Personalized Learning: The Heart of Differentiated Instruction

Education is a dynamic field, and as educators, our goal is to help each student reach their full potential. To achieve this, differentiated instruction is a powerful tool. It’s the process of tailoring lessons to meet each student’s unique interests, needs, and strengths, all while steering them toward the same learning objectives. In this blog post, we’ll explore what differentiated instruction is, why it’s essential, and how it aligns with our educational philosophy at Tessa International School.

Understanding Differentiated Instruction


Differentiated instruction is all about personalization. It’s the art of crafting lessons that cater to the diverse ways students learn and grow. This method empowers students with the freedom to choose how they want to navigate the path to understanding a topic, and it’s a guiding principle of modern education. It’s the cornerstone of the International Baccalaureate, where students are encouraged to be actors of their own learning. 


Why Is Differentiated Instruction Important?


  • Meeting Individual Needs: No two students are alike. Differentiated instruction acknowledges these differences and tailors learning experiences to fit each student’s unique profile. By doing so, it ensures that every student has the opportunity to learn effectively.


  • Personalized Learning: Giving students choice and flexibility in how they learn fosters a sense of ownership over their education. When students are actors of their learning, they are more motivated and engaged, and the lessons become more meaningful to them.


  • Clarity and Goals: Differentiated instruction doesn’t mean chaos or randomness in the classroom. On the contrary, it requires instructional clarity and well-defined learning objectives. When students know the goals they need to reach, they are better equipped to meet them through their chosen pathways.

Differentiated Instruction Strategies


  • Content Differentiation: Teachers can vary the content students study to achieve the same learning objective. Students may have options in subjects, topics, or approaches to grasp the material.


  • Process Differentiation: This approach involves tailoring how students learn. It could mean grouping students based on their readiness levels or presenting concepts through different learning styles, such as visual, auditory, or kinesthetic methods.


  • Product Differentiation: Teachers can allow students to choose the type of assignments they create to demonstrate their understanding of a concept. This could include written reports, stories, songs, speeches, or art projects.


  • Environment Differentiation: Classroom environment plays a role in learning as well. By adjusting physical arrangements and routines, teachers can accommodate different learning preferences and needs.

The Benefits of Differentiated Instruction


  • Connecting with Diverse Learning Styles: Not all students respond to the same teaching methods. Differentiated instruction ensures that various learning styles are accommodated, making it more likely for every student to engage with the material.


  • Inclusivity: In some cases, differentiation is essential for students with disabilities, or non native language learners. It provides all students with the opportunity to keep pace with learning objectives. As an International School, this is a scenario we are familiar with, making differentiation an even more essential aspect of our educational philosophy. 


  • Motivating Learning: When students are actors of their own learning, they are more motivated. Differentiated instruction enables them to engage with the material in a way that resonates with their unique interests and learning styles.

Differentiated Learning at Tessa International School


At Tessa International School, individualized learning is not just a concept; it’s a fundamental part of our educational philosophy. 


We take pride in our international community, which brings together students from various cultural backgrounds and language proficiencies. With a substantial number of students not being native speakers of the instruction language, differentiation becomes an essential component in every aspect of the learning process. By tailoring our teaching methods, content, and assessments to accommodate the unique needs of our diverse student body, we ensure that language barriers do not hinder their educational journey. 


One example of how our educators achieve this are workshops, where students are grouped into smaller, focused learning environments. These workshops are designed to encourage teamwork, independent problem-solving, and self-directed learning as students rotate between various hands-on activities, in group, individually, with and without the help of a teacher. This diverse approach ensures that every student gets a well-rounded and personalized educational experience.

Differentiated instruction is a commitment to help each child shine in their unique way, and we’re excited to be a part of their growth and success. Learn more about an education at Tessa International School by visiting our website and scheduling a private tour or call. 


The Remarkable Advantages of Social Emotional Learning: A Case Study

Educational paradigms are currently undergoing a profound and fundamental change. As we learn more about how children’s brains develop, educators are increasingly shifting away from a narrow focus on content, punctuated by occasional standalone lessons on social and emotional development, and into a new mode of instruction in which these formerly separate realms are integrated into one holistic curriculum. A recent case study demonstrates the success of these principles put into action.


