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  • 01 April 2020 13:03 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    In this webinar, Sean will unpack some of the likely psychological impacts of this unprecedented crisis. We will then examine some ways in which educators can strengthen their mental health and well-being, and finally, there will be some time for your questions.

    Register Here

  • 26 March 2020 09:17 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    On the 11th March 2020, WHO declared COVID-19 to be a global pandemic. In just a few short weeks, the world that we knew was altered dramatically as all countries ramp up efforts to halt the spread of the virus. Bans on travel, self-isolation, new social distancing regulations, the closure of our regular places of entertainment and now schools have ushered in a new normal, leaving many of us reeling at the rate and extent of life changes we are forced to adjust to.

    Amidst the flurry of activity that necessarily arises as schools switch to online learning and considers ways to support students virtually, it is important that we as an international school community extend that same care and support to our international school educators, particularly when many are facing this crisis far from home and usual networks of support.

    The paradox of the COVID-19 crisis is though we are all forced to adjust to a new normal, each of us will nonetheless experience the crisis differently, and that is absolutely normal. For some there will be disbelief, shock, confusion, frustration and even anger at the new limitations to our freedom. You might experience this by feeling overwhelmed, feeling a bit teary, struggling with sleep or just not feeling yourself. Fear and anxiety are also normal responses to what has become an uncertain world.

    As an international educator, feelings of doubt or uncertainty about your vocation may arise as you, or those around you, question the viability of international life and its inherent risks. Increased loneliness or feelings of isolation may also arise, especially for people living abroad without a partner, separated from children or those in a new international community. Feelings of loss may be another way in which international educators experience this crisis. Loss of travel or holiday plans, loss of community, loss of regular work schedules and for some, the loss of home as many have been forced to unexpectedly relocate or return to their ‘home’ countries. Added to this are additional challenges and stressors faced by international educators in the AISA region. For instance, limited access to a robust health care system, insecure provision of essential services such as water and electricity supply, the growing security risk posed by being a ‘foreigner’ and the very real threat of escalating civil unrest. All these, understandably, heighten fears and anxieties in what is already an anxiety provoking time.

    Needless to say, the emotional impact of COVID-19 touches us all. Our pre COVID-19 internal or emotional equilibrium has been disrupted, for some dramatically so. Offered here are some practices to help international educators find a new equilibrium or way of being in the midst of this pandemic. Though our world might now feel out of control, there are ways in which we can strengthen ourselves and even build our resilience to cope with the increased uncertainty and sudden life changes.

    Physical self-care

    First things first, take care of your physical self. In the midst of stress and life challenges, taking care of ourselves physically can be the last thing on our mind. But it shouldn’t be. Stress and emotional upheaval can make us more vulnerable to sickness, which is why it’s so important to take care of ourselves physically. Get lots of sleep, eat well and find ways to exercise and keep your body moving. Exercise is not only good for your physical health, but it supports your mental health as well. Perhaps try getting creative with exercise by involving others you live with or trying to get out in nature which again has benefits for your mental and emotional well-being. Moderate your intake of alcohol, caffeine and sugary snacks that might be more readily available as we spend more time at home.

    If now working from home, take regular breaks and limit the amount of time you are spending at your computer. With our normal routines disrupted, think about establishing new routines to help maintain a sense of order and control. This can include good hygiene practices, for instance, hand-washing every time you return home or before you prepare food, etc.

    Emotional self-care

    It is normal to be feeling a range of different emotions right now. Exercise self-compassion and take some time out to self-reflect and acknowledge your emotions. Cry if you need to and laugh when you can. Journaling, writing, painting and drawing can be helpful ways to express our emotions and of course talking with a friend or colleague can be therapeutic. It’s important not to compare your emotional response with others, remembering that each of us will experience and respond differently to this crisis.

    If you need help, reach out to others. Connection is key to our well-being, and though we are now limited in how we can connect, it is more important than ever to maintain our connection with others. Get creative with how you might do this virtually. Host a virtual drinks night, games tournament or trivia party.

    Perhaps a positive aspect of the imposed restrictions to our freedom is the new slower pace to life that we are forced to adapt to. With my kids now home more than ever, we are making a deliberate effort to cook together each evening and make the evening meal a time to connect and have fun together. Making new positive memories also helps us to remember to practice gratefulness. Considering the many things we have to be grateful for keeps us feeling positive and hopeful.

    Learn something new about yourself. Embrace your newly acquired alone time by intentionally exploring your inner world. Now might be the perfect time to reflect on life, what’s important to you, your strengths and how you might use them to support your personal growth.   

