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The International School Nido de Aguilas

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Wednesdays Without Walls Featured in AAIE

Recently, Dr. Kate McKenna, High School Principal, was published in the Association for the Advancement of International Education (AAIE) newsletter for the distance learning wellness program in the High School—Wednesday Without Walls.


Wednesdays Without Walls at the International School of Nido de Aguilas

–By Dr. Kate McKenna, High School Principal


At our High School Halloween Assembly this year, I walked on stage wearing a witch costume. The kids knew that I was coming with bad news, and I got few laughs when I told them that I had dressed the part. Then I went ahead and confirmed the rumors that had been circulating by announcing the cancelation of our annual Week Without Walls program. At that time, Chile was experiencing civil unrest, and our school had just returned from six days of closure due to massive protests and demonstrations throughout the country. Even though we were back in school, travel was deemed neither viable nor appropriate given the context. Behind the scenes, our leadership team scrambled to coordinate with trip providers, travel agents, and airlines. Somehow, our adventurous Outdoor Education Team convinced nearly all of our trip providers to move the dates of our travel with little to no penalty fees due to the unprecedented circumstances. We congratulated ourselves on this feat and selected dates that we were sure would avoid future disruption: May 22-30, 2020.

Unfortunately, anyone reading this article — likely from their home quarantine quarters — knows how this story ends. Needless to say, the second time I cancelled Week Without Walls in the same academic year, it was with much less fanfare and hope. I chose not to dress as a witch. Instead, I made a video from my porch where I expressed my deep and profound sadness to students about this situation. I shared my regret to the seniors for the loss of yet another tradition and concluded that this experience — though central to our school mission — was unable to be actualized given the context.

But still, it felt wrong to give up on the idea completely. Sure, we could not venture into the trails of Patagonia or the deserts of Atacama, but certainly we could engage in experiential education and whole-child learning as a community — even if we needed to do it from the confines of our homes.

So, Wednesdays Without Walls was born. Rather than replacing the days we would have been traveling with more virtual classes, we made a commitment to alter our high school schedule, shifting to a 4 +1 weekly model. Our new distance learning schedule featured four days of academic classes with one day midweek focused on more hands-on learning experiences that attended to our student's mental health while also furthering Nido's mission of developing our students' interests and personalities fully.

Once we had the idea for Wednesdays Without Walls, we put together a team of educators to help us run the program. Every administrator, counselor, instructional coach, curriculum director, athletic and aquatics staff member, and faculty member with courses that had concluded for the year are now responsible for running workshops on Wednesdays. This gives one day a week to our faculty members, who are teaching a full load of five classes, to plan virtual lessons, provide feedback to students, meet as curricular teams, and catch up on emails from parents and students. Our Wednesdays Without Walls program is organized into seven categories: Arts, Community, Fitness, Education, IB Program, Service, and Wellness. Each workshop leader designs a workshop in one of these fields for each Wednesday Without Walls. Creativity and risk taking are encouraged! I modeled these virtues by signing up to lead a session on Bollywood dancing — something that I had never done before — but had always been curious about. Luckily, I was able to bring an expert into our workshop thanks to the free fitness resources now being shared virtually due to the global pandemic.

Our first Wednesdays Without Walls day was held on April 22nd. We loaded the virtual event planning program, SCHED, with 52 options for our 491 students. Each student selected four workshops, one for each block of a normal school day. Students also attend their virtual Advisory class as part of our social-emotional program. Juniors taking the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Program were asked to attend their Higher Level classes for half of a block, meaning that they had a mix of academic lessons and workshops of interest. Our WWW team did not disappoint with their creativity and risk-taking: there were workshops on cooking a family breakfast, engaging in a family mindfulness session, practicing yoga, doing a HIIT workout, learning about Earth Day actions, competing in a Knowledge Bowl tournament, discussing articles related to COVID-19, learning basic CPR, creating a stop motion animation video, designing gratitudes for Chile's essential workers, and — a very popular one — learning the important life skill of changing a car tire. We even hosted our first ever Nido's Got Virtual Talent show with live performances from students and over 100 attendees.

Feedback from student surveys demonstrated that the day was a success. Many students commented that they had been sitting in their room for five weeks without engaging in any type of self-care or fitness routine. They realized that they needed to partake in artistic and athletic activities in order to feel 'normal' again. Others were drawn to the idea of learning more about the practicalities of life — they have asked for future sessions on life-saving techniques, budgeting, and resume writing. Certainly, many were excited by the social-nature of the day and the unexpected learning communities that formed as students connected with peers and teachers whom they had not seen in weeks. The day felt exciting and energizing.

