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  • 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.

  • 16 March 2020 19:00 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Dr Peter Bateman, AISA Executive Director

    Recently I had the pleasure of facilitating an AISA eTime Webinar with Ryan Hopkins-Wilcox from the International School of Kenya. The Webinar was entitled “Building Collaborative Partnerships Across Schools Without Walls”. I very much enjoyed exploring some ideas with Ryan and it has got me thinking again about the key role AISA plays in establishing and nurturing these collaborative partnerships not only within individual schools but also across the entire network of AISA schools in Africa.

    Following every AISA learning event, we send out an evaluation survey to get feedback from the participants. Appropriately, these concentrate on the impact on student learning that (hopefully) will arise as a result of attending the event. But what strikes me about all these evaluations is the importance the participants place on the opportunity to form collaborative networks with others.

    For many years AISA has run our online Communities of Practice (CoPs) that have enabled staff in all our schools to stay in touch with their colleagues in other schools. Mostly these networks are job related and adopt a truly collaborative approach as group members freely and generously share ideas and resources about how to do their jobs better.

    More recently AISA has tried an approach where these CoPs are also set up to explore ideas (rather than job functions) that emanate from the learning events that staff in AISA schools have attended. We think of this as an opportunity to deepen the learning that took place face-to-face once people return to their schools. This new approach is in its early days yet, but we expect that this emphasis on collaborative exploration of ideas will result in the deeper learning AISA is aiming at through our professional learning programme.

    Given that AISA’s mission is clearly focused on improving student learning, the next question that arises for me is whether or not these collaborative partnerships do actually support improved learning outcomes for students?

    While we know quite a lot about what makes for effective collaborative within individual schools  (indeed there are some spectacular examples of this in the AISA membership), at a systems level – such as the AISA network of schools - there is surprisingly little research carried out on the relationship between collaborative partnerships across schools and improved student learning. This lack of research may be due in part to the relative rarity of clusters of international schools (such as the AISA network) and to the fact that the sheer diversity of schools in the AISA region makes networks like ours complex to study. I would suggest that we are just beginning to realize the power that collaborative partnerships can have on school improvement - including improved learning outcomes for students. However, as we explore these ideas further, we need to be mindful, as Santiago Rincón-Gallardo & Michael Fullan (2016) suggest, that

    “The mere adoption and widespread dissemination of networks as a strategy for change is likely to produce superficial and even harmful practices if not accompanied with clarity and precision about the patterns of interaction that distinguish effective from inconsequential or even harmful networks.”

    Fortunately, Rincón-Gallardo & Fullan (2016) do provide us with some further guidance as to the eight essential features that enable effective networking and collaboration among clusters of schools such as those in the AISA region:

    (1)   focussing on ambitious student learning outcomes linked to effective pedagogy;

    (2)    developing strong relationships of trust and internal accountability;

    (3)    continuously improving practice and systems through cycles of collaborative inquiry;

    (4)    using deliberate leadership and skilled facilitation within flat power structures

    (5)    frequently interacting and learning inwards;

    (6)    connecting outwards to learn from others;

    (7)    forming new partnership among students, teachers, families, and communities; and

    (8)    securing adequate resources to sustain the work.

    AISA intends to explore these ideas further in a new Community of Practice we have set up called “Learning Together” that will be facilitated by Ryan Hopkins-Wilcox. If you would like to join the discussion please sign up here:

    Santiago Rincón-Gallardo Michael Fullan , (2016)," Essential features of effective networks in education ", Journal of Professional Capital and Community, Vol. 1 Iss 1 pp. 5 - 22

  • 16 March 2020 15:33 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Free Creative Cloud tools offered to students through May 31, 2020

    As a result of the Coronavirus pandemic and the fact that many countries in Europe have already closed their educational institutions, Adobe has decided that any college, university or teaching institution that currently has any Adobe SDL (shared device licences) will on request be given full access for all students, lecturers or staff to the full Adobe Creative Cloud Suite (excluding services) for home usage until the end of May 2020 to assist with continued learning from home. 

    Further to this, Adobe is offering a free 90-day online trial to Adobe Connect which is a virtual class and can be used to teach remotely.

    Learning Curve (an AISA Associate Member) is prepared to manage all the console activity to embrace this opportunity. Learning Curve will help add and remove users, manage and control all console activity, assist with student queries etc.

    Should you require assistance with this implementation, please reach out to Learning Curve. Otherwise please click the link below to guide you through the necessary steps of setting this offer up in your own admin consoles

    Please Click Here

    Learning Curve has also recently become a Skillshare partner in Africa and has negotiated a similar arrangement where any staff or student who would like access to 2 months Skillshare premium for free just needs to email us at

    Global activation can be arranged, please make contact Learning Curve at the same email address.

    What can be learnt through Skillshare?

    Skillshare offers over 22,000 classes 

    • 4000 classes on Adobe 
    • 4500 Business Classes 
    • 650 classes on Microsoft 
    • 1615 Marketing classes 
    • 537 Leadership & Management classes 
    • 872 Freelance & Entrepreneurship classes 
    • 567 Data Science classes 
    • 1500 Animation classes 
    • 3000 Illustrator classes 
    • 3000 Fine Art classes 
    • 2000 Graphic design classes 

    For More Information, please contact Tim Smith 

  • 16 March 2020 15:26 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    We recognise that this is this is a challenging time for schools worldwide. AISA and COBIS  would like to facilitate the sharing of best-practice resources and trusted information around managing the impact of school closures. Here you will find advice on:

    • providing continuity of education
    • developing online learning
    • delivering effective communications
    • signposting trusted and informed health and travel guidance
    • supporting the well-being of school communities 
    •  reducing the impact and spread of misinformation

    This guidance comes from trusted sources all over the world, from WHO, the FCO, the DfE and from schoolteachers worldwide. 

    Find Out More 

  • 16 March 2020 15:21 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    School leaders across the nation are coming together to problem solve and look at creative strategies for mitigating service gaps during closures.

    Find Out More 

  • 16 March 2020 15:20 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The fallout from closing schools is about equity, realities connected to socioeconomic status, technological access, nutrition, and health.

    Find Out More 

  • 16 March 2020 15:19 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    A focus on the facts, flexibility, and destigmatizing sick community members will help school leaders weather this crisis. 

    Find Out More 

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

    Tips for transitioning to technology that will help teachers prioritize what's most important in terms of their instruction and their connection with students and help students feel a sense of normalcy.

    Find Out More 

  • 16 March 2020 15:15 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    It's our responsibility to teach our kids how to be safe and take care of themselves. It's also our responsibility to not cause panic in the process.

    Find Out More 


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