So I just returned home from the AAIE 2020 conference and frankly, I’m inspired. Actually, more than inspiration I’m feeling empowered and profoundly called to action as a result of the conversations that we all engaged in throughout the three days in New York. The themes that we deeply dove into revolved around diversity, inclusion, equity, and social justice, and the question that was posed was, how do we go after these issues purposely in schools…or do we at all? Great debates, provocative conversations and thoughtful questions related to how we tackle these themes in education, and the level of responsibility that we all have as leaders and educators to do so. My head is still spinning honestly, with the possibilities and opportunities that we have to change the narrative around what’s really important and imperative in today’s world…it’s time to turn these conversations into action and I’m excited to get going.
Not only did I enjoy the daily breakout sessions, I was also inspired by the keynote speakers and their messages related to shared humanity and joyful leadership, two things that I am personally passionate about. Dacher Keltner from the Greater Good Science Center, and Firoozeh Dumas, a New York Times best selling author called us all to action and implored us all to lead with our hearts, and to go after the conference themes with purpose and with a sense of urgency and responsibility…so good. I was fortunate enough to be a part of two panel discussions to do with inclusion, and how leaders can turn conversation into action, and I made a personal commitment to take a more proactive role in leading out some of these initiatives with our young people. I also challenged the other leaders at the conference to do the same, and to work with each other and hold each other accountable for bringing this change to life through our work with our students and communities.
Thinking about accountability, I’ve been wondering about which systems and structures that schools and organizations can target to initiate these changes. Strategic planning, curriculum design, mission statement re-writes, hiring practices, and even professional development are good places to start, and I’m also wondering about the accreditation process. Thinking about the amazing and transformative work that CIS has done regarding child protection and safeguarding over the past several years, where it is now an expectation and requirement to have specific policies and procedures in place in order to be re-accredited, I’m thinking that we could leverage accrediting organizations to help hold international schools accountable around the themes of diversity, equity, inclusion and social justice. I’m not sure exactly what that would look like but once again, it’s time to turn these conversations into action.
Anyway, I have to say that not only did I return home feeling inspired because of the conference conversations, but I also felt proud and validated that the work that we are doing at ASP is strongly connected to all of this. Actually, in many ways we are helping to lead the way and it feels great. We are doing meaningful and purposeful and transformative work through our strategic planning and this conference just pushed me to do even more to support our journey. I’ll leave you with a final quote that has stuck with me since I returned from Cornel West, who said that, “Justice is what love looks like in public”. Honestly, isn’t that what the world needs a bit more of these days…love. Have a wonderful week everyone and remember to be great for our students and good to each other.
Quote of the Week…If we don’t grow, we aren’t really living.-Gail Sheehy
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