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  • 18 October 2018 04:53 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Over the past decade the role of non-formal education/ overseas expeditions & adventure weeks has been prevalent in many government agendas worldwide and the development of many school curricular. To name just a few, we currently have: the UK “manifesto for learning outside the classroom” (2006), the Scottish “curriculum for excellence through outdoor learning” (2010), International Baccalaureate C.A.S. Programme, the American Curriculum “week without walls”, “challenge week” and the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award which has continued to grow, now operating in school in 140 countries worldwide.

    What can Les Elfes International offer your students?

    Our philosophy

    1.       Provide adventurous activities built on a well-established foundation of professional and safe practices.

    2.       Inspire holistic personal development and an exploration of inter-personal identities through culturally diverse experiences.

    3.       Outdoor learning which enables young people to discover their true potential to be dynamic and prosperous in their future lives.

    Not All Learning Takes Place in the Classroom

    Outdoor adventurous activities provide a unique opportunity to frame learning experiences for students in which they have an opportunity to take risks, be self-reliant and to be physically challenged. A meaningful experiential learning opportunity should include all of these elements offering space for students to build confidence, break down barriers, begin to understand their own strengths in challenging situations and to form bonds with their peers to achieve extraordinary things. Through outdoor experiences students can develop holistically.

    Holistic Learning at Les Elfes

    • Developing communication skills – working in a team to find the right route while hiking or to belay effectively in rock climbing.
    • Building courage and taking risks – supporting classmates in challenging situations and stepping out of their comfort zones. Students can leap off a bridge for the first time and swing 30m across a raveen or make their first turns on a red slope in skiing.
    • Forming the basis for a balanced and healthy lifestyle – understanding the role and importance of physical activity for wellbeing and happiness and building lifelong healthy habits. Enjoying mountain biking or snowboarding and understanding that the outdoors provides opportunities for recreation, relaxation or even future careers.
    • Being curious, creative and connected – developing a relationship with the natural world around us, exploring and being comfortable in wild terrain and finding new ways to enjoy being outside. Thinking ethically about our impact on the environment and having respect for and a principled attitude towards nature.
    • Forming an active part of a camp community – caring for others, showing compassion, reassuring team-mates who are anxious or sharing knowledge and skills to help others progress. Taking an active role in creating a welcoming and supportive environment in the camp, embracing open-mindedness and meeting students from around the world.
    • Building resilience, confidence and independence – being away from home students will need to manage their belongings, their timekeeping and dress themselves properly for the wild outdoors. They can build resilience in challenging weather or gain confidence in their own ability as they kayak further than they ever thought possible.

    Growing through experiences

    Upward personal growth (realising potential)

    • Realising potential and increasing confidence in students (Beames & Scott, 2008), more able and confident in leading group projects, building confidence in expressing opinions (Ewert & Yoshino, 2011) & increased perseverance and resilience (Sheldon, 2009).

    Outward personal growth (learning about others)

    • Connectedness to others (Allison, 2005), being comfortable relying on others and allowing them to rely on you (Ewert & Yoshino, 2011), reflection of personal friendships and relationships (Allison, 2005).

    Inward personal growth (learning about self)

    •  A sense of equanimity (Sheldon, 2009), reflection of ones values, self, life and career (Allison, 2005) and a deeper personal understanding of dealing with adversity.

    Downward personal growth (learning about environment)

    • Building an appreciation for the natural environment (Allison, 2005), linking classroom learning in geography and sciences to adventurous experiences (Allison & Higgins, 2002) and developing a personal investment in the natural world and learning in that field.
    • Through challenging outdoor learning students can push their boundaries and explore further stepping into frontier adventure and building memories with the peers under the experienced guidance of our Les Elfes team.

    Learn Even More with Les Elfes

    Add these workshops/ focuses to your school field trip:

    • language lessons, 
    • leadership courses,
    •  emergency 1st Aid, 
    • expeditions/ camping, 
    • bushcraft workshops or sustainable tourism workshop.

