Every year, IH school directors come together from across the International House network to collaborate, share and learn at the Directors’ Conference. And this year nothing was going to stop us from making sure we could all meet again! The past year has shown that now more than ever before, we need to be close to each other and feel that we are in this together. Together we are stronger.
After the success of our first online Directors' Conference last year, we hosted our 2021 IH Directors’ Conference and AGM from May 24th – 28th. Our virtual programme followed the three themes of Resilience, Return and Re-Imagination that have formed our strategy in response to the Covid-19 crisis since May 2020. During the past 12 months, our resilience has been tested in ways we could never have conceived of, and for far longer than expected, but we have fought on! Together our schools have achieved so much and during the event we reflected on what we have in place for 2021 as we strive to Return and Re-imagine our businesses.
As always, there was a stimulating mix of ideas sharing, networking and expert guest presenters. The programme included presentations from fellow IH directors and the IHWO team, as well as external partners and sponsors who also ‘exhibited’ during our virtual coffee breaks.
We were very happy to be welcoming 3 expert plenary speakers:
- Gabriel Diaz Maggioli, incoming President of IATEFL, who spoke about building and developing resilient communities of practice.
- Simon Ward, who many of our IH directors will remember from Catania in 2019, talked about coping with stress as a manager.
- David Abbott, a Marketing, Consumer Behaviour and Business Expert, who delivered a plenary on the essential topic of pricing and the customer psychology. He also led a practical workshop following the plenary presentation.
It wouldn’t be a proper IH Directors’ Conference without some social events! Throughout the week, there were multiple occasions where directors could just drop into the Zoom room and say hello to whoever was online. We also had ‘coffee breaks’ each day to chat and meet our fantastic exhibitors. Last but certainly not least, there were two special ‘social events’! The first was a live magic show with TV star and BAFTA award winner Fergus Flanagan, while the second was a spectacular live music and dance performance with artists from across the world!
We also had a lot of fun tracking our virtual balloons throughout the conference!
As always at the IH Directors' Conference, we wanted to do something fun and unique to celebrate IH schools who have a significant anniversary of affiliation to IH in the years 2020 and 2021. We decided to create a virtual balloon race which we tracked throughout the week of the conference! The online race took a worldwide route via the IH schools in these cities: Brno, Veracruz, Dhahran, Hanoi, Intuition, Torres Vedras, Porto, Braga, Madrid, Buenos Aires and Rome. The IH anniversary celebrations were from 20 years of affiliation up to 60 years of affiliation!
The overall winner of the race was MOT2 (IH Rouen - French in Normandy). Congratulations!
In keeping with IHWO's environmental commitment, the prize for the winning balloon was a £50 donation to an environmental charity of the winner's choice. Eleri from IH Rouen decided to donate to Water Aid.
With the time differences, attendees joined as many live sessions as possible, but to accomodate our directors based around the world, all the presentations and plenary sessions were recorded for directors to catch-up on and watch on demand at a later date.
We were delighted to welcome partners and sponsors who exhibited during the conference. A huge thank you for your invaluable support: Guard.me, LanguageCert, Cambridge Assessment English, Trinity College London, BEBC, Macmillan, CEMDESK, Guided ELearning and International House Montevideo.
We know we can achieve a lot together virtually!