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InterContinental Hotel - Abu Dhabi

Carolyn McKanders

Educational consultant for Liberation, LLC, specializing in individual, group and organizational
development, and Director Emeritus of Thinking Collaborative, home of Adaptive Schools and Cognitive Coaching Seminars.

Full Bio

CAROLYN McKANDERS is Director Emeritus for Thinking Collaborative, the home of the Adaptive Schools Seminars and Cognitive Coaching Seminars®. As an educational consultant, Ms McKanders specializes in individual, group and organization development. Her passion is promoting quality human relationships through communication, collaboration and leadership-skills development.

Her background includes 28 years in the Detroit Public Schools as a teacher, counselor, program administrator, and staff-development specialist. Presently, she presents seminars internationally on developing Adaptive Schools and Organizations, Cognitive CoachingSM, enhancing presentation effectiveness and meeting facilitation skills.

She also provides polarity management training, which supports organizations in identifying and managing competing tensions inherent in social systems.

Ms McKanders has extensive experience in group facilitation, successfully helping groups to clarify vision and work collaboratively to achieve professional community and desired results. In addition to her work in educational settings, she is a family, adolescent and women’s counselor. From her counseling experience, she brings to her work a deep belief in the unlimited capacity and resilience of the human spirit.

Ms McKanders has a BS degree in Child Development and Education from Michigan State University, an MA degree in Counseling and Education from the University of Michigan, and an MSW degree in Family and Children Services from Eastern Michigan University.

Extended Keynote: Thurs, Oct. 19

NOTE: This is an extended keynote presentation, from 9:00am-12:00pm (coffee break, 10:00-10:30)

  • 8:30-9:00 Welcome Remarks
  • 9:00-10:00 Extended Keynote, Part 1 - Carolyn McKanders
  • 10:00-10:30 Coffee Break
  • 10:30-11:15 Extended Keynote, Part 2: Team Discussions
  • 11:15-12:00 Extended Keynote, Part 3: Closing Reflection Session

What Makes for Human Flourishing? Creating a Culture of Wholeness in Schools

Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.” — Aristotle

Every individual and community seeks wholeness, that is, to experience a sense of balance, vibrancy, self-renewing joie de vivre and completeness. Wholeness is experienced through connections and relationships with ourselves, with others, and with our world. Wholeness is realized through recognizing and reconciling life’s dualities: self and group; intellect and intuition; wisdom and compassion; head and heart.

There is mounting research that supporting students in developing holistically is critical. Research shows disturbing concerns that student anxiety, depression and emotional overwhelm are increasing in many of our “very best” schools throughout the world. Research also indicates that school cultures promoting integration of head and heart propel students toward a healthy life which includes a love of self, and others, a love of learning, as well as lasting resilience, and life success.

School mission statements and learner profiles embrace these propositions and strive to offer learning conditions attending to all of the dimensions of human growth and development. Yet these intentions fall away under the weight of coverage, fragmentation, and external measures. The weight of more narrow and demanding expectations is frequently at the expense of student wellbeing. So, what makes us espouse values of wholeness and balance, but not live up to them?

In this keynote, we revisit our commitment to wholeness supported by research; examine the forces behind the enculturation of poor practices; and commit to reconciling the incongruence between espoused and lived values. Educators will engage in a guided experience, exploring holistically the tensions and possibilities around achieving rigorous and rewarding outcomes through nurturing wholeness.

3-Hour Workshop: Friday, Oct. 20

Polarities of Wholeness- Balancing and Leading Head-Heart Tensions in Schools

Educational leaders strive to close the gap between espoused and lived values of educating students holistically. Wholeness is achieved through attending to and reconciling seemingly opposing dualities called polarities- intellect and intuition, relationship and rigor, head and heart.

In this seminar, leaders will engage in identifying significant polarities and ways to lead and manage these tensions to strengthen and sustain holistic learning communities for both students and adults. Attendees will increase their efficacy and resourcefulness in leveraging the best of both opposites while avoiding the limitations of each.

Participants will have. . .

  • Understandings of the principles and tools for recognizing and managing polarities;
  • Lenses and structures for identifying and discussing which polarities if balanced will be most powerful for promoting integration and wholeness in their settings;
  • Mapping tools for making tensions visible to support planning and strategizing

Continuum Levels: 2, 3, 4 = Deepening Understanding (theory-based learning, investigating models, identifying experts) | Initiating Implementation (setting structures, developing skills, piloting practice, scaffolding support) | Extending Implementation (reflecting, evaluating, modifying practice, improving skills).

NESA's Learning Continuum:

Learn more about how NESA plans Professional Learning


Save paper and effort where possible!

For your convenience, and to support our efforts in being "green", all handouts/files posted here have been notated with an A, B, C or D indicating the following:

(A) hardcopies needed at workshop
(B) electronic version on laptop is sufficient (for viewing during the workshop)
(C) required reading PRIOR to the workshop
(D) file not needed for workshop itself, but simply material of additional interest/reference

3-Hour Workshop: Friday, Oct. 20

(A) Managing Polarities of Wholeness

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