AIE Conference Drives International Education Dialogue

The world of international education, once composed of small and isolated school communities, has radically changed over the past two decades. What was once a few hundred schools scattered around the globe has now become thousands of institutions catering to students of varying backgrounds, beliefs and experiences. In this uncertain phase of growth, the Alliance for International Education (AIE) has taken the lead in shaping the future direction of international education. The AIE brought that conversation to NIST as the school, through The Professional Learning Hub, hosted the 2016 biannual AIE conference from 26-28 February with the theme Engaging with Difference.

Attended by many of the field’s foremost teachers, administrators, academics and consultants – and even student participants – the conference upheld the AIE’s mission “to bring together those involved in the promotion of intercultural understanding and international education, including researchers and practitioners at every level of education throughout the world.” Keynote speakers at the event included M.L. Pariyada Diskul, founder and former president of the International Schools Association of Thailand, former director of Bangkok Patana School and Deputy Secretary to the Minister of Education; Mechai Viravaidya, former Deputy Minister of the Interior and former Chairman of the NIST International School Foundation, and founder and director of the Population and Community Development Association; and Nick Alchin, High School Principal at United World College of South East Asia.

Throughout the three days of the conference, participants grappled with many of the most difficult questions facing international schools, as well as nations around the world. What does it mean to engage with difference, both as individuals and communities? How do we strive to be inclusive in international schools that can sometimes be exclusive by their very nature? What role should international education play in a diverse world that faces intercultural tensions and conflict? The conversations generated throughout the day offered valuable insights into the ways NIST and other international schools work within their greater communities. Holding true to the spirit of the AIE conference format, NIST students also took part in the sessions and represented the youth voice in a special panel in which they reflected on the themes of the conference.

At NIST we believe diversity does not merely represent engaging with difference in respect to nationality and culture. Though interacting with others in this sense is an invaluable experience, we also must recognize that it represents a limited view of the term. Diversity encompasses far more: gender, age, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, physical capacity, ideology and other fundamental differences. Engaging with those differences requires going beyond charity or sympathy, recognizing that we can all respect and learn from one another.

We strive to create learning opportunities that encourage our students to truly understand, empathize and work with those who are different than them. The development of the creativity, action, service (CAS) element of the IB programme over the years helped shape this at the school, and our own unique programmes such as the Global Citizen Diploma have driven it further. NIST students have created social entrepreneurship projects, become activists for various causes and launched their own non-profits. This arguably represents a central aim of international education: the development of informed, empathetic individuals who engage and work alongside others to find common ground and shared solutions.

For more information about the AIE conference and its aims, visit intedalliance.org.

Search Associates Hosts Leadership Fair at NIST

Search Associates, one of the most well-established and well-recognized international teacher recruitment organizations in the world, set a new milestone this year as it hosted its leadership fair in a school for the very first time. From 14 to 16 November, over 150 experienced administrators converged on Thailand and joined together at NIST International School to connect with 35 schools representing countries from Japan to Tanzania. Over the course of the three-day event, they not only met with school and Search Associate representatives, but also had the opportunity to hear from experts in a field that has dramatically changed in the past two decades.

The skyrocketing number of international schools, particularly in Asia and the Middle East, and an increasing demand for options other than public education systems has led to a severe shortage of talented teachers. Seeking to fill that void, recruitment organizations have worked with schools to match them to the best educators and leaders around the globe. For 25 years Search Associates has taken a lead in the field and now helps connect over 3,000 individuals with schools each year, in large part through its teaching and leadership recruitment fairs.

By partnering with NIST as a host, the organization was able to take full advantage of the resources at The Professional Learning Hub (PLH). Launched in 2014, The PLH at NIST aimed to create new standard for professional development in international education. While many schools invest heavily in training by sending teachers and administrators to workshops and conferences overseas, NIST has developed an in-house model that enables the school to partner with other organizations in hosting development opportunities at its central Bangkok campus.

Over three dozen events have been held at The PLH over the past year, ranging from large conferences such as the Thailand Google Summit and Learning 2.0 to workshops for the East Asia Regional Council of Schools (EARCOS) and Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE). This coming January NIST and The PLH will host the biannual 2016 Alliance for International Education World Conference. Its success has resulted in large part from NIST’s extensive resources, both in facilities and services. Through the school’s modern multipurpose learning spaces, in-house catering service and dedicated staff, it serves as an ideal location for professional development events.

As a not-for-profit, NIST has sought fiscal responsibility, and by adopting a more innovative model that attracts top talent, the school can redirect more of its resources back to students. More importantly, by partnering with organizations such as Search Associates, NIST can identify and connect with other top educators and schools, further enriching the opportunities it provides for the community.

Visit Search Associates and The Professional Learning Hub online to learn more about them.