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Governance Matters!

By Chip Barder and Bambi Betts
Governance Matters!

Governance Training Center participants gathered in-person. (Photo source: Chip Barder)
After a three-year hiatus due to Covid, in-person governance training has started up again with vigor, and the new Governance Training Center (GTC) leading the way. 

International school board members, owners, board chairs, and heads of school board members, gathered in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for three days of intense, interactive learning designed to assist school governing bodies to become true assets to their schools.

The event began with a full day just for board chairs. Why? Through our Governance Training Center (GTC) work with dozens of international school governing bodies, we have realized how critically important this role is to how the governing body approaches its work. Participants engaged in deep discussions about the role, challenges, responsibilities, expectations, and strategies that come with leading the board. Additionally, every participant was provided with time to share and brainstorm successes and challenges. Participants were a true resource for each other, gaining ideas to take back while also contributing insights and asking questions to help each other deal with challenging issues. 

Saturday and Sunday were dedicated to serving all board members, owners, and heads in attendance. Following an introductory session on current trends in international schools and their impact on governance, participants took the plunge into an impressive range of critical topics. 

Here is where we see another GTC difference. Participants engaged and practiced with fresh, research-supported new approaches and models including:

  • How do we truly measure our mission?
  • How do ensure we are working from strategic policy?
  • What skills do we as individual board members need to be assets to our board?
  • How do we leverage the head-board relationship?

Throughout the weekend, participants took advantage of being together in person to continue professional conversations through breaks, meals, and other free time. They made meaningful connections with others from different schools to share what is going well, what challenges lie ahead, and other governance topics in general. For many, it was the first opportunity to learn more directly about other international schools and the governance issues faced.

The weekend concluded with time given to participants from their own schools to discuss next steps and action plans upon return, always an essential step if intense, professional learning such as this is to “take.”  

The GTC intends to offer similar events in two or three additional locations around the world and currently offers once a month two hour topical sessions. These are open to all international school governing board members, owners, and heads. Stay tuned!

Chip Barder is the director of the GTC, has served as head of school in several international schools across continents, and is the co-founder of the UNIS Hanoi Governance as Leadership Institute.

Bambi Betts is the executive director of the Principals’ Training Center for International School Leadership, has served as principal and head of international schools, and is a member of three international school boards. @bambibetts

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