Best Book I Have Not Read

Writing, Reading, Teaching, Life, Attempting to Balance it All

Student Led Conferences/Goal Sharing April 7, 2014


Two of my former colleagues from the International School of Dakar (currently residing in Saudi Arabia and Dakar/Texas) put together this wonderful website as part of presentation they gave at the  AISA conference of 2012 in Johannesburg, South Africa.

ISD had started with student-led conferences as a pilot the year before and had then added the goal sharing portion to the school year last year. The student-led conferences had been quite successful and well received by families.

The Goal Sharing portion of the conference caused a fair amount of nerves by some teachers, especially those in the primary grades. No one was resistant, but there was a great deal going on at the time and the teachers wanted their students to be well-prepared.




Dakar –Impressions of Senegal April 8, 2012


“Wow!” sums up what my husband and I thought of our week in Senegal. “Wow!” is extra appropriate because in Wolof it translates to “good

I had been warned that the airport could be a very trying experience so I was prepared for the worst. I actually found it no worse than the time we had flown to Cabo, Mexico. Quite a few airports that I have been to (including JFK) have poor signage to start with, throw in a foreign language, and a bunch of people who want to “help” you get your bags, and you do get some chaos. The best advice someone gave me was to remain Zen and politely keep saying no to anyone pushy about “helping”.

I could not get over the fact that the ocean could be seen almost everywhere we drove. I know I’m a landlocked Ohioan, but it was beautiful and very present! Some of the beaches were rocky (like the one to the left) but there were also sandy beaches.

There was a lot of construction in various phases all around. As we were landing, my husband did have a “Oh bleeep! What have we done?” type of moment as it was hard to tell if things were going up, coming down, or both. Once we were on the ground, it was a different story. We found the Senegalese to be extremely friendly and willing to accept my very bad French.

We were picked up by the head of the school and started our visit with a tour of the school and grounds, as well as touring the new construction that is taking place (a four story building that will house the middle school and high school students). We even got to meet some of people who were just getting out of church that takes place (International Christian Fellowship) at the school on Sundays.

I loved the school campus and had the opportunity to spend three days on campus with the outgoing head of curriculum and other administrators from the school. I was even fortunate enough to be present for a half-day professional development day for the school. I’m used to Ohio schools where the classrooms are around the perimeter of a school and hallways are on the inside. ISD was like many other warm weather climate schools where the hallways were on the outside and open-aired with the classrooms behind (like my nieces’ school in California). I was able to feel the ocean breeze the entire time I was on campus, which I just adored.


Despite that fact that there a few worries about the fact that it was the election run-off day, everything was very peaceful and there was a general feeling of pride that the Senegalese had an election, not a coup like Mali. While we were eating dinner on the Atlantic, the restaurant staff had the television on in the background and were so delighted when Macky Sall was first declared the winner and then congratulated it by President Wade, who lost his bid for re-election. They could hardly wait to go and tell everyone in the restaurant the results.

The staff at the s

chool was wonderful and so welcoming and helpful. We were able to visit several of their homes to see the different types of housing provided by ISD. They were all great and even nicer than anything I would have thought to expect. We got to see where we will probably be living and I loved that it was near other staff members and within walking distance of the school.

During our visit we had fun posting things on my Facebook account such as:

Things you’ll never hear in Granville #1-
me “Careful- don’t step on that goat leg?
friend-“Was it just a bone or was there flesh on it?”
Guy-“Hoof, fur, and everything.”

For the most part, it was life as normal (ha, ha) in a warm environment with the sound of French running in the background whenever we weren’t at school. Then there were things like the trampoline park next to the ocean and the mixture of horse-drawn carts on the roads along with the cars, goats wandering freely, little stall-like ‘stores’  alongside the roads, and people peddling items such as cashews, oranges, and other items. It’s going to be an adventure and one I’m very glad I have the opportunity to have.


Welcomed almost daily February 29, 2012

Filed under: international school,school — bestbookihavenotread @ 4:58 pm

I wish I could say that I think that we have always welcomed new employeees with the warmth and enthusiasm that I’ve received from ISD. I could, but I would not be being very truthful.