    Now is also an opportune time to consider how you can support those in need in your community. Doing random acts of kindness is another way to foster a connection to our community as well as helping us to stay positive and hopeful.

    Cognitive self-care

    Think about your thinking. We all have a tendency toward the negative, so be mindful of what you are thinking as our thoughts impact how we feel and behave. Focus your thinking on what you can control and try to let go of things out of your control.

    Practice mindfulness so that your awareness is tuned to the present moment, rather than focusing on the future and all its uncertainty. Meditation may be another useful practice to help foster a greater sense of calm. Guided meditation that uses imagery may help you build an internal tranquil place that you can return to when you feel anxious or stressed.

    Though we don’t want to numb ourselves to this crisis, it’s ok to distract ourselves with some Netflix or a good book so that our minds aren’t overloaded and overwhelmed by the magnitude of the pandemic. Whilst home bound, you may find more time to get creative and practice that instrument that’s been gathering dust, paint, cook, read the unread books on your bookshelf.

    Limit your media intake and only use reputable news outlets to keep up to date.

    What can your school do to support its educators?

    There are a number of simple strategies that schools can adopt to support the emotional well-being of their staff:

    • Open communication. The only certainty of this global health crisis is the huge uncertainty it is creating. Each day, the rules and regulations set by our governments are changing, and for international educators this is particularly challenging when living abroad and trying to stay on top of the local climate, as well as the situation back ‘home’. Open, clear and supportive communication that put the needs of educators and students at the forefront is needed to help alleviate the fears and anxiety faced by our international school communities.
    • Foster community. There are many ways that we can create community, even as we maintain social distancing rules. Create communication trees so that everyone is contacted regularly, particularly those that may be living alone or struggling with feelings of isolation and loss. Host virtual get togethers or small walking groups. Establish a system so that people can share any needs.
    • Be flexible. By acknowledging that we are all in different situations, and will have different reactions to this crisis, offer as much fallibility as possible to staff so that they feel a sense of control in how they might want to respond to the crisis to keep themselves and their families safe.
    • Offer support. Be available to staff who may want to talk about their needs or fears during this time. Make online counselling available to all school staff.
    • Relax expectations. In times of high stress and anxiety, the reality is that our attention and ability to focus is greatly compromised, i.e. our bandwidth has just been dramatically reduced. Added to this are the practical changes to life we have had to adjust to. We may now be working from home whilst simultaneously home schooling our own children as well as undertaking household chores as home help become unavailable at this time. Reaching out to family and loved ones back ‘home’ and keeping in touch with those around us can also take a great deal of time and emotional energy. By acknowledging that our safety, well-being and the needs of our loved ones are the priority right now, schools will help staff feel supported and cared for which will enable them to better support their students.
    • Celebrate. As a community, remember to celebrate achievements, big and small. Acknowledge when staff go above and beyond and the sacrifices people are making to support their community.


    Coping with COVID-19 Articles


    Meditation and Mindfulness Apps

    • Insight timer
    • Smiling Mind
    • Stop, Breathe & Think
    • 10% Happier

    Online Counselling

    By Chanel Worsteling, AISA Chid Protection and Well-being Programme Manager

  • 24 March 2020 15:17 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Regrettably, owing to the threat posed by COVID-19, the 2020 AISA School Heads Retreat scheduled for 1-3 May 2020 in Zanzibar has been cancelled. However, AISA is exploring SHR sessions online in the next school year. NOTE: If you’ve already paid for your SHR registration AISA will reimburse this in full. Our Accounts Department will be in touch shortly.

  • 18 March 2020 15:24 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    As an education professional in an international school in Africa, you have for some time likely been adopting a Blended Learning approach that facilitates individualised learning.  As the COVID-19 (coronavirus) continues to spread around the world, there is increasing anxiety and even misinformation. However, in our schools there is also an opportunity to explore the possibilities online learning provides; including as a support to our school communities in these challenging circumstances.

    Child protection and well-being is a top priority. Blended Learning - essentially a blend of instructional face-to-face classroom learning, digital or online learning and structured independent study - enables students to continue working online from home. In real time, they can engage with their teachers and their peers, ask questions, make suggestions, raise issues, challenge opinions, offer insights.

    “Blended Learning is exciting and unpredictable in that it transforms the ‘passive’ teacher-centred classroom into an ‘active’ student-centred classroom,” says Catlin Tucker, internationally-renowned Blended Learning expert.

