In celebration of ten years serving the global education community we are highlighting ten to know in education in the UAE (United Arab Emirates) in 2017. The UAE was selected since the founder has been based here the majority of the last ten years. Each person will be shared throughout this year. Our ninth person to know is Dr. Sudha Sunder.
Sudha started her teaching career in 1999 and has taught students from grade 2 through grade 12. She currently serves as an Affiliate Consultant for the Council of International Schools and Associate Consultant for KDSL Global.
A post-graduate diploma holder in computer science, and a Master’s degree holder in Business Administration and Accountancy, she became a part of the IB community in 2006 and taught the IB Course Information Technology in a Global Society (ITGS), and soon became an examiner in the subject. Although Sudha was quickly drawn to the interdisciplinary nature of this subject and the IB philosophy of teaching for deep conceptual understanding versus the regurgitation of factual knowledge, she also experienced and resonated with the challenges teachers faced in putting curriculum design principles (that they appreciated in theory) into practice.
Inspired by her own experiences, Sudha decided to certify with Dr. Lynn Erickson in concept-based curriculum and instruction, at the Lynn Erickson Institute in Whitefish, Montana, USA, in 2011. Ever since, she has become a much sought after facilitator in many IB schools for coaching teachers in concept-based curriculum and instruction. Currently, her work spans over seven countries.
An introduction to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) happened while she was serving as the head of the curriculum committee at the Universal American School in Dubai, UAE. As a curriculum design enthusiast, she was very drawn towards the three-dimensional structure of the NGSS and the NGSS’s potential to foster interdisciplinary teaching at the conceptual level (through the crosscutting concepts) and to put into classroom practice the factual and conceptual elements in science learning. She took on every opportunity that would allow engagement in understanding, unpacking and debating on the potential challenges involved in adopting and implementing the NGSS.
In 2013, she presented a paper at the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) Common Core Conference convened in Dubai. This was followed by a number of hands-on interactive workshops at conferences and schools that particularly focused on enabling teachers unpack and understand the crosscutting concept component of the NGSS. During this time, she also published an article titled “Fostering Scientific Inquiry through the NGSS” in the Teach UAE Magazine.
It was around this time that Sudha became a Curriculum Reviewer in the IB, Maryland, USA, for a pilot project called “Building a Quality curriculum”. Through this project Sudha reviewed and offered feedback for PYP curriculum documents (both Units of Inquiry and Programmes of Inquiry) for schools in the United States, Europe and India.
The more Sudha mentored, trained, and worked with teachers in curriculum and instruction, the stronger she was convinced that while teachers understand and appreciate the value and notion of teaching for conceptual understanding, putting this into practice in the classroom is indeed challenging. Sudha strongly believes that understanding curriculum design principles involved in three-dimensional concept-based curriculum and instruction is key to addressing this challenge. At present, Sudha continues to present workshops and papers to empower teachers in American IB schools across countries such as Kuwait, Oman, Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Jordan, UAE, Qatar and India.
As a part-time doctoral research student at the University of Bath in the UK (since 2008), Sudha also decided to explore teacher perceptions in school-based curriculum development initiatives as her doctoral dissertation, which she eventually defended in 2015, with none other than Professor Jeff Thompson and Professor David Phillips from Oxford. Sudha believes that she cleared her viva with no further recommendations or modifications is testimonial to the many teacher voices she has gathered over her work spanning over 7 years in IB/international schools. Sudha’s doctoral dissertation Abstract is now published on SAGE. Sudha writes and publishes articles on the role of ongoing professional development for international educators. A recent one can be accessed here: http://www.cois.org/page.cfm?p=3078
Sudha believes that her own journey of learning and transitioning as a teacher in the IB programme and her passion for fostering scientific inquiry amongst students through real-world connection and sustained inquiry has been instrumental in digging deeper into the NGSS. This, along with her strong understanding of curriculum design principles involved in unpacking and implementing three-dimensional curricular frameworks provided her with the knowledge, understanding, skills and experience to explore the breadth and the depth of the NGSS, particularly so in helping IB educators see how the two complement each other in a powerful “synergistic” (Erickson, 2012) fashion. Commissioned by the IB, Sudha has co-authored the IB-NGSS Dual Implementation Report now available for IB schools in the US, available here: http://blogs.ibo.org/blog/2016/12/09/aligning-the-next-generation-science-standards- ngss-with-ib-curricula/
Sudha’s wider research interest includes the role of ongoing professional development for 21st century teachers. Sudha presented her research findings in 2015 at the American Association for the Advancement of Curriculum Studies (AAACS) at the George Washington University, D.C. She has now been invited to serve as a member of the AAACs Task force.
More about Sudha’s work in curriculum and Instruction can be accessed here: