• “Your network is the place that you learn.” - James MacDonald

    A Quick Summary

    Have you ever pondered the path to an educational leadership position? Our journey today takes us through the winding roads of educational leadership. We share tales from our own experiences, and we unearth the essential skills you need to thrive. It’s all about upskilling, networking, and active engagement in the learning community. We’ll discuss why these actions are so critical and how you can incorporate them into your own professional growth.

    Show notes

    In this episode…

    (0:00:01) - Leadership and Career Advancement in Education (11 Minutes)

    We explore the different pathways and qualifications for those aspiring to leadership positions, and how moving towards a mastery-based assessment system has shifted the focus to what skills individuals can bring to the job. We also examine how the Covid-19 pandemic has contributed to a busy year for educators, and how it is important to find a balance between getting the job done and having enough breathing space.

    (0:11:06) - Skills and Networking in Educational Leadership (11 Minutes)

    Leaders in independent schools must be mindful of the macro environment and use their skills to keep up with shifting and evolving trends. Upskilling through courses, accreditation visits, and networking with experienced professionals can help propel one’s career. It is also important to actively engage in the learning community, which can help those in senior leadership positions.

    (0:22:34) - Career Advancement Success Strategies (9 Minutes)

    We explore the need to be open and flexible about the kind of position you might take, and how to increase your chances of success by asking the right questions. We also consider how to ensure that your enthusiasm and passion for the job comes through in the interview, and how to focus on the positive elements of your past experience as an example of what you can bring to the role.

    Show notes created by

  • ”I am still gobsmacked that there are still schools hiring people without checking a reference.” - James Dalziel

    A Quick Summary

    In this engaging conversation, join us as we navigate the critical world of recruitment within schools and the profound impact it has. We understand the importance of investing time and energy to ensure the best candidates are chosen for our schools, striking the right balance of professionalism and humanity. We also discuss the unique challenges of recruiting for international schools, highlighting the importance of flexibility in scheduling and timing.

    Show notes

    In this episode…

    (0:00:00) - Recruitment (8 Minutes)

    We explore the importance of recruitment for schools, and how it can have a tremendous positive or negative impact. We need to invest time and energy to make sure the best candidates are chosen for the school, and the importance of finding those with a balance of professionalism and humanity who are able to work well with others.

    (0:07:53) - Importance of Hiring the Right Candidates (12 Minutes)

    We discuss the challenge of recruiting the right teachers and the importance of understanding the context of individual vacancies. We look into the factors to consider when selecting the best candidate, from resume, references, and school they graduated from, to the team they're joining and the energy they bring to the group. We also explore the role of references in the recruitment process and the importance of understanding the biases of the interviewer.

    (0:19:29) - Implementing Diversity in Schools (4 Minutes)

    We examine the complexities of introducing diversity into our school workforce and the importance of ensuring our decision-making is transparent and clear. To further promote internationalism, we investigate ways to recruit people outside of traditional networks and how to factor in lived experiences when searching for teachers and staff.

    Show notes created by

    Reference material:

    The Wisdom of the Bullfrog by William McRaven
    The Happiness Hypothesis by Jonathan Haidt

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  • ”Welcome to the new compression of time as school leaders grapple with change” - James Dalziel

    A Quick Summary

    The “Where’s Your Head At” hosts have taken a different approach for this episode. Instead of hosting a special guest, they chat with each other about the current and future state of artificial intelligence in schools.

    Show notes

    Introduction (0.45)

    AI statement from The Moreton Bay Colleges (2.00)

    James and James provide context for the show (3.00)

    How are adults reacting to new AI as compared to children? (6.00)

    Are schools banning Chat GPT? (7.50)

    What is the reaction to Chat GPT in Brussels? (9.00)

    How are schools introducing Chat GPT? (10.30)

    The impact on Bloom’s taxonomy (12.45)

    The heightened importance of the development of skills in education (14.00)

    Tyranny of transformation (17.20)

    Social implications of AI (19.40)

    The luxury of think time (23.40)

    Augmented humans and ethical decisions (25.50)

    What’s important for our children to be learning? (27.00)

    What do you do when you don’t know what to do? (28.20)

    Humanity has faced threats throughout history (30.40)

  • ”Don’t be overwhelmed. Think about the little things that we can do”- Jennifer Groff PhD

    A Quick Summary

    The “Where’s Your Head At” hosts chat with Kam Chohan, the Executive Director of ECIS (Educational Collaborative for International Schools). ECIS exists as a professional life-force for members, a vibrant network of thoughtful doers and change-makers. Kam describes the importance of her work in DEIJ and child protection as well as her role as the first woman of colour to lead a major international school organisation. She also shares her love of reading and her commitment to social justice.