    “More often than not, lessons start at school, are then taken online at home and woven back into the classroom the following day. They’re therefore not limited to physical space or time. Students, often extremely shy in front of their peers, begin to articulate what they shared the night before. They get validation from others and their confidence grows. That’s wonderful to see.”

    This approach dovetails with the ‘flipped classroom’ strategy whereby teaching and homework is switched. Students watch lectures or access instructional content digitally and then do homework in the classroom with access to the teacher and peers for assistance and discussion.

    However, there are many Blended Learning models and methodologies. Establishing which one or which combination works best depends on the unique realities of the school. What is the school’s budget? What are the technological capabilities? Does it have the necessary facilities?

    AISA firmly believes that Blended Learning transforms student learning through personalisation and increased autonomy, which allows students more agency over their educational experience. This approach plus the use of technology in general offers exciting opportunities for educators across Africa. As an AISA member, you and your school have access to a network of professionals with vast experience and expertise to share.

    Gone is the need for textbooks that need to be replaced each year. No longer must the teacher be standing in the same classroom as the students. By engaging on our website, forums and social media, we can connect and support each other on important topics, including Blended Learning. To find out more, click here

    AISA schools have a transient population of students and teachers with a vast array of experiences and educational needs. Blended Learning helps to address these needs. It opens up access to collaboration across diverse schools and nations to share teachers' expertise and students' passions.

    In the words of the famous anthropologist, Margaret Mead, ‘If children do not learn the way we teach, we must teach the way they learn.’

  • 17 March 2020 13:43 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    I wanted to notify you of a press release from College Board sent earlier today with news that the May 2, 2020, SAT administration had been cancelled. Makeup exams for the March 14 administration (scheduled March 28) are also canceled. This applies for all administrations globally, US and outside the US.  Registered students will receive refunds.

    We understand that this action means many international students will not have had an opportunity to take the SAT this Spring. To provide students with the best chance to show their skills and stay on the path to college, we are exploring the potential of adding an SAT administration in June, along with the currently scheduled SAT Subject Test administration in June.  We continue to monitor the impact of COVID-19 globally and will need to further evaluate the situation with the health and safety of students and educators as we get closer to registration deadlines and test dates.

    We will be notifying students, test centers, schools, and universities throughout the day and tomorrow.  A webpage with regularly posted information about the impact of the virus on the SAT can be found here.

    I know many students and schools are also wondering about AP. We are also working through solutions for AP and will communicate the details of these additional solutions to educators and students by March 20. Click on this link for the latest information on AP.

    Paul Sanders
    Executive Director
    International Division
    250 Vesey Street
    New York, NY 10281
    T +1 202.845.4090

  • 16 March 2020 20:00 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Maipelo N’Guessan, Raheem Amany, Joy Sebera

    The International Community School of Abidjan (ICSA) recently hosted for the first time the 11th annual AISA Global Issues Service Summit (AISA GISS) from 16 - 18 January, 2020. The summit was a great success and saw the participation of more than 120 student delegates and 22 advisers coming from 14 international schools and representing 10 countries with the support of 5 local sponsors! A number of schools were participating in AISA GISS for the first time ever. Over a period of three days, delegates engaged in a variety of activities connected to our summit theme N’Zassa: Together we are whole. The word ‘N’Zassa’ means ‘mixture’ in the Akan languages spoken by several ethnic groups in Cote d’Ivoire. It is usually used to describe a traditional cloth made of small pieces of fabric that, taken in isolation, are not useful for much, but once sewn together results in a beautiful piece with better functionality and aesthetic value. This word can also be used to describe the value of mixing cultures, ideas, and concepts to improve desired outcomes. By using ‘N’Zassa’ symbolism, we explored the importance of the collaborative contribution of all members of the society in addressing global issues and attaining sustainable development through our theme pillars of collaboration, growth and interdependence.

    Keynote Speeches

    The keynote speeches empowered us as global citizens to make a difference, irrespective of age, gender, race, etc. The conference was fortunate enough to have been able to host speakers with a wide range of subjects to speak about, with Sarah Crawford talking about the conservation of chimpanzees through her NGO and the impact of collaboration on their efforts, Khérann Yao discussing his collaboration with UNICEF on the green schools project aimed at promoting sustainability education in local Ivorian schools, Andy Costa addressing the significance of green transportation, particularly cycling, for the health of the body and of the planet, and finally Jean Jacques Yao’s presentation on Cote d’ivoire Habitat for Humanity’s quest for access to decent housing and clean water for all.

