Looking Forward to NAISAC 2016

19 02 2016

It is amazing how time flies! Beyond the usual work and schedule, I have spent the past several months working in the Maker Space and Online Community for this year’s NAIS Annual Conference. Yes, I do sleep but I find time between winks to work on these fun projects. As I finally made my way back to here (my blog), I was shocked to see that my last post was a year ago as I was preparing to head to Boston for the conference. My blog feels so neglected. This was a shocker for me as my blog has been an outlet for me to think out loud and write freely about virtually any aspect of education, learning, or my experiences. I guess this is a reminder for me that writing is a part of my life I would like to reclaim. Therefore, I hope that I will do better this year managing my time for all the things I find important which includes finding my voice again.

As I make the final preparations for all I will be doing at the NAIS Annual Conference in San Francisco, I also find myself reflecting on what I hope to see and experience this year. This will be one of my busiest years at the Annual Conference so not surprising, most of my reflections seem to be centered around these activities. So, here we go…

  1. I look forward to connecting in person with many of my colleagues I see only once a year. While technology can keep us connected virtually, it is not a replacement for great conversation over dinner.
  2. The new directions for the Innovation Taskforce is exciting. I love the idea of starting this work with an Innovation Day. There are so many possibilities for the work we will be doing. Having clear meaning and purpose for the group and the opportunity to continue to work with such a great group of collaborators from across the country. I am humbled to be a member of this group.
  3. High School Survey of Student Engagement or HSSSE has become something more than a little project I worked on at our school. While our school has participate in the HSSSE several times, we only recently decided to take a deep dive into the data- both quantitative and qualitative. Little did I know at the time that this work would become interesting to many outside the school. I am looking forward to the many different types of conversations that will arise out of the three opportunities I will have to share the Greenhill HSSSE research story. I have been amazed at how much data schools have at their fingertips. Data that could help inform programs and direction if we only took a serious look. I hope to learn of others who are also interested in formally informing their practices through detailed exploration of the data relevant to their experiences.
  4. This is the second year for the Interactive Makerspace at NAIS and the third time I have set up this type of program for NAIS. This has been exciting work and I have met some amazing people, albeit virtually, through this process. I am looking forward to working with these amazing educators over the next couple of days as we bring the NAIS Interactive Makerspace to life. It is my hope that it will stimulate conversations that reach far beyond the buildings, spaces and tools. I hope for conversations that explore the power of authentic problem solving combined with student constructed artifacts of understanding. I am looking forward to serious conversations about how pedagogy needs to shift if the work is to be meaningful. How it shifts should be an amazing conversation. I am also looking forward to hearing the stories of other educators as they explore this world of making.
  5. I have been running the annual conference online community for NAIS now for over 7 years. As I was setting up for this year, I had a chance to take a quick look back at the communities of prior years and reflect on the journey we have been on as Independent schools. In many ways, this is our story captured in bits and bytes frozen in time on the Internet. Each year, I create a new space for the conference and bring it to life by connecting it with the amazing people of this community. As the conference passes, we collect reflections and experiences all shared with a larger community. However, as time passes, the conversations move back to their normal spaces on the web and the online community fades away for another year. This ebb and flow is what makes this such an exciting project. This year I am joined by multiple contributing authors to the community site but also by all that is shared around the conference. I am looking forward to some amazing stories being captured this year as we share what we learn over the course of the next week.
  6. Finally, I am looking forward to a new experience as I participate in a SPARKplaces at the end of this year’s conference. This sounds like an amazing opportunity to explore new possibilities for learning spaces. The timing of this could not be better as we are looking at major changes to some of our existing spaces at Greenhill. I am excited about the possibilities and all I will learn through this experience.

So, with my HSSSE presentations complete and ready to share with the world, the online community coming to life, the Makerspace about to popup in the Moscone Center exhibit hall, Innovation Day about to kick off, and a race to innovative learning environments right around the corner, it is time to pack my bags and head to San Francisco. I will arrive on Tuesday and can’t wait to get this party started.

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