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NAIS Connect Blogs

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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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“Nobody has a monopoly on good ideas. Independent schools can learn from public and charter schools. Public schools can learn from charter and independent schools. What I would like to see is a conversation that involves all of the sectors.” So said John Chubb when I first interviewed him in the summer of 2013, shortly after he had assumed the role of National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) president. His words continue to have a profound impact on my thinking about independent schools—and what our community could and perhaps should learn from different educational models. In fact, for a 2015 story I wrote on this topic for The...
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“Nobody has a monopoly on good ideas. Independent schools can learn from public and charter schools. Public schools can learn from charter and independent schools. What I would like to see is a conversation that involves all of the sectors.” So said John Chubb when I first interviewed him in the summer of 2013, shortly after he had assumed the role of National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) president. His words continue to have a profound impact on my thinking about independent schools—and what our community could and perhaps should learn from different educational models. In fact, for a 2015 story I wrote on this topic for The...
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Preparing for Our Trip to Taiwan —Carter Latendresse January 22, 2016 In a little under two months, we are going to venture out together on a Catlin Gabel School global trip to Taiwan. Before we do so, let us pause to consider the nature of our Taiwan trip in particular and the nature of school global trips in general. We each have a notion of what will occur; we each have predictions. Part of the fun of trips like this, though, is that so much is unknown. The universe in its immensity seems to be beckoning us to take a leap into it. We will be leaping together, of course, but I would like to direct your attention first to the...
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Taking students on a trip requires thinking about every minute of a student's life while in the experience. In between visiting one site and going to another site, we have to think about: what are students going to do, how will they get there, do they need to eat, do they need to use the bathroom, do they need to change their attire, can they get their on their own, etc.… We can get bogged down on all of these minute details, which are so vital because student wellbeing could be at risk if something is not planned. Whether the experience is in a rural village, urban center, or megacity, the list of concerns can remain precarious while the complexities...
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When Helping Hurts