    Contact Malko Alexandre Schraner for more information.

  • 18 October 2018 04:51 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    October is a busy month at AISA. With AISA professional learning institutes (PLIs) happening across Africa almost every weekend, I find myself in the fortunate position of needing to make choices as to which of these I should try to participate in. But what a great challenge to have! For example, I've just returned from an exceptional PLC at Work institute at the International Community School (ICS) in Addis Ababa over the past weekend. Dr Tim Stuart and his team crafted a powerful 3 days of deep learning around the key principles that support Professional Learning Communities in international schools. My mind is buzzing around how AISA can support these key principles in our schools and, in time, encourage the fully articulated implementation of PLC schools within the AISA region. If you're wondering what all this about please take a look at the Solution Tree website.

    Among the many highlights of my time at ICS was the time I spent with the Teaching Assistants (TAs) who were in attendance at the PLC institute. I found myself gravitating towards them in sessions and at the breaks as I have not really taken the time to explore this important perspective of learning support in our schools. Their engagement, articulateness, proud sense of inclusion and the way they valued so highly the opportunity to learn that this event afforded them was such a pleasure to witness.  Although we have included PL opportunities for TAs before in the AISA programme, I am working with the AISA team to explore ways that AISA might better support TAs across all our member schools on a regular basis. This will start with AISA designing (at least) one of our Webinar Series later this year with Teaching Assistants as the focus and to follow this up by establishing an online Community of Practice for TAs across the AISA region.

    The other big event this month is the annual AISA Educators Conference taking place in Dakar later this week. This will be another rich learning experience for educators in our schools. I hope to see many of your there - but if you can't join us why not take a look here at what will be on offer. I'll let you know how it goes in the next eCircular. 
    Dr Peter Bateman

    Executive Director

  • 17 September 2018 15:33 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    This year AISA received over 70 applications for our AISA scholarships', a sure indication that our learning events are attracting the attention we think they deserve.

    We are pleased to announce the winners:

    AISA Educator Conference (AEC) Scholarship Winners

    1.       Stephanie Budd, Banjul American International School

    2.       Derrick James Zamzow, American International School of Freetown

    3.       Yaye Aye Barry, American International School of Conakry

    AISA Professional Learning Institute (PLI) Scholarship Winners

    1.       Molly Toliver, AIS Abuja

    2.       Trey Shiver, Harare International School

    3.       Heather Cronk, International School of Kenya

    4.       Bronwyn Schickerling, American International School of Cape Town

  • 12 September 2018 17:22 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The work on the History of AISA book is now in full swing.  We are still accepting contributions in the next few weeks. Perhaps you have a story to share about AISA and the impact it has had on you, and especially photos that may illustrate your story.   

    Here is one such story.

    Graham Mercer, teacher at the International School of Tanganyika (IST)

    At IST in the early 1980s we looked forward to the annual AISA conference in Nairobi with an enthusiasm not always engendered by educational get-togethers. Not that the conference itself was uninspiring – IST contributed far more workshop leaders in those days than any other school. But schools, like armies, march on their stomachs. And our stomachs, thanks to Tanzania’s blighted economy (just buying bread or even weevil-infested flour was a daily challenge), were crying out for something a little more exciting than corned beef or mashed potatoes.

    The AISA conference provided it. In the form, in those days, of a daily buffet lunch that back in Dar es Salaam we could only dream about, set up on the lawns by ISK’s swimming pool. We would, like Byron’s Assyrian cohorts, come down upon it “like the wolf on the fold”.

    And as soon as the day’s workshops had ended (or to be honest, sometimes long before) we would descend upon Nairobi’s supermarkets with similar single-minded fervour.

    The rest of the story will be in the History of AISA book.

  • 12 September 2018 16:53 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    American International School of Dakar (ISD)

    With Dakar the host city of the AEC2018, we thought it timely to highlight one of our member schools in Dakar.

