Stuart has performed and led residencies in international schools in England, Greece, Switzerland, Romania, Spain and Egypt. He has also presented at international school conferences, including Beaconhouse Schools for Tomorrow in Kuala Lumpur, LISA in the United Kingdom, ECIS in Barcelona, and SGIS in Switzerland.
In recent trips to International Schools, there have been some consistent themes and interests.
- Every school or conference saw the value of stories in teaching, and workshops help teachers implement related ideas.
- Schools recognize the importance of creativity. It isn’t only about the arts, but music, drama, movement, and visual arts nurture creative capacity in students.
- Schools are exploring mindfulness practice with students. The connections with kindness, as explored in my book, Beyond Nice, are strong and immediate.
- Early Learning. Brain research confirms the value of focusing sustained attention on this critical time of life. The balance between learning through play and focusing on academics and assessment continues to be a challenge for many early years educators.
- Professional Development. Teachers everywhere are excited to learn practical, hands-on, and relevant strategies.
- Joyful Engagement. Students and teachers want to feel connected and immersed in what they are learning, and with the people with whom they are learning.
School visits can consist of assemblies, classroom visits, time in arts specialist rooms, or demonstration sessions for teachers. In addition, I offer professional development for staff in the areas of tableau, storytelling, oral narrative and connections to writing, arts integration, and music. Although these topics can be addressed in one session, meeting with teachers around a topic for an hour two or three days in a row encourages and allows teachers to implement strategies, reflect on their learning, and then add new skills. I have found that this type of professional development is a more effective way to influence teachers’ practice.
International schools offer unique opportunities for artistic exploration. The rich mixture of cultures, languages, and experiences makes for a dynamic environment for learning and creating.
On the other hand, kids are kids around the world. They love to sing, laugh, hear stories, and participate in arts of all kinds.