In order to understand the significance of the case study, we must first understand the principles of Social Emotional Learning (SEL). The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) has developed a coordinating framework to be utilized by educators, families, and communities to promote intrapersonal, interpersonal, and cognitive competencies in students. To that end, CASEL has developed a framework of 5 Core Competencies.

  • self-awareness
  • self-management
  • social awareness
  • relationship skills
  • responsible decision-making

The Aspen Institute’s National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development (SEAD) works closely with educators, community leaders, families, employers, and partners like CASEL to fully integrate this approach into K-12 academic curriculum. The goal of SEAD is to compile and release a Report From the Nation, which will outline specific actions intended to usher in a new era of education. This model will support the full development of students, providing them with the skills and emotional maturity to excel not only in academics, but into adulthood.

Case Study: Capital City Public Charter School

SEAD’s first report in the series is a case study of a Washington, D.C. charter school. Capital City provides an innovative learning environment for its 1,000 K-12 students by being part of the Expeditionary Learning network, which emphasizes mastery of academics, production of high-quality work, and development of character.

In practice, this results in “learning expeditions”, such as when 3rd and 4th grade classes compared Washington’s temperate forests with tropical rainforests, incorporating trips to a local park and the National Zoo into the lesson plan. Another example is when 9th graders studied the ecology of local fish, with an emphasis on habitat preservation/restoration and the impact of human activity on fish populations.

This holistic and engaging approach to education makes Capital City fertile ground for the integration of Social Emotional Learning. SEAD’s case study demonstrates this by zeroing in on teacher Samantha Clark’s 6th grade math class. In this lesson, students have been learning geometric concepts by working, alone and in groups, on blueprints depicting their city. Clark calls a volunteer (Brandon) to the overhead projector to display a tightly scripted “peer critique” protocol for the feedback process.

  • First, Brandon describes exactly what he is working on and mentions problems he is having completing his portion of the project.
  • Next, Clark asks “clarifying questions” to fully understand Brandon’s concerns.
  • Then she provides specific feedback, leading with positive comments and following up with helpful guidance.
  • Brandon is then given a chance to respond before returning to his group to put into practice what they have just learned.

This process keeps students engaged, on task, and working together harmoniously. “I don’t see social and academic skills separately at all,” Clark says. “I don’t think first about designing a lesson and then think next about how to develop students’ social-emotional skills. It’s all one.”

To ensure high-quality instruction such as that provided by Clark, Capital City teachers are supported by instructional coaches, given dedicated time to create lesson plans, and frequently meet with other teachers across all grade levels to discuss overarching concerns and goals.

As a result, this charter school outpaces its overall district in growth of student proficiency (as measured by PARCC), and 100% of Capital City’s graduates go on to enroll in college. Despite these impressive achievements, head of school Karen Dresden is always striving to improve. “Our job is much broader than preparing kids for a test;” she says, “we’re preparing kids to do well in college, in careers, and in life. We want to make sure that they have all those skills.”

Other Examples

Also included in the case study are four other examples of successfully implemented SEL approaches.

  • San Francisco Unified School District – The pre-K – 12 math curriculum is taught using principles of “growth mindset,” in which students are taught to expect and embrace mistakes as learning opportunities. This approach focuses on enhancing conceptual thinking, problem-solving skills, and procedural fluency, avoiding the strict right/wrong binary that has led so many students to believe they are “bad” at math.
  • Facing History and Ourselves – This non-profit organization engages students in an examination of social justice issues throughout history with the goal of encouraging students to engage in and understand their role in an active democracy.
  • New Tech Network (NTN) – The NTN focuses on project-based learning, integrating content knowledge with critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and student responsibility.
  • Center for the Collaborative Classroom – This non-profit provides continuous learning for teachers to support the academic, ethical, and social development of children.

Integrating SEL into academic curriculum is clearly beneficial for not only students, but for teachers, parents, and communities as well. By utilizing these principles we can raise the next generation to be socially conscious problem solvers, effective communicators, and well-rounded humans, leading to a better future for all of us.