It’s not even March, we are moving in August and I already have a great ‘buddy’ at school who shares information about work and everyday living, an e-mail address at the new school which also allows me to receive staff information for this year and access their online materials, and there is a New Hire web-bulletin board with all kinds of information about classrooms, school, daily life, etc. They have a welcoming committee.

As I talked about with a friend this week,  we determined it’s certainly in the school’s best interest to be welcoming and helpful and my new school has certainly made us newbies feel like very welcome additions to their faculty. By providing information, it allows me time to process, digest, ask questions and continue to get excited. All before I am even being paid by them. What school wouldn’t want that?

Even though our school has always had an orientation in August (a one day affair usually focused on getting paperwork filled out), things like getting new employees ID badges, e-mail accounts, staff directories or keys to their classroom, much less curricular materials could be an agonizingly slow process. My first year there weren’t desks and chairs OR math textbooks until well into the third week of school. I know this is not particular to one school district. I’ve had friends in other districts tell me they cried on the way home everyday their first year because no one would really interact with them. That’s just crazy!

I’m not writing this as a critical piece, but more as a reflection on how perhaps we should be more intentional about the welcoming of new staff (not that we will probably have any for several years with the way the state education budget is). Teaching is a hard job and it’s especially hard your first year in a new district, new grade level, new building, etc. There are things like mentors and such built into most districts and now Resident Educator program is a requirement for all entering teachers as part of the licensing program. That is a good step in the right direction, but I’m talking about more than just the newbie’s mentor who has their own classroom as well. Why don’t we hand over the curriculum as soon as we hire the new teachers so they can spend the summer familiarizing themselves with it? Why haven’t we had a welcoming committee?

What are some things your school does to welcome new staff members?
What are some things you wish your school did to welcome or support new staff members?



By the way, what is an International School? February 22, 2012

Hi Readers,

I’ve accepted a position as the head of Curriculum for the International School of Dakar. It’s located in Senegal, West Africa. The school is Preschool through grade 12, housed on one campus, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. I’m including some general information about International Schools and specifically ISD.

International Schools are loosely defined as “schools that promotes international education, in an international environment, either by adopting an international curriculum such as that of the International Baccalaureate, or by following a national curriculum different from that of the country the school is located in” (specifically American in this case).

Here’s criteria used by many to ‘describe’ international schools:

  • Transferability of the student’s education across international schools.
  • Multinational and multilingual student body and teacher population
  • An international curriculum.( e.g. IB – DP, MYP, PYP)
  • International accreditation
  •  English as the language of instruction

These schools cater mainly to students who are not nationals of the host country, such as the children of the staff of international businesses, international organizations, foreign embassies, missions, or missionary programs.


Here’s information about the specific school from their website :  

The International School of Dakar

The International School of Dakar is a growing, vital, vibrant learning community which serves the needs of Dakar-based expatriates seeking a western-style education in English. Our graduates have gone on to top universities in both the US and Europe. ISD provides an excellent core educational program augmented with a diverse range of special subjects and extra-curricular activities. French, PE, Art and Music are a part of each elementary student’s schedule. AP classes and other enriching courses are offered for high school students.

ISD is not just about classwork, though, it provides opportunities to educate the whole child, and students at ISD will be involved in service learning, athletics competitions, clubs and other activities. ISD provides an impressive array of ways to get involved in the school and community.

A key word at ISD, ‘community.’ ISD is a community as much as a school; membership in the community provides many benefits. Nurturing, challenging, and enriching are just a few words that describe this special place


The International School of Dakar ISD) is an independent English-medium international school which offers, in a nurturing environment, a rigorous, US-based, PK-12 curriculum enriched to reflect the needs and diversity of its international student body and faculty. ISD inspires students to become lifelong learners and responsible global citizens in a rapidly-changing world.


The International School of Dakar (ISD) believes that offering the best possible education program, curriculum, and instruction based on the highest standards will provide students the opportunity to maximize their potential. ISD believes quality education is attainable when students are valued as individuals in a community, prepared to think globally, and challenged to act responsibly.



