Four Elements of Modern Learning for Leaders

What do modern learners want and need for their own professional learning? This is the question The Academy for International School Heads (AISH), set out to answer. AISH’s mission is to serve International School Heads through focused advocacy, support, and professional development.

AISH, in collaboration with GOA, will soon launch a Leadership Skills Series and a Leadership Impact Program for heads of school and aspiring heads. In designing professional learning for school leaders, GOA and AISH defined four elements of modern learning that should be a part of the professional learning experience for school leaders. AISH professional learning courses are based on clearly defined leadership standards, include expert coaches, are designed by heads and for heads with a deep understanding of the audience, and are intended to be accessible to a powerful network of leaders and schools around the world. Learn more about these four elements of modern learning for modern leaders below.

AISH Faculty and Board Members at GOA's Design Bootcamp, July 2019

Clearly Defined Standards

A few years ago, the AISH team comprised of heads of school, identified industry leading AISH Standards of Excellence for school heads and aspiring heads. These six standards are the focus of courses that AISH will offer for heads in early 2020. The six AISH Standards of Excellence include:

  • Mission for Learning
  • Governance
  • Human and Organizational Development
  • Operations and Resource Management
  • School-Home-Community Partnerships
  • Professional Accountability

Expert Coaches

In partnership with GOA, AISH faculty members, including Chip Barder (AISH Board Chair; retired head), Hamilton Clark (Avenues São Paulo), James Dalziel (GEMS World Academy Switzerland), Liz Duffy (International School Services), Elsa Donohue (Vientiane Intl School, Laos), Deidre Fischer (DF Education), Paul Richards (American School of Dubai), and Joe Stucker (retired head) are developing course content.

The faculty members had an interesting challenge: how to design short skills courses and also longer, four-week programming. The short skills courses are part of a series of online courses called the Leadership Skills Series that help school leaders hone their skills as they continue their journey as heads of school. The skills courses provide timely content that leaders may need to learn while on the job.

AISH will also offer a Leadership Impact Program which will combine expert coaching and interactive workshop opportunities. The Leadership Impact Program is a set of six online courses. Taken together, a participant may earn a Leadership Impact Certificate upon completion of all six courses, certified by AISH.

AISH Faculty and Board members at GOA's Design Bootcamp in Estes Park, CO

Deep Understanding of Audience

How do you get current and former heads of school to design courses for school leaders? In July, GOA Executive Director Michael Nachbar and I headed to Colorado to lead a design bootcamp for a team of 13 heads and leaders from international schools. The team, including AISH CEO Deb Welch, AISH board members, and AISH faculty, designed the new courses.


All AISH faculty members met with GOA instructional designers via Zoom prior to our in-person event. We then spent 3.5 days together at Eagle Rock School in the Colorado Rockies, designing and building high quality experiences that are “by heads and for heads.” AISH Faculty and board members gathered to create video content, curate playlists of reading material, and design the learning experience that will the focus of interactivity within the courses. All AISH Faculty will also coach inside the Leadership Impact Series.

Powerful Network

AISH has 475 individual members who are in schools in 90 countries across six continents. While AISH hosts two major professional gatherings a year as well as presents at conferences, it is impossible, due to dates, venues, and budgets, to reach the majority of the membership. Online learning is a feasible delivery strategy for Heads to continuously improve. Professional learning opportunities are the next step to encourage use of the Resource for Heads to develop the skills they need to reach their potential and impact student learning.

“Heads of International Schools are the vital element in embracing a mission that focuses on learning. Including capabilities in educational leadership, governance, human and organizational systems, resource management and home-school partnerships with interpersonal practices that model, challenge, inspire and enable, it is the leadership of the Head in a school that makes a difference. Yet surprisingly, the continued development of the lead learner in the school is frequently overlooked in our systems. By paying attention to the Head's growth as a lifelong leaders, we can deepen the impact that we have in our schools,” said Deb Welch, AISH CEO.

“International school leaders have always had access to each other through our Resource Bank, OASIS day, and our in-person events,” she added. "Our Leadership Impact Program and Certificate will be an applied demonstration of understanding of the AISH Standards of Excellence and the new benchmark of success for school leaders globally."

Michael Nachbar, GOA Executive Director added, “We are honored to support the great work AISH has been engaged in for decades. Having worked with leading international schools and organizations we know how to foster deep connections over great distance in order to build on individual experiences that add to a collective understanding.”

The Leadership Skills Series and the Leadership Impact Series launch in February 2020.

We look forward to the high quality learning experiences to follow soon! For more information, visit the AISH website to learn more about their professional learning opportunities for international school leaders. Follow AISH on Twitter and stay tuned to learn more about new opportunities to learn with AISH.

For more on GOA’s design and build projects and services, check out our partnerships page or email us at: hello@globalonlineacademy.org.

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