For more information on innovative approaches to learning, contact us!

Navigating School Safety During COVID-19

Navigating School Safety During COVID-19

As we move closer to our 7th month of school during the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us are settled in (as much as can be expected) to a new set of health and safety protocols that were introduced at the start of the school year. Now, with vaccinations beginning to roll out, our school communities have begun wondering how these safety protocols may be changing or what they can do to continue keeping families safe as we continue to navigate through this pandemic. As a refresher, let’s take a look at some of the best ways to maintain student and school safety during COVID-19.

COVID-19 School Safety

By now, we’ve all become accustomed to the school safety requirements that have come about over the course of the past year. We have become pros at hand-washing, mask wearing, coughing in our elbows, social distancing, and vigilantly keeping an eye on our health symptoms. We know to keep ourselves, and our family members, home from work or school if we show any signs of possible infection such as:

  • Fever
  • Loss of taste or smell
  • Coughing and/or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Body Aches
  • Sore throat

Following the recommended safety guidelines and knowing the symptoms to watch for are the best ways to arm ourselves and our families against infection. But now that we are seeing vaccinations being rolled out, have the guidelines changed? Should we be practicing different safety protocols now?

Maintaining Safe Health Protocols

While we may be tempted to begin loosening our safety protocols as vaccinations become more dispersed, it’s important to understand we need to continue our same level of precautionary measures until they have been updated by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and any additional local/school guidelines. In short, keep doing what you’ve been doing for the past several months in order to help us navigate through the pandemic.

Here at Tessa International, this means our staff and students/families will continue to follow our rigorous guidelines to keep everyone safe. This means, we will continue to:

  • Utilize staggered drop offs, pickups, and recess times for students
  • Limit building access to staff and students whenever possible
  • Daily temperature checks
  • Proper hand-washing and sanitizing at regular intervals and as needed
  • Mask wearing required for kindergarten and up, strongly encouraged for nursery and pre-k
  • Keep using indoor shoes or slippers
  • Toy and play items regularly disinfected as needed throughout the day
  • Daily professional deep cleaning of all areas
  • Use designated play areas only – non-Tessa-owned play equipment will not be used

Student Safety through the End of the Pandemic

We are extremely proud of our students, staff, and community members who have all pulled together to help navigate this health pandemic. Everyone has done a wonderful job putting health and safety first and limiting the risks of being exposed to COVID-19. We will continue to update you as we progress through the year and new developments come about. Keep up the good work, Tessa families!

Do Anti-Bullying Programs Really Work?

Do Anti-Bullying Programs Really Work?

With a whopping three quarters of all school-age children reporting they have witnessed or been a part of bullying at school, anti-bullying policies have quickly become an imperative part of school regulation. By now, nearly every educational institution across the country has a program in place to monitor and combat this behavior, but do anti-bullying programs really work?

Bullying Behavior

According to Psychology Today (PT), “Children and adolescents become bullying targets for a wide variety of reasons though race, ethnic background, appearance, or sexual orientation appear to be the most common.” The bullying behavior can come in all sorts of actions from physical intimidation to being ignored by a former close friend. Since there are so many different forms of bullying, it’s often difficult to spot. This is where anti-bullying policies come into play.

Anti-Bullying Programs

Anti-bullying programs range in tactics from informative assemblies and visual reminders (posters and signs, for example), to more hands-on approaches that utilize hall monitors and effectively trained staff to watch for signs of bullying throughout the school grounds. Generally speaking, the most effective policies combine a multitude of approaches and begin at the earliest of ages.

What These Policies Target

In addition to informing students of what behaviors are not acceptable, teachers and staff are usually trained in-depth on the various behaviors to watch for in order to gain the most efficient and safe anti-bullying experience for students. Educators are taught to watch for things such as a change in demeanor, isolation of a student, changes in performance, and many other behaviors which could indicate bullying.

Do Anti-Bullying Programs Really Work?