  • provide a well-rounded program of instruction using best educational practices appropriate to the diverse cultural, intellectual, and social needs of our international student body
  • provide a US-based, non-sectarian, college preparatory, PK-12 curriculum with English as the language of instruction
  • provide educational resources for a safe, challenging, tolerant, and supportive environment in which students are actively encouraged to participate
  • prepare students to be independent thinkers, skillful communicators, and lifelong learners
  • foster a sense of individual responsibility, self-discipline, self-reliance, and respect for self and others
  • promote a creative, active lifestyle
  • orient students to the world of technology and media, developing familiarity, competence, and awareness of the tools they will need as they continue their learning process beyond high school
  • encourage students, teachers, school administrators, parents, and board members to play an active role in promoting educational excellence at ISD
  • recruit highly-qualified and motivated faculty and staff and provide opportunities to foster their professional development
  • provide opportunities for families and friends of ISD to strengthen community bonds through a range of inclusive activities and programs
  • encourage acceptance and tolerance of the diversity of moral, traditional, and religious values




So excited about…. Professional Reading Groups February 18, 2012

Hey all you Nerdy Book Club Readers! I’m so excited!

The International School of Dakar (where I will be heading up curriculum next year) is planning and ordering for their Professional Reading Group titles for next year.  The groups are voluntary, meet monthly, and  teachers get to pick what interests them (the book is provided for them by the school). Last year they read Digital Natives by Mark Prensky and Sir Ken Robinson’s The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything. I voted for Lucy Calkins’ newest title (due out in April) Pathways to the Common Core: Accelerating Achievement. Everything I’ve ever read that has come from the Teachers Reading and Writing Project at Columbia has been so thoughtfully written and helpful. I’m also interested in reading Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness. I really enjoyed the Heath Brothers’ Switch, and Nudge keeps getting suggested to me by Amazon.

What books are you reading with a Professional Reading Group this year that you would recommend? Wish you could read? 


So I’ve Got Some News… February 11, 2012

Filed under: international school — bestbookihavenotread @ 8:39 am
Tags: , ,

I have accepted a new position for next year at the International School of Dakar.

That’s in Senegal.

In West Africa.

(as Director of Curriculum–You probably won’t even pay attention to that part-you’re still back on International School (not Granville) )

or Senegal (Where the heck is that?)

or Africa (Is this a joke? Did someone hack your account?)

Here’s the link to the school.

We are pretty darn excited!

We’ll be Jaguars (as well as Blue Aces) at the school.

It’s a PreSchool-grade 12 campus that allows the kids and I to all be on one campus. The “American style curriculum’ is ‘enriched to reflect the needs and diversity of its international student body and faculty’ and hopes to ‘inspire students to become lifelong learners and responsible global citizens in a rapidly-changing world.”

Oh, and it’s on four acres overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.

My son’s biggest concern is whether they have basketball.

Once I got my daughter over the “CNN Effect” (If you go to Africa, you will be killed-either by disease, famine, wild animal, bomb, or machete), she has been on cloud nine. The learning that all of us have done this past month has been amazing.

There is a good video that the staff has put together.

I plan on sharing more as the rest of this year goes by as we get ready to go in August and will have new school stories to share in the next several years.

Stay Tuned.


International School job search continues February 4, 2012

Filed under: international school — bestbookihavenotread @ 7:24 am

Day 3 of Cambridge


Getting ready to leave the hotel for the first time since arrival. Thought I should see Harvard since I am in Cambridge. Those who know me know how I LOVE a college campus. Thrilling to me in a way that some people probably feel about roller coasters :)

I have written more personal handwritten notes in the past 36 hours than I have in the previous four years put together!

I have met some of the nicest people

      Donald, teaching in Costa Rica and looking for his next big adventure

      Julie so excited to have signed a contract to head to Qatar next year

     Lauralynn, hoping to return to international teaching after a couple years back in the state

Not to mention the cheerful, warm and encouraging senior Search Associates

Amazingly organized, especially considering that there are over 140 schools, more than 275 recruiters, and 500+ teachers/educators/administrators—keeping everything running like clock-work, keeping everybody happy can not be easy, yet they do it like it’s not difficult, all with a smile.

Yet completely:

exciting and fun

 and totally draining.

Whew, more later



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