Changing times

April 1, 2015 Robert Brindley

I recently attended the annual conference for our regional organization, CEESA (Central and Eastern European Schools Association). For me, these events are not just about hearing engaging keynote speakers, but they are also opportunities to network with colleagues in our region, which stretches from Vienna to Almaty. In one particular workshop, the presenter alluded to a challenge that we all face: what do we preserve of traditional educational practices and what changes do we engage as we move into the future?

Through the IB curriculum we encourage students to be creative and innovative, see patterns and form, make connections, and learn how to think. We strive to create an educational environment that acknowledges the individual nature of the learning process and develop a curricular program that promotes freedom of expression within a supportive environment. However, as we upgrade our pedagogical approaches to student learning and make changes that promote new initiatives, we must also be cognizant of those things that we will not change; enduring ideals and philosophies that transcend time and place.

Without question, AISB has the potential to be a world-class school. It has the capacity to be ranked with the best, to be known to really make a difference, and to be recognized as an institution that addresses and implements innovative educational programs. However, the challenges of tomorrow will not always be met by looking to traditional pedagogical techniques – the future will always be fashioned by unexpected talents in familiar settings.

So, as I venture into unknown territory myself with this blog, I will share changes that we are making, but also describe those aspects of student learning that we will not change, and indeed, be reinforcing as vital skills to any generation. The future always surprises us. We must promote innovation: new things, in new ways; we should educate individuals who dream the future and create these revelations; and, in doing that, use an educational framework that relies on a traditional mastery of core skills.

Having been part of the AISB community for almost one school year, I have been privileged to speak with many of you about ways in which we can lead this institution to the greatness that it deserves.

Comments (8)

  1. Monica Maurer

    When reading the above, I cannot but revel in the fact that we all recognize that within the educational framework of traditional learning lie critical pillars of any and all modern approaches. I used to be a funcional analyst for Information Systems developing the tools companies and organisations needed to implement in order to grow efficiency mainly, and in the end to keep up with the changing environment. As a functional analyst my main objective was to marry the values and differentiators that would prevail and ensure the affirmation and recognition of the organisation’s identity and Technology. In the growing need to recognize difference, we all rely on sameness.

    If we are to draw a parallel line and understand that educating children we marry identieties and beliefs and singularities with all of that that makes them integrated system performing individuals, it is up to each and one of us to venture and support the difference that makes a difference.

  2. Anca Radu

    Dear Mr. Brindley,

    This is a fantastic initiative! Thank you for this idea with your blog. I am sure that communication between you and parents will increase now. I wait forward to see all the changes you want to make in our school regarding education, new teachers, textbooks, all the issues we raised till now.

    Thank you for your effort!

  3. Irina Sofianos

    Dear Dr Brindley.
    Congratulations on your blog. That is a great initiative. Both me and My husband had the pleasure to meet you earlier this week and we were very pleased to get professional straightforward answers to our concerns. Thank you very much for that.
    Today I attended the EC morning coffee and unfortunately there is so much of a gap between your vision and goal and the principal s view on the school values. She responded to most our issues by ” we are not an elite school” and ” I applaud your decision to change the school”. It is my personal opinion that in order to bring this great change everybody is seeking and waiting for, all management levels will have to align.
    Personally I was once again disappointed by the way we were addressed. It was the last meeting I am attending as there is no result coming out of it.
    I wish you all the best in the challenging time ahead.
    Always value feedback.
    Thank you

  4. Anca Radu

    Hello,

    Irina, the statement “we are not an elite school” scare me. We, parents thought that AISB is the best school in Bucharest, not only the most expensive, we knew that the education in this school worths the money. Reading the article “Help needed, a report of private tutoring at AISB” from the latest number of “Underground” where is writing that 30% of students in HS need private tutors confirmed our fears and feelings that our school needs to improve the level of teaching, that math in middle school is under level., etc… I know that Mr. Brindley had and has as a priority to hire the best teachers and to improve the level of education. He already started this process and already put a lot of effort in this matter and I am sure that good changes will appear next year. Unfortunately, a lot of good teachers I heard that will leave this year, but we still wait to find out exactly which one. I hope that this announcement will come early enough and children will have the opportunity to say a warm goodbye.
    The management already made a “rate my teacher” survey and they will continue this process for taking students’ opinions. It is not easy to change and to improve things, takes some time, but I think that, due to the vision of Mr. Brindley, education in Aisb is in the right direction. Communication and transparency will help this process a lot.