With so much training and effort going into anti-bullying programs today, many have asked the question: do they really work? As Psychology Today explains, the effectiveness of anti-bullying programs is usually reliant upon the vigilance of those implementing it. In other words, it’s not as simple as saying they work or they do not work, it’s more to do with the attention and determination of the staff and families of students.

“Ultimately, what really determines whether anti-bullying programs are effective is how well the anti-bullying guideline are followed in schools,” PT states. Since the level of participation and attentiveness varies from every location, it’s easy to understand why diligence is key to a successful anti-bullying program.

How to Improve Anti-Bullying Programs

In order to ensure anti-bullying programs have the highest possible rate of success, there are a few important factors to keep in mind. For starters, thwarting bully behavior is something that takes the utmost of attention and detail – it’s more about the action and less about the passivity.

Acting on bullying behavior means that educators and parents must both participate in a clear-cut set of consequences for anyone caught bullying. These consequences may need to be adjusted throughout the year in response to the effectiveness, so ultimately, the plan must be severe enough to make an impact but flexible enough to stay relevant.

The most important thing an anti-bullying policy must include is priority. The safety of students needs to be the number one priority, even above teaching duties, in order to have the largest impact on bullying behaviors. Students must know they are being taken seriously and that they are safe in their surroundings, as well as understanding bullying behavior is absolutely not tolerated.

What Is Inquiry-Based Education?

What Is Inquiry-Based Education?

As an educator or parent, few things are questioned more than how to spark learning interest in our children.  Trying to find what motivates our children to learn and avoid the dreaded “I don’t know” answers can be a daunting task. Because of this, many are turning to a technique known as inquiry-based education. So just what is inquiry-based education?

What Is Inquiry-Based Education

Inquiry-based (IB) education “is more than asking a student what he or she wants to know… it’s about triggering curiosity,” explains the George Lucas Educational Foundation. Essentially, IB learning places the responsibility of learning on the shoulders of the students rather than emphasizing teaching by the educators. In other words, it is finding a way to pique children’s natural interest to learn and using that as fuel to continue learning further.

By utilizing tactics that shift the learning process from the responsibility of the teacher to being led by individual students, IB education creates a more engaging educational experience. It is a strategy that goes beyond the books and encourages children to think freely and deeply to form their own understanding of various subjects.

Piquing Curiosity

The most important aspect of IB education is piquing the curiosity of students. Finding out what motivates them and getting children to take the reins of their own education is at the root of this learning process. So how do you go about triggering their drive to learn?

This is, perhaps, the most difficult aspect of IB learning, and not one that has a direct answer. For some, motivation can be as simple as keeping it relatable (scenarios about Christmas gifts or Halloween candy for example), while others have better luck using things that spark creativity or imagination (artwork, videos, puzzles).

“You have to model your own curiosity quotient – that hunger to learn that defines how we advance our knowledge of the world… think about your content area… What new piece of information might help you trigger your own enthusiasm that can then trigger your students’ curiosity?” writes

The Scientific Method

Once you have discovered what interests them, the next step in IB learning is to switch the focus from teaching to learning. How? Students are urged to come up with their most burning questions about the topic.

Think of the IB learning process in terms of the Scientific Method. First, ask students to observe the topic you presented to them and ask them to give it some thought. Once they familiarize themselves with the topic, have them form questions and think of possible answers to their questions. Ask them to come up with potential solutions or experiment with different outcomes of the scenario before taking another look at their progress and concluding what they’ve learned.

Step 1: Look at the Topic

If utilizing a method similar to the scientific method, once your students’ curiosity is piqued, ask them to take note of what they see. Have them document scenarios, write or discuss down details, and simply describe what it is that is in front of them.

This process will help them to better identify a topic and give them additional information for the next few steps. Encourage children to be as detailed as possible in their descriptions. This step is one of the greatest benefits of IB learning: noticing what’s around them and deciphering what aspects are most important to their scenarios.

Step 2: Question, Question, Question

After students have had ample time to note what is in front of them, the next step is to heavily emphasize their curiosity. This is done by getting them to begin questioning what they see. IB learning focuses on inquiry, or the desire to learn more, which begins by asking questions.