As educators, we know that many of our school mission statements invite us to engage in authentic learning that promotes risk-taking, self-direction, collaboration, and personal growth. We cannot forget who we are in times of crisis. Instead, we need to tap into our creativity and adaptability in order to further our school missions and promote our community values through our virtual programs. We also need to ensure that we are caring for our students and attending to their social and emotional health during times when they are isolated and feeling uncertain.

When our students look back on this time in their schooling, I know that they are going to remember Wednesdays Without Walls as a central part of their Nido education. As we head into an uncertain future, I invite your school to ask itself: How can our virtual program further our school's core work and create meaningful and memorable experiences for our students during this unprecedented time?

Nido Values in Distance Learning

Ms. Layne Hudes, Elementary School Principal, and Mr. Jon Penhollow and Ms. Jessica Overton, Elementary School Assistant Principals, recently reflected on how the Nido values are expressed by our community during distance learning.

ACADEMIA DE DESARROLLO DOCENTE

Colegio Internacional Nido de Águilas y Fundación Educacional Seminarium se unieron en alianza para desarrollar la primera versión de la Academia de Desarrollo Docente con foco en el impulso profesional entre pares.

Durante 2 días y medio, profesores capacitarán a profesores para desarrollar las habilidades que requieren los alumnos para superar con éxito los desafíos del siglo XXI.

Nido Admissions Open Houses

Nido invita a todos los apoderados a una Visita Abierta para conocer nuestro enfoque único a la educación. Descubra Nido de Águilas, donde los niños se enamoran del aprendizaje, nutren sus fortalezas y pasiones, y se convierten en agentes de cambio de un mundo que evoluciona constantemente.

NIDO PLACES 18TH IN CHILE'S PSU RANKING

The 19 National Plan students who recently sat for the PSU (Prueba de Selección Universitaria) earned Nido the 18th spot in the top 100 schools in Chile for PSU rankings.
International Education Conference for Social-Emotional Learning

All are invited to Making Connections, Building Communities, Nido's first International Education Conference for Social-Emotional Learning, on Saturday, March 7 from 8:30am - 4:00pm.

This conference will feature a keynote presentation on the importance of social-emotional learning in schools from Professor Catherine Griffith of University of San Diego and a variety workshops in English and Spanish from experts on topics and issues that counselors and teachers face daily in the classroom and parents face with their children and teens at home.

This conference is free and open to all parents, teachers, and counselors from any school in Chile.

Parent Mindfulness Courses

Lina Paumgarten, Nido HS Counselor and Wellness Coordinator, is once again offering her popular and valuable mindfulness courses to parents beginning in March 2020. There is an 8-week course for those who have not taken mindfulness courses before and an advanced 4-week course.

Professional Development Conferences at Nido

In March 2020 and May 2020 Nido will be hosting two exciting professional development opportunities open to educators worldwide. Join us for Teaching and Learning Through Inquiry with Kath Murdoch on March 14-15, 2020 and Readers and Writers Workshop with Erin Kent from May 11-15, 2020.

EARLY YEARS ADMISSIONS HIKE

Apoderados interesados en Nido y sus hijos de 2 a 5 años están invitados a experimentar uno de los aspectos más únicos del programa educativo de Nido en el que los alumnos participan anualmente hasta la graduación: la educación experimental.

NIDO SUMMER STEM EXPERIENCE

At Nido, the summer is an opportunity to explore new horizons and further develop important skills for an ever-changing world. Come learn with us this summer and discover the Nido Way through the Nido Summer STEM Experience (NSSE).

Nido Open House | December 3

¿Te gustaría saber más de Nido? Invitamos a todos los apoderados a nuestro Open House, el martes 3 de diciembre a las 8:30 am, para conocer nuestro enfoque único en la educación.

NIDO WORKS SUMMER INTERNSHIP PROGRAM

With 85 years of experience preparing students for a rapidly changing world, we know that early exposure to a variety of workplaces and careers gives student an edge in life after high school. We invite you to join Nido Works for Students or Nido Works for Graduates.

COLUMBIA BUSINESS SCHOOL AT NIDO DE AGUILAS

Attention Young Entrepreneurs! Would you like to learn how to get started on your next big venture? Nido is partnering with Columbia Business School from New York City to bring their faculty to Santiago for a one-time, week-long workshop in January that exposes students to the theory and practice of entrepreneurship and innovation.

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