In October 2018, twenty-eight staff members began a Master’s Program from the State University of New York. In April 2021, they graduated! In less than three years, members of the Nation’s team earned Master’s diplomas in the Multidisciplinary Studies Program from SUNY Buffalo.
This is the third time School of the Nations partners with SUNY, sponsoring a professional development opportunity for teachers and support staff. We invest in ongoing professional development to keep teachers up to date on how children learn, how to employ the most effective, research-based instructional strategies, and how to use educational technology to enhance students’ learning experiences.
Our Master’s Program Coordinator, Mr. Keith Ray, believes this professional development opportunity brings many benefits to the Nations community.
“It has been a privilege to not only participate in but also help coordinate the SUNY program. School of the Nations has provided staff the opportunity to learn and collaborate with world-class instructors from SUNY Buffalo State. We carefully selected each course to align with our school improvement plan to maximize the impact on teaching and learning. There are countless highlights from the program, but what has brought me the most joy is witnessing the teachers apply what they learned in their classrooms. The program’s impact has been immediate and will continue to be far-reaching in the future.”
The SUNY Program
SUNY has proven experience in providing quality educational programs to international schools throughout the world. The university offers a vast range of courses in education and educational leadership. In consultation with SUNY, we have designed and customized this program to meet the needs of both students and teachers.
The program began in October 2018 with staff members from Early Childhood, Elementary, Middle, and High School and members from the Library, Counseling, and Administrative teams.
Over four years, participants took ten courses. Teachers and support staff learned more about how to improve students’ learning experiences. They shared their best practices with their colleagues throughout the program and talked about different methods to promote students’ creativity, inquiry, and critical thinking.
List of Courses
Teaching Individuals with Exceptionalities in the Regular Classroom
Topics Covered: characteristics of individuals with disabilities; adaptation of regular class curricula to meet their needs; strategies of observation, motivation, behavior management, and individualization of instruction.
The Holistic Curriculum
Topics Covered: a useful model of teaching and learning based on current brain research; an instructional approach that encourages direct involvement and models many brain-compatible techniques based on current research; what the latest advances in the neurosciences have discovered about knowledge and skills; and creating a curriculum that teaches emotional competency, differentiation, memory, discipline, student motivation, attention, and retention of new material.
Creative Teaching and Learning in Formal and Informal Settings
Topics Covered: current best practices to promote creative teaching and learning in formal education settings and informal education initiatives; strategies to enhance creativity education; how to engage in creative learning and use technology to support students’ creative activities; how to design creativity curriculum and align it with appropriate assessment procedures.
Creation and Integration of Technology in the Classroom
Topics Covered: increasing the effectiveness of instructional programs using microcomputers; selecting microcomputer software; fulfilling the specific curricular needs of learners; and aiding the management of the instructional program.
Instructional Design and Assessment
Topics Covered: designing instruction to achieve specific learning outcomes; systematic models that facilitate planning, developing, revising, and evaluating instruction.
Instructional Strategies for Individuals with Mild Disabilities
Topics Covered: basic curricular concepts and teaching practices related to developing and implementing effective instructional programs for students with mild disabilities.
Principles of Creative Problem Solving
Topics Covered: theory and application of the Creative Problem-Solving process; practice in both individual and group uses for personal or professional contexts.
Topics Covered: educational relevance of involving the greater community (parents, neighborhoods, businesses, among others) to enhance and support student achievement; organizational relationships between schools within and outside schools; power, multicultural awareness; major opinion leaders; vision and mission articulation; interpersonal skills.
Methods and Techniques of Educational Research
Topics Covered: This course focused on teachers as researchers. Students examined basic tools, materials, designs, and statistical techniques used in research and program evaluation and learned to critically evaluate published research and conduct action research within their classrooms. Students designed an instrument and planned an action research project proposal as preparation for their Master’s Project.
Topics Covered elaborated on foundations constructed in the previous course and the production of a research-based final project undertaken by one or more individuals on a problem of special interest.
How was your overall experience with SUNY? How do you feel after receiving your Master of Science Degree in Multidisciplinary Studies?
Michelle Ray: Overall, I really enjoyed the program with SUNY. I like how all the professors understood that we were also working full time during our courses. Additionally, they always had us complete projects that related to our classrooms and school community. The program is tailored to each school. Furthermore, I started the SUNY program my first year at School of the Nations, so I was able to get to know my colleagues more, especially those from other sections. It feels like we all have a special bond since we did this together! I feel grateful for this opportunity and more prepared for teaching in a K-12 school.
How has this experience improved your teaching? Out of the ten courses you took, which one did you find most beneficial (or did you like the most) and why? Tell us one new thing you learned and that you will or have already implemented in your teaching.
Rislene Silva: We had some amazing courses, but three of them really impacted the way I teach. The first one was the Holistic Course, and it helped us see our students as a whole and focus on their strengths to support their weaknesses. It also taught us how to integrate movement, songs, meditation, and emotional skills with the curriculum. The second course that was really beneficial was Instructional Strategies for Individuals with Mild Disabilities. We studied many different approaches to use in the classroom. The main tool is Universal Design for Learning (UDL). I had the opportunity to implement and analyze its impact on developing writing skills during my final project. The research pointed out that 80% of the students showed substantial improvement in their Portuguese language writing skills and that UDL can be implemented in the Brazilian educational context.
How do you think our students will benefit from this?
Tatiany Carvalho: With this new group of professionals who have earned their Master’s degrees, students will receive an education of even more excellence since we want to share this knowledge with our colleagues. Knowledge is good when shared, and here at school, we have a welcoming environment where we can work in partnership with other teachers, sharing ideas and strategies. I am sure that students will have even more dynamic classes, focusing on multidisciplinary and collaborative teaching that allows them to be citizens of the world.