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IN THE SPOTLIGHT
AIS Lagos Supports Local Educators’ Professional Development
By Susanna Fajardo 15-Aug-16
On March 19, 2016, the American International School of Lagos (AISL) hosted over 200 local teachers and administrators from 135 Nigerian schools at the 14th annual Nigerian International Schools Conference (NISC). Modeled after the American International Schools of Africa (AISA) annual conference, AISL’s NISC provides mainly Nigerian educators with a range of presentations, workshops, and job-alike sessions related to teaching and learning. This year, over 30 AISL teachers, classroom assistants, counselors, technical integration specialists, and administrators presented workshops on over 25 topics including “Writing With Power,” “Math Differentiation in K–3,” “Google Apps for Education,” “The True Meaning of Inclusion,” “The Flipped Classroom,” and “Presenting on Presenting: Let Your Audience Do the Work.” In addition, AISL community members facilitated job-alike sessions on subjects such as teaching at different grade levels, health and wellness, counseling, facilities, and child protection. AISL’s first NISC conference was organized in the late 1980s by an elementary teacher who wanted to contribute to Nigerian education by harnessing AISL’s instructional expertise. At this time and for many years thereafter, the conference was free to attendees. However, economic realities necessitated that organizers find alternative financing. Fortunately, support has been forthcoming from several sources, namely in the form of sponsoring participants. AISL students took on numerous responsibilities related to the event. The student organization Citizens of the World (COWs) raised funds to sponsor 25 teachers from Kesham’s School, a Nigerian elementary school with which AISL has an ongoing relationship. Additionally, students served as ushers, photographers, technical support assistants, and lunchtime performers. While some students earned IB CAS credit for their efforts, most students participated simply to apply their skills in support of a worthwhile cause. For many attendees, being invited to AISL’s campus and the NISC conference was a once-in-a -lifetime opportunity. The main coordinator of this year’s conference—AISL French teacher Mudi Danmole-Logun—organized breakfast, lunch, detailed programs, free Wifi, conference totes, and a variety of donated product samples. These facets of the conference are welcome perks, especially given that many participants spend several hours traveling in extreme heat and overcrowded buses in order to attend. Responses to the NISC post-conference survey were overwhelmingly positive. Nearly 100 percent of respondents rated the level of the workshops, organization, and facilities as “high” or “very high.” Common recommendations included more frequent events, greater publicity, longer sessions, and making presentation materials (slides) more widely available. This feedback underscores the value of the conference for participants, and it provides a range of ideas regarding how to improve. The NISC conference has altruistic roots—it was originally organized as a means to “give back.” And, as the post-conference survey results indicate, it has been highly successful at doing so. At the same time, as with many charitable endeavors, it also has an uplifting and unifying impact on the entire school community. For more information about the NISC conference, visit https://www.aislagos.org/our-community/giving-back-nisc.
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