The Milan International Teachers Association (MITA) held its third annual educational conference on Saturday, February 3—and TASIS was there once again, represented by a group of eight faculty members: Keith Izsa (High School History Department) and Valerie Bijur Carlson (High School Theater Director & TOK teacher), who have participated in the conference since its inception; Olymar Marco Brown (High School and Middle School Science Department), who attended for the second time; and first-time attendees Erin Fitzgerald and Carla Santoro (Elementary School Literacy Department), Carol Hinchliff (Early Childhood Coordinator), Alice Vassalli (Elementary School teacher), and Emmanuelle Kaser (Elementary School student teacher).
MITA was founded to provide a space to share expertise among the many schools in the region of Northern Italy. The conference was hosted by the American School of Milan (ASM) and featured five short keynote speeches; morning and afternoon workshops led by teachers in the region that addressed topics such as using Google platforms to provide timely and meaningful feedback to students and “flipping” the classroom to use video/Q&A instruction for homework so that class time can have more active, hands-on instructional time; job-alike sessions that provided time for subject teachers to forge connections and learn from one another; and an informal social gathering at the end the day.
Ms. Brown taught her fellow educators how to use art therapy techniques in the classroom.
Several members of the TASIS Faculty led their own workshop sessions: Mr. Izsa laid out a “blueprint” for project-based learning, Ms. Brown taught the methodology of art therapy in the classroom, and Ms. Fitzgerald and Ms. Santoro presented the use of mentor texts for improving student writing. These sessions were without exception met with enthusiasm and gratitude, observed Ms. Carlson, who witnessed attendees of each approaching the TASIS leaders at the afternoon aperitivo to thank them for the insights and ask further questions.
Ms. Carlson also noted that the conference provided the perfect blend of formal and informal opportunities to interact with fellow educators. She felt fortunate, for example, to sit in on a rehearsal for ASM’s spring musical and then discuss resources, schedules, and curriculum with the director and musical director; then later in the day to have the opportunity to engage in an informal conversation about TOK projects with fellow IB teachers from two other schools.