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Saturday, 24 March 2018

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Educators focus on Growth Beyond Grades at Teacher Skills Forum 2018

By Chloe McMath


Educators focus on Growth Beyond Grades at Teacher Skills Forum 2018
Over 1,300 delegates convened in Jordan on 3 and 4 March 2018, for the fourth annual Teacher Skills Forum to hear renowned international education experts discuss key trends in education under the theme of Growth beyond Grades.

The two-day conference, hosted by the Queen Rania Teacher Academy in partnership with the International Baccalaureate (IB), was a unique opportunity for educators to share and explore practical solutions to current and future challenges in education.
Haif Bannayan, Chief Executive of Queen Rania Teacher Academy, said: “We are so proud of our strategic and impactful partnership with the IB. The Teacher Skills Forum wouldn’t be in the Arab world if it wasn’t for the collaboration and true support of the IB”.
Speakers and delegates shared innovative techniques to help students internalize the learning that takes place in the classroom as well as helping them to reflect on and understand the individual growth they have experienced as a result of their learning journey.
The theme, Growth beyond Grades, encouraged educators to review existing practices, and to consider which of these are most likely to have a long lasting positive impact on students’ learning, and to equip them with 21st century skills.
Traditional assessment vs on-screen delivery
Carolyn Adams, IB’s Director of Strategic Development and Execution’s talk, titled ‘Why do teachers hate exams (and how can they learn to love them)?’, explored the reasons why many teachers do not value traditional forms of assessment.
Adams considered how innovative new assessments, which capitalize on the opportunities offered by the use of rich media in an on-screen delivery, can provide many of the benefits of standardized assessments, whilst avoiding some of the most disliked features of current public examinations. 
Adams commented: “Many traditional written and multiple-choice examinations are based on recall of knowledge and on basic understanding of materials. The skills they assess will be less useful to students when they graduate and move into employment. Students need an education which will aid them to navigate their way through that world and to thrive in it.  Most importantly, they need skills which will allow them to be flexible enough to change careers multiple times in their lives and to respond to rapid technical, economic and social changes.
“Rote learning and simple comprehension without following through to the higher-order skills of evaluation and creativity will not support students’ ability to do well in the world they will shortly enter”. 
Inspiring teachers
The Forum, which aims to inspire teachers in the Arab world, provided an opportunity for educators to explore, learn about and share experiences with some of the world’s most celebrated education experts from acclaimed universities and educational bodies such as the University of Connecticut, University of Bath, UCL Institute of Education, Harvard and the British Council.
Dr Hana Malhas, President of the Middle East IB Association (MEIBA), commented on the relevance of the event. Malhas said: “The Teacher Skills Forum allows educators from the region to share and learn from the experiences of fellow educators and experts in education. It enables educators to open their minds to different methods of improving the quality of learning, while bringing internationalism at the forefront of the conversation.
“The theme of this year’s Forum is of high relevance to our current educational sphere; it is what will transform education to focus on the quality of education, global thinking and international understanding, rather than depending on standardised testing and grading to determine students’ futures, who will eventually become part of society”.

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