    ISD in numbers:

    The International School of Dakar began our 35th year last week.

     We expect to break 600 students, a 30% increase over the past five years.  Our community is truly diverse with over 55 different nationalities represented. An elementary classroom will have ten different nationalities and 6 different languages represented.

    Our students had the highest scores in school history on the IB DP exams in May, with the highest scores in school history.  We are an MYP Candidate School and hope to earn our PYP authorization by the end of this school year.

     The new US$7million Performing Arts Center & Athletic Complex is well underway with an expected completion date of May 2019. The complex will significantly improve the arts and sports facilities for our students as well as the larger Senegalese community.

  • 12 September 2018 16:30 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH)

    AISA is delighted to highlight HMH, proud sponsors of the AEC2019 and loyal sponsors of many AISA past conferences.

    Name: Surbhi Chopra

    Location: Dublin Ireland

    Role: Senior Account Executive

    What does your organisation do or offer? 

    We are The Learning Company. As visionaries, we are looking toward the future while remaining committed to the core mission behind our founding – fostering lifelong learners. As educators, our purpose is to develop instruction and resources proven to provide every learner with a pathway to success in school and life. By working with teachers, parents, community learners, and field experts, HMH® continues to remain at the forefront of education. Together, with our customers, we create the fullest expression of what learning can be.

    What are you best at doing?

    Providing comprehensive learning solutions to help all students achieve their maximum potential, HMH serves as the leading source for personalized, flexible, and dynamic instruction. HMH’s programs offer AISA member school students, teachers, families, and administrators a path for raising student achievement.

    How are you uniquely placed to support AISA member schools? 

    For more than 180 years, HMH has remained committed to excellence in learning and we are proud to be a long standing supporter of the AISA organisation. HMH has an experienced team of Account Executives and Solution Specialists who support AISA member schools on curriculum solutions to best suit your classroom requirements.

    Most memorable Africa experience.

    AISA Leadership Conference in Johannesburg in March 2017 was my most memorable event. It was my first AISA experience. I met the AISA team and the brilliant education fraternity in Africa. It was a great opportunity for me to learn about the association, schools, risks and demands of the region. The sessions were very well organized and informative even for someone like me who is not an educator.

    What do you always travel with/top travel tips? 

    I believe in travelling light but I always have painkillers for headache following a sleepless night on the plane, eye-mask, a pair of comfortable shoes and compatible charges or converters.

    Is there a special offer you could provide ASIA schools this month? –

    HMH is offering a discount on our independent classroom reading libraries. Please contact Surbhi for more details.

    Email: Surbhi.Chopra@

  • 12 September 2018 14:58 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Ian Warwick, AEC Facilitator

    How do we embed habitual excellence? How can we promote a culture where working hard and creating excellent work is the norm? Can we get students to believe that they are capable of doing better than they ever believed possible?

    Ron Berger believes that any work of excellence is transformational. Once a student sees that they are capable of excellence, that student is never quite the same. “There is a new self-image, a new notion of possibility. There is an appetite for excellence. After students have had a taste of excellence, they’re never quite satisfied with less; they’re always hungry.” Aristotle asserted that we are what we repeatedly do. “Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit.”

    But what could this look like in a classroom?

    The core element for embedding excellence into every day lessons is that the resources and tasks are pitched to challenge the most able in the class based on an assumption that their most able students will be able to attain the top grades,  and can afford the time to go ‘off piste’ as needed. It is critical that teachers have the time to embed content and concepts and get deep knowledge across and do not lower their own expectations of what their students can or will engage with.

    Another prerequisite is that teachers are experts in their field and are on hand to respond intelligently to awkward or tangential questions and support students in how to learn from the specialised feedback given. Sometimes here the problem is psychological: the teacher fears they will not know the answer to a specialist question. Across the world there are brilliant and inspirational teachers who freely confess to how much they don’t know. Their response is simple honesty in the face of a question they can’t answer, along the lines of ‘I don’t know the answer – but I’ll find out and respond to you tomorrow.’

