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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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Randi Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Zuckerberg Media, gave an electrifying presentation about her background in the tech sector. She highlighted several key tech trends and the complications that ensue from their prevalence. Randi’s Credentials Randi is a multifaceted media professional with a bunch of credits to her name: author of the children’s book Dot and the book Dot Complicated: Untangling Our Wired Lives , host of the radio show “Dot Complicated” on SiriusXM, and past performer in Rock of Ages on Broadway. Randi, who is sister to Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, said she will have failed in this presentation “if you leave...
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NAIS Board Chair Katherine Dinh opened the morning session by describing one of the most iconic bridges located right here in San Francisco. The Golden Gate Bridge, spanning more than 6,700 feet and located a mere 12 miles from the San Andreas Fault, was carefully created and built by a team of architects and engineers. Now, it’s one of the world’s favorite architectural stories, she said, seguing into this year's conference theme: "What’s Your Story?" Katherine, an immigrant from Vietnam who has taught at four NAIS member schools and currently heads Prospect Sierra School (California), said she was humbled to speak before the 5,500 people gathered...
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I'm Ari Pinkus, digital editor and producer at NAIS, and I'll be blogging during the 2016 NAIS Annual Conference in San Francisco. These days, how to recruit and hire teaching talent is top of mind for school leaders. In this "design thinking inspired" three-hour workshop, presenters Matt Glendinning of Moses Brown School (Rhode Island) and Carla Silver of Leadership + Design set attendees on a course to reimagine the campus visit for job candidates. Most of those in the room were stewards of their school’s hiring process. Assuming Much in the Campus Visit Right away, we gathered at round tables in teams of five. The first step was to...
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Wynn Calder, environmental sustainability consultant to NAIS, has been blogging throughout this academic year on sustainability topics of interest to the independent school community. He is the executive director of Sustainable Schools, LLC and can be reached at wynn@sustainschools.org. Wynn's guest bloggers this month are The Town School's (NY) Ken Higgins , dean of the upper school, sustainability coordinator, and music department chair and Rashidah Bowen , upper school counselor and upper school ethics curriculum coordinator and instructor. Beyond Green: Moving School Communities toward a Holistic Approach to Educating for Sustainability...
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