This weekend the directors of member schools of the Central and Eastern Europe Schools Association (CEESA) met in Istanbul for their annual meeting. The goals of the meetings were for the directors to connect with each other, benchmarking our schools and sharing ideas and advice in an open and supportive environment. CEESA is one of eight regional associations supported by the US State Department’s Office of Overseas Schools. The regional associations combat isolation of international schools. CEESA covers mostly the post-Soviet countries and is celebrating 30 years. The major topics were as follows:
- police background checks of employees and screening new hires
- data protection of students and families
- international health insurance for expatriate faculties
- implementing an Academic Continuity Plan (online) in case of short and medium term school closures
- learning analytics
- managing complex interactions
- learning spaces
Recruiting: We mostly ask teachers to provide their own police clearances and in the case of sexual predators with a record, they would probably forge a document. Some schools are using companies to search social media, financial and legal records and credential checks. These can be expensive. A good idea is to offer “letter of intents” to hire “pending background checks” instead of offering a contract immediately if one is rushed for time at a job fair.
Academic Continuity Plan (ACP): We did a tabletop exercise of a threat to foreigners causing a temporary school closure. The ACP allows for school to continue online. The Tech Director and I drafted a plan that we need to add to our emergency procedures manual.
Advanced Statistics for Education: “Big Data” and analytics is becoming important in many fields such as crime prevention and professional sports. There are CEESA schools experimenting with advanced statistics that I found interesting. One school is looking at the impact of the cohort on student performance. Others are gathering all the learning data of students together and most importantly, trying to get the statistics into the hands of the students.
Learning Spaces: Two directors talked about building projects they recently oversaw. The idea of “learning-focused” school is to move away from boxes (rooms) that belong to teachers and go towards “neighborhoods” students live.
Managing Complex Interactions: The CEESA director, Kathy Stetson gave a workshop on difficult conversations, something that often comes up with leadership. The idea of separating the data or problem from the people involved is useful advice. She also broke interactions into result, of course the best outcome is collaboration, but it also depends on the situation.
- victory/defeat (low relationship)
- avoid/withdraw (low relationship)
- compromise (medium relationship)
- accommodate (high relationship
- collaborate (high relationship)