Teacher Spotlight - Rachel Zammuto - Community Engagement

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How Service Learning Affects Personal Development

At ISB, community is important – and understanding our place in the local community is essential. Service learning projects give students an appreciation for the value of their local community, together with an understanding of environmental impacts and sustainability issues.

 

At the center of every service learning effort are our phenomenal teachers and support staff, whose approach to learning helps develop the attributes and values of ISB in each student.

 

Ms. Zammuto has a master’s degree in Multicultural and Bilingual Education, along with extensive experience teaching in various countries around the world. This background has helped shape her approach to classroom education, as she explains in her own words:

 

As a globally minded educator, I am passionate about language and cultural exchange. This has led me from a dual-language program in Colorado, to the Andes of Colombia, the deserts of Oman, and now to my first grade position at International School Bangkok in Thailand.

 

Throughout my varied teaching experience, the common thread has been the joyful classroom communities that I create. By demonstrating care for each student’s unique background, I cultivate an environment that celebrates diversity and supports risk taking. I aim to help students be self-managing and flexible in their thinking. I am inspired by the idea that each day we can achieve anything we set our minds to with courage and perseverance. I am inspired by the relationships and compassion that we are able to cultivate together in our school.

 

In my opinion, the most pressing issue confronting our world today is that of global climate change. The tragic loss of wildlife and damage to our environment has a direct impact on my students. If I could make one difference as a teacher, it would be to educate and empower my students to be advocates for their future, and for the environment. By explicitly teaching through values such as care, respect, responsibility and courage, we enable our students to be passionate change-makers, who better their communities and the world around them.

 

One such community-based learning experience is organized by Ms. Zammuto and the first grade team around their Living Things and the Environment unit as they introduce their young learners to the weird and wonderful world of silkworms. Students observe the silkworms’ life cycle as they care for the insects, harvesting their food from the ISB garden, feeding them, and making sure they have a clean living environment. To give the unit context, the class talks about how these insects and humans interact. To demonstrate this in a real life way, local artisan Thai silk weavers come to ISB for a day to demonstrate the silk production process. Using the cocoons that the students have collected from their silk worms, the artisans involve the students with their silk thread extraction, weaving, and dying with natural materials – bringing their art, and the real-world connection, to the classroom.

 

Students then see how silk is turned into useful products by making their own silk napkins. As the artisans speak little English, Thai students are given the opportunity to translate for their classmates, taking on a leadership role and learning more about their own cultural heritage

 

By focusing on a single material – silk – and following it from its origins to its use as a commercial product, students are able to gain a clear understanding of one part of the world around them. The students’ interactions with the professional weavers helps them to see how our world is connected, and how even the smallest living things have an impact on our local and global community.

Please click on the link below to view the “Grade One Service Learning-Community and Local Artisans”