    Student Workshops

    The student workshops provided an outlet for the delegates not only to explore solutions to the many issues plaguing our continent, but also to give insight about the challenges faced in their countries and the significance it has on their everyday lives. The workshops consisted of student-led interactive presentations that enabled the delegates to exchange new ideas and express their personal visions for how they want the world around them to shape up. For many delegates, the student workshops were personal favourites of the conference because it was much easier for them to identify with and give their inputs when the activities are led by other students. A total of fourteen workshops were presented under the following titles:

    • Tree Planting Project
    • Tired of the bake-sale?
    • A reevaluation of charity from the African perspective
    • Bustling Beehive
    • Waste is not waste until it is completely wasted
    • Building Blocks
    • Ethical Community Based Engagement
    • Bridging Barriers
    • Switch of a Light
    • Service Learning Trips and how to carry out meaningful service projects
    • Away with Donations
    • Dynamite C.O.R.T.T
    • Step Up by Stepping Down on Plastics

    Sustainability Team Challenges/Village activity

    The Sustainability Team Challenges were the delegates’ primary method of interacting and brainstorming solutions to the challenges faced across the globe. Each led by ICSA student leadership team, the Sustainability Teams consisted of students from all of the schools mixed together to ensure that the feeling on N’Zassa was represented as they explored the UN Sustainable Development Goals and how they impact our daily lives. Furthermore, the delegates were able to question each other, learn together, and grow together in a safe and diverse environment. The Sustainability Team Challenges culminated in a sustainability fair, where each team presented their findings on the Sustainable Development Goals as well as viable service projects related to them, which demonstrated how educational the Sustainability Team Challenges were and how much thought the delegates put into improving their society.

    N’Zassa Sustainability Panels

    Delegates had the opportunity to discuss and exchange ideas with various community changemakers through several expert panels. The themes of the panels were inspired by the 5Ps of development and the topics of discussion were based on the UN sustainable development goals. The goal for the panels was to explore how various sectors of the community work together (hence demonstrate N'Zassa) to achieve sustainable development. Each panel comprised two to four experts and were moderated by student leaders debating the following themes:

    • Planet : The fight against climate change and the preservation of our ecosystems
    • People : No poverty and zero hunger
    • Partnership : Partnerships between governments, private sectors and public society
    • Peace : Peace justice and strong institutions
    • Prosperity : Reduced inequalities and sustainable communities
    • Pan - Africanism: Economic growth and quality education

    Service Day Projects

    A major highlight of AISA GISS 2020 was the day of service projects that allowed our delegates to get to know the local community better, to be aware of community needs and to learn more about ICSA’s collaboration with community partners through the service-learning program. The following day of service projects were carried out across five sites in Abidjan

    o Clean-up campaign in Gonzagueville with Association Imagine le Monde (AIM).

    o Creation of a nursery hosting 30 000 plants to support reforestation activities by local schools in Akouedo with the Ivorian Ministry of Forests and Green Ivory NGO.

    o Technology projects to serve the community (creation of a smart garden, e-bike transformation, do-it-together drone) in Abobo with SOS Village.

    o Creation of murals using african print cloth and beautification of a children's play area in Adjame with CAVOEQUIVA NGO (women’s shelter).

    o Completion and painting of the first ever classroom cupboards in six classrooms in Anono Primary School with Education and English For You (EEFY) NGO.

    Closing ceremony

    Empowered to act and make a difference in their local communities through lessons learned from the various activities offered during AISA GISS 2020, delegates gathered one last time for the closing ceremony. Delegates got to enjoy once more the rich ivorian culture through a traditional dance performance by Krimbo Dance Group, followed by closing remarks delivered by Mrs. Maipelo N’Guessan, AISA GISS 2020 site coordinator. To celebrate our interdependence, collaboration and growth through AISA GISS 2020, and to remember the good moments we had, each school received an N’Zassa cloth made with pieces of fabric brought from each school’s home countries. The International Community School of Addis Ababa received the first N’Zassa cloth to symbolize the passing of the torch for the organization of the next AISA GISS.

    About the Authors

    Maipelo N’Guessan is the PreK-12 Service Learning and CAS Coordinator at the International Community School of Abidjan. She served as the AISA GISS 2020 Site Coordinator.

    Raheem Amany and Joy Sebera are Grade 12 students at the International Community School of Abidjan. They served as the AISA GISS 2020 Student Chair and Co-Chair respectively.