    Show notes

    In this episode…

    Introduction of Kam Chohan (3.06)

    How did Kam’s career start? (5.10)

    What are we getting right in education today? (7.00)

    What is the new normal in education? (9.00)

    What are the easy wins for school leaders? (13.10)

    The strategic direction of ECIS (16.45)

    How do you say “no” to the network of constituents? (20.45)

    If Kam could start again would she do anything differently? (22.45)

    Were there specific moments, or individuals, who helped Kam in her career? (25.00)

    Biographies/books/models which Kam has used for her leadership (27.30)

    How to contact Kam (29.40)


    Kam Chohan

    Kam Chohan is the Executive Director of ECIS. With an impressive background in education and leadership, Kam is a learning leader and brings insight, wisdom, and compassion to the role. She has demonstrated the ability to build meaningful, lasting relationships that contribute to personal and organisational development and improvement. As an example of her commitment to student learning, Kam worked with the UK Government’s Behaviour Insights Team to apply the Nudge Theory to improve student outcomes on a national level. As Chief Operating Officer for ECIS, Kam demonstrated, high aptitude for financial reporting, forecasting, analytical ability, scenario analysis, and financial implications of business and educational models. Kam is committed to social justice and equity through diversity, inclusion, and intercultural understanding in international education.

    At the NEASC 2022 Conference in Boston, Kam Chohan, ECIS Executive Director, was presented with the prestigious NEASC 1885 Award for Exemplary Service to Education “in recognition and appreciation of the quiet contribution, the achievements both acclaimed and unknown, and the personal sacrifices made for the benefit of all.”


    ECIS -
  • “Schools must create a culture of co-designing where they want to get to.” - Jennifer Groff PhD

    A Quick Summary

    The “Where’s Your Head At” hosts chat with Jennifer Groff, PhD is an educational researcher, designer, and engineer, whose work focuses on redesigning learning environments and education systems. In this show, we discuss a range of educational issues with Jennifer and hear her thoughts as to what she believes will be essential for schools to thrive in the future.

    Show notes

    In this episode…

    Introduction of Jennifer Groff (3.50)

    What is the latest work that Jennifer has been doing at the International School of Brussels? (6.15)

    Jennifer’s career so far and how she got started (7.30)

    Jennifer’s assessment of international education today (9.45)

    What is Jennifer’s hope for education in the next 10 to 20 years? (12.20)

    Have the barriers and frustrations faced by teachers in the past been removed today? (13.40)

    What are some easy wins for school leaders today? (15.10)

    How do you help schools make strategic choices? (16.50)

    Jennifer’s advice for schools who want to do everything (21.05)

    Would Jennifer change anything about her career? (24.25)

    Were there specific moments, or individuals, who helped Jennifer in her career? (26.05)

    Biographies/books/models which Jennifer has used for her leadership (27.50)

    How to contact Fidelis (30.30)


    Jennifer Groff PhD

    Jennifer Groff, PhD is an educational researcher, designer, and engineer, whose work focuses on redesigning learning environments and education systems. She is the founder of Learning Futures Global, which supports organizations around the world to design and implement modern learning, and their future-focused learning strategy.

    Innovation Fellow at WISE (Qatar Foundation), Chief Learning Officer for Lumiar Education, a network of innovative schools, and co-founded the international NGO the Center for Curriculum Redesign, Fulbright Scholar (UK) while serving as the Technology SME on the OECD Innovative Learning Environments project.

    MIT PhD from the MIT Media Lab.

    A former K-12 educator, Jennifer was named one of 12 Microsoft Innovative Teacher Leaders in 2005, and one of the Top 100 Influencers in Ed Tech (2017-18).

    Jen has also been working with James MacDonald and the team in Brussels over the past year.