In this step, students are encouraged to think critically about the scenario in front of them and document any questions they may have. No question is off the table, and the more they question, the deeper their understanding will be so encouragement is the key. The most effective questions are the ones that drive students to have even more questions, so the focus of an educator in IB learning is more on sparking interest and less on giving answers.

Step 3: Research Their Questions

Once students have come up with their most intriguing questions, it’s time to find the answers. With IB learning, however, the students are in charge of finding their own answers. Dedicating class time and resources for children to conduct their own research is crucial to the process. This gives kids the means and the time to find answers to their own questions in a (somewhat) guided space.

The deeper the curiosity for their questions, the deeper the student’s drive to research and find answers. It is this drive and curiosity that will fuel their desire to truly learn a topic by their own inquiries rather than by traditional teaching methods.

Step 4: Hypothesize and Present

After students have used critical thinking to develop questions and research solutions to potential problems, it’s time to guide them into the hypothesis presentation stage. This is the part of the process that has students focusing on what they’ve learned and are tasked with organizing their findings to present them to others in the classroom.

Since learning is not only about discovery and critical thinking, but also about successful communication and understanding, it’s important that students be able to present what they’ve learned to others. This step forces children to understand the scenario even further, in order to find ways to share it and make sense of it to other students.

Step 5: Reflection and Critique

Perhaps the most important step of IB learning is the final phase – the reflection portion. It’s in this stage that students are asked to evaluate what they learned and to make note of any issues they came across in their research and presentations.

This step gets children to think more on what type of questions got them the furthest in their studies and which theories worked best as well. It can also help them to highlight areas that weren’t so helpful, giving them insight on what to try (or avoid) next time.

The IB Learning Experience

Overall, IB learning is simply learning that is driven by students’ own curiosity. It is highly effective because it gives students a sense of thoroughly understanding topics – or becoming experts, per se – and teaches them the art of deeper learning.

While there are no set formats for IB learning, the key is to find what motivates children and get them to think freely to develop a deeper understanding. The best way to do this? Get them asking questions and give them the resources to find their own answers. This is IB learning.

Bilingualism Can Help Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

If you’re a parent who has a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), then you’re familiar with how tough it can be for some children to unconsciously shift their attention between tasks. Shifting attention from one task to another is known as task switching or set-shifting and is an executive function that involves specific parts of the brain, like the prefrontal cortex. This brain structure also plays a role in the development of ASD. Recent research suggests that learning a second language may boost cognitive flexibility in areas like this and benefit those with ASD.

What is the Prefrontal Cortex?

The prefrontal cortex is part of the cortex that covers the front part of the frontal lobe. This is an area in the brain that helps you shift your focus and attention, unconsciously, and is also a brain structure that’s involved in ASD’s development. Automatically switching from one task to another without breaking concentration or re-focusing on the new task can be a tad difficult for some children with ASD. New research recently published in Child Development reports that being bilingual may possibly help children with ASD improve their ability to do just that—unconsciously shift their attention between tasks.

Being Bilingual May Increase Cognitive Flexibility

Being bilingual, and having the ability to switch between languages, may help increase cognitive flexibility, especially in children or adults with ASD. Over the past decade scholars and researchers have significantly debated whether having the ability to speak two languages improves executive functions. In fact, the term “bilingual advantage” was eventually coined because so many within the field believed that being bilingual clearly improved the executive system. With advances in technology, brain imaging studies have plainly demonstrated that bilinguals suppress their desire to use certain words from one language, in order to use words and grammar from another. In other words, speaking two languages is a workout for your brain.

Speaking Two Languages May Train the Brain Differently

Bilinguals learn a range of social tasks, such as verbal or non-verbal communication and how to read people. Some researchers think that bilingualism may even enhance some executive functions, like conflict resolution and working in a group, because switching between two languages helps the speaker see the world in different contexts.

Being Bilingual May Help Build Brain Muscle

It seems research is suggesting that speaking two languages may help flex some brain muscles and enable the brain to switch focus from one task to another without even breaking a sweat! So you can imagine, then, why so many within the field are focusing on these new research findings and why they desire to repeat studies with a larger sample size: it has huge implications for those with ASD.

