At SEI, teachers are intentional about learning through collaboration. All of our teachers have experience in American schools, which has led to many opportunities to learn about the research behind collaborative learning. This is especially vital for students learning English. Research has shown that collaborative learning results in high achievement levels, greater productivity, improved student psychological health, and increased student confidence and social skills (National Education Association).
Mr. Cochrum’s class is a great example of this principle. In Building Blocks of Engineering, he guides students to solve problems together and explore the science underlying their solutions. In the first week of the course, students focus on the engineering of static structures by building bridges out of popsicle sticks and glue. Although the materials are simple, students work together to design, construct, and test bridges that can support many times their own weight! Completing this challenge in collaboration with other students means that students can share their unique knowledge with their groups; it also leads to a warm and energetic classroom environment that students rave about long after SEI ends.
While some traditions and activities are popular around the world, others are more unique to American culture. During SEI, several clubs like American Summer, American Card and Board Games, and American Outdoor Sports are offered to students to familiarize them with American culture. Today, in Ms. Cassel’s American Summer club, students participated in a classic American summer activity called a “Slip and Slide,” a new experience for many students. Many began cautiously; however, their RTAs led by example, and students soon joined in fearlessly.
Encouraging students to step out of their comfort zone and participate in high energy activities is not only a fun way to unwind and make friends, but it is also an effective way to build confidence. These fun and active club experiences are an important part of helping students understand and enjoy American pastimes, which are often very different from their own.
Staff Spotlight: The Cruz Family
This year, we at SEI feel fortunate to be joined by the entire Cruz family! This is Mr. Gerard Cruz’s fifth year teaching at SEI, and his second as our principal. Mr. Cruz was himself an international student, which motivates him to be a caring, excellent teacher and a passionate leader of our faculty. When not at SEI, Mr. Cruz enjoys teaching English at Wheaton Academy. He is joined by his wife, Mrs. Karena Cruz, who serves on our academic staff in many capacities. Mrs. Cruz is a source of encouragement to so many, and she consistently goes above and beyond to support both students and teachers. This year, the Cruzes are excited to be together as a family, and their daughter Karen and son Kaleb are both serving in Teaching Assistant roles this year. We are so thankful for everything the Cruz family does for SEI!
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