Never will you find a student at Aoba-Japan International School asking, “when will I use this later in life?” Because everything about the school’s innovative teaching methods prepare the student for a successful further education and career.
The internationally accredited school has multiple campuses across Tokyo, and welcomes a wide range of ages, from students as young as 18 months to as old as 18 years (K2–G12). Its students achieve impressive above-average grades, and many students enter top-ranked universities. But despite this, the core of Aoba’s success lies in its graduates’ satisfaction and skills that give them the independence to forge their own path later in life.
Core Values and Teaching Styles
At Aoba International School, their overarching goal is for students to “reach their full potential as international citizens who are dedicated to learning and who are inspired to succeed in an ever-changing world.”
Reaching their full potential can mean a number of things, but the hope is that Aoba students will go on to become global leaders and entrepreneurs, wise risk-takers and problem-solvers, and of course, effective communicators. Admissions and Marketing Coordinator Belinda Hashimoto added, “Our students are encouraged to think outside of the box, and to challenge existing ideas and concepts.”
Aoba works hard to provide the best environment for its students through its outside-the-box teaching styles that focus on group culture, leadership, and independent learning. The flexible teaching process is always being updated, and one of the most exciting new changes for 2024 is their participation in the IB Diploma Programme Online Pilot.
As part of this pilot program, Aoba will offer the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme, for the first time in Japan and in fact in Asia, as an entirely online 2-year course. The school has extensive experience in providing an online campus for its high school students, and intends to implement its signature methodologies to its online courses too.
Hashimoto emphasized the importance of the school’s original teaching methods present in its online and offline lessons: “Regurgitating facts is no longer relevant in this information age. Aoba is transforming education to best prepare our students for tomorrow.”
At the heart of that teaching methodology is Aoba’s inquiry-based learning. This allows the students to become actively involved in—and take responsibility for—their own learning.
The students work on projects under an overarching open-ended inquiry topic. In the Primary Years, for example, transdisciplinary learning takes place under what is called a “unit of inquiry,” which usually takes around six weeks to complete.
In the first week, students are introduced to their learning concept and given a central question to focus on, such as “What makes a business successful?” In the following weeks, students plan out strategies for assigned projects, and their foundational skills are supplemented with challenges and activities. In the final weeks, students dig deeper into the topic, making improvements and drawing conclusion to their projects, that they finally share with their class or audience. In the case of this business project, the students created a product or service that could be sold to the community during the school’s “Market Day.”
Speaking on the importance of teamwork in these projects, Head of Campus Paul Fradale said: “The world we live in is fast, it’s changing, and it requires people to work together to solve major issues. We believe that training people to work in teams is critical, and therefore, it’s the foundation of all that we do with our students.”
Holistic and Academic Development
This focus on student-driven learning allows students not only to develop academically, but also on a more well-rounded, holistic level.
Students are encouraged to find out their own information through a variety of sources, learning to be responsible digital citizens along the way. This benefits them in ways traditional textbook-based teaching methods may not, and it ensures their information is always up-to-date and remains internationally relevant.
Despite this independent learning and team-based approach, Aoba is still able to provide thorough and clear feedback on each student's progress throughout the year. This is done through school report cards that are issued twice a year, regular progress reports, and also through student-led conferences, where students can share their school work with their parents and teachers to reflect on and celebrate their learnings. Assessments do not focus on test results, but rather the student’s learning process, with regards to critical and creative thinking, communication, and teamwork.
On the subject, Fradale noted, “The teachers assist the children in taking control of their learning, and our teachers’ expertise is in how people learn. This provides the children with a foundation, and a set of tools that they carry with them for the rest of their lives. Our children are successful at university and beyond because they are ready for whatever gets thrown at them.”
Aoba’s well-rounded approach to education isn’t restricted to the classroom, either. As well as the numerous extra-curricular opportunities, students go on a variety of excursions outside of the classroom in the form of trips and leadership camps.
Aoba also takes pride in its original Global Leadership Diploma that can be taken in person or online. The course is a personalized, guided pathway to help students figure out what they are personally interested in and why. It bolsters their independence in self-guided coursework with the aid of a Leadership Coach over two years, and ultimately helps prepare students for university.
Everything at Aoba is done with purpose, and the independent learning approach alongside team building and character building prepares them with the tools not only for university, but for a life and career for years to come.
Read more: https://goconnect.jp/partners/aoba-japan-international-school/
Info Session: https://www.japaninternationalschool.com/admissions/info-session-registration/