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Leveraging academic learning to create sustainable communities through a whole school approach to service as action -- By Nick Nwolisa, MYP/DP Individuals & Society Teacher, TISA

We pride ourselves in being a community where collaboration can have a deep impact in students' lives. Last year we piloted Service Learning in the class with some teachers and we are happy to share a most successful story where M1 student learning led to a school-wide change.

This article is written by Nick Nwolisa, with contributions from Rebecca Greenall, Binu Jacob and Alejandro Franco. Nick Nwolisa is an MYP / DP teacher at TISA and a coach with the Faria Group MiniPD platform. He has had experience as a CAS coordinator. Outside of the classroom, Nick has worked in consultation with CSO and UN agencies on SDGs issues that include a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication and governance. Binu Jacob has many years of experience as a Maths teacher. She’s also a Pastoral coordinator. Alejandro is a Science teacher and MYP Coordinator, now Vice Principal at TISA. Rebecca Greenall is Service Learning Coordinator and EAL HoD 

At The International School of Azerbaijan (TISA), impact through service is an integral part of everything we do and is embedded in our mission and vision ‘we engage as thoughtful, generous and resilient members of our local and global communities, taking action in Azerbaijan and beyond… we inspire life-long, authentic and principled learning to create our best future together’. In order to successfully implement our mission, we know that a school-wide collaborative approach is necessary.  

To achieve our mission in our school, a core team was formed to design and implement a whole school approach. Our team has found that to effectively integrate service as an action within a school, it is essential to have well-structured authentic learning experiences, combining classroom learning experiences with explicit service objectives that meet community needs. TISA believes that a student-centered approach where community service is driven by the students is key to fostering student agency and principled action. A successful example of our approach this year was a MYP year one mathematics unit where students analyzed food waste at our school. 

A specific objective of MYP mathematics is selecting appropriate mathematical strategies when solving authentic real-life situations. During the introductory phase, the subject teacher guided the students through a process of exploring and identifying needs in our immediate community.  

Students identified food waste as an important area in urgent need of a solution. Globally, it is estimated that approximately 1/3 of all food is wasted. (UNEP, 2022), Students identified this community need in relation to UN SDG2 Zero Hunger and UN SDG11 Responsible Consumption and Production.  The unit followed an inquiry-action-reflection process to explore food waste at TISA. 

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The International School of Azerbaijan

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