International Mindedness: an EARJ path

November 24, 2020

In my early years of teaching, I used to think international-mindedness happened as a result of the diversity present in the classroom. I viewed it more as differences in food, flags, festivals (traditions), language, entertainment, and recreation. In my 10 years abroad I’ve come to learn that these are examples of culture and these attributes of culture do not necessarily translate to developing international-mindedness.

I hate to admit that my understanding of what it meant to be internationally-minded was simple in nature and based on things that were more observable, and not in the deeper ways in which people’s beliefs and values are different and also the same. I’ve learned It’s more about an attitude and an openness to see the world and its events from multiple perspectives.

EARJ is classified as an American international school and yet how internationally-minded are we? In what ways does our community strive to exemplify what it means to be internationally-minded? I ask these questions not to negate a well-deserved 83 year history of excellence, but to engage us in conversation about the benefits of being internationally-minded and the challenges that come with it in an ever changing, chaotic world. As educators, we know we want to develop international-mindedness in our students, but this pursuit should actually involve the entire community of students, teachers, staff, and parents.

The International Baccalaureate (IB) defines International mindedness as possessing certain attributes and approaches to learning.  An internationally minded learner:

  • is a competent communicator (multilingual);

  • is open-minded and knowledgeable;

  • is a caring and principled thinker;

  • uses his or her curiosity and research skills to inquire about the world;

  • thinks and reflects critically about opportunities and challenges;

  • takes action for positive change;

  • takes risks to further self-development and understanding of others.

(Boix Mansilla and Jackson 2011; Oxfam 2015; Singh and Qi 2013; UNESCO 2015).

For students who participate in one or several of the IB programmes, they are exposed to these attributes and approaches multiple times during the course of their educational journey. They learn how to use appropriate skills to find answers to their questions. They develop ownership of their own learning and in their relationships with others so they have the opportunity to practice the attributes in real time.

When I think about how best for EARJ to infuse International mindedness into the ethos of the school, I like to think about what I would want an EARJ high school graduate to know about himself/herself as a learner and the difference he/she wants to make in the world. If we work backwards from “that graduate” then we should be able to support that vision and build into their learning journey, opportunities to develop the attributes of an internationally-minded person, starting all the way back in their preschool years.

The development of international-mindedness takes time, patience, and commitment to a larger vision. At EARJ, find your path inspires us to support our students so that their attributes and approaches to life exemplify an internationally-minded citizen of the world.

Doreen Garrigan
Gávea Lower School Principal

Building On Strengths Instead of Deficits: Languaging and Translanguaging

October 27, 2020

When we see a student learning English as their second, third, or even fourth language, do we see this student as having an advantage, a strength that can be leveraged, or a concern that unless fixed will have a harmful effect on their learning at EARJ?

Language is how we make meaning of the world. Language allows us to inquire and holds a crucial role in our learning process. How we use language changes constantly, especially in a globally connected world.

Our language might change depending on who we are talking to or what we are talking about. It might change from sending an email versus a WhatsApp message. We might use two or three different languages within one single day, and even within those languages change how we are communicating depending on who we are communicating with.

Basically, language is flexible. It is a fluid act that when used as an action or verb, we call it languaging. For our students, they are languaging to make meaning from lessons as they continue to make meaning of the world. If they speak multiple languages, languaging can become a more unique asset or a strength in making meaning.

Language and culture are intimately intertwined, allowing students to bring into our classrooms diverse cultures filled with enriching perspectives. When students call upon their multiple languages, even if they are not all fluent, they can make greater connections. We call this translanguaging.

Translanguaging allows students to make more meaningful and diverse connections to content by utilizing all of their languages. When encouraged and celebrated openly, they can begin to share this enrichment with the entire class, where English Language Learners are thoughtfully included, and all students can deepen meaning.

For any student, bilingualism or multilingualism can be either subtractive or additive. “English only” can lead to diversity restricting, monolingual or monocultural meanings, and diminished learning outcomes. Instead of English only, what could we gain from English plus, where translanguaging is valued, encouraged, and celebrated?

