Independent schools in Toronto, Canada, seek to teach cursive again | Stand-up comedy brings more than laughter to lessons in Canadian school | How good school leaders can foster a supportive culture
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19 March 2014
ECIS SmartBrief
ECIS: the source for international education

Learning and Teaching
Independent schools in Toronto, Canada, seek to teach cursive again
Concerned over students' handwriting skills, officials are considering how to resume cursive writing instruction in Toronto, Ontario's, Catholic schools. In Ontario, officials said the focus is on typing skills, and if teachers have the time they can include lessons in cursive. Under a new measure approved by Toronto's Catholic board, officials will consider the best way to integrate cursive into the curriculum as well as the age at which the lessons should begin. The Toronto Star (14 Mar.)
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Stand-up comedy brings more than laughter to lessons in Canadian school
Educator Sue Stephenson recently spent time with teachers and students in Toronto, Canada, where a group of middle-school teachers were using stand-up comedy to help students develop oral and written language skills. Students also can develop confidence, learn the difference between helpful and hurtful humour, and confront issues with mental health and well-being. Students wrote their sketches and worked for weeks to prepare for a performance before a live audience and coverage by local media. "This experience with the teachers and students was a highlight of my career," Stephenson writes. MiddleWeb (12 Mar.)
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Professional Development
How good school leaders can foster a supportive culture
Both teachers and parents need to feel supported by school leaders, asserts Harry French, headteacher at Greenwood Academy in Birmingham, England. In this Q&A, French describes the methods his school uses to support teachers, including holding live lessons to model effective strategies. "It's not about me sitting down with a teacher and saying you're not good enough in these areas, you need to improve. It is about showing them how we can help," French notes. The Guardian (London) (16 Mar.)
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Leadership and Governance
Hong Kong encouraged to make private preschool affordable
In Singapore, the government subsidises private preschool, and now a Singapore-based education group is encouraging Hong Kong to do the same. Supporters say the move would lessen preschool fees for disadvantaged families and give students equal access to high-quality education. South China Morning Post (Hong Kong) (free registration) (18 Mar.)
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Other News
Indonesia to pilot online exams for students in 2015
Beginning in 2015, select schools in Indonesia will participate in a pilot programme to move national exams online. All public schools in the country already have computers, and officials say they are working to ensure schools have proper infrastructure in place to administer the exams in computer labs. The country already has online testing in place for teachers, but it has experienced some challenges with Internet connectivity. Yahoo (13 Mar.)
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Other News
Interest Area Spotlight
Teachers from China to provide on-the-job training for England's educators
Sixty teachers from high-performing schools in Shanghai are being hired by England to improve academic achievement -- particularly in maths -- and promote Chinese-style teaching in the country. The move follows the release of disappointing test scores for England's students in maths and concerns the country is falling further behind international peers. Under the programme, England's teachers will receive on-the-job training and students will be eligible for high-level courses. The Telegraph (London) (tiered subscription model) (12 Mar.)
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Only 4 weeks until the April Leadership Conference in Seville
Registration is now open for the ECIS April Leadership Conference in Seville 24-26 April. The conference will feature dedicated strands for: Business/Finance Managers, Trustees, Advancement Officers and Admissions Personnel, Heads of School, Secondary Principals and Elementary Principals. In addition to the main conference, the SISG Master Class, designed to build upon the leadership expertise of school board members, school owners, and administrators, will take place Thursday, 24 April. CASE will also be hosting a special pre-conference institute on Wednesday, 23 April.
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Thanks to ISS for sponsoring mobile site at Leadership Conference
We want to thank International School Services for their generous sponsorship of the mobile site at the upcoming ECIS Leadership Conference in Seville. International Schools Services is a private, non-profit organization founded in 1955 to support and advance the education of children attending international schools. The Princeton office of ISS includes professional personnel experienced in the field of international education. In addition to the home office staff, ISS employs over 200 teachers and administrators in the schools it operates worldwide.
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Editor's Note
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Rare as is true love, true friendship is rarer."
-- Jean de La Fontaine,
French writer and poet
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About ECIS
Founded in 1965, ECIS is a global membership organisation that provides professional development opportunities and consultancy services to its members who are comprised of international schools, individuals and educational organisations.
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Editor:  Katharine Haber
Contributing Editor:  Erin Cunningham
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