  • 16 March 2020 20:00 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    by Trillium Hibbeln, Associate Director, NEASC Commission on International Education

    NEASC believes that learning can happen anywhere and anytime. If the need arises for a school to temporarily close campus, a backup plan for digital learning not only allows learning to continue but can provide an opportunity for exploring ways to strengthen instructional practice through technology.

    The NEASC ACE Learning protocol helps schools look at time away from the classroom as an opportunity rather than an obstruction. We encourage schools to experiment with new types of learning experiences outside of the traditional time and space of school.

    There are many ways for schools to think about and explore this type of growth. How do we capitalize on a disruptive experience – whether planned closures or an unpredicted crisis – to enhance and improve learning long after a return to normalcy? How do we use this experience as a school community to understand what learning could look like in the future? How might we strengthen our emergency plans for future events?

    Digital learning puts much of the ownership of learning on the learners. ACE’s Fifth Learning Principle states that “learners are engaged with and inspired by their learning, and that learners have autonomy over their learning, supported by teachers acting as coaches and mentors.” Digital learning, done well, is a perfect conduit for this type of student-centered exploration. A strong digital learning plan enables students to learn from their environment and share their learning with the school community in a meaningful way.

    A positive facet of long-term school disruption is that it often gives learners time to focus on topics that specifically interest them. Schools that provide space for autonomy empower their students to pursue a personalized learning experience. Schools will need to try to avoid pushing traditional content through digital means but rather rethink what engaged learning might look like for students who are connected globally to content and to each other.

    Another of ACE’s Learning Principles (LP 10) focuses on building a community of trust and support. In times of disruption, community matters more than ever: how you communicate effectively with people; how quickly you can set up new modes of collaboration; how you deploy advisory, counselling and academic support. When many day-to-day school structures are disrupted, especially in times of crisis, services like learning support and counselling are more important than ever. Learning communities can be strengthened in difficult times when communication, support, and collaboration are attended to.

    A time of crisis is especially disruptive and life-altering for those living through it, in school and out. Yet, the rest of the world continues as before, at its regular pace. For example, High School students displaced or quarantined because of the coronavirus must still prepare for their IB exam, study for AP tests, and get ready for college entrance examinations just like students outside of the impacted areas. Maintaining a sense of community and continuity is essential for the well-being and success of everyone connected to the school.

    Schools building an emergency plan should start with systems that already work for them and are familiar to students and staff. Schools should ask: What online platforms do we already have? How can we maximize these features? Can we test our ideas by having our entire learning community try out our digital learning plan for a day or two?

    We have much to learn from those experiencing disruptions to their school because of public health crises, natural disasters, political upheaval, and even planned construction projects. Our students live in a global, interconnected, digital world. An experience in digital learning and community building can provide them with valuable new skills that will help them succeed in the complex future ahead.

    About the Author

    Trillium has served NEASC-CIE schools primarily in Asia, the Middle East and Europe from 2016 first as an International Accreditation leader. In her role at Associate Director at the Commission on International Education she focuses on ensuring that schools and accreditation visitors have the tools, training, and support to utilize the ACE Learning protocol to transform. She is heavily involved in developing the protocols and processes for NEASC’s accreditation work and conducts training, workshops and school consulting around the world. She is currently based in Shanghai, China, where she serves as a regional resource for NEASC-CIE schools in Asia. She has also lived and worked overseas in Norway, Thailand, Paraguay, Haiti, the United States, and Italy. In 2009, she founded an educational non-governmental organization (The Power of Education Foundation) that provides access to education, nutrition, medical care, and community development to vulnerable children in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Trillium was previously the executive director and the Chairman of the board. Trillium has held leadership positions for ten years in the US non-profit sector where she led large change initiatives, such as the operational planning for a new Children’s Hospital. She also worked with physicians and community leaders to develop programs and services in areas such as childhood obesity, infant mortality, and medical research to positively impact children in her community. She enjoys the challenge of designing and developing new initiatives and ensuring that all stakeholders’ voices are heard in the process. Trillium holds a bachelor’s degree in International Relations from James Madison College at Michigan State University and a master’s degree in K-8 education from The College of New Jersey. She has worked in international school education in Asia and South America at the elementary, middle and high school levels.

