I’ll admit it. I am a conference fanatic. So, when our Headmaster sent me an email to save the date for the National Association of Independent Schools Annual Conference, I wasn’t about to say no to that.
Besides being excited about the fried chicken at Sweet Georgia’s Juke Joint and the fact that I will be back home again (Georgia counts as home for a Florida girl), I am also fired up about my first NAIS conference experience. I have spent days combing through the program, strategizing about sessions and setting learning intentions for the event. I am a big believer in being intentional about professional learning. It’s easy to get lost in your learning at conferences, or any professional development for that matter. Being an educational leader is complex, setting intentions provides clarity and guides individual learning. It means I take home exactly what I need from conferences, institutes, and site visits.
I have decided to focus on a few areas over the next few days at the NAIS Annual Conference:
- How can I encourage and initiate grassroots change through teacher leadership, including harnessing teacher voices to propel real and innovative change?
- How can I enhance professional learning and expand professional growth opportunities for the educators I work with?
- How can I promote authentic learning and global competence for students with creative curriculum design and delivery?
These are all areas I have concentrated on with ASCD and Teach to Lead and Learning Forward. But, not areas I have been able to explore through the lens of independent schools.
Inevitably, attending conferences leads to a lot of self-reflection for me. This is sort of my implied intention.
Another aspect of the conference I am really looking forward to is tending my school’s leadership garden. Leadership is all about relationships, and while the relationships I may forge at the NAIS Annual Conference may be powerful, there is far more power in growing our internal team over the next few days. I am traveling with five others from my school, each with their own intentions for the conference. I am hoping for discussions and reflections about how our shared learning and our independent perspectives impact our school, our faculty, and our stakeholders.
My friend Fred Ende writes about professional development being sticky. I fully expect the NAIS Annual Conference to be sticky, the kind of professional development that pushes and nudges and deepens my knowledge of who I am as an educational leader and how I can empower those around me to lead and learn better than they thought possible.