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Reflections on #Highlights21

By Nancy Lhoest-Squicciarini @NancyinLux1

Although COVID-19 had a dominant presence, January 2021 started with a festive dinner with my family. Yet within weeks, I experienced the greatest loss, the death of my father. He was a man of great wisdom and strength … a no-nonsense type of man. I kept his death private because I did not have the words to articulate the void or devastation; he was my mentor and greatest supporter. We had many moments of laughter with a few antics. Upon reflection, #Highlights21 include those moments that have caused both sorrow as well as accomplishment. 

Sadly, my first #Highlights21 was one of great sadness.

When reflecting on #Highlights21 that provided a sense of achievement, not one can be mentioned without acknowledging the collaboration of extraordinary colleagues.Actually, colleague is the wrong word … friend, mentor and now extended family. Starting in 2020 with the onset on COVID-19, I created the Virtual Learning Loft (#ISLLoft now #VLLoft) to provide a platform for international educators to learn from one another, leverage each other's collective wisdom and most importantly, have a laugh.Co-facilitating with John Mikton, we both acknowledged that the quality of the relationship with our guests is a crucial element of success. It makes the virtual session sound and feel like a gathering of friends. This past year, hundreds of international educators have attended these complimentary virtual sessions to build a community of learners. It was humbling to have Pioneering Schools feature the Virtual Learning Loft.

In spring 2021, the ECIS Women in Education Special Interest Group (SIG) was launched and since June, I have had the privilege of being SIG Chair. Imagine teaming up with Liz free, Kim Cofino, Kyra Kellawan, Erin Robinson and Kam Chohan to build communities that cultivate alliances, allyship and collaboration amidst diverse perspectives.What an amazing group of educators! Within months, networking events were organised to promote connection and elevate voices while our twitter handle, @ECISWie, was gaining momentum.

Throughout the year, learning how to create virtual learning environments that encourage active participation and a balance of all voices became a passion of mine.To be honest, I love presenting virtually. I sought professional learning opportunities that presented a variety of strategies that ignited and focused the energy of the group. I am appreciative to Laura Lipton, Chad Littlefield and Jenny Sauer-Klein who provided me with the inspiration. I was fortunate to share my virtual facilitation "learnings' for various online conferences such as 21 Century Learning Conference and Dan Taylor's "The International Schools' podcast. Facilitating the ECIS Middle Leaders Course (MLC) Building and Leading Teams also provided an opportunity to apply these strategies. Yet most importantly, the MLC programme identifies and nurtures the skills and behaviours needed to be effective teacher leaders who influence their school communities. This year, the MLC programme and the Middle Leaders Café enabled me to connect with approximately 100 middle leaders.

My collaboration with Shonal Agarwal from Chapters International is a definite #Highlights21. To support the international community in light of COVID, for the past two years, Shonal has provided a series of complimentary webinars with such guests as Yong Zhao, Kath Murdoch, Ron Ritchhart and Dylan Wiliam. Shonal asked me to interview these inspirational educators yet "interview" seems too formal.These were conversations that showcased the guests, their contributions to education and insight on how they were navigating COVID-19. Additionally, we chatted about family and had a good laugh. A total thrill on my part!

For #Highlights21, the impact of #WomenED is undeniable. Collaborating with Claire Nutall, Doline Ndorimana, Ibti Bargarche and Cathy Thomas, the @WomenEdLux, is a privilege. As a whole, @WomenEd is like being a member of a global family. Within this global family, I have always felt safe, secure without any judgement. Such support is unmeasurable and to be selected as a presenter for the #WomenED Global Conference was a huge honour!

Personally, the start of 2021 January was quite challenging yet I continue to feel my father's presence each and every day. Professionally, due to the partnership, collaboration and yes, kindness of the international community I have grown as an educator and leader. 

I am looking forward to what 2022 brings us all …

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#Highlights21 from Taiwan
2021: How have I been 10%Braver?

Comments 2

Guest - Dr Jill Berry (website) on Sunday, 02 January 2022 16:53

So sorry to hear about the death of your father, Nancy - and I'm sure he would be so proud of what you've gone on to achieve across the year. Wishing you the most positive 2022.

So sorry to hear about the death of your father, Nancy - and I'm sure he would be so proud of what you've gone on to achieve across the year. Wishing you the most positive 2022.
Guest - Lhoest-Squicciarini Nancy on Sunday, 02 January 2022 17:13

Thank you Jill! Your kind words are appreciated.

Thank you Jill! Your kind words are appreciated.
Wednesday, 07 December 2022

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