CIS & CAN
Well, don’t confuse CIS with CSI! CIS stands for Council of International Schools (and not Crime Scene Investigation, you crime buffs!), and the school I am working for applied to seek accreditation to this esteemed international organisation almost 2 years back. Along with 2 other colleagues, I was put as a member of the Steering Committee. More about the process and organisation of the entire process of accreditation can be found in my previous entry titled ‘We CAN!’ which was written exactly 11 months back!
It was so enlightening reading through my last entry, reflecting back on the last year of activities that have finally brought us to the crossroad of the ultimate visit! The visitors are due today, as the ten members arrive from all corners of the world, Fortunately (though, only time will tell), one of the members from the last visit, Walter Plotkin, is the chair of the large visiting team this time around! I am surely looking forward to meeting him again!
Let me also open your eyes and mind to the idea of calling ourself the CAN team! We are a big school and hence, our Steering Committee was a 3 member team. My friends and colleagues on this team were Cathy and Neeraja. So when put together, Cathy, Abhi and Neeraja, we became the CAN team. At the same time, we wished to make a metaphorical statement of our purpose that was larger than the accreditation and its process. It was to enable the staff to feel empowered that they too CAN reflect on the school, its systems, documents and policies and become stakeholders in a moral and ethical manner. The CIS process was a perfect platform for all members of the community to wake up and take notice of what was going right and what wasn’t and to take responsibility for the same. Through this, we hoped to be able to steer a more concerted movement of change, the accreditation thus, becoming merely a technical part of a professional revolution that contributed wholeheartedly to institution building! Thus, we became the ‘we CAN’!
The visiting team is a group of 10 educators who have been working in international schools with rich expertise, from cities across the world, including Copenhagen, Riyadh, Pune and Chennai. They will be allotted to look after each committee and review it with the Steering Committee, Principals, HODs and the Committee leaders. Meetings have been slotted all through the week and they start off tomorrow!
We are now at the crossroads, with the visit just about to begin. We have been through the ups and downs of the process, with some committee leaders leaving school while some others moving into new roles. At the same time, the committee leaders worked with great focus and determination to examine the school, its systems and practices, in a self critical and yet objective manner, keeping the growth and development of the school over the coming years as the ultimate goal. We even had parents, teachers and students taking part in a survey based on the standards and indicators as prescribed by CIS which are required to be met, to meet international standards. We discovered areas in the school that needed a lot of work and at the same time were reassured of the school’s purpose of existence and the willingness in team members and the management to review and modify their systems, practices and documents. The committee leaders worked day and night to produce a meticulous set of a range of documents which were needed as evidence of the achievements of Pathways. The school buildings too had a bit of sprucing up of its infrastructure, including new displays in some building, better awareness and promotion of safety norms during a fire or other emergencies and the addition of smart boards. The fire drill we had for campus residents on a cold winter evening was quite thrilling while the use of more updated technology in class rooms looks promising!
At the end of the 2 year long journey of self reflection, the school has grown in the process and staff members have also developed a greater sense of belongingness. As we stand at the crossroads of the process awaiting the approval of CIS and further directions for improvement, it is truly a time to take in a deep breath, feel happy about who we are and where we are and then take the plunge to scale even newer heights, by truly becoming leaders in international education!
Abhimanyu Das Gupta,
Member, CAN team