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2017 AASSA Educators Conference- American School of Rio de Janeiro

School of the Nations marked its presence with 16 participants in the annual AASSA Educators Conference held at the American School of Rio de Janeiro from March 29th- April 1st. Three of our staff members: Dr. Ana Maria Duque, Elisa Perreira and Annie Anderson also attended as presenters. (See article on their workshops)

Based around the theme of (Re), the conference design was centered around a collaborative think-tank whose aim is to (re)think and (re)invent international education. The conference featured 3 keynote speakers:Craig Johnston, Michael Ehrhardt and Myron Dueck who challenged, respectively, the current system of international education, the teachers, and the students.

The participants were able to choose from a great variety of sessions including three all-day institutes. Participants engaged in cohort meetings with their peers in the field as well as reverse mentoring sessions led by EARJ students

Keynote speaker Craig Johnson , Head of the American School of Bombay addressed the theme of (Re)volution. “In 1624 John Donne wrote, “Never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.” Donne’s point was that, “No man is an island, entire of itself.” He went on to make the analogy of a continent as the human race, and “each person, but a piece of the continent.” Today, in 2017 the bells toll for International Education. Much of what we do in International Schools is irrelevant. And for as much as a single school might be committed to innovation and to becoming more relevant, it will perpetually be limited in what it can do because: A “single school” is but “a piece of the continent,” and therefore, to keep us alive, a global revolution is called for. More specifically, authentic, systemic, and sustainable innovation will only happen in International Education if a large and influential coalition of schools collectively identifies and commits to addressing the elements (within our eco-system) that need to end; while simultaneously implementing those changes and innovations that must happen. This keynote will share what some of the “things that need to end” are and offer a vision for what a global coalition for educational innovation and relevance could look like.”

Michael Ehrhardt, Head of School, Cary Academy addressed our need to (Re)Commit: “With schools around the world facing tremendous disruptive pressures, we need teacher leadership now more than ever. There is great uncertainty about what the future holds but an ever growing need for meaningful and positive change, and teachers are best positioned to create the innovative and transparent classroom and school cultures that can empower students to make a difference.“

Myron Dueck explored the concept of (Re)tooling. “When content was our focus, we delivered ample amounts of it with specific pedagogy. However, at even a casual glance it’s obvious that the global paradigm has shifted away from the delivery of content towards competencies such as application, critical thinking and creativity. The global forum rewards the competent learner who has a sliver of innovation over one who has a broad but shallow knowledge base. Given that learning is a dynamic endeavor and there are multiple pathways to achieve it, how we design the context for learning becomes paramount. As we teach students who will live to see the 22nd century, we should not guess what will be required, but rather help our students develop the tools that have always been necessary for both advancement and survival. ‘Retool’ means to ‘adapt or alter something to make it more useful or suitable’; perhaps this is exactly what we need to do in order to remain relevant.”

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