This November 8–10, Senior Associate Bill Turner attended the 27th Annual Leadership Conference for the Federation of British International Schools in Asia (FOBISIA). Held at the Sheraton Grand Macao Hotel, Cotai Central, the event featured 300 participants and four dynamic keynote speakers. This year’s theme was Activating Learning.
Neuroscientist and author Baroness Susan Greenfield's talk was called Mind Change—How 21st Century Technology is Changing the Way We Think, Feel & Learn. She contends that because the brain adapts to its environment, our reliance on technology for most activities—such as shopping, dating, playing, and working—has affected the way our brains are re-wiring. As a result, society is facing many “uncertainties . . . as to the future of relationships, a workforce fit for purpose, and solutions to an escalating mental health crisis.” Susan described the mindset of a mid-21st century child consumed with digital technology: short attention span, addicted to sensation, reckless, low on empathy (a.k.a.“virtual autism”), poor interpersonal skills, a fragile sense of identity, and poor critical thought. Her antidote takes us back to the basics in schools:
We need to help the brains of the next generation rehearse the thought process itself. . . [If] we can devise an environment and culture for ensuring the revival of previously basic activities of daily life requiring linear sequencing over protracted periods of time (sport, reading, music, cooking, gardening), then we shall be able to use technology as a means rather than as an end in itself, and thereby attain real fulfilment as individuals.
Julie (Harris) Stern’s talk, World-Changing Schooling: Designing Learning for Innovation & Transfer, centered on a research-based, five-step process “for designing curriculum to meet the demands of our changing world.” The structure she offers helps school leaders be more creative, fluid, and responsive to students, teachers, and current events.
Kendall Zoller—author, educator, researcher, and international presenter in the areas of communicative intelligence, presentation and facilitation skills, leadership and adaptive schools—spoke on Communicative Magic: Making an Impact. Communicative Intelligence is where neuroscience meets communication. Kendall shared how we can learn to communicate with congruence and authenticity by touching the hearts of listeners, shifting mindsets using emotion, and impacting learning.
Educational Consultant and author Tom Sherrington, with 30 years' experience in education as a teacher and administrator, presented the keynote Building Great Teachers in an Evidence-Informed Way. Since improving the quality of teaching is a priority in every school’s improvement plan, Tom shared “the best bets for establishing a process for effective professional learning,” including examples from different types of schools.
At the Search Associates (SEARCH) table in Exhibitors Hall, Bill enjoyed chatting with recruiters and candidates interested in joining SEARCH as well as registered members who wanted to share how much they love APLi, our new online, candidate management system. Others were grateful for the personal connection they have with their Associate. One delegate, exiting from a business meeting of 50 school leaders on Friday, informed Bill of the praise for SEARCH’s quality of documentation associated with each of our candidates, in particular our references and police/security checks. Bill was very pleased to consult with two heads of schools looking to find new posts and ready to register with SEARCH.
Next year’s FOBISIA conference will be in Bangkok, where SEARCH supports the recruitment of 12 schools including British, International Baccalaureate, and American curriculum schools.