their own and others’ well-being, are passionate about what they do, and who are able to sustain deep social connections and relationships,” he said.

The online forums attracted parents and students from the ISKL community and around the world who are excited to explore the future of learning and what they should be thinking and preparing for in the coming years.

The first virtual event, entitled “Future-Ready Pathways in High School,” provided valuable and crucial information for both parents and students planning for university and needed pointers in the right direction.

The audience listened from a diverse range of guest speakers, including Ms. Praxia Apostle, who is ISKL’s Director of Learning, Ms. Ebony Manning, ISKL’s International Baccalaureate (IB) and Advanced Placement (AP) Coordinator), as well as Mr. Faizol Musa, Development & Recognition Manager for Southeast Asia International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO). The speakers gave their insights on how the different programs offered at ISKL, such as PRAXIS for Grade 9, ISKL Pursuits, and the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program (IBDP) for Grade 11 and 12 are designed to help students choose the curriculum best suited to their abilities, interests, and aspirations, IBDP preparations, as well as a global research and statistical findings on how the IBDP is benefitting students.

ISKL’s High School Counsellor, Shaun McElroy, provided updates and global university admissions trends. He mentioned how “85% of ISKL 2020 graduates were very happy with the university they are attending.” The same thing can be said for this year’s graduates, as the graduating class of 2021 has already received more than 280 acceptances and offers from over 130 universities in 12 countries spanning four continents.

Alumnus Tim Munnerlyn (’90), Senior Director of Education Partnerships at leading university guidance platform, Cialfo, closed the session with a discussion on the importance of international exposure and community support to develop students’ agility and adaptability. Tim also recounted his personal experiences being in the ISKL community as an alumnus. He said, “ISKL helps to create world-ready global citizens who are prepared for the future connections of a lifetime with limitless possibilities.”

MS Empowering_Lifelong_Learners

In the second event entitled, “Empowering Lifelong Learners, The Middle School Experience,” both teachers and students shared their perspectives in relation to ISKL’s focus on growth and achievement. The diverse viewpoints effectively illustrated how the ISKL MS experience helped to nurture future-ready learners.

MS Principal Mr. Peter Casey started by emphasizing the importance of Middle School in students’ lives as students are going through one of the most important developmental stages in their life – adolescence. “It’s a period of enormous growth, and as a parent of three kids myself and an educator, I know it’s a time that really matters – a time where students need to be supported physically, emotionally, socially – as well as academically,” he said.

Mr. Casey relates it to how ISKL’s Middle School Student Agency program enables students to learn and practice the skills of self-directedness, resilience, and collaboration by taking responsibility for each stage of a major project chosen by them based on their interests. Different outcomes occur, but the real learning is in the critical thinking, questioning, and reasoning skills that the students develop as they prepare for High School.

“ISKL’s MS Experience goes beyond the expected parameters of an international school by basing learning on student ownership, where education is not done ‘to’ students, but ‘with’ them,” Mr. Casey said.

Mr. Doug Woodward, MS Vice Principal, built on the MS Experience by highlighting ISKL’s focus on achievement and growth. He shared a deep data dive on Grade 8 Math with 141 students, and 93% were above average, showing that ISKL is a strong place for achievement. Mr. Woodward spoke of how growth is where the teachers get all excited, as this is when they witness students getting better every day. “Each one of those 141 kids- they’re people, they’re kids, they’re future-ready,” he added.

The highlight of this session was a panel discussion with three MS students and a now-HS student, moderated by Ms. Tanya Hawkes, MS and HS Teaching and Learning Coordinator. The MS students shared their personal experiences in school and how this has helped them in goal-setting, developing student agency and their passions, leadership skills, and transitioning from MS to HS.

Greta (Grade 6) shared her goal-setting experience through fostering kittens during What I Need (WIN) Time. Zhi Hong (Grade 7) talked about his experience in studying the Human-Centered Design cycle and the importance of the process compared to the outcome. ZY (Grade 8) spoke about the various choices offered in ISKL MS that led him to develop his passion for programming and his creativity and leadership skills. Lastly, Rika (Grade 9) described her transition from MS to HS and how ISKL’s School-Wide Learning Results (SLRs) helped her understand what it means to be a leader.