    Jennifer’s Website - Embedding Innovation Labs in Schools as a Vehicle for Transformation in Education - Innovation Labs in Education -
  • "The single most important factor in our wellbeing, happiness and longevity … quality of the social connections that we build.” - Dr. Helen Kelly

    A Quick Summary

    How can leaders ensure the wellbeing of staff...and themselves? The “Where’s Your Head At” hosts welcome Dr. Helen Kelly, who has worked in various roles inside and outside of the education sector. In this show, we hear about Helen’s research into wellbeing in schools including practical examples and ideas as to what is needed to support students, teachers, and leaders.

    Show notes

    In this episode…

    Introduction for Dr. Helen Kelly (2.40)

    Why did Helen choose this topic for her research? (4.40)

    What themes has Helen found from her research? (7.00)

    Do we have a realistic idea of what a crisis looks like? (10.01)

    The long-term impact of the pandemic and what can we do about that? (11.55)

    Can resilience be taught? (15.45)

    What advice does Helen have for leaders? (19.00)

    Would Helen change anything in her past, what would that be? (25.40)

    Advice for school leaders to avoid burnout (27.00)

    How to contact Helen (30.15)


    Dr. Helen Kelly

    Helen Kelly is a researcher, writer, and speaker in the field of school wellbeing. Between 2006 and 2020, when she retired from her work as a school principal, Helen led international schools in Bangkok, Berlin, and Hong Kong. Prior to this, she spent a decade as a member of the English legal profession, representing employees in the area of health and safety at work, with a focus on industrial accidents and diseases.

    Helen is most known for her work on school leader stress and wellbeing. She was awarded an Ed.D from the University of Birmingham, UK in 2017 with a thesis entitled “International Schools as Emotional Arenas: Facing the Leadership Challenges in a German Context”. She also holds a Masters in Educational Leadership and a Postgraduate Certificate in Applied Positive Psychology and Coaching Psychology.

    Through her work as The Positive Principal, she aims to provide practical support to teachers, school leaders, and those responsible for running and supporting schools, to enhance wellbeing and maximise the potential of the whole school community.


    Positive Principal: The secret to happiness?: PERMA+ model: Permah Survey:
  • “My career has not been based on opportunity arose, I grabbed it and I worked for it” - Fidelis Nthenge

    A Quick Summary

    The “Where’s Your Head At” hosts chat with Fidelis Nthenge, an experienced international educator who has worked in various roles in schools and made a significant contribution to the International Baccalaureate community. In this show, we hear what Fidelis believes to be the key changes in education over the past 10 years and what she believes will be essential for schools to thrive in the future.

    Show notes

    In this episode…

    Introduction for Fidelis Nthenge (3.15)

    What have been the most impactful changes in education over the past 10 years? (4.50)

    What have been the key challenges for Fidelis during the pandemic? (7.17)

    Were there specific moments, or individuals, who helped Fidelis in her career? (9.25)

    Are there key elements that leaders must have? (13.45)

    Biographies/books/models which Fidelis has used for her leadership (15.05)

    If you started again would you do anything differently? (16.40)

    Leaders and modesty (18.15)

    What underlying belief would Fidelis change in education today? (19.30)

    Significant changes in education over the past 20 years and what will see in the future (22.00)

    How can we involve students more in leadership? (24.00)

    “School’s First” and “Student Centred” strategy (24.45)

    What book would Fidelis recommend? (26.30)

    How to contact Fidelis (27.50)


    Fidelis Nthenge

    Fidelis works as Head of the IB World Schools department based in the IB's global centre in The Hague. She is responsible for the development and implementation of school improvement strategy for IB World Schools, in line with the IB strategy and objectives, supporting IB World Schools to achieve their optimal teaching, learning and assessment. Before joining the IB in 2011, Fidelis spent 14 years with the Aga Khan Education Services in East Africa, where she was head of two of their IB World Schools in Nairobi, Kenya and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.


    International Baccalaureate: Heuristic leadership: Fidelis’ Email Address: [email protected]
  • A Quick Summary

    In this show, the “Where’s Your Head At?” hosts talk with Tony Little about how he started his career in education, his advice for leaders and whether the past or future is a better time to live in. Tony’s rich experience at Eton College is discussed along with the concept that “leaders must work from the heart”. You will also hear Tony’s insightful thoughts on what will be important in education in the next 20 years.

