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By Timothy Thomas

(Photo source: Munich International School e.V.)

At Munich International School (MIS), we created a media studio to enable students to create podcasts, video presentations, and other forms of audio and video media communication. Our students had indicated that this was an area of interest for them, and we were thrilled to be able to create a space with the right tools and with some experienced media producers who were already working on our staff. But to get the students started, we wanted to model for them how a podcast works. So we picked a current development on our campus (a new physical and health education facility that students helped to design) and built an initial podcast around it. In the short podcast episodes, we speak with educators, students, and other community members.

The best thing about the podcast is that it worked! Some of the students who served as guests in the podcast and who saw first-hand how a podcast works subsequently began producing their own podcasts. Students develop the concepts, compose the scripts, learn how to control the mixing boards and the recording software, and make podcasts that are relevant and inspiring for them. I am so excited to see students designing, creating, and publishing their own work for the community. In a very short time, they have become proficient content creators with this very accessible and democratizing medium.

As the Head of School at MIS. I am continuously humbled to have the privilege of serving in this role and am currently concluding my ninth year at the school. Developing the media studio was part of our strategic plan, which aims to make students' learning and experiences at school as relevant and as connected to the "real world" as possible. Our tagline as a school is nurture-challenge-inspire, and we are constantly seeking to create experiences for students that are at the intersection of those three verbs. We aim to provide students with opportunities to do things that they really want to do (things that are inspiring), things that stretch their learning edges (things that are challenging), and things for which we have the right support and expertise to facilitate success and learning (things that nurture them).

Developing the media studio and launching our first podcasts together with students has hit that sweet spot where these three goals meet. Like with the podcast series, we are learning that so many things that the school does can be a laboratory for authentic learning for students. We now include students in developing and executing all kinds of plans at school. Students help us plan to make the campus more sustainable. They help create videos and other promotional materials for the school. They collaborate with us in planning how the school cafeteria can meet the nutritional needs of students, avoid food waste, and reduce the use of plastics and other non-renewable resources. There are so many opportunities for students to engage in very authentic, very relevant activities that are happening right around them at the school and that support their learning and their understanding of how the world works.

In this podcast episode, Talking Strategy with Dominic and Phillip, I am talking with Dominic, an MIS student, and Philip, an MIS parent, about the MIS strategic plan. 

Timothy Thomas serves as the Head of School at Munich International School and has been with the school for nine years. He is bilingual in English and German, and has served as a teacher and teacher leader at schools in the United States and in Germany. Timothy believes strongly that character development and social and emotional learning are core priorities of international education and that teachers and school staff must not only teach these priorities explicitly but must also model them in their own actions, behavior, and language.  

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