Bilingualism May Even Offer Brain Protection  

Another benefit of being bilingual is that it may help protect the brain from dementia, stroke and brain injury. The thought process is similar: bilingualism boosts cognitive reserve. When executive function begins to decline, like in dementia, being bilingual seems to offer some cognitive protection by keeping parts of the brain fit. In other words, these brain structures may not age as quickly in people who are bilingual because these areas of the brain are more resilient. Whether you have ASD or not, it seems learning a second language can benefit your overall brain health. Just like briskly walking thirty minutes every day helps your heart to stay healthy, being bilingual is a way to stay cognitively fit.  

Being Bilingual Offers Those with ASD an Advantage

It’s evident that current findings may affect families when making educational decisions for their child with ASD. This research is only the beginning; hopefully, families who have a child with ASD will see more rigorous studies from scholars and scientists in the future.


Is Your Child Ready for Preschool?

by Tori Galatro

The typical age children enter preschool is 3 or 4 years old to prepare them for kindergarten at age 5. Many parents worry that their child may not have reached the appropriate developmental milestones for preschool, and don’t know when the right moment is. Deciding on the readiness of your child for preschool is not an exact science. No child enters preschool perfectly developed in all areas, and they shouldn’t be. Preschool should challenge them and help them to develop skills they don’t already have. So if they don’t check all of the skill boxes, don’t panic, and you don’t necessarily need to wait either.

However, there will be certain elements your child will have to deal with in preschool. They will be separated from you for multiple hours, asked to follow a routine, and follow simple instructions. In some cases, they may be expected to be potty trained. If they feel overwhelmed, frustrated, or alienated by these demands, that won’t help them to develop those skills any faster. Feeling calm and confident is important to social and emotional development, which helps with every other life skill. If your child is excited to be at preschool, and feels positively about the environment, they are more likely to learn and develop in that environment. It’s totally normal for children to experience separation anxiety and feel overwhelmed or upset, but preschool should not feel consistently scary and negative for long periods of time.

Pay attention to your child’s development and wait for the moment where they reach the happy medium, where the demands of preschool are fun and challenging at the same time. If you’re not sure if they are ready, remember that you can always start helping them to develop these skills at home. They can also begin by going part-time, and increase to full-time at a later date.

Potty Training

Some preschools don’t require that children be potty trained, while others are very strict about it. Either way, it’s a great skill to focus on with your child at home to help them learn other important skills like communicating their needs, personal hygiene, and using self control. Make sure your child understands that hand washing is part of the same activity, no matter where they are or who they’re with.

Concentration, Independence, & Communication

Unlike potty training, these “soft” skills will help your child to participate in activities, have their needs met, and learn from the lessons being taught to them. Help your child to practice doing designated activities for 10 to 20 minutes at a time, do simple chores by themselves, and express themselves verbally, even if they aren’t using complete sentences. Get them to be around other children, even if they aren’t directly interacting yet.

Emotional Coping

Most children need to be eased into being away from their parents for an extended period of time. Few children can be expected to adapt to this right away without a little practice first. Leaving your child with a babysitter of family member is also great practice for you if you’re feeling just as apprehensive as them about the separation.

Energy Levels

Preschool requires some serious energy and the ability to follow a routine. If your child is taking long mid-morning naps and isn’t used to a schedule, a great way to get them ready for preschool is to mimic the routine of preschool at home. Also, making sure they get good quality sleep at night starting at a reasonable hour in the evening, and exercise during the day, will help them stay energized and healthy overall.

The quality of the preschool you choose is just as important to their development as the age they start. At home and at school, your child will learn and grow best if the people around them are showing them care and attention, listening to them, and paying attention to their needs. Again, don’t worry too much that their age match the exact average for their class.

It’s always possible that they could skip a grade later if they are placed in the correct developmental age group now. And remember that if you’re concerned about your child’s development in any way, you should always talk to their doctor. Addressing concerns about their development now, even if that means holding them back, will help them in the future.