    Have a good day!

    • Robert Brindley

      Thank you for all your comments. It will be difficult to reply to all the statements made, but I would like to make one comment on the word ‘elite’. We aspire to be the best, hence the word ‘elite’ is appropriate in its traditional sense. We do not aspire, however, to be elitist, and all the negative notions of social superiority that such a word engenders. Whatever the semantics, the word ‘elite’ is often culturally misunderstood; I suggest we steer away from using it.

  5. Concerned Parent

    I have just reviewed the Annual report and I cannot help but feel great sadness seeing our kids’ academic results… We test our kids by the NWEA MAP and compare our school mostly to American public schools, and yet great percentages of our children perform bellow this average, I will summarize here just some math results: 65% (fall) and 55% (spring) of our 2nd graders scored AT OR BELLOW the world average, 70% (fall) and 65% (spring) of our 3rd graders scored AT OR BELLOW the world average and that goes on consistently to higher grades as well. We strive to be a good school, you mention in your blog that AISB has the potential to be a world class school, we can be the best… But look at our results! A world class school to look up to is for example the Singapore American School, one with a history very similar to ours (established in 1956), the school AVERAGE in everything they tested in MAP was in the 99% percent worldwide, scoring 10-15 points higher in reading and language and 15-20 points above the world average in math. The majority of teachers hold doctors and masters degrees (the PE teacher coached in the Athens Olympics, their choir teacher starred in the La Boheme opera, and the tech-design teacher built his own electric car)… We should compare ourselves to this kind of schools, the top notch ones, let’s not get lost in semantics, AISB is mediocre at best, compared to private schools like the one i mentioned. But what I fail to understand is why the fees are still similar, at SAS you also pay around 20000 Euros but receive a 14 hectars campus, including even a rain forest, three stunning libraries, three swimming pools, an all-weather track and field with a covered stadium, five lighted tennis courts, two additional soccer/football fields, a baseball field, two softball fields four large gymnasiums and two gyms, not to mention the science labs, foreign language, etc. At AISB we fail to repair the cheap PVC doors since years (take a look at the EC entrance door, we teach kids in temporary containers, to mention just a few shortcomings….

    I see that we have spent only 10% of our school revenues in instructional material but nearly 70% in salaries and benefits. Well, I am terribly sorry to say that the money was wasted, because our children received poor education and the results are proving it. Dear dr. Brindley, I wish you all the best in your endeavor to change this school and I would like to tell you it’s a Hell of a job you undertook!

  6. Anca Radu

    Very sad!!! What is going on with increasing level of math in our school (except IB where the level is done)? What is going on with textbooks for science, history? Why our students are not taught to learn and use a textbook till 11th grade and afterwards, in IB they get such a complete and huge textbooks? Why they write on notebooks so less, although the studies show how important is still writing? Rate my teacher should tell to the management about our teachers and these information are very useful. I hope that “rate may teacher” project will continue! Why our students have to prepare themselves with other tutors at home for math, and for other subjects in IB?
    Mr. Brindley, please tell us which will be the changing for next year? I am sure that there will be a lot!
    Thank you very much!

    • AISB Admin

      Thank you Anca for your thoughts. As someone who knows the Secondary Math curriculum inside out – I still teach Math, this year grade 9, with an excellent textbook and CD resource material – I know that the Secondary program is fine. What needs to change, though, is our ability to ensure that the higher level, more mathematically able, students are able to migrate to the highest level of the Diploma (Math High) with comparative ease. One change that we will be making next year will be to add an extension class to the sixth grade, as in grades 7 to 10. More to follow…
      Robert Brindley

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