Senior Associate Bridget McNamer couldn't say enough good things about the International Baccalaureate Africa, Europe, Middle East (IB AEM) Conference that she attended in Barcelona this October 6-8th. The IB organization described the event on their website as "an opportunity to engage with more than 1,000 participants from 70 countries. But there was so much more! One hundred sessions offered during seven timeslots on Friday and Saturday covered different aspects of the IB Program, some of which are global challenges relevant to education, international mindedness, curriculum planning and assessment, and creativity, social and emotional learning.
Bridget stole some time away from the bustling Search Associates table to attend some sessions and the keynotes. She praised the conference's organization and the fantastic speakers, who were "for the most part non-educators, with inspiring… messages relevant to the educator community."
Dame Ellen MacArthur, the fastest solo sailor to circumnavigate the globe, spoke on insights she gained during her epic journey. She realized that in a world composed of interlocking cycles and finite resources, everything that goes around comes around. Therefore, society should transition to an economic system that is both restorative and regenerative by design. Society's aim should be to keep products, components, and materials at their highest utility and value at all times, and systemic change should be driven by the business community and the education of today's youth.
Another keynote speaker Sarah Lewis is currently an Assistant Professor in the Departments of History of Art and Architecture and African and African American Studies at Harvard University and the bestselling author of The Rise: Creativity, the Gift of Failure, and the Search for Mastery. In her address, Sarah shared more insight on what enables creative endeavors and what drives transformation for both individuals and organizations. Using examples of famous people, Sarah revealed the importance of play, grit, surrender, often ignored ideas, failures, and follow-up attempts that lead to true breakthroughs.
Keynote Speaker Peter Docker (whose partner Simon Sinek was not present) contends that great organizations and great leaders start with the question of "why," and this question serves as their higher purpose, cause, or belief. Peter illustrated, using examples from many industries, how starting with "why" can release astonishing energy within any team and be the source of innovation. He offered techniques and presented five key principles which, when used together, can enable any team to create extraordinary results.
Featured speaker Alfie Kohn, lecturer and author of 15 books, is best known for his criticism of the educational system's fixation on grades and test scores. Research has revealed that too much emphasis on performance can reduce students' interest in learning and causes them to avoid challenging tasks. Students obsessed with grades and test scores are less inclined to engage deeply with ideas, explore and discover.
Javier M. Valle, another featured speaker, is a professor in the area of Theory and History of Education at the Teacher Education College of the Autonomous University of Madrid. He laid out the common core values proposed by international organizations that should inform current international schools' curricula. He maintains that globalization demands a supranational approach as different human groups must work closely together despite their particular values and cultures.
At the busy Search Associates table, Bridget was gratified to meet both recruiters and candidates inquiring about our services. In a couple of cases, teachers who have used Search Associates popped by to say hello and give thanks for all the ways Search Associates helped them secure their current positions. Equally important to our Senior Associate was the professional development she received. For Bridget, every encounter, every session she attended, and keynote she heard was an opportunity to learn and reflect on how she could better serve Search Associates' clients and the world of international education.