Senior Associate Bill Turner and Executive Search Assistant Alison Turner, along with representatives from 87 schools, attended the 36th British Schools in the Middle East (BSME) Annual Conference this year. The event was hosted in two locations: Crowne Plaza Hotel, Abu Dhabi Yas Island and the Conference Centre, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi. Sunita Mirchandani, from the Department of Trade and Industry, provided some contextual data for participants. Over 100,000 UK nationals work in the UAE. There are 194 private schools in Dubai alone, of which 64 follow a British curriculum. By 2020, there will be 250 private schools in Dubai.
The keynote speakers were Professor Deborah Eyre, who addressed the topic High Performance Learning: Creating World Class Schools; Hazel Jackson, who talked about The Multiplier Effect: how the best leaders make everyone smarter; and Floyd Woodrow, who presented Optimising Performance and Leadership. Jane Larsson from Council of International Schools (CIS) updated participants with her talk, Child Abuse: What All School Leaders Should Know. Bill shares some take-aways:
Professor Eyre believes in the research-based, pedagogy-led philosophy that sees everyone as a potential high performer. She says, “Within a generation everyone will be educationally successful.” As evidence, she quoted the impact “education for girls” made within a single generation, before adding, “We need to move from ‘some students learn at high levels’ to ‘all students learn at high levels.’” The most important thing is to believe this and own this agenda. In other words, schools need to foster a professional community of practice among their educators. No quick-fix, governance model, instructional technique, or technology can substitute for this. We should look at everything in our schools through a lens that sees everyone as a high-performance learner.
Hazel Jackson’s address had delegates buying up all the available copies of Liz Wiseman’s book, Multipliers: How the best leaders make everyone smarter (2010, Harper Collins). Leaders are sometimes diminishers (drainers of intelligence) or multipliers (amplifiers of intelligence). Leaders in the room were invited to reflect on when they themselves have exhibited these behaviours. Well-intentioned leaders can unwittingly behave as diminishers:
The “ideas person” who shares everything can make his or her team respond with rabbit-in-the-headlights apathy.
The “always full-on energy” leader drains the batteries of his or her team.
The “rescuer, swoop-in-and-save-the-day” person can inspire a humiliation/shame/stop trying/wait-to-be-rescued response.
The overly-fast pace setter, who expects everyone to follow, can leave people behind or cause them to sit on the sidelines.
The “rapid responder” leader might cause people to simply wait for him or her to respond.
The “relentless optimist” leader can lead to people feeling overwhelmed.
Jackson said that many leaders are busy but bored because they are not being fully utilised, which leads to de-motivation. We must collect the intelligence of our team members and utilise it well and at the right time. All leaders can be multipliers, who make those around them smarter.
Jane Larsson updated the conference on the progress of the International Task Force on Child Protection. CIS is putting together a guide/flow chart to respond to allegations. Jane reminded us of the importance of knowing the local laws of the country in which we are working. Attendees learned that the Dubai’s Knowledge and Human Development Agency (KHDA) is working with schools to support open conversations about abuse. Similarly, schools should explore a shared understanding of abuse with their parent body.
Bill and Alison enjoyed conversing with conference attendees at the Search table and during the social events on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings. Search Associates values its strong relationship with British curriculum schools in the region and looks forward to expanding connections in the future.