    Also important is to insist on a default student ‘persistance’ in terms of work ethic, with a clear expectation regarding accuracy and precision in the use of high level subject specific language. The importance of language as a thought crystalliser is key. It is there for a purpose in every subject area and that is to offer precision of explanation and thought. Simplification of these terms serves only to devalue the language and reduce the level of expertise that can be demonstrated by the student. The core characteristics that excellence demands from students are dedication and determination supported by teachers through rigorous and relentless reinforcement of scholarship. The reward is improved motivation through the learning; students wanting to develop their subject knowledge, wanting to learn per se, rather than just to do well in exams.

    How we know what an appropriate level of challenge and progress might be?

    There are many potential gaps to understanding what the appropriate level of challenge might be for our learners in terms of the work we set and accept. To begin with, how do our students come to understand what is required from them? The first elements are inevitably their culture, home background and peer group. These set up powerful expectations. For some students, they have become used to doing pretty well -- quite possibly without too much effort. This is a dangerous starting point. Automatically, their perception of what standards might apply have become corrupted. It is too easy to say that they should get used to producing what they are capable of achieving. They won't know. None of us really do. We are all under-challenged underachievers. Modern life virtually demands it.

    The second standards gap occurs between the exam boards perception of standards and the school or departments perception of standards. If a school sets up an expectation of what ought to be achieved by its students, it is highly likely to be working from quite a distorted perception of reality. Every school has its own ideas about what can be demanded or expected from the students it is engaging with, effectively its own success criteria. These may well be far below what could actually be possible, but how would we know? A school might unintentionally be constructing a glass ceiling of compliant underachievement based on a fear of over demanding and burning out their students.

    Every student walks around with a picture of what is acceptable, what they feel comfortable with to hand in. Berger argues that ‘changing assessment at this level should be the most important assessment goal of every school. How do we get inside students’ heads and turn up the knob that regulates quality and effort.” One of the reasons students produce slapdash work is that no one sees it. If we create a culture where students regularly, and publicly inspect each other’s work. Find somewhere to display the work students have done; give them dedicated lesson time to assess it and then get them to suggest how it could be improved. Feedback should be kind, specific and helpful. If one of these components is missing then the chances of it being received and acted on are severely reduced. The key is to be soft on people but hard on content. Once feedback has been received then students need to do the work again. And again. Until it’s as good as they can possibly make it. Along the way they will have ‘failed’ and their efforts to improve will provide visible evidence of failing better. The end product will be a gift – something in which they can take pride – something they want to show off. It can be useful to get students to blog their work so that it reaches an audience beyond the school and their immediate community. This makes them more aware of their audience and results in them being less prepared to tolerate second best.

    To find out more about Ian Warwick and his AEC Deep Dives go to the website.

    (Ron Berger, An Ethic of Excellence Heinemann Educational Books, U.S. (2003) p8)

    (Ron Berger An Ethic of Excellence Heinemann Educational Books, U.S. (2003) p103) 

  • 07 September 2018 08:43 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    This month I have begun to re-establish contact with our schools across Africa – particularly our heads of school. We are certainly blessed to have such a depth of talent and commitment leading our schools in the AISA region. In my conversations with them I note that the types of issues our school face are often similar regardless of where our schools are in Africa. Note that I say similar but not the same  - and it is this diversity that makes our work at AISA such an interesting challenge.

    A key part of meeting that challenge is to offer you, our members, a rich assortment of learning opportunities. Those coming up in the next few weeks are described elsewhere in this eCircular. Let me highlight a few here:

    Hopefully your head of school is joining us for the School Heads Retreat (SHR) in Vic Falls in a few weeks (21st - 23rd September 2018). This is a chance for our school leaders to catch their breath and reflect on their goals and objectives for the year ahead. It’s also a great opportunity for them to network with each other and (re)establish those important connections that serve the Heads of AISA schools so well throughout the year. Following straight after the SHR is the AISA Solo Heads workshop which specifically targets the unique needs of another important group in the AISA community – our very small schools.