At Tessa International School, a nurturing, caring and challenging environment is who we are. Potty training is not required for the younger ages. We’re committed to creating a partnership between home and school environments. To find out more, feel free to contact us at 201 755 5585.

Social Emotional Learning: Implementing Sociograms

Fostering Success: The Role of Social Emotional Learning in Classrooms


Classrooms play a crucial role in children’s intellectual and emotional development. Outside the home, they learn values and behavioral norms. That’s why preschools are incorporating Social Emotional Learning (SEL) into their education.

Social Emotional Learning: The Essential Ingredient for Well-Rounded Education

Social Emotional Learning (SEL) integrates various education aspects and life skills into the school curriculum, helping children succeed in school, careers, relationships, and life. Research shows SEL increases achievement rates and encourages positive habits and behaviors, like kindness, empathy, sharing, and gratitude.

There are 5 key skills that are taught through Social Emotional Learning:

  1. Self-Awareness: SEL helps children understand their emotions, strengths, weaknesses, and the consequences of their actions.


  1. Self-Management: It guides children towards independence by controlling emotions, behaviors, and reactions.


  1. Social Awareness: SEL enables children to become aware of different cultures and backgrounds, understanding and empathizing with others.


  1. Relationship Skills: It aids in developing and maintaining healthy relationships and acting within social norms.


  1. Responsible Decision Making: SEL teaches responsible decision-making, considering the consequences of thoughts and actions.


Emotional Growth in the Classroom: Practical Approaches to SEL Integration

Teachers can implement these lessons through sharing experiences, engaging in social activities, teaching about different cultures and social norms, developing social skills, and creating a diverse environment. SEL helps young children learn these valuable skills at an early age. SEL can be incorporated into all learning, and sociograms can help map social interactions for older students.

Teachers can use the help of sociograms to map out social interactions and create a socially dynamic classroom, especially with older students.

Constructing a Sociogram

To create a sociogram, ask each student to write down two other students they’d like to partner with in a group activity. Collect the names and create a flow-chart, identifying isolates, gender divisions, and groups. Sociograms help teachers focus their attention and implement SEL tailored to their classroom’s needs.

For questions or concerns about implementing sociograms, contact Tessa International School.

Here’s an example of a completed sociogram.

How Children Learn Languages Naturally Through Immersion

Immersion language learning may sound like something that can only be done living abroad, but this is absolutely not the case. Even monolingual people have experienced the central premise. If you’ve ever made a new group of friends who use a phrase you’re unfamiliar with, then find yourself using it constantly in a week or two, you’ve already been through a very minor form of language immersion. Parents who want their children to learn a second language during their early linguistically-adaptive years can understand why their preschoolers won’t learn a language by rote memorization of vocabulary sheets and grammar rules, but instead through immersion.

Immersion and Fluency

When babies are learning to talk, we don’t start them off with written flashcards. Instead, they start experimenting with phonemes (the smallest audible parts of a word like “ba” and “ko”) that sound like the sounds the adults around them are making. As they start to speak, they also pay close attention to how others around them speak and the responses they get from their new words. Eventually, they form meaningful sentences to express needs based on their understanding of what the words they are using mean by experience and observation. In other words, all children learn their first language through immersion. Learning their second language is no different.

The Bilingual Household

‘Naturally’ bilingual children are simply applying that adaptive language learning stage to two different language sets. Bilingualism occurs when a child is regularly exposed to communication in both languages. This can occur at home or at school, as long as the exposure is consistent and immersive.

In the Classroom

You don’t have to have a multilingual family or travel with a toddler to give your child the gift of additional languages at a young age. Immersion can easily be created in the classroom simply by changing the linguistic context of the lessons and conducting them in the second language for the majority of the school day. This gives students, not only the opportunity to self-motivate, but also the desire to do better. In an immersive classroom, the children are asked to think, listen, write, and speak primarily in the target language, helping them learn how to interact comfortably with each other and the instructor while learning the language together.

