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In Zambia, AIS Lusaka Hosts the PD... For 250 Local Teachers

By Terry Maguire
In Zambia, AIS Lusaka Hosts the PD... For 250 Local Teachers

AISL’s Memory Chama leads an early numeracy workshop (photo: J. Polizos).
Community outreach is a hallmark of international schools. In every international school where I have taught, I have been deeply moved and impressed by the range of service projects and community collaboration that has been an integral part of each school.
Given the volatility of global politics, efforts to reach out to our host communities play a more important role than ever as a form of ambassadorship. One of the most impressive examples of community outreach I have seen was the recent teachers’ professional development workshops that faculty from the American International School of Lusaka (AISL) hosted for over 250 teachers from 27 local independent and community schools in Zambia.
ISAZ, which stands for the Independent School Association of Zambia, is in its tenth year of existence. For the overwhelming majority of teachers who work in independent schools in Zambia, the annual ISAZ teacher workshops are their sole professional development opportunity.
When the ISAZ conferences first began the goal was to rotate the hosting of the conference, but as time went on the teachers who attended asked AISL host it regularly due to the range of resources available at the school and the expertise of the school’s teachers.
Our MYP coordinator, Jennifer Polizos, together with Director Tom Pado, Admissions Director Jane Van Vlaanderen, and CAS Coordinator Ken Hoffman, organized this noteworthy example of professional outreach. Forty-three teachers from all grade levels at AISL volunteered to host 31 different workshops for the conference, with topics that included Using Eric Carle’s Picture Books in the Primary Classroom, Making Thinking Visible Routines (of Harvard’s Project Zero), and New Software for Mathematics Classes. The keynote speaker, Ms. Clare Stead, E-Learning Director of iSchool Zambia, shared a low-cost tablet platform that iSchool uses to deliver the Zambian Primary School curriculum.
Conference participants attended other sessions on Google Apps in Education and enjoyed socializing with each other and the AISL teachers during a coffee social and catered lunch. Several AISL students served as photographers during the event as part of their CAS program and two AISL students even hosted conference sessions, one of which was How to Establish an MUN Club that was part of the student’s MYP personal project.
At the conference closing, all the seminar leaders and conference participants relaxed with cocktails on the lawn beneath the blooming flamboyant trees as they enjoyed performances by Nomakanjani, a performing artists group and Zambian NGO dedicated to preserving Zambian cultural traditions. Many teachers told our faculty that they were already looking forward to next year’s ISAZ conference.
Many international schools use peer observation protocols and encourage teachers to present at regional conferences as ways to enhance professional practice. But this was the first time I’ve seen the international school itself become the venue for professional development for such a large number of local teachers.
The rich exchange of ideas during this conference will hopefully foster exciting pedagogical shifts leading to greater student achievement in Zambia. It is a model worthy of emulation and one that I was proud to see hosted by our school.

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04/15/2014 - Steve
This effort is at the heart of what international schools should be about. Thank you for the inspiration AIS Lusaka.