Dear ISG Staff:
As we brace ourselves to hold on for the December weeks leading up to winter break, it is worth pausing to reflect on what ISG considered a very special month of November. It began with a triumph for ISG, the two days devoted to our district goals of technology integration and literacy.
The GAFE Summit gave 200+ ISGers and another 100+ from around the Kingdom useful strategies (and mindsets) for technology integration. If you did not attend the event, see these photos, this resource-laden page from lead presenter James Sanders, and James’ keynotes (day 1) (day 2). ISG officially put itself on the international map for technology in schools. Thank you to Alexander van Iperen, Director of Digital Learning, his great team of technicians, and to Chris L’esteve who first envisioned this event.
Another PD event at ISG was just as important, but not as highly publicized: the Literacy Summit, hosted and coordinated by Tara Waudby, Assistant Superintendent for Learning. Again, 200+ ISGers participated. In the past, ISG would have brought in a pricy talking head from the field of education. This time around, however, we relied on the expertise that exists within ISG, to produce tangible outcomes such as learning the basic design of Workshop, using assessment data to influence lesson planning, and classroom tips and tricks to support the literacy initiative. Check out the two-day program here.
Now in my third year at the helm of ISG, I have never been so pleased and proud of the organization as I was during these few days in November.
November (and now December) sees the normal goings-on of an international school district such as ISG: contract renewals and recruitment, budget planning (and the excitement of new items and positions), and more mundane (but important!) initiatives such as safety and security planning. Each of our campuses will continue to receive significant investment in its infrastructure.
I want to leave you with five things to think about:
- Literacy (reading, writing, information, computational, etc.) is the single most important competency for the past, the present, and the future needs of our students. This should be at the core of every lesson plan and every effort we make on behalf of students.
- Once we admit a student, we must fight tooth and nail to ensure that the student will thrive (achieve and grow). That means multiple interventions (even before eval testing) before ever asking the question: “Does this student belong at our school?”
- Now that ISG is connected to the world through technology, work diligently to deemphasize the devices (see this article from ISTE about how technology is largely just an interchangeable tool).
- Connect with your peers and other members of the school community. The antidote to feeling overwhelmed is through connection (it’s counterintuitive).
- If you feel you are swimming in a sea of negativity or frustration, take refuge in the growth and happiness of our students. Take 15 minutes and visit a classroom that is not your own. Watch the early years students come back from lunch, or at recess. Instant therapy.
- Bonus proverb: If you are angry at someone, buy them a gift.
Take care, and have a good break. You deserve it!
Dr. Paul Richards