Tessa International Preschool

Tessa International School is an immersive bilingual preschool that emphasizes bilingual language learning  We take pride in our successes bringing bilingualism to our students. In our classrooms, the children learn from their native speaking teacher and teaching assistant, and from each other. Parents are consistently surprised by the speed and completeness with which their very young children can learn a new language. Children naturally learn language through immersion, and your toddler can start learning their second, third, or even fourth language right away with us. Whether you’re a classic monolingual English speaking family or your toddler speaks your native language better than the local one, Tessa International School will be proud to teach your child Spanish, French, or Mandarin in an environment that nurtures, challenges and provides educational excellence in a wonderfully rich learning environment. For more information about how children learn language or to schedule an interview with us, please contact us today!

How Interactive Whiteboards Help Children Learn

When many of us grew up, having a white board with colorful markers seemed part of an exciting wave of innovation. No more dusty erasers! Now those are giving way to interactive whiteboards.

These fantastic teaching tools help children learn in many ways:

Interactive White Boards Allow for More Interaction and Customization

Each lesson, teachers can prepare slides, similar to a PowerPoint presentation. However, the software for interactive whiteboards allows teachers and students to annotate what has been written directly onto the screen. For example, if a teacher wants the whole class to solve a math problem, the equation can be typed by the teacher on a slide. Then in class, a student (or group) can go up to the screen and work on solving it using a special inkless “pen”. If there is a mistake, the student can erase it. Unlike an overhead projector, the screen projection can be very large and there is no fumbling around with strange angles. If something is erased by mistake, there is an easy “undo” button that can simply be clicked. If teachers would like to use a hardcopy of a student’s work as an example, they can simply print it out.

Teachers Can Transition Seamlessly Between Topics

The slides can be created and saved by topic for a day, a week, or an entire unit: it’s all up to the educator. If a child misses a day of class, all the teacher needs to do is print out the slides and provide some additional notations. When students struggle with a concept, it is easy to go back over previous slides to make certain that they understood the previous material. Having an interactive whiteboard allows teachers greater organization techniques that everyone will be grateful for.

Objectives Can Easily Be Incorporated into Slides

In a classroom pressed for space, it can be hard to find additional areas to present the day’s objectives amidst the artwork, student work, calendars, and weekly schedules. However with an interactive whiteboard, teachers can post the lesson’s objectives anywhere on the slide. For example, the phrase “analyze the descriptive language in a poem” could be placed on all slides pertaining to that lesson, so that students remember the ultimate objective. This, in turn, will help students develop metacognitive skills so that they are aware of their own academic skills as they develop them.

Links Can Be Integrated into Slides

Today, there is so much supplemental educational material available on the internet, it’s extremely helpful if educators have an efficient way to share it with their students. Whether it’s a video of an inspiring speech or of penguins protecting their eggs, teachers can link to it directly through a word or picture. There is no time lost running over to a computer.

Teachers Can Control Boards from Anywhere in the Classroom

With a special remote accessory, teachers may walk around the classroom as students work while simultaneously annotating the slides and progressing through the lesson. This tool provides teachers with the ability to look at student work to ensure that students are indeed internalizing what is being taught. Furthermore, it allows teachers the ability to manage the whole classroom and see that everybody is on task.

Allows for Interactive Games and Activities

Teachers can create slides that allow students to click on possible answers during review games. This demonstrates if children have learned the material, and allows students to have fun going over what they have learned. Once teachers learn the different functions the software allows, the possibilities seem endless. Students enjoy going up to the board to work, and teachers can keep these games or amend them in the future. Younger students can also problem solve with puzzles and so much more. The possibilities are endless!

Interactive Whiteboards Can be Mobile

Schools can purchase mobile boards that move from room to room. Not every school has teachers fixed in permanent rooms, but there is no reason why technology can’t adapt to meet their needs. As long as the software is on a teacher’s computer, they can use any interactive whiteboard for any lesson.

Interactive whiteboards are, without a doubt, a great feature for a school to have. Students will have more exposure to technology, which is essential in our ever-changing technological world, feel more connected to the material, and teachers can feel better organized with their lesson plans.

If you have any questions about our teaching methodology at Tessa International School, please contact us.

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Tessa International School

Office: (201) 755-5585 | Location: 720 Monroe St. Hoboken, NJ 07030