    Show notes

    In this episode…

    Introduction of Tony Little (2.45)

    What is Tony doing today? (4.50)

    How did Tony get into education? (7.30)

    What was the genesis of Tony’s first book? (8.20)

    What is key for a good leader? (11.10)

    What made Eton special and what is the ‘game changer’ in education today? (12.20)

    Can we substitute teachers with tech? (15.20)

    Advice for school leaders today (17.30)

    How do we get the balance right? (18.50)

    Where would Tony prefer to the past or the future? (20.30)

    Leaders must carve out time for themselves (23.20)

    What were the key lessons Tony witnessed in his career? (24.20)

    How to contact Tony (27.30)


    Tony Little

    Tony Little spent seven years as housemaster of Brentwood School, seven years as the headmaster of Chigwell School, six years as headmaster of Oakham School and 13 years as Head Master of Eton College. From 2015-18 he was Chief Education Officer of GEMS Education responsible for ensuring the quality of education across the global chain. From September 2018 he became President of the World Leading Schools Association, Shanghai Academy, developing a new generation of not-for-profit, needs-blind high schools in China. He also became Chair of the Laurus Trust, a multi-academy trust operating in the Manchester area. Since September 2020 he is the Chair of Governors at London Academy of Excellence, Stratford. Also the author of two books: An Intelligent Person's Guide to Education, and "Adolescence - How to Survive It",

    Tony Little was educated at Eton College in Berkshire where he was a music scholar, and at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, where he was a choral scholar and gained an upper second class honours degree in English language and literature. He received a Master of Arts in English as well as Postgraduate Certificate in Education (Distinction) at Homerton College, Cambridge


    Tony’s Email Address: [email protected]
  • Chip Barder

    Great schools have a pervasive sense of trust and a desire to get things done while still having fun.

    A quick summary

    Over 45 years of working around the global has enabled Chip Barder to have a unique insight into the realm of international schooling today. In this show, the “Where’s Your Head At?” hosts talk with Chip about how he started his international career, his experiences and his advice for leaders and future leaders. Effective leadership, coaching, governance, the fundamentals of what makes a great school and Chip’s most meaningful professional learning experience are all discussed in this show.

    Show notes

    In this episode…

    Introduction for Chip Barder (3.10)

    Chip’s fascinating career history (3.50)

    How did you get your first job overseas? Where is Zaire?(6.00)

    Good schools or great schools...what makes the difference? (8.20)

    What are the key changes in education over the past 20 years? (10.50)

    What are the key threads of a leader that helps them get noticed? (13.40)

    Effective leaders can be vulnerable (16.25)

    Chip’s most meaningful professional learning experience (17.45)

    Why do we want to improve and what is the importance of balance? (19.50)

    What question should we ask Chip? (21.45)

    Chip’s golden pieces of advice (26.55)

    How to contact Chip (29.50)


    Chip Barder

    Chip Barder has been an international school educator for 45 years in seven different countries, including 22 years as a Head of School. His passion for best practice in governance began in 1984 when he was asked to facilitate a board retreat at The International School of Kuala Lumpur. Since that time, he has worked with numerous boards and facilitated workshops on board governance all over the world. Most recently, in cooperation with the boards of UNIS Hanoi and AIS Johannesburg, he launched Governance As Leadership Training Institutes (GALTI), which have been annual events and have already attracted well over 500 board members from Africa, Asia and the Middle East since 2014. He has also served on numerous international organizational boards as a board member as well as board chair.


    Chip’s email - [email protected]

  • Deb Welch

    “If you can develop capacity in people you can accomplish anything and everything”

    A Quick Summary

    How can we grow as leaders? The “Where’s Your Head At” hosts are joined by Deb Welch, an experienced international educator who has worked in various roles in the education sector for many years. In this show, we hear tips from Deb and learn from her perspectives of how we can grow as leaders in education today.

    Show notes

    In this episode…

    Introduction for Deb Welch (2.36)

    Deb’s time at AISH (3.50)

    Thinking about your growth as a Head of School (6.17)

    Transition to Carney Sandoe (7.30)

    What were the opportunities that helped Deb on her career path? (9.20)

    What does Deb think is the most important thing for leaders to get right? (13.45)

    Proudest proud and sorriest sorry (16.05)

    Chris Argyris - Double Loop Theory of Feedback (16.55)

    Reflection and its importance (17.40)

    Significant changes in education over the past 20 years and what will see in the future (18.40)

    The stages of problem solving at AISH (22.45)