ES Future Ready Pathways

In the last of the Future-Ready series tailored for ES students, ISKL (ES) Principal Ms. Julie Olson and ISKL (ES) Assistant Principal Ms. Azra Pathan elaborated on the six key elements that made up the cornerstone of future readiness at ISKL: innovation, agency, empathy, action, discovery, and inclusion.

Looking at “Where it all starts, the foundation of future readiness,” the ISKL ES Advisory team, consisting of the ES Teaching and Learning, Edu-Tech, and Counselling teams, with the help of ES students, explored the different elements to give participants an overview of future-ready practices. Beginning with Discovery, Ms. Pathan explained how this element created the opportunity for experiential learning and challenged students to use their imagination and creativity.

“In this place, students co-construct meaning together in a social environment that allows them to apply their learning and visit concepts through the lens of inquiry,” said Ms. Pathan, adding that students could generate ideas and solutions that may change the world simply through play. 

Grade 5 student Amelie further elaborated by saying that discovery was about being creative and a chance to collaborate with friends, saying that “Discovery prepares us for the future. We need to ask questions and take risks to be able to create something.”

ISKL ES Technology Coordinators Mr. Max Wright and Mr. Steve Katz talked about innovation being a vital component of progress and how students are encouraged to explore new concepts, look at challenges from all angles and embrace failures as opportunities to try again. Mr. Wright said: “It is especially significant, considering how the young minds molded by the education system today will be leading the charge for innovation tomorrow.” 

Mr. Joel Llaban Jr., ISKL Elementary Learning Specialist / Instructional Coach, discussed how agency empowers learners to act and involves learning engagement and initiative. “Agentic learning is defined by self-directed actions, aimed at personal growth and development based on self-chosen goals. Within this context, students initiate actions and drive their learning,” he explained. Grade 5 student Nathaniel shared that agency was about choosing your path, being independent, and self-reliant. “Instead of relying on others, we have to learn to rely on ourselves and make good choices so that we can be role models to the younger ones at ISKL, and as you get older, all that comes with more responsibility.”

Mr. Llaban Jr. then spoke about inclusion, which aims to provide all individuals access to learning and a rich school experience, irrespective of race, gender, or ability.

Mr. Chris Wright, ISKL ES counselor, explored the element of empathy, explaining that it was about understanding and sharing the emotions and experiences of another beyond being kind. “At ISKL, we focus on helping students develop self-regulation and self-awareness skills to help them realize how their actions impact others around them. This helps students build openness that is necessary for collaboration with others from diverse backgrounds and experiences, allowing them to develop skills in empathetic leadership.”

In her own words, Grade 5 student Ginevra described empathy as the ability to put oneself in someone else’s shoes and understand how they feel. “When I understand myself better, this allows me to understand others,” she said, sharing how it was necessary to see things from the other person’s perspective in order to be empathetic.

Ms. Paige Emerich, ISKL Elementary Teaching and Learning Coordinator talked about the last element of action, empowering students to be “contributing and active members of this interconnective world.”

“Living ethically is the pathway that enables students to become Global Citizens, reflected in their ability to develop and synthesize attitudes, skills, knowledge, and understanding that empower them to be contributing and active members of this interconnected world,” said Ms. Emerich.

This third session was made even more lively and exciting, with six breakout rooms helmed by Grade 5 students Amelie, Jacob, Nathaniel, Besho, Ginevra, and Raima. Each presented on an element, aided by the co-facilitators. This was an excellent opportunity for interaction between parents and students, which allowed questions about ISKL programs and how the students were flourishing.

The series on Future-Ready Pathways may have concluded, but this does not mean ISKL’s work ends here. Instead, it is just the beginning of the exciting journey of education mapped out for your children at ISKL. Be a part of ISKL’s family and learn more about our events here. Don’t miss out on the exciting programs lined up at ISKL by registering today.


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