Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Week Out from #NAISAC 2016

       A week from today I head to San Francisco for the National Association of Independent Schools Annual Conference. While I always revel in the conference, I’m particularly excited this year because I’ve had to miss the past two years—two years ago because of a medical scare, last year because of weather. A couple of months ago I thought I might have to miss this year when the medical situation cropped up again. I’ve recovered and feel awesome, and I’m raring to go.
         I find myself curious to see how much may have changed in a few areas since I last attended. At first this may come across as snarkiness. For that I apologize, but I’ll explain why I’m asking these after and hope I seem like less of a jerk.

  • ·         How many of the sessions will simply be traditional sit-and-get? Particularly with strides made in active workshops, the proliferation of makerspaces, and the emphasis on design thinking, I pray there is not too much lecture.
  • ·         Similarly, how much bad PowerPoint will fill up screens and entice eyelids to drop? We’ve all see great presenters practice Presentation Zen with awesome images. Even if the slides are mainly text, please make it big and short. Please, please, please don’t read slides to us.
  • ·         What is the over-under on the number of times someone will urge change by mentioning “21st century” education? I hope it’s low. It’s 2016. Enough said.
  • ·         What might trend and become the latest buzzword? I often catch on after others, perhaps because I tend to think more systematically and reject silver-bullet thinking. In education we also tend to obscure our real message with jargon. The soul of the matter becomes obscured.
       I bring these up because of who attends and presents at annual conference. We’re the leaders in independent schools. As such, we must practice what our schools need to become. I certainly feel that pressure when designing workshops or faculty meetings or board activities. I strive to be the teacher I’d like working in my school. If we’re not doing that, then I have to question how far the revolution has progressed. Based on what I’ve been reading and hearing, despite shards of skepticism, I’m hopeful.
             I have to be. We all do. Hope lies at the heart of education. It fuels possibility. Ultimately, as I’ve written before, the main goal I think most of us share for annual is a sense of affirmation through the stories we share. That, yes, we can realize our compelling visions for our schools. That setbacks are gallant attempts to do this. That our work is incredibly challenging, truly rewarding, and ultimately meaningful.

Cross-posted on NAIS Annual Conference 2016 OnLine Community.

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