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“Developing Adaptive Schools” Certificate Program

NESA Spring Educators Conference, Bangkok, Thailand

- Go to the Adaptive Schools schedule
- Download letter from Bob & Carolyn emailed to participants March 11
- Download accompanying article, "Working Together, We Can Produce Genius"

We're sorry, but enrollment for this institute is now full; we are unable to accept new sign-ups. Thank you for your understanding.

ROBERT J. GARMSTON, EdD, formerly principal of Aramco’s Dhahran and Abqaiq schools in Saudi Arabia, is Emeritus Professor of Educational Administration at California State University, Sacramento. In addition to serving as principal, he has been a teacher, director of instruction and superintendent. He is Co-developer of Cognitive Coaching ( with Art Costa, and co-developer, with Bruce Wellman, of the Center for Adaptive Schools (, which develops organizational capacity for self-directed, sustainable improvement in student learning. He has worked extensively with teachers, administrators and staff developers throughout the US as well as in Canada, Hawaii, South America, Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East. Active in many professional organizations, Dr Garmston served as president of the California Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development and as a member of the Executive Council for ASCD at the international level. In addition to educational clients, he has worked with diverse groups including police officers, probation officers, court and justice systems, utilities districts, the United States Air Force and the World Health Organization. His books have been translated into Arabic, Hebrew and Spanish.

CAROLYN McKANDERS, MA, MSW, is an independent educational consultant specializing in individual, group and organizational development. She is Director of Organizational Culture for Thinking Collaborative- home of Adaptive Schools Seminars and Cognitive CoachingSM Seminars. The Adaptive Schools work helps schools develop and sustain professional collaborative cultures by developing technical and social resources to realize continuing student improvement. Ms McKanders’ passion is promoting quality human relationships through communication, collaboration, and leadership skills development. She has 28 years of experience in Detroit Public Schools as a teacher, counselor and staff development specialist. Her expertise includes providing polarity management training that helps organizations identify and manage competing tensions inherent in social systems.

Search for these speakers' books at or and support NESA with your purchases.

Institute Description

For international schools to effectively respond to the press for accountability and provide quality learning for all students, they must simultaneously address two perennial goals. One goal is the professional development of individual educators. The second is the development of the organization's capacity to learn and be adaptive. Both build the capacity for school improvement, without which reform efforts will fail.

In this Center for Adaptive Schools Foundation Training, learn how to build strong collaborative and caring work cultures, in which results-oriented faculties work together for continuous school improvement. Explore the latest practical findings in organizational development, team learning and navigating the currents of change.

Participants will learn practical frameworks and tools for developing collaborative groups that bring collective responsibility in student learning. Leaders and group members will learn ways to influence and attain more productive and satisfying meetings in which members develop new norms and skills for collegial interaction, goal clarification, problem-solving and decision-making. Working in a variety of settings, skilled and confident facilitators will increase their ability to accelerate group development.

This experience consists of five days of on-site training/coaching for your team at the Spring Educators Conference (1 day preconference April 4, and four days during the conference, April 5-April 8), PLUS access to post conference interaction with instructors and group members during the weeks following the event..

Targeted Audience: This institute is specially designed for teams of two or more site administrators, teachers, staff developers and district and agency personnel who conduct meetings, convene and manage work teams, site councils, shared decision making groups and faculty committees.

Outcomes: Participants will develop. . .

  • An increased capacity to initiate, develop and sustain high functioning groups
  • New lenses for diagnosing the stages and phases of group development
  • An expanded repertoire of practical facilitation tools
  • Understandings of when and how to engage groups in dialogue and discussion, the limitations, forms and values of each
  • Skills to move groups beyond consensus to common focus
  • Ways to value and use dissension, argument and conflict
  • Strategies for keeping group members on track, on topic, energized and resourceful

The institute offers these themes:

Day 1— Entering the Territory / OUTCOMES:

  • Understanding of research findings regarding professional community in schools
  • Increased awareness of the why, what and how of becoming adaptive
  • Awareness of structures and processes for collaborative conversations

Day 2— Developing Collaborative Groups / OUTCOMES:

  • To extend a repertoire of facilitation strategies
  • To internalize four group member capabilities
  • To apply seven norms of collaboration
  • To increase skills in authentic paraphrasing and asking mediating questions

Day 3— Successful Meetings/ OUTCOMES:

  • To apply Meeting Success Structures
  • To investigate the causes driving data
  • To apply energy sources to group performance
  • To develop applications for concepts and strategies in participant’s schools

Day 4— Conflict / OUTCOMES:

  • To manage conflict
  • To map irresolvable problems
  • To develop perspectives and tools for discussion

Day 5— Moving Forward / OUTCOMES:

  • To balance inquiry with advocacy
  • To manage change and transitions
  • To transfer tools, concepts, and strategies from workshop to work place

Institute Schedule:

  • Thursday, April 4 -- 8:30-4:00
    10:00-10:30 coffee break / 12:30-1:30 lunch / 3:00-3:30 coffee break

  • Friday, April 5 -- 8:30-5:00
    10:00-10:30 coffee break / 12:30-1:30 lunch / 3:30-4:00 coffee break

  • Saturday, April 6 -- 8:30-12:30
    10:30-11:00 coffee break / 1:00-2:00 lunch
  • Sunday, April 7 -- 8:30-5:00
    10:00-10:30 coffee break / 12:30-1:30 lunch / 3:30-4:00 coffee break

  • Monday, April 8 -- 8:30-1:30
    10:45-11:15 coffee break

5-day Institute Fees:
Regular member delegate: US $825 / Associate member delegate: US $950

Fee includes coffee breaks, three lunches and conference social events. NESA member schools are eligible to participate. Separate registration is required to attend. PLEASE NOTE THAT ENROLLMENT FOR THIS INSTITUTE IS NOW FULL. (For school teams that have reserved spaces, your team leader will be contacted with instructions on how to register each member of your team.)

**NOTE: This institute is limited to 40 participants in teams of at least two persons. Two units university credit may be earned through SUNY (more information will be available soon).

Recommended Book (not required): The Adaptive School - A Sourcebook for Developing Collaborative Groups, by Robert Garmston & Bruce Wellman, Christopher Gordon Publisher.

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