NAIS Connect Blogs

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Colleagues, As we brace for the 2016 Presidential election, I am sharing a letter I sent to the Bank Street community last week. I'm eager to hear how others are approaching this electoral season and how you are holding your communities through a potentially divisive time. Regards, Jed F. Lippard, Ed.D. -------- September 6, 2016 Dear Bank Street Community, I hope that you found summer’s final unofficial weekend to be peaceful, joyful, and fulfilling. Faculty and staff had an energizing return to school last week, and we are all excited for the arrival of the children over the next several days. The reason for this letter...
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Colleagues, I am honored to share my recent Edutopia story, How to Become and Remain a Transformational Teacher . I've included the first paragraph below, as well as a link to the rest of the story. I would love to hear your thoughts. " However talented, no one is a natural-born teacher. Honing the craft takes significant care and effort, not just by the individual, but also by the school at large. Though experience does matter, it matters only to the extent that a teacher -- regardless of how long he or she has been in the classroom -- commits to continued professional development to refresh his or her status as a transformational teacher. Along...
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MENLO PARK and PORTOLA VALLEY, CALIF. – Innovation is a learning journey — one we’re constantly co-creating and recreating to meet the needs of a world in flux. NAIS’s Innovation Task Force is at the forefront of the journey’s unfoldment in independent schools. In late June, I joined members of the task force — 10 independent school leaders, NAIS Vice President of Education Technology and Learning Services Kawai Lai, and NAIS Senior Vice President of Advocacy and Education Innovation Jefferson Burnett — in Silicon Valley for a capstone experience marking the group’s progress. Day 1: We Gather Examples of Innovation in the Field On the...
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Colleagues, I would love to hear your thoughts about my recent article for Edutopia, "Reflecting on the Year's Accomplishments." Between final exams, calculating grades, and writing student comments -- not to mention various award ceremonies and graduation -- the end of the school year can often feel like an exhausting sprint to the finish. For better or worse, this is also when self-reflection works best, when the year's triumphs and struggles are freshest in the teacher's mind. Don't skimp on this essential practice, which can renew your sense of purpose while helping to make you an even better teacher. For the entire article,...
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I still find it exciting to be in a new place where the cultural context is different, the menu offers veggie dishes novel to my palate, and unpredictability and flexibility are key ingredients of every day. So, I was thrilled to travel to Laos where I had never been. I don’t speak Lao and neither did my travel companion. The purpose was to scope out a couple of rural towns and communities, explore historic Luang Prabang and learn as much as we could about the UNESCO Heritage location. Could this be a suitable location for a four-week summer global service learning experience for a group of high school students? To prepare for my adventure, I had skimmed the...
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Inspired by Shonda Rhimes’s book Year of Yes , I decided to do something radical to celebrate my birthday this year: I signed up to learn improv at DC IMPROV in downtown Washington. Yes, theater — because it isn’t how I typically put myself out there. I was intrigued to try improv after reading Yes, And: How Improvisation Reverses "No, But" Thinking and Improves Creativity and Collaboration, Lessons from The Second City . Authors Kelly Leonard and Tom Yorton, executives at The Second City comedy theater in Chicago, describe how they have used improv principles to tap into employees’ creativity and collaborative spirit — and helped...
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Global travel is part of the DNA of our international school. "Experience the world" is our school's tagline, and we have an extensive global travel program that allows our students to do just that, through international exchanges in 5th and 8th grades and service, culture, and language trips throughout our Middle and High Schools. Like many schools, we link our travel program to classroom curricula wherever we can and hold orientation sessions for students and parents before departure in order to deepen the the experience for our students. We want global travel to be a rich learning experience, not just a vacation with classmates. Some of our trip leaders...
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A recent book, “The worlds within” gives - in their own words - a first-hand account and around the world for young global nomads (also known as TCKs, Third Culture Kids) who grow up overseas while accompanying their globally mobile parents. They write about growing up and being exposed, every few years, to extremely different cultural backgrounds, languages or schools and starting anew every time. They are from different nationalities, speak different languages at home, their parents work for very different sectors (business, missionary, academic or diplomatic sectors are just a few) and in different countries. In spite of such differences, TCKs share...
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Dear Colleagues, I would be honored to hear your thoughts on my recent Edutopia post, Quiet: Susan Cain on Approaching Introverted Students . A great discussion has already started on how to assess introverted students, and whether class participation should count.
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Many thanks to David Cutler, whose recent post on teaching Trump released me from self-imposed silence. Kudos to David, too, for the wise council on how to approach this tricky subject. I have been tying myself in knots for weeks as I puzzle over how to guide kids through this particular election season. Bursting from the pressure of trying to maintain neutrality in the face of what I consider to be pretty naughty behavior, I finally wrote a letter to my students. Never mind that I knew I would not show it to them; I include it here in the hopes of inviting conversation. Especially, I wonder how we find ways to help students live the mission...