  • 16 March 2020 20:00 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Deborah (Deb) Welch, CEO of the Academy for International School Heads (AISH)

    Cognitive science has provided us with the essential principles for facilitating successful teaching and learning. We understand, for example, that what students already know affects their learning; that setting short term, specific and moderately challenging goals enhances motivation more than establishing long term goals; that interpersonal relationships and communication are critical; and that clear, explanatory and timely feedback is important. Psychological science has contributed greatly to enhancing what we do in the classroom. But is it possible to apply those same principles when time and space are redesigned in an online environment? And is it possible to apply those same principles to adult leaders?

    At the Academy for International School Heads (AISH), we sought to find out. With a membership of 500+ Heads and Deputy Heads of International Schools in 90 different countries, our mission is to support advocate and provide professional learning for Heads of School. However, due to distance, funds, and a Head’s taxing schedule, it is unrealistic to get more than 125 members in the room at one time. Additionally, Heads are experienced learners with unique, targeted needs, thus, opportunities for growth need to be differentiated and available “just in time.”

    If online courses could embed many of the principles of quality learning so that leaders could control the path, pace and place of their learning, we could establish the conditions under which agency could thrive. And, given that leadership is the second greatest influence on student learning in a school (Leithwood, Seashore Louis, Anderson and Wahlstrom) after the classroom teacher, we believed this to be a worthwhile endeavor.

    AISH partnered with Global Online Academy (GOA), to develop online courses “by Heads, for Heads.” Before developing content, the AISH leaders took a course provided by GOA about quality online learning. We learned the importance of curated resources, which do what good museums practice by selecting only a few of the best artefacts to represent an idea. We learned how to create community online through video introductions and forums, because we know that learning is social. We learned about providing timely feedback through various discussion mechanisms and how to best involve the participants in providing feedback to one another. And we learned how to provide options online for short-term goals so that leaders could create their own path, according to their needs. As one of the AISH leaders expressed:

    The first learning for me relates to the ability for the learner to access depth and breadth of the material in an online environment. We are dealing with complex issues in the AISH course material and need to honour the complexity and avoid taking the easy, simple, sometimes superficial options that may fit into the timeline, but not explore the depths and difficulties involved in something as involved in measuring mission, developing learning principles, or leading change.

    I was also prompted to think about our pathways during an online course. Like a climber, we all go up, but rarely on exactly the same path. We need the flexibility to choose our route, stop when we need to, press on and take risks when we are ready.

    The courses we developed are for leaders committed to continuous improvement and honing their skills. Mapped to the AISH Standards and Threads, each course addresses a critical leadership issue identified by international Heads of School. AISH leaders have curated all content and designed course activities. Skills courses are bite-sized, introductory courses that can be accomplished online in one-to-two hours. They are asynchronous, meaning that all content and activities are published in advance and participants are invited to work on their own schedule. Participants will gain an understanding of the topic, obtain resources, and acquire insights that can immediately be applied to your practice.

    Should participants wish to dive deeper, we invite them to sign up for the Impact courses, which are an extension of the topic. Impact courses are four weeks long, two to four hours per week. An experienced AISH leader will engage participants in a cohort group in practical, job-embedded discussions designed for immediate application and impact. Customized around the needs of an educational leader, there are choices within the courses so that the content is personalized for each leader’s strengths, needs, skills and interests.

    Have we been successful? Do our courses facilitate quality learning by utilizing the principles of teaching and learning? Do our courses adapt for the leader’s hectic schedule and specific needs? We believe so! But the proof will be how our participants evaluate their learning.

    We encourage you to register and to let us know. AISH’s Leadership Series is open to Heads, Deputy Heads, school leaders, and leadership teams. We offer discounts for teams who register because it is a powerful way to learn and move forward. If interested in a team discount, please contact

    About the Author

    Deborah Welch is the CEO of the Academy for International School Heads (AISH). She is an experienced international school administrator, most recently Director of the American School of Doha and Deputy Director for Learning at International School Bangkok. Deb provided sessions at the AISA Conference in Capetown. You can contact her at and follow her on LinkedIn and AISH on Facebook and Twitter.

  • 16 March 2020 20:00 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Rick Detwiler, David Chojnacki and Teresa Arpin

    “More than ever before, boards of international independent schools can make a vital difference in the advancement and success of their institutions.”

    In her forward to the NAIS monograph, International Trustee Handbook; A Guide to Effective Governance for International Independent School Boards, 2nd Edition (Chojnacki and Detwiler, 2019), National Association of Independent Schools President Donna Orem captures the opportunity our AISA schools' boards of trustees have in making their schools thrive. Truly, good governance is the foundation of an effective school, a fact recognized by AISA. Sustaining good governance in our communities is not easy, but it can be done. In order to achieve that goal, we need to know what good governance looks like, why it is important, the current context and challenges, and how we might move forward in that quest.