    AISA’s ever growing Professional Learning Institute (PLI) programme has started and will continue to is take place right across Africa right throughout the year. If you cannot find something addresses your needs I invite you to write to me with suggestions I can pass on to our PL design team. 

    The AISA Educators Conference (AEC) is in Dakar 20th - 23rd October. Here is the AEC programme summary so you can check what’s on offer. It’s a very rich programme of learning, wellbeing and socializing taking place in one of Africa’s most fascinating and picturesque cities – Dakar!

    Just a reminder that there is NO AISA LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE (ALC) this year since we’re holding a combined  2019 AISA Conference for our 50th anniversary in Cape Town in November 2019 (save the dates: 21st - 23rd November 2019 – it’s going to be an educational and social extravaganza)

  • 07 September 2018 08:34 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Role:  Elementary and Middle School Counsellor

    School: The American School of Kinshasa (TASOK)

    • What is the best thing about living in Kinshasa? The best thing about living in Kinshasa is the ability to have different types of experiences all in the same day. From listening to Congolese music, having a drink or bite to eat on the side of the road, hanging out with friends on the Congo River, visiting galleries, or dining at an international or local restaurantthere are unlimited choices of cultural experiences to explore. I also admire the ingenuity and resourcefulness of the Congolese people I encounter on a daily basis in one or all of the settings previously mentioned. Kinshasa is LIVE!
    • What is unique about your school? TASOK is unique in so many different ways, but I do think that our beautiful 42-acre botanical garden campus in the city of Kinshasa is most unique. Over the years, I have challenged myself to stop and take-in the fact that big, bold Baobab trees, aromatic cinnamon trees, and trees that bear fruit such as avocado, papaya, mango and a host of other seasonal edibles surround us. In addition, the beautiful and brightly coloured flowers and magnificent and rare population of birds greet us each day. 
    • Briefly describe your journey into international education. Initially, I did not want to be an educator, I had plans to work in Fitness, Sports, and Recreation. After completing a master’s degree in Recreation Management, I was encouraged by a friend to consider a career in education because of my passion for working with children and helping them to overcome obstacles and excel in sports and fitness. So, I embarked upon a life-changing journey and accepted an opportunity to teach in South Korea. Fast forward two years and I was hired at an international school in the capital city, Seoul. While working at the school, I knew that I had found my calling and wanted to take the next step to being an educational professional. I decided to go back to school in order to attain a teaching certification. Most recently, I completed a master’s degree in Counseling, which has led me to my current position. I do not think my international education journey would have existed without taking risks and a willingness to be adventurous. 
    • Favorite Book, Movie or TV series: I love the movie Coming to America. I am a huge fan of comedies. I just finished reading Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime and Other Stories; it leaves one reflecting and aiming to champion open-mindedness and inclusion
    • Personal or professional goal for the next 12 months: My professional goal for the next 12 months is to continue working towards building a comprehensive school counselling program at The American School of Kinshasa. At this time, we have the integral components in place to support our students’ personal, social, emotional, academic, and career development. 
    • Favourite destination and why: I love visiting Italy for the food, but I also love visiting Thailand for the wonderful islands and unique experiences through amazing cuisine and entertainment.  
    • Work-life-balance - best tips? What works for you? It is important to “take care of yourself.  There will be several requests from others throughout the day, but there has to be time to have a stretch, read an article, have a bite to eat, or listen to your favorite song. That time is worth it, especially if others will receive your very best support throughout the work day or week.
  • 22 August 2018 15:44 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The AEC 2018 Early Bird Deadline has been extended to Fri. 31st Aug. 2018.

    Find Out More

    Register Now


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