KDSL Global collaborates with education businesses around the world. One service we offer is mentoring consultants and startups. This month the team had a chance to chat with Maha Sarraf and Dr. Michelle Haag of Ascend Education. Learn more about this new team and their work below.
Tell us about Ascend Education.
We’re Maha and Michelle and we worked together at an American/DP Curriculum School in Dubai. We formed Ascend Education Consultants (AEC) Ascend because we believe in creating communities in which voices come together to promote a unique mission leading to whole school growth, well-being and elevated learning. We created our company to address a gap we have seen between what is taught in the overt curriculum and what is expected by the implied cultural curriculum of the school. At Ascend we work with whole schools to Amplify all voices of the community, Empower leaders at all levels and Collaborate to embed best practices in curriculum and instruction. Additionally, our expertise lies in both curriculum and operations. We support schools’ growth towards accreditation, community building and adding depth and rigor.
What would you say to an educator engaged in teaching online about well-being?
At Ascend, we are teachers, parents and coaches. Teacher well-being is one of the areas we feel is crucial whether online or not. Self care is a very important aspect in our service-oriented career. If we don’t take care of our inner well being, it is difficult to hold space for our students in taking care of their needs. This is a very stressful time–with the sudden change from being a part of a vibrant physical community and collegial support to round the clock remote interactions. It is very important that teachers create boundaries- ensuring they have time for themselves to recharge. Exercise, meditation, nutrition and simply doing things that nurture our inner being are even more important at this time. It’s also important that teachers talk to trusted colleagues/coaches/friends about the difficulties or challenges we are all facing navigating the online world.
Along with self care, we understand that the foremost concern of educators is the well being of their students. The relationship between student and teacher continues to be a priority. It’s important to establish time within the lesson to share concerns, fears, and personal stories. Students still need us to provide that safe space for thinking together. This is also a time for innovation. Teachers can guide blended learning that channels student questions into relevant information sharing. Ascend Education Consultants can support your journey from emergency remote content to innovative interactive community projects driven by students.
What do you see as the future of professional development for educators?
We believe that students, teachers and whole school communities should drive their professional learning needs with supportive growth-oriented administrators. We see more involvement of stakeholders in mission driven school development. All members have differing growth goals and needs and just as we apply best practices for working with students, adults too need individualized experiences. Professional development might be through groups getting together to participate in online “workinars” or looking for “just in time” training to initiate their own plans for innovative achievement. Ascend works with teacher/practitioners as they collect evidence and share their own action research.
We believe that professional means that leaders are found at all levels in schools and development is how these leaders grow as individuals and as team builders.
To learn more visit https://www.ascendeducationconsultants.com/#home.
Maha Sarraf, M.Ed
Constructive Leadership, English Language Arts, Social Studies
Maha has been a teacher and administrator in various international settings at the elementary school level. Most recently she was the Head of School in Kampala. She has also served as a long time deputy director in Dubai. Maha’s education degrees are from the Teachers College, Columbia University in New York and George Washington University. She is fluent in Arabic as well as English.
She is passionate about making sure all students have optimal learning opportunities. Recently completing the Conscious Parenting Coaching Course, Maha says “Education is a wonderful way to grow both academically and personally.”
Michelle Haag, PhD
Integrated curriculum, Science, Math, Instructional Coaching
Michelle’s education and experience has been in American Curriculum schools. Her PhD work was in Cleveland City schools and she has held teaching, curriculum and administration posts in Turkey, Abu Dhabi, Dubai and in Ohio. She has taught Masters level courses at Cleveland State University, Lake Erie College, Bilkent University, Ankara and the American University in Dubai.
Having taught in traditional and outdoor ed settings, in elementary, middle, high school and at the university level in several countries, Michelle is passionate about experiential learning and authentic assessment. She sees education as a way to bring students together through and within our shared world.