    Good Governance - What Is It?

    The AISA Code of Governance (2016) “clearly defines roles and responsibilities and provides a roadmap that they [boards of trustees] can use to set the strategic direction for their school and monitor progress against that vision, thus enhancing the effectiveness of their governance function.” The code consists of seven domain areas, articulating a set of “standards” describing what effective governance looks like:

    1. Clear Roles & Responsibilities

    2. Fiduciary Responsibilities

    3. Effective Governance

    4. Boards as Strategists and Visionaries

    5. Sustaining the Head of School

    6. Conducting the Business of the Board

    7. Board Oversight of School Success

    The code is based on the Board Development Curriculum created by the authors under the auspices of the NESA Council of Overseas Schools and serves as a comprehensive index of what trustees need to know and be able to do. Based on a thorough review of the literature on good governance, those seven domains cover the gamut. Yes, we know what good governance looks like!

    Good Governance - Why It Matters

    The “opportunity” that Donna Orem describes is but one reason why good governance is vital to our AISA schools. More fundamentally, it matters because accreditation requires it! All the major accreditation agencies used by AISA schools require certain governance structures and practices, including board development. We are not alone in establishing the importance of our boards functioning at a high level. A 2016 BoardSource survey of 22,000 CEOs and board chairs of non-profit organizations such as our schools identified “the board’s understanding of its roles and responsibilities and the board’s ability to work as a collaborative team toward shared goals as the two particular board characteristics that have the greatest impact on organizational performance.”

    Whether it is in fulfilling its fiduciary responsibility for protecting the school or its critical role in determining the strategic direction for the school, boards of trustees are uniquely accountable for school effectiveness.

    The Challenges

    In our work developing and facilitating over 200 board training retreats and dozens of conference workshops worldwide – including in the AISA region, the authors have recognized that school boards face a number of challenges. First and foremost is the high turnover of trustees. A board works hard to optimize its work in all seven domains and the next year they have a whole new team. Turnover of board chairs and heads of school exacerbates this challenge. Secondly, addressing the range of needs and capabilities of different boards requires differentiation of content, delivery mode, and style. In our experience, each board retreat is slightly different, and even within a well-functioning board team, different individuals and different boards have different needs. Thirdly, and inevitably, the barrier of affordability has a major impact on schools in the Africa region. Small schools cannot afford hiring a consultant, and most schools find travel costs to conferences, etc. to be prohibitive. Finally, the overarching difficulty of sustainability - maintaining good governance practice - is ever-present; coping with internal (e.g. turnover) or external (natural disasters, political calamities, economic turns, etc.) factors is a challenge prominent throughout Africa.

    Moving Forward

    The good news is we know what good governance is; the bad news is delivering that knowledge and practice is not easy.

    Nevertheless, there is hope....

    • The International Trustee Handbook 2nd Edition (available through presents a comprehensive, yet readable description of good governance practices, including a “What Can The Board of Trustees Do” list of tips for each chapter and over a dozen appendices of guidelines and tools boards can adopt and use. Boards currently use this book as a “summer read” for new trustees or in a “guided study” model for the whole board.
    • Board training, for those schools that can afford it, is readily available either through on-site board retreats, with a consultant or led by the chair and head of school, [NOTE: guidelines for planning retreats are available from the authors] or at institutes and conferences sponsored by AISA and other organizations.
    • Early next year AISA hopes to offer the “Leading Together” learning institute that targets the Chair/head of school. Facilitated by Rick Detwiler, this is a new initiative sponsored by the US Department of State Office of Overseas Schools and the Association for the Advancement of International Education (AAIE) wherein the focus is on enabling the chair/head of school partnership to lead their boards in effective governance. The institute is based on the premise that given access to the resources and tools needed to lead their boards, the Chair /Head partnership can guide and embed good governance at their own schools. (For more information on the ‘Leading Together’ program description please see Events)
    • And a few “coming attractions” now being developed by AISA...

    o expansion of the AISA Visiting Consultant Programme to encompass governance training ◦

    o plans for creating an online “Governance 101” course for trustees

    o arrangements for a Professional Learning Institute-type workshop on governance, offered in a central location, accessible to nearby schools

    Final Remarks

    AISA has recommitted itself to supporting board of trustee development in all manners and forms. As AISA Executive Director Peter Bateman recently wrote to the authors, “... the intention is to [identify] the “governance learning” gaps [that] need to be filled in our schools (in all their diversity) that will result in the embedding of a sustained culture of good governance (sic) practice in our schools.” Truly, sustaining a culture of good governance practice is what is meant by the adage that ultimately, trustees are accountable for the future of their school.

