I am fortunate to serve as a Commissioner at the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) for the Commission on International Education. This role allows me the opportunity to learn from a variety of schools across the globe as I read reports from international schools and serve on visiting teams during accreditation reviews. These experiences often prove to be some of the best professional development I have experienced in my career, and I continually try to bring lessons learned from these and other school visits to my work here in the Upper Valley.
If I were to boil down the key insights I have gained from best practices in education while serving as a Commissioner, it would include the following:
- For educators to maximize engagement in their classrooms, coursework has to be meaningful for their students and whenever possible, connect to real-world issues.
- We also know that much of the knowledge and skills students need are very hard to evaluate through traditional testing methods. For example, successful twenty-first century citizens will need to be creative problem-solvers and clear communicators, be able to collaborate with diverse groups of people, and analyze data critically to determine what is relevant and what needs to be disregarded.
- The best classroom environments are structured to foster student learning and knowledge that is deep, readily retrieved, and practiced over time—not crammed into short-term memory.
- High functioning schools are continually enabling their students to develop into self-directed, lifelong-learning adults. Skilled teachers heighten students’ curiosities by allowing them to explore their specific interests and self-evaluate their academic progress. Furthermore, when students are able to teach their peers what they have discovered, it fosters greater accountability.