    Deb Welch

    Deborah Welch is the Senior Consultant for Carney Sandoe and Associates. Prior to this she was the CEO of the Academy for International School Heads (AISH). She was the Director of the American School of Doha and the Deputy Director for Learning at International School Bangkok. She was also Director of Teacher Training Center (TTC) and a course developer, trainer and consultant for Principals’ Training Center (PTC). Deb has been a teacher, curriculum director, staff developer, university instructor and educational consultant. She holds a Ph.D. in human and organizational development and a master’s in educational leadership and curriculum. She has a teaching certificate, and administrative and superintendent endorsement from Colorado


    AISH Carney Sandoe and Associates Constructivist model of learning Chris Argyris
  • Nick Kendell

    “Everything else will be successful in a school if you can get the climate and culture right”.

    A Quick Summary

    What is happening in international teacher recruitment today? The “Where’s Your Head At” hosts are joined by Nick Kendell, an experienced international educator who has worked in teacher recruitment for many years. In this show, we hear tips from Nick for improving your chances of getting your next job as well as his thoughts on education in the future.

    Show notes

    In this episode…

    What is Nick doing now? (2.57)

    What is happening in international teacher recruitment today? (6.44)

    Diversity in international schools (8.55)

    Who was Nick lucky to work with? (9.22)

    What are leaders in schools getting right today in recruitment? (10.45)

    Was there anything Nick would have changed in his past? (14.30)

    What beliefs should educators/leaders let go? (16.08)

    Nick’s opinion on what schools are getting “right” (17.40)

    What will school’s look like in 20 years from now? (20.30)

    Planning for recruitment at non-traditional schools (22.50)

    How do you move up the ladder? (25.30)

    Should I do an advanced degree? (27.25)

    How to contact Nick (29.20)


    Nick Kendell is the Senior Associate for Australia and New Zealand in the recruiting organisation Search Associates. Nick started his international teaching career in 1995, and has since worked across 3 different continents. He began at the Hong Kong International School and then moved back to Australia to take up a Deputy Principal role at Scotch Oakburn College in Launceston, Tasmania. After 4.5 years in this role, Nick moved to Cairo in 2008 to become the Head of Primary at the New Cairo British International School. He completed his time in Cairo, and returned to Australia in July 2011.


    Return on Your Luck Search Associates
  • Jane Larsson

    “The education community should have the courage to use our data and the experiences of other businesses to improve education”.

    A Quick Summary

    The “Where’s Your Head At” Team speak with Jane Larsson, the Executive Director of the Council of International Schools (CIS) as she talks about where we are going as a community of educators in international schools. Her work on Child Protection has been incredibly impactful on the international education community and Jane also speaks about the importance of student wellbeing in schools today. She also shares her thoughts on what leaders need to do.

    Show notes

    In this episode…

    Intro from James MacDonald (1.40)

    Intro from James Dalziel (2.15)

    Intro from Richard Henry (3.15)

    Why are the team doing this podcast? (4.35)

    Introduction for Jane Larsson (6.15)

    How did Jane get her start and what is she doing today? (7.30)

    Who was the person Jane met that had a significant impact on her career? (11.17)

    What is the important thing for international school leaders to get right? (14.46)

    If you could start again in leadership, would you do anything differently? (17.20)

    What ideas should leaders let go of in schools? (18.40)

    What should (21.15)

    What are people getting right in education today? (23.45)

    Jane’s insights on Child Protection (26.00)

    The strategic decisions around what you won’t do (30.05)

    Jane’s take away for people who want to be a leader in education (33.25)

    How to contact Jane (35.10)


    Jane Larsson has led the Council of International Schools (CIS) as Executive Director since her appointment in 2010. Over the past 25 years, Jane has led the international education community with a focus on the development of collaborative partnerships to enable and support educational exchange and the development of international and intercultural perspective. Prior to her appointment at CIS, Jane was Direc­tor of International Partnerships with the Visiting International Faculty Program (VIF) in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. She began her career in international education as the Director of Educational Staffing and Publications for International Schools Services (ISS) providing recruitment services and resources to international schools.

    She currently serves as Chair of the International Taskforce on Child Protection and on the Board of Directors of the International Commission Advancing Independent School Accreditation (ICAISA).


    Council of International Schools Return on Your Luck Embracing Complexity The McKinsey Podcast Harvard Business Review Podcast Michael Porter, "What is strategy?." In: Harvard Business Review, November (1996)