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For up to date AISA information and to read the latest news and announcements, check out our news items below. Don't forget to share them via the social media links and to sign up to our social media groups. 

  • 13 April 2020 19:23 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Dr Peter Bateman, AISA Executive Director

    Uncertainty and questions are aplenty as we all face the new reality of living in a COVID-19 threatened world. One thing you can be assured of however, is the ongoing support of AISA whether you are working on the continent or not. Here we share answers to the most frequently-asked-questions we have received over the past few weeks.

    Is the AISA Office Still Open?

    Yes – and No. Physically the AISA office in Nairobi is closed, but all AISA staff are currently working from home. Some of you may know that several AISA staff have been working remotely for some years already, so we have all the structures we need in place to continue as normal. We can continue in this way for as long as necessary with no interruption to our member school support.

    How Are You Supporting AISA Schools Through the COVID-19 Pandemic?

    Here at AISA we realised fairly quickly that the amount of information and resources being shared around COVID-19 was becoming overwhelming for many educators, co-professionals and school leaders in our region. So AISA recently launched our COVID-19 Support Portal. The portal has streamlined and curated the news, resources, communications and networking forums needed to support our members. It is updated several times each day and is a one-stop-shop for trusted COVID-19 information and communications needs.

    AISA has also established a well-being support network with opportunities for our members to reach out to professionals (via Zoom calls) and each other for support during this challenging time. Full details on how you can access these resources are also on our COVID-19 Support Portal.

    Will the School Heads Retreat in Zanzibar Go Ahead?

    Regrettably not. This was scheduled for May 1-3, but with the disruptions caused by COVID-19 we have had to cancel this event for this year. Many AISA school heads wrote to us expressing their disappointment that this was not able to go ahead, but all fully understood why we needed to postpone it. We are looking at putting some of the SHR sessions online in the next school year and hope to run the face-to-face event once again in May 2021.

    Will AISA Continue Offering Professional Learning If People Can’t Travel?

    Yes! AISA has been running online webinars for some time. We are now developing a programme of Extended Professional Learning Institutes (ePLIs) that all staff in our member schools will be able to access from early next year. We think running professional learning online this way is very effective for an organisation like AISA since we can extend the depth of your learning over time, expand the range of topics covered, and increase the accessibility of professional learning for you, our members. By now, many of our educators have become familiar with how effective online learning can be implemented in their classes – if this is well designed and supported. AISA is partnering with some of the world's best online programme developers to re-work our PL programme for next year. This approach will also save on the cost of travel, help save the environment, as well as reducing time out of school. More about this soon.

    What about AISA’s Other School Support Programmes? Will These Still Be on Offer?

    Generally yes. Any support services we can offer, within the limits placed on us all by COVID-19, will continue to be provided. Those programmes that involve supporting the travel of staff or students between AISA schools may need to be revised. If you’re not sure of the support services AISA offers you can find them here. AISA is also looking to adapt some of these to fit better the new realities we live within a COVID-19 world. Like many of you, we are not exactly sure what this might look like – but we have always been an adaptable organisation and trying out new things is no problem for us.

    If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at info@aisa.or.ke

  • 13 April 2020 19:20 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Dr Michael Lovorn, Director of International Graduate Programme for Educators and Director of Sponsored International Programmes, SUNY Buffalo State

    Developing Minds of the Future is an ‘online conference’ hosted by Core 21 Educational Services and set to take place between May and August 2020. The conference has been conceived to enable international educators to continue graduate studies, professional development, and continuing education during these times of uncertainty. The conference is to be made up of at least 20 cutting-edge workshops led by renowned experts and offered in ala carte fashion. Eligible participants* may earn up to six graduate (EDU 596 Conference) credits that may be applied toward their SUNY Buffalo State master’s degree.

    Workshop titles and descriptions are available on the Core 21 website. Sessions will be delivered completely online and each is the equivalent of nine instructional contact hours; therefore, eligible participants may earn one graduate credit for successfully completing two sessions (18 contact hours), two graduate credits for successfully completing four sessions (36 contact hours), and three graduate credits for successfully completing five sessions (45 contact hours).

    Eligible participants who successfully complete ten sessions (90 contact hours) will earn six graduate credits in EDU 596. A comprehensive conference reflection assignment has been designed to deepen in complexity depending on the number of credits being sought, and all earned credits will appear on participants’ transcripts in August 2020.

    Three very important provisos:

    1. This online conference is a concerted effort to support PD and keep eligible participants on track toward program completion despite course cancellations. It is NOT intended to undermine cohort schedules and/or accelerate program completion. Cohort students are encouraged to consult their site coordinator about eligibility, keeping in mind those relying on employer tuition supplement may not be permitted to enroll in online workshop or conference credit.

    2. I ask that school heads and/or site coordinators reach out to me directly (relatively soon) if they prefer I not extend this offer to their teachers due to previously-scheduled courses or for any other reason.

    3. A maximum of six EDU 594 (workshop) and/or EDU 596 (conference) credits may be applied toward the 30-credit SUNY Buffalo State master’s degree. Active IGPE students interested in taking advantage of this unique opportunity – particularly those unsure of how many EDU 594/596 credits they have earned to date – should contact our academic advisor Nicole Calamunci prior to registration.

    *An “eligible participant” is defined as an educator in international schools who has been accepted to and is in good standing with the SUNY Buffalo State Graduate School and is in good academic standing prior to beginning the workshop(s) in question.

    Some elements of this conference are still in development. If you have questions about SUNY Buffalo State credits, by all means, let me know. If you have questions about content and delivery, feel free to reach out to Joan Della Valle here. Thank you all. Stay safe!

  • 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.

    Resources

    Coping with COVID-19 Articles

    Webinar

    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
    • A.I.M FOR THE STARS
    • 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 office@academyish.org.

    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 debwelch@academyish.org and follow her on LinkedIn and AISH on Facebook and Twitter.


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