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I wanted to share my recent Edutopia story, When Helping Hurts . I've included the first paragraph below. It's never easy seeing a student experience distress, but well-meaning adults (myself included) too quickly and too often rush to the rescue. There are times to intervene, but we must be more judicious in knowing when to let students cope with failure on their own. Otherwise, we will raise a risk-averse generation whose members lack resilience and the crucial ability to rebound from failure. To prevent that outcome, teachers and educational leaders alike must be mindful of several situations where helping hurts. To read the entire article,...
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by Stuart Grauer The Quran (or Qu'ran , Anglicized: Koran) for all Muslims stands as the definitive word of God, but it is also is the greatest literary work in classical Arabic. As such, it is of interest not just to religions but to all schools and humanities teachers. Western scholars, including our third president, Thomas Jefferson, have been studying and interpreting the Quran consistently since it was first (reliably) translated into English in the year 1733. I’m not Muslim, but I have been reading the Quran lately, in my role as a scholar and teacher, especially since there is so much reference to it in the news. As a humanities...
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I recently wrote this piece for Edutopia, and I would love to hear your reactions. I've pasted the first few paragraphs below, followed by a link to the entire article. Plenty of students may know how to create digital media, but too few know how to produce engaging, high-quality content, the kind that makes them stand out not only to college admission officers, but also to potential employers. What does that kind of quality involve? We need to teach and encourage students to post original, outstanding content that will distinguish their unique identities in a sea of increasingly indistinguishable resumes -- which are going the way of the typewriter....
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I recently wrote this piece for Edutopia, and I would love to hear your reactions. I've pasted the first few paragraphs below, followed by a link to the entire article. Even after eight years of teaching history, I struggle with helping my students retain and make effective use of their learning. Several years ago, a returning senior asked if she could retake the final exam in my United States history course in September. She had earned a solid "A" just three months earlier, but after a long and eventful summer, she wanted to know how much she remembered. As it turned out, not much. My once-shining star had devolved into just an average student, earning...
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Last month, I had the opportunity of accompanying other educators, students, and community leaders from Hawai'i to welcome the arrival of the Hōkūleʻa to Cape Town, South Africa. The Hōkūle`a is a Hawaiian canoe that is attempting to sail across the world using no GPS or satellites. Relying only on the almost extinct knowledge of using the stars, waves, birds, and clouds, the Polynesian Voyaging Society decided to move beyond its previous expeditions of sailing to and from the Polynesian islands to making its way across the world to share the message of Mālama Honua (care for the Earth). While the visiting Hawai'i delegation was not involved with...
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I’m Ari Pinkus, digital editor and producer at NAIS, and I’ll be blogging at the People of Color Conference in Tampa this week. You can follow me here and on Twitter @ajp112 The Tampa Prep Chamber Chorus kicked off the second day of PoCC with the song “I need your love.” -- Mahzarin Banaji Shows Us How to Spot and Correct Our Blindspots Dr. Mahzarin Banaji, author of Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People, led the audience through a provocative and, at times, uproarious talk about how implicit bias shows up in our everyday lives . Most of the time our...
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As we move into the holiday season, many of our international students are preparing to return to their home countries for the first time since last summer. While the reunion with friends and family can be joyful, and the return to their home countries can be restorative, this mid-year journey can also be unsettling for these academic sojourners. International students often report that visits home make them aware of the ways that they have changed in their time away from home -- and that their relationships with friends and family have changed as a result. These changes can be positive -- students often report that they are more independent...
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The Lakeside School 4-week long global service learning summer trips are staffed by a combination of school faculty/ staff and outside hires. The external hires have a diverse background; some are returned Peace Corps volunteers, some experienced outdoor educators, and others may have country or service specific expertise. It’s a job expectation that all the trip leaders contribute to the facilitation of cross-cultural learning and support the students as they navigate their new though temporary cultural environments. The question is how we ensure that the trip leaders possess intercultural competence and are able to support and in some cases mediate difficult...
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Global Citizenship is the bringing together of two powerful words: Global and Citizenship. Global means the world, all of it, its land, its people, its cultures, its opportunities, and its problems. Citizenship means responsibility and participation. Together it means that we have a responsibility to participate and to engage with the collective citizens of our planet. In the 21st century it has become clear that we share the future of the world together across borders and boundaries. Social media, Skype, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, and others are allowing us to learn cross-culturally and cross-politically. Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and other online...
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I am honored to share my recent article for Edutopia, "Making Learning Meaningful and Lasting," in which I interview Mark A. McDaniel, co-author of Make it Stick: The Science of Successful Learning . I've provided the first few paragraphs below. Even after eight years of teaching history, I struggle with helping my students retain and make effective use of their learning. Several years ago, a returning senior asked if she could retake the final exam in my United States history course in September. She had earned a solid "A" just three months earlier, but after a long and eventful summer, she wanted to know how much she remembered. As it turned...
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Ah, it’s early September and virtually all NAIS schools are officially back in session. Some schools have been back for weeks, others have just started after this late Labor Day weekend. What did you miss over the summer, and what does the new academic year hold for you? Here are some tidbits to get you started on the new school year. Biggest Summer Legal Happenings from the Federal Government? This summer the U.S. Department of Labor proposed new regulations that could dramatically impact independent schools. The DOL oversees the tests that employers use to determine who is eligible for overtime. For all but a couple positions, to be eligible for...
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Quality Pho

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Back in the ‘90s we used film for all our photos and it took a lot of work to develop the film. It had to be done right and well. Near our school there was a shop called “One Hour Photo” that was owned by a Vietnamese fellow called Tam, and that was our go-to place. Tam developed our school photos with the greatest of care and, as a result, I grew in friendship with him. You might think that photo development and friendship would not be related well, but to me, when someone is great at what they do, it becomes friendship. To me, great workmanship means, “I care about you” and “You can depend upon me.” Over time I learned a lot about this unlikely friend,...
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Dear Colleagues, I thought to share a link to one of my recent Edutopia articles, " Over the Rainbow: History Through a Pop Music Lens ." I would love to hear your thoughts.
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Dear Colleagues, I thought to share a link to one of my recent Edutopia articles, " To Teach Effective Writing, Model Effective Writing " I would love to hear your thoughts.
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Spring is an incredibly busy time, but I am at a loss for how we suddenly got to May, which feels like a full-tilt sprint. When talking with a head of school friend the other day, she said that she was in the “100 Days of May.” It’s incredibly apt for all that happens in our schools this month. Although, as I look back and realize that I have been traveling 10 of the last 12 weeks, April wasn’t much better. All of that being said, some very serious topics are coming out the woodwork for us, as they often do towards the end of the year. End of the Year Student Issues Wow, these past couple of weeks have illustrated the breadth of student issues we face...
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