The power of global collaboration: introducing three conceptually-driven educators

In October 2020, I embarked on the year-long Erickson and Lanning Concept-Based Curriculum and Instruction Trainer Certification Institute with Professional Learning International. I had had my eye on this programme for a few years — since I started looking “behind the scenes” of the IB MYP and delving into the work of H. Lynn Erickson. When the time finally seemed right to attend the institute, which was originally held in The Netherlands in July, the pandemic hit. That pushed pause on that plan — or so I thought at the time. Luckily, within a few months, the institute shifted to an online format, so I was able to complete the training earlier than I had anticipated — and all while immersed in my day job, so I could apply my learning immediately within my classroom context. I was officially certified as an independent trainer and presenter in June.

Throughout the training, I got to know lots of interesting educators from all over the world, but my collaboration with these three ladies has endured beyond the weekly Zoom sessions and the occasional email or social media post. Despite being based in different parts of the globe and working with different age groups and in different subject areas, we soon realised we had the same passion for using concept-based learning to amplify the student (and teacher!) experience. Let me let them introduce themselves here. They’ll be guest blogging soon.

Katie Langford
(Early Years)

I’m Katie Langford and I’ve been in international education for over 18 years. My career has weaved through many countries, curriculums and roles and I have worked with some truly remarkable educators passionate about early years.

I began my career in Hong Kong, moving on to the US, the UAE and currently Singapore where I am leading an Early Years section at an International Primary School. I have been lucky enough to work in schools that have shifted from traditional curriculums to a more 3 dimensional style of education bringing to life conceptual teaching and learning.

With a strong background in the IB, I am now delighted to be a certified Erickson and Lanning Concept-Based Curriculum and Instruction (CBCI) trainer and consultant, specialising in early years.

Ruba M. Abi Saab

As I reflect back on my journey, I can say that teaching and shaping young minds have always been my number 1 passion. Being a lifelong learner helped me embrace a student-like mindset and be open to share and receive new ideas and perspectives from my students and colleagues. 

I have been in the world of education for nearly 9 years and currently teach PYP.6 in ARIS, Ghana. After teaching in a traditional setting for a couple of years and earning an M.A. in School Management and Educational Leadership, I realised that students are capable of achieving great things if given the ‘opportunity’. How do I provide them with a greater opportunity to own their learning? Helping students acquire new knowledge was one of my goals; but questions revolving around the purpose of their learning and how to help them think beyond the facts filled my head. This pushed me to explore what IB education entails. The world of IB, particularly the Concept Based Approach, was a turning point for me. As I put all the pieces of the puzzle together, I was able to understand and make sense of my role as a facilitator in my students’ learning. 

As I dug deeper into the work of Dr. Erickson and Dr. Lanning, I realized that there are unlimited possibilities in unlocking a child’s potential by creating an environment that fosters the integration of skills, knowledge and concepts. I also experienced the power of questions and the impact it has on students’ learning. Our main role as facilitators is ‘asking’  rather than ‘answering’ questions. I enjoy seeing my students emotionally and mentally engaged as they inquire into various topics. Watching them move from the ‘What’ towards the ‘How’ and ‘Why’ they are inquiring into a particular topic/concept brings me so much joy and satisfaction.

Besides my teaching role, I have recently embarked on the journey of training and coaching my colleagues on the concept-based approach. I am enjoying every bit of it as I continue to learn, unlearn and relearn with them every single day. I strongly believe that great things happen when we work together. I can’t wait to share and connect with you!

Riyam Kafri AbuLaban, PhD (Secondary)

Hello fellow educators! My name is Riyam Kafri AbuLaban. I am an educator, writer and a lifelong learner. I have been in education twenty plus years, starting my teaching career as a TA during my PhD. I worked as an assistant professor of chemistry and taught philosophy and writing at the undergraduate level. Currently I serve as a school principal and academic leader at the Ramallah Friends School in Palestine.  

My journey in education has been full and exciting and I held different positions that contributed to my diverse skill-set. But the classroom remains to be my first love and passion. 

I am interested in how students learn, and how teachers can be supported to become the 21st century facilitators they are expected to be. In my work, I am focused on equipping teachers with the necessary approaches to learning and strategies they need to feel empowered in their classrooms. 

I am a recently certified Erickson and Lanning Concept-Based Curriculum and Instruction Trainer, as well as an IB MYP and IB DP Educator. I love teaching and teachers and consider myself to be a passionate teacher advocate and coach. I consider myself to be  conceptually driven and believe that concept-based learning shines light into classrooms and into student learning and teacher practices. 

I am excited to share my thoughts, work with teachers and schools and help everyone feel empowered to do the important work of teaching. 

Outside the educational world, I am a proud mother of two (twins), a foodie and a baker. You can reach me at or follow me on instagram @riyamkafri or Twitter: @riyamos. 

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