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As a high school American History and Government teacher, I take seriously my obligation to refrain from giving any inclination of my party affiliation. More than anything else, I don’t want my views to influence unduly what my students believe, nor do I want any of them to suspect me of grading based on my own political leanings—which I would never do. I couldn’t care less what party my students support, so long as each of them leaves my classroom with a better understanding of why they support it. During presidential election seasons, I’m especially careful to avoid sharing my personal views about any candidate. But we have never had a...
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As a high school American History and Government teacher, I take seriously my obligation to refrain from giving any inclination of my party affiliation. More than anything else, I don’t want my views to influence unduly what my students believe, nor do I want any of them to suspect me of grading based on my own political leanings—which I would never do. I couldn’t care less what party my students support, so long as each of them leaves my classroom with a better understanding of why they support it. During presidential election seasons, I’m especially careful to avoid sharing my personal views about any candidate. But we have never had a...
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Like many of you, I was traveling with students during Spring Break. I had the opportunity to join our school Symphony Orchestra on a good will mission to southern China. After arriving in Hong Kong, the group spent its time in Zhongshan, Foshan, and Guangzhou. In addition to their performances, we arranged for the students to meet and interact with a few schools and community groups. I always hesitate with the short term visits because I wonder about the authenticity and connections that can actually be established with just having students visit with one another for a couple of hours. How open are students willing to be if they are forced into an environment...
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Communicating Sustainability - NAIS Sustainability Blog Series, 2015-2016 by Matt Peterson and Wynn Calder / 11 March 2016 It nearly goes without saying that there is not one approach to communicating sustainability in education. “Sustainability” comprises a large, comprehensive and complex set of concepts for improving the condition of people and the planet. Like democracy, it has been defined as “an ideal end-state” (Alan AtKisson). Arjen Wals (2010) has described it as “both urgent and inevitably unknown.” While schools often settle for terms like “environmental” or “green” or “stewardship” to define their efforts, we encourage using...
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Bryan Stevenson, a lawyer and social justice activist, gave one of the most heartrending, inspiring speeches I have ever heard. Period. Everyone I spoke to afterward felt exactly the same way. Here’s why. “I don’t want to put the bar too low. I want to talk about what we need to do to change the world,” said Bryan Stevenson as he kicked off Day 2 of the Annual Conference, known as Teacher Day. Bryan is the author of Just Mercy, the founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, and a professor at New York University. The Justice System’s Sobering Statistics Bryan began by painting a bleak picture of the judicial landscape. In 1972, the U.S. had 370,000...
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Google’s Chief Education Evangelist Jaime Casap pushed educators to throw out the old norms and models of education and embrace the new digital, iterative normal. Today’s technology is a catalyst for creating real student-centric education that’s grounded in 100+ years of research about how we learn best. How the Pace of Technological Change Has Changed Our Expectations Technology has advanced at warp speed and expectations have changed as a result. Jaime reflected on buying his first iPhone in San Francisco nine years ago, and asked us to consider how we managed with older technology. For instance, remember when we had to call the Internet at home,...
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Kindra Hall’s love of storytelling began in the fifth grade. She wasn’t having a particularly pleasant year while her best friend was super popular. Then, her teacher assigned her class to choose a story and tell it to classmates. From the time she shared her chosen story, Good Giants Big Toe , she got hooked on storytelling — and her world started opening up. During her school days, Kindra continued to grab and keep people’s attention with her stories. She kept telling stories beyond childhood. In her graduate school program in organizational socialization, she would start long research reports with a story, provide a ton of information, and wrap...
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Many schools offer international opportunities for students: trips embedded into academic courses; spring-break adventures; service learning or language immersion trips, etc. The nature and goals of these trips are important when choosing location, duration, and participants. Risk management is a pressing topic as the CDC and WHO share worrisome information about mosquito borne diseases. I’m of course thinking of the Zika outbreak. Dengue and Chikungunya also have and continue to cause serious havoc in many countries now affected by Zika. When do you cancel a trip due to potential health risks? How do you prepare students and parents? Excellent...
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Dear Colleagues, I thought to share with you my most recent Edutopia article, the first paragraph of which appears below. " As a new high school history teacher, reaching a diverse array of learners posed my biggest challenge. Well into my third year on the job, I neither fully understood nor appreciated the unique strengths and challenges that my pupils brought with them. Now, after nine years in the classroom and learning from numerous failures, I still don't claim to have mastered the art of teaching or connecting with every kind of student, but I do have some thoughts on how to avoid my rookie mistakes." I would love to hear your...
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Kevin Carey, author of The End of College, made a strong case for why college will end … as we know it right now. He focused on three interrelated areas: how America came to this pivotal moment in higher education, the rise of information technology, and what it means for the future of learning, and what these two things mean for attendees preparing the next generation of students to succeed and lead in the future. Kevin’s Background Kevin has long been interested in matters of equality and price in education. He directs the education policy program at New America, conducting research on topics including high education...
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