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Thursday, 19 October 2017

Factors That Have Assisted In Developing Dhahran Ahliyya Schools

Since its foundation in 1977, DAS's goal has been to offer the best possible educational services to its students. In order to achieve this goal, DAS has worked on several fronts, the most important of which are explained below

 Strategies for enriching the educational programs

 

1- DAS uses highly developed educational methodologies. Our school has sought to benefit from the findings and applications of contemporary educational research, gradually incorporating into its program the best practices that are appropriate for our setting. It has focused on learner-centered strategies that activate the learner's role in the entire educational process, such as backward design, cooperative learning, debates, simulations, service learning, literature circles, extensive use of manipulatives and realia in the teaching of math and science, integrated thematic instruction, the writing process, the Big Six approach to student research, the use of technology in teaching and learning, and other. DAS also helps teachers learn how to create a positive and productive climate in school and classroom through using strategies that reinforce student self-esteem, treat both student and teacher with dignity and teach students to be responsible for their own behaviors.

2- DAS strives toward the highest academic standards. While DAS has always adapted the required curriculum to fit its stated objectives, its current change of status – from national program school to international program school – gives it far more flexibility. In 2009, faculty collaborated under the guidance of highly respected international consultants, to begin developing our new curricula for English math, physical education and art on the basis of the Deleware standards. In addition, they are looking at adapting similar standards for Arabic. For social studies, teachers are making use of the AERO standards for courses in both English and Arabic. There are many challenges to actually meeting those standards but DAS is investing time and money in the training, teacher support, and instructional materials that can be expected to gradually bring about implementation of these high expectations.3- DAS works to instill a sense of responsibility, compassion and charity in students. DAS dedicates two periods each week from the normal school program for our clubs program for students from grades 3-9 in the boys' school and 3-11 in the girls' school. Each semester, each student chooses the program he will enter for these periods, selecting from a variety of activities and collaborative community service projects. Our purpose in this clubs program has been threefold: to develop students' interests and talents in fields outside their normal studies; to develop their collaborative, organizational and leadership skills; and to instill in them an awareness of issues and needs in society and of their ability to make a difference in making the world a better place. The community service groups have worked on a number of projects such as the following:

  1. Service to certain mosques in cooperation with their Imams.
  2. Service to the handicapped in cooperation with the Society of the Handicapped in the Eastern Province.
  3. Service to children in orphanages in the area.
  4. Service to the aged in cooperation with the Home for the Aged.
  5. Foundation and operation of lending libraries for patients in local hospitals (Al-Mana Hospital and King Fahed University Hospital).
  6. Conservation of the environment ( by planting trees, helping clean up beach areas, recycling paper, glass, and aluminum and many other projects) in cooperation with the appropriate local authorities.

4- DAS provides additional time for required subjects or for supplementary curricula 

DAS provides additional time in our weekly schedule that exceeds what is formally required by the Ministry of Education.
The use of this extra time varies from year to year but is summarized below.

Grade level  1-3   4-6 Intermediate Secondary 
Percentage of extra tim  43%  29% 18%  25%

This extra time is used either to reinforce required subject matter or to provide additional programs, such as the examples seen below:

  1. Computer – students are introduced to computer and its uses from the first grade through regular classes, clubs, and through open-labs during recess.
  2. English language- English is taught from Kg through the end of the 12th grade; the number of periods per week starts out at 20 and goes down gradually to 5 or 6, according to the grade level.
  3. Library skills, taught at the elementary level – one period a week.
  4. Research process and informational problem solving, taught in an integrated block period from the third grade through use of the procedures and strategies described in Big Six by Michael
  5. Eisenberg et al, a set of books translated and re-published by DAS.
  6. Supplementary reading programs at the elementary level to improve student comprehension, fluency and love of reading
  7. Purposeful field trips for all levels .
  8. Physical fitness for all levels.

5-Student Support Unit (for early intervention in case of learning difficulties)

After identifying students with learning difficulties in the basic skills of Arabic language, math, and English in pre-school and elementary levels, DAS provides them with an opportunity to receive additional help for 2-5 periods a week. This assistance is offered by professional teachers who are prepared specifically for this purpose.

Strategies for Administration

1 – DAS as a Professional Learning Community
Employees at DAS see themselves as being part of a professional learning community which is "characterized by a shared mission, vision and values; collective inquiry; collaborative teams; an orientation toward action and a willingness to experiment; commitment to continuous improvement; a focus on results"* and deprivatization of practice. In 2007, it began sending members of its faculty to be trained in action research which they are now using to research DAS and find the areas of strength and weakness in order to make decisions about changes that are needed.
* Professional Learning Communities at Work, Best Practices for Enhancing Student Achievement: by Richard DuFour and Robert Eaker, National Educational Service, 1998.

2-Team approach to leadership of the school
DAS management is based on the principles of collaborative leadership; thus, there is a committee of directors for determining policies, regulations and procedures, a committee for professional development, a committee for the educational supervision; a committee for developing a positive climate at DAS; academic teams; teacher support groups; and other task forces formed to deal with specific issues. Major decisions such as those that affect the implementation of work, school plan, or employment are taken at the appropriate level with input from as many people affected by the decisions as possible. All employees were involved in the process of writing the School’s Mission, Vision, and Strategies and will be consulted in the writing of other plans to support progress.

3- Plan for Continuous Development
DAS has now completed its third revision of its Plan for Continuous Development in Learning (PCPL) which links its plans for professional development, employee performance assessment and evaluation, and compensation. Committees including all employment groups are in the process of writing the new plan and will be involved in evaluating its effectiveness.

  1.  Professional Development
    Ever since it was founded in 1977, DAS has had an annual summer period of training and preparation in which all employees are present for 3-4 weeks before students return to start the new academic year. During this period, employees participate in a variety of courses, workshops, and committees designed to improve both the skills of the individuals and quality of the educational program. DAS also sends directors, educational supervisors, teachers, and others to international conferences when that is appropriate. Approximately 12% of the School’s budget goes to salaries and expenses that are involved with professional development activities.
  2.  Educational supervision and coaching
    An essential part of the professional development program is the coaching and assistance provided by supervisors and facilitators. DAS has appointed distinguished teachers to leadership roles within their teams, some as permanent supervisors and others who work as facilitators for a period of two years and then go back to the classroom as full time teachers. The purpose of these positions is to ensure adequate support for teachers who are working to develop their skills as well as their curricula and instructional