This October 13-16, Senior Associate Bill Turner and Senior Consultant Lana Al-Aghbar were excited to join about 400 school delegates and 100 exhibitors at the InterContinental Abu Dhabi for the annual Near East South Asia (NESA) Leadership Conference. This year’s theme was Growth and Change. In addition to connecting with overseas school administrators in the region, Search Associates (SEARCH) representatives were able to attend some enriching sessions.
Author Peter Kelly-Detwiler gave the keynote The Collective Journey to Maintain a Goldilocks Climate, and Our Role as Teachers, urging participants to view the world as a self-sustaining, self-regulating organism in which all parts are interconnected and therefore significant. Though he shared worrying data about global warming, he also shared some encouraging information. Wind and solar power now generate 20% of global power, and there has been a 90% drop in the cost of solar power, a 70% drop in the cost of wind power, and an annual 20-25% drop in the cost of batteries. Furthermore, the world has passed its peak in oil production and in petrol-fired car production, and eighty percent of new cars bought in Norway are electric. Peter encouraged attendees to “see carbon everywhere,” for example, the water bottles that were “unfortunately and unnecessarily covering all the tables in the room.” Finally, Peter encouraged everyone to imagine “we are all astronauts” looking at this planet from space, and that “failure is not an option.”
Derrick Gay’s presentation, Redefining Diversity to Drive Inclusion and Belonging in International Schools, addressed diversity, equity, inclusion (DEI), equality, and cultural competence with a focus on international school challenges, framed around common beliefs and misconceptions.
Board Development: Embracing the Principles & Practices that Promote Effective Governance, led by Rick Detwiler and David Chojnacki, focused on board roles and responsibilities pertaining to providing strategic direction and fiduciary responsibilities under the umbrella of both leadership and governance.
Lana enjoyed Phil Echols’ session called Leaders as Facilitators - Navigating with Empowering Mindsets. How and with what mindset do leaders guide meetings? Phil emphasized the importance of leaders recognizing the improvement potential of groups. He highlighted leadership behaviors that are critical for building trust, fostering a safe environment, being flexible, remaining focused on outcomes, promoting inclusion, and addressing conflict.
Supporting Professional Learning for All, presented by Christina Botbyl and Betty Molerot, focused on determining professional learning needs based on contextual conditions. They also shared some key principles of adult learning. The speakers emphasized the importance of choice and voice while also balancing the school’s needs, in terms of what teachers must know and be able to do professionally. Finally, Christina and Betty talked about sourcing professional learning in relation to designing professional learning pathways.
During breaktimes and social events, Lana and Bill bcaught up with many friends of Search Associates: Sameera Al Reyes and Eoin Fitzgerald (American IS Kuwait); Kevin Fullbrook (Al Bayan Bilingual School, Kuwait); Nadiyah Alsalmi (NEOM, Saudi); Steve Druggan (AS Dubai); Samah Ghanem (Vision IS Qatar); and Peter Toscano (Lahore American School).