    About the Authors

    Rick, a former Peace Corps volunteer in Botswana, has worked with school boards as head of five international schools in Israel, Bangladesh, Hungary, Brazil, and Nepal over a 21-year career overseas, and more recently as a governance consultant.

    Currently, Rick consults with Boards of Trustees in international school governance, having conducted board training, policy review, and strategic planning workshops for over fifty schools and regional organizations throughout the world over the past seven years. Most recently, Rick and colleague David Chojnacki developed the AAIE-sponsored “Leading-Up” project, focused on empowering Board Chairs and Heads of School to work effectively leading their boards in good governance practice. Finally, Rick and David have just authored the NAIS International Trustee Handbook, 2nd edition, published in January 2019.

    Dr. Teresa Arpin is the President of Transformation Systems, working with educational organizations since 1996. She specializes in leadership development, strategic planning, governance and organizational transformation. In her role with Transformation she has helped schools measure the impact of their strategic plans. Teresa has worked with boards of trustees, schools and school districts large and small across the United States, Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. Her work has also included facilitating strategic planning processes for five international regional education associations which include NESA, CEESA, EARCOS, AISA and AASSA.

    David Chojnacki

    David is a senior consultant with a focus on international headships. He works as a consultant to international schools in effective trusteeship and has presented workshops on good governance at regional conferences. He is the co-author of the international version of the NAIS Trustee Handbook. David has also been involved in a number of international Head of School searches and consultancies.

  • 16 March 2020 20:00 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Dr Ashika Chapman, Khartoum American School SEN Coordinator

    What is it that precisely constitutes an international education ‘system’? Defining this is indeed complex. International education is about a commitment to universal values and one that transcends national borders by the exchange of people. There are many definitions as to what international education means, but in short, it is about understanding and learning the different cultures, respecting them, living together, developing global citizenship and accepting the differences in a world that is vast yet very small. Internationally-minded schooling corresponds with the promotion of international education and the key aspect of such an education is rooted in the promotion of intercultural understanding.

    International schools highlight the importance of cultural diversity, but many fall short of considering all stakeholder groups. This affects the school environment as they omit to consider the communities within which international schools operate. Diversity among the teaching community within a school helps to ensure “international education”. Students, teachers, parents, board members and the leadership team each bring their own experiences to the institution from their personal cultures and histories. All who work within an international school environment contribute through their diversity. In many international schools, diversity only refers to students.

    Many non-native English speakers with international experience and education are turned away from international schools because of where they are from. International schools should place more emphasis on the human resource potential for increased diversity amongst teachers and administrators. The need for cultural diversity amongst educators is necessary to ensure an environment for international education. Cultural diversity brings differences into international schools. This includes teaching style, leading style, learning style, differing opinions which will encourage higher order thinking, understanding what learning a new language may be like for students, developing trust because of a common language, and so many other positive benefits of internationalism. Take, for example, school boards in international schools on which many international schools parents sit and even chair. If international schools accept students from diverse backgrounds and nationalities, why do they not accept teachers from various backgrounds and countries?

    Looking across the board in the international school circuit, the most senior administrative positions within international schools are held by those from a small group of western nationalities. This may also be the case as heads are also looking for teachers with experience; preferably native speakers. Everyone has an accent. Whether someone comes from the UK, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa or wherever, we all have an accent. What is key is that we are qualified, and can be understood. The world is no longer vast. English has become an international language. Why is this an issue when it comes to recruitment? International schools are clearly operating at various levels of discrimination. Therefore they are working in segmented labour markets. Preferences are given to native English speakers and yes, perhaps parents too may play an important role in influencing appointments of both leaders and teachers. This change can perhaps only occur when there is a change in who holds the leadership position. International schools must first address characteristics such as international-mindedness, tolerance and cultural sensitivity. International schools must also consider the most appropriate forms of recruitment. The heart of international education lies in the appreciation of differences, by valuing both diversity and calling into question previously unchallenged assumptions and prejudices.

    Trust, respect, learning, understanding, and acceptance are what we as educators teach our students. In order to be a true international school, we first need to learn to accept diversity amongst not only our students, but also our educators before we can move forward and call ourselves a truly international school.

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