When it comes to teaching methods as educators, we can often learn by applying the same things that we teach. In this case, we mean learning through example — taking cues from the world’s most innovative educators to learn how they are not only keeping students engaged in the classroom, but inspiring them to dream big and equipping them with the skills and tools to do so.
And one of our favorite examples of innovative teaching on a global scale is the American International School of Cyprus (AISC). So, we sat down with AISC Principal Amy Clerides, to explore a real world educational case study detailing what it takes to stay innovative in the world of education and how a top international school like AISC is empowering their students to see the world from within their classrooms. Here’s what Amy shared with us.
What is your philosophy on mentorship and education?
Two words: Diversity and guidance. Education opens up their world to diversity, and mentorship provides them with direction. We have faculty, students, and mentors of all different backgrounds working together. Mentorship helps provide students with direction, specific ideas, and endless possibilities when it comes to exploring their capabilities and interests.
We have students for such a short time, be it in the span of a day or in the course of their lifetime, and it is our responsibility to give them the tools to be critical and global-minded thinkers. We know we’ve done our job when our students come back to us and tell us that they feel like they can go out into the world and work and collaborate with people from different cultures and backgrounds.
What are your students like?
We have about 250 students in the entire school, and they come from over 50 different countries. Once they leave here, we have students who go all over the world. Many of our alumni are in the United Kingdom and United States, and many go back to their home countries. The powerful thing about education is that it brings together minds from all different background and they end up not only learning what the curriculum lays out, but even more importantly, from each other. Above all, our students are globally minded and truly want to make a difference in the world.
How do you support your students’ global aspirations?
Through a variety of different teaching practices and education technologies, one of our favorites which is 100mentors, of course. With 100mentors, we are able to enable our students to connect with mentors from across the world in a few different ways:
- Virtual University Fair — With the Virtual University Fair, we are able to enable our guidance counselor to add a variety of destinations and academic tracks that we otherwise would not have had access to. It is great because it shows our students that there was so much more out there — not just the Oxfords and the Cambridges, but a wide range of possibility when it comes to their next step in their academic careers. We even had our high school students meet with PhD candidates, who went up through the same international school track, to see how these mentors’ experiences impact their post-graduate work.
Lecture Enhancement — Bringing mentors virtually into our classroom really opens up our students’ worlds, and opens up their minds to different pathways. We have our high school students work with people in the field, everyone from economics consultants to IT professionals and computer engineers. We’ve had our drama class meet with a producer and filmmaker. And the mentor sessions result in at least two days worth of discussions after the mentor session. The days leading up to and following the session, our students will fill up entire whiteboards with comments, questions, and ideas. When you are exploring opportunities as a student, it is easy to get pigeon-holed when it comes to understanding what opportunities are out there. So, by using 100mentors to enable our students to meet with a variety of people in the world, it has allowed us to give our children a range of different perspectives.
- Alumni Network — At this point we don’t have a very strong or cohesive alumni network. 100mentors gives us a way to reach out to our alumni and have a place for them to fill out all of their details and updates. We’re currently working on setting up an alumni meeting, to connect them even more directly to our students; so that our students are not only able to see all the opportunity in the world, but to see their fellow AISC students and alumni making it happen.
What has been your favorite mentorship experience?
We had a World Bank consultant mentoring some seniors from our economic class recently, and the incredible thing about this session was that both the mentors and the students learned from one another. The mentor was truly blown away by some of the questions and comments that our students had. It was nice for our students to have a seat at the table, and speak with someone who has a PhD and is contributing in the field. It was a true “aha!” moment for everyone.
How has mentorship impacted your students?
It always gets our students thinking about different career paths, and we can see it in our students’ follow up questions as well as their desire to reconnect with mentors after the session is over. The sessions enable meaningful conversation that explores the different, and relatively unconventional at times, paths that people have taken to getting to where they are now in their careers.
The message that our students receive first-hand is one that is rarely taught in schools: It is okay to change your mind. Our students are learning first-hand that it is okay to make mistakes and important to learn from failure, because there is no “one way” of getting where you want to be. There is never just one “correct” pathway in life, and the mentors have been great at delivering this message. Sure, the students can hear it from us, their parents, their guidance counselors and teachers… but it is different when they hear it coming from someone who is 25 and is not that far removed from what the students are experiencing today. It gives our classes an opportunity to see the reality of the message and take it all in.
At the end of the day, using 100mentors has greatly contributed to our students becoming critical thinkers when it comes to thinking about their future.
If you had one piece of advice for fellow educators, what would it be?
Don’t be afraid to try new things. Don’t be afraid to look at something from a different perspective. Just as the mentors taught our students, and we have experienced in our own life paths… there is no “one way” to do things, especially when it comes to education and education innovation. It’s important to jump in and try new things. Don’t be afraid, the world is our oyster.
More About Amy
Having been at AISC since 1998, Amy has played a variety of roles — from being a classroom teacher to serving as a Middle School Co-Coordinator, Assessment Coordinator, all the way to being the Principal of AISC today. Amy is a proud member of the dynamic multi-cultural learning community at AISC, and a true and innovative visionary when it comes to educating and inspiring the minds of the world’s youth.
Take Your Class on a Mission to See the World
Ready to join innovative educators like Amy to empower the world’s youth? Join 100mentors as we take your students on a mission to explore the professions and places from around the globe, with the help of the world’s brightest minds. Like AISC, educators using 100mentors have replaced regular classroom lectures and assignments with a “Classroom Mission” curriculum, where they empower their students to connect with mentors from across the world (from NASA scientists and Google data scientists to Hollywood cinematographers and New York Post Editors, and more) to expand their learning — and life — horizons. So, what do you say?