Monday, August 4, 2014

NAIS Teachers of the Future

Last week I was honored to participate in the NAIS Teachers of the Year Conference in Alexandria, VA at Episcopal High School. The campus is amazing, folks from NAIS great and facilitators all inspiring. The NAIS Teachers of the Future program began in 2007 and each year since, outstanding independent school teachers have been selected to participate in conversation and initiatives that benefit the education community. I was really excited to learn I was nominated and selected among 35 awesomely innovative teachers to represent this year’s cohort. Through the program we will have the opportunity to explore, learn about and contribute to initiatives related to four themes: blended and online learning; student health and wellbeing; student assessment, and accreditation. These four themes are among NAIS’s priority interests for the coming years, and we will take a deep dive in each area between August 2014 and May 2015. The themes are:
  1. Blended and Online Learning:
    • What are the new models of learning and teaching?
    • How do they benefit students and teachers?
    • How can we incorporate them into our schools?
  2. Student Health and Wellbeing:
    • What is the latest research about children and health, wellbeing, and character?
    • How are teachers helping their students to be happy, caring, well rounded, emotionally balanced, and life-ready?
  3. Student Assessment:
    • What is learning and how and what are we measuring in our schools?
    • What are the current and emerging assessment instruments and which ones are being used in our schools?
    • Are they beneficial?
    • Which assessments can we use to measure learning to drive student improvement and excellence in teaching?
    • How are schools using the data to assess effectiveness?
    • How do we communicate our successes?
  4. Accreditation:
    • How do current independent school accreditation models improve curriculum and learning in our schools?
    • How does it help schools measure student learning and teacher quality?
    • How does it support teachers?
    • How does it drive healthy and purposeful innovation?
The conference last week focused on our first theme, blended learning. I have spent close to fifteen years teaching in online and blended learning environments. I am also a proud Board of Trustee member for the Online School for Girls - an organization leading in this area and personally flipped and blended many of my own classes. At The Ellis School we have had close to thirty teachers attend the "Introduction to Blended Learning" class with the Online School for Girls. I have personally taught the class to groups of educators and enjoy seeing teachers make the connection that blended learning is not about the technology but about the teaching! Blended learning creates a space for teachers to use time in new ways. 

I also recently presented this past year at the NAIS Annual Conference in Orlando, with my friend Jason Curtis from the Hockaday School. We led a Speed Innovation session about the flipped classroom and learning analytics. Check out the presentation from NAIS Speed Innovation: 

I believe blended learning has the power to personalize learning and create opportunities for student empowerment. When content is placed online and flipped, class time can be used for project based learning, design challenges and other hands-on activities such as digital media creation or maker education. I look forward to leading the blended learning theme over the next year for the NAIS Teachers of the Future Program. I am eager to get to know my cohort members even more and produce materials and resources for others to explore and use blended learning in their classrooms. 

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