Behind every successful education innovation is a problem-solving leader. From supporting their staff and inspiring a positive culture to envisioning the best outcomes for students – education leaders are at the core of creating enriching learning experiences. As part of Gulf Insider’s Excellence in Education Leadership series, we converse with Bahrain’s leading educators, highlighting their stories, their impact, and the steps they have taken to improve the quality of education for students in the Kingdom.
How would you describe the role of an education leader?
It’s a big role that varies from person to person depending on the individuals they work with. An education leader must identify risks and trends in education, and be an effective listener. A leader also needs to mentor and counsel staff whilst looking after students.
What in your opinion is the key to providing enriching learning experiences to students?
The key to an enriching learning experience is a happy environment. If students are happy, the staff and parents are happy, creating an ideal learning atmosphere. Achieving this involves listening to students and parents, staying updated on educational trends, understanding what impacts students in their post-school journey, identifying sources of joy, and nurturing 21st-century skills like critical thinking and communication.
For example, AI is either the biggest trend or the biggest risk to education. Instead of discouraging its use, schools need to understand it, use it correctly and then educate students and parents about the role of AI in education, encouraging a mindful use of the technology.
What are some of the innovations at your institution that promote quality education?
This year, we are focusing on the appropriate use of AI in day-to-day teaching and learning. We’re also extremely focused on the well-being of students and staff.
Research shows that the way we talk to students can affect their learning experience. An innovative approach we have adopted is establishing student-run growth mindset groups. This concept, which we’ve had for several years, is about changing students’ thinking from ‘I can’t’ to ‘I can.’
Technology and AI are changing the world. How are they changing education?
We have two aspects to consider: teaching and students.
In terms of teaching, with AI, there are abundant resources available online to enhance teaching. AI-powered websites can provide us with lesson plans and ideas in an instant. I believe this is a brilliant resource which must not be ignored.
When it comes to students, there are concerns that AI could be misused. That is where the school bears a social responsibility to guide students on its use and build on our school values, such as integrity. If they use ChatGPT, type out an essay question, get the entire essay with citations, and then submit it under their name, there’s no integrity in doing that. To counter that, we use tools like Turnitin, which checks academic plagiarism. But, it does not always cover ChatGPT. So, we’re more reliant on instilling and reinforcing our school values so that students know when to demonstrate integrity, and self-respect, and continue their quest for excellence. It always circles back to values.
Can you describe a recent student success story from your institution?
We have a young lady who graduated last year. She’s now a youth ambassador for Bahrain. We have a young gentleman who has started up the first Tech MUN. Last year we also had a Crown Prince International Scholarship winner. We have plenty of students who have left school with their first choice university and scholarships, and that’s a huge success. If they left school with only one direction to go in because of not achieving their desired results, then we, as a school, failed.
Choice is a simple and important thing. I always tell the graduates: “You have to work hard and it’s a process. Sometimes you fail, but you learn from it. You carry on and take a different direction because, from that, you will get choices. If you want to do something and achieve your desired results, then you can do it now. We want students to have choices. That, indeed, is a success.”