Keeping focus on school improvement during COVID-19
Chris Green CIS School Support & Evaluation Officer

 

By Chris Green

 

 

Like many of you, all my energy has been recently directed towards the diverse challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. Our time is consumed by reading about it, learning about it, and adjusting both our personal and working lives. And yet, in the middle of all this complexity, a dedicated group of 102 educators from 71 schools in 39 countries across every continent found the energy, time and commitment to develop the skills and attributes of a CIS accreditation team evaluator through the online evaluator training course.

Educators from CIS member schools play a crucial role in upholding the highest standards in international education. Our peer evaluation model is a hallmark of the CIS International Accreditation process. A diverse team enriches the accreditation process to the benefit of not only the schools being evaluated but also the peers involved in their evaluation. Evaluators make a positive impact on our global school membership community while learning and refining skills to use throughout their educational career.

As we began April’s CIS Team Evaluator month-long training session, all of the participants’ schools were navigating the move to online learning, or were offering a blend of online and face-to-face learning, or were in various stages of closing or reopening their campuses. The challenges faced by each participant’s school in supporting the learning of students and the well-being of their whole community didn’t prevent these educators from looking beyond the immediate and into the future, recognising that school improvement isn’t put on pause to address these challenges. They recognise that school improvement, learning from each other, right now, in the middle of this pandemic, is more critical than ever.

The participants were teachers, accreditation self-study committee chairs, directors of learning, heads of department, principals and heads of school, many bilingual or bicultural. They connected for lively discussion and reflection via an online discussion forum, as well as weekly live Zoom sessions. The training was guided by facilitators, all of whom are experienced accreditation team chairs, current or former heads of school or members of school leadership teams, along with members of the CIS School Support and Evaluation Team.

CIS Team Evaluator training combines synchronous and asynchronous learning opportunities in four modules. The first module focuses on the benefits of accreditation and using the CIS 2019 International Accreditation framework to evaluate how well one’s own school aligns with the standards for accreditation and is achieving its own guiding statements of purpose and direction. The second module transitions the thinking from that of the school to the perspective of a team evaluator, developing the skills and attributes needed to support another school in its improvement journey. Simulating the team evaluation experience, the third module has participants working in small teams. Analysing school self-study excerpts, and triangulating evidence, small groups evaluate a school against the CIS standards, writing a response along with commendations and recommendations. Applying the learning is the focus of the last module, in which each individual assumes the role of a team evaluator, rating standards based on evidence and writing a response in the CIS report writing genre, to support and guide the school’s development.

These 102 participants bring the total pool of CIS trained evaluators to 801! Even while grappling with all the challenges of these unprecedented times, these educators from around the world were focused on supporting students and communities, and how the process of school improvement through accreditation can help shape the future of international education.

 

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Here's what some of our April participants had to say about the experience:

 

This [training] will benefit us tremendously. It will help us to look at ways of making our mission and vision of the school become more grounded in the fabric of the school and prepare our students better to become global citizens. 

It has been precious for the richness of the details it brought to my professional background, I feel confident and with more tools to analyze not only my performance but the way education impacts society.

Being trained as a CIS Accreditation Evaluator has sharpened my focus on my own school community. It has also opened my eyes to other divisions of the school. Namely, it has given me a more incisive look at "evidence" throughout the school, where more "evidence" of learning is needed and which areas need development and in need of active implementation.

As a group of schools we are moving towards CIS accreditation. This training has enabled me to appreciate and understand the process and content of accreditation. Thus, I am well positioned to help guide future processes for the advancement of learning, well-being, global citizenship, purpose and direction for our group of schools. Also, it introduced me to another network of colleagues.

 

Want to be a CIS team evaluator?

We offer accreditation evaluator online training three times per year: April, July and November.

  • Educators from CIS member or accredited schools may apply to become an evaluator.
  • Read about the process and complete the evaluator application form on the CIS Community portal under Services > Become an Evaluator.
  • Registration for the July session is closing soon!

Contact accreditation@cois.org for more information.