Cody Alton
Director of Student Support Services

EARJ’s road to the IB Primary Years Programme

August 31, 2020

It was during a university tour in Newcastle, UK, that my youngest daughter excitedly said to me, “Mom, this is the one! This is the program I want to study.”

After 6 university tours and what felt like an endless number of kilometers driving around the UK, she had made the decision that best suited her dreams and aspirations. She wanted to work in a creative field, utilizing the skills she’d developed during her IB Middle Years Programme and IB Diploma Programme years and she felt strongly it was in advertising.

The level of confidence she displayed in her decision surprised me. This was not my normal 17-year-old who rarely remembered to take out the garbage or moaned when asked to take the family dog on a walk. No, this excited teenager was piecing together what would become the next 4 years of her life. I realized then what the last 5 years as an International Baccalaureate (IB) student had nurtured; a student who knew herself as a learner and knew what she wanted from her university experience.

She completed her degree in advertising and then went on to complete a Master’s degree in digital marketing. I owe a debt of gratitude to the IB World School she attended and the teachers who supported her along the way.

As an IB educator and an IB parent, I’ve experienced firsthand what an IB education can offer a student and their family. This year, EARJ will officially begin its candidacy in the Primary Years Programme (PYP). In the coming years, a Middle Years Programme candidacy will follow to align with the existing Diploma Programmes offered on both campuses. The development of an EARJ roadmap to become an authorized 3-programme IB World School started some time ago and has not wavered in its strategic intent to have EARJ offer:

“an internationally recognized curriculum that is philosophically consistent, vertically aligned, academically rigorous, and which provides high quality learning pathways for students to pursue their passions and access the best possible university opportunities”.

This strategic intent will strengthen the school’s focus on students and how best to create learning experiences that encourage them to think critically and challenge assumptions in a globally changing world. As an American international school, it will encourage students to think about and through local and global contexts. Language will be enhanced as IB programmes develop multilingual students.

Teaching and learning in an IB World School prepare students for their future. When my daughter toured university campuses and listened to various program descriptions, she knew herself well enough to know that she preferred a program that was case-study based, heavy on conversation and debate, and focused on projects. She wanted to be an active learner, questioning the status quo, and working with innovative thinkers.

Much of what she was looking for, she experienced with her fellow IB classmates. That is why I think she had such a strong reaction when we toured her final university. It fit her best as a learner and how she wanted to spend her time learning. To have that understanding of self at a young age is because IB programmes instill a belief that students are the holder of their own learning. It starts with our very young learners in the PYP and progresses through the other IB programmes.  According to all IB programmes, teaching is:

  • Based on inquiry. A strong emphasis is placed on students finding their own information and constructing their own understandings.

  • Focused on conceptual understanding. Concepts are explored in order to both deepen disciplinary understanding and to help students make connections and transfer learning to new contexts.

  • Developed in local and global contexts. Teaching uses real-life contexts and examples, and students are encouraged to process new information by connecting it to their own experiences and to the world around them.

  • Focused on effective teamwork and collaboration. This includes promoting teamwork and collaboration between students but also refers to the collaborative relationship between teachers and students.

  • Designed to remove barriers to learning. Teaching is inclusive and values diversity. It affirms students’ identities and aims to create learning opportunities that enable every student to develop and pursue appropriate personal goals.

  • Informed by assessment. Assessment plays a crucial role in supporting, as well as measuring, learning. This approach also recognizes the crucial role of providing students with effective feedback.

I am proud to be part of EARJ’s PYP candidacy. There will be work to do, but as I experience the EARJ spirit and observe a strong commitment to student learning, I believe the PYP will deepen what is already a strong foundation in learning, in addition to strengthening our internationally-minded community. Let’s go on this IB journey together!

For more information on the International Baccalaureate programmes, visit:

Doreen J. Garrigan
Gávea Lower School Principal