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SEC2015 - Archive

Conference Report

March 20-23, 2015 - Hilton Istanbul Bosphorus, Turkey

NESA educators -- almost 600! -- returned to exotic, historic Istanbul, Turkey, after a ten-year absence. The lovely Hilton Istanbul Bosphorus, with its stunning view, was the venue for the NESA Spring Educators Conference, March 20-23. The program offered four keynotes, three half-day specialist sessions, four teacher workshops (from a choice of 50!) and several General Interest Workshops presented by NESA affiliates. Almost half of the delegates attended extended workshops in Adaptive Schools (5-days) or the Literacy: Writing Focus, WIDA ELL/EAL and Socratic Seminars (3-days).

A special one-day preconference on "Addressing Child Protection in Your School" was presented Thursday by Michael Bourke from the US Marshals Service, Johanna Straavaldsen of Prevent Child Abuse Vermont, and Brian Matthews and Jenny Canar of AIS-Riyadh.

The daily keynotes perfectly reflected NESA's mission of equipping educators with the tools to maximize student learning: Heidi Hayes Jacobs, author of the series Contemporary Perspectives on the New Literacies: Digital-Media-Global, and Bena Kallick, co-founder of the Institute for Habits of Mind, gave a joint keynote (sponsored by International Schools Services) on how to set the stage for 'products and performances' rather than 'projects and activities' in "Dispositions for Deeper Learning: Staging Contemporary Inquiry"; Dylan Wiliam (sponsored by Northwest Evaluation Association), Emeritus Professor at University College London, explained how classroom formative assessment can improve teacher quality in "Teacher Quality: Why It Matters, What It Is, and How to Get More of It"; on Sunday, Bena Kallick spoke about "Dispositions: Reframing Teaching, Learning and Leadership", describing how to design assessments that focus on growth as students develop the Habits of Mind; and best-selling author and educatorDebbie Silver (sponsored by The College Board) closed the conference with her wonderful keynote, "Fall Down 7 Times, Get Up 8: Teaching Kids to Succeed", that sent us all on our way full of energy and passion for our work.

Extended (multi-day) workshops were a major feature of the program, which nearly half of the delegates attended: the inimitable Bob Garmston and Carolyn McKanders again led their popular “Five-Day Adaptive Schools Certificate Program”, with three-day workshops in Literacy-Writing presented by Matt Glover (K-2), Ralph Fletcher (3-5), and Carl Anderson (6-8), plus three-day sessions by Amy King and Jennifer Wilfrid on "WIDA Training for EAL/ELL Teachers, K-12" and by John Zola on "Socratic Seminars".

The four-hour "specialist” workshops spanned the educational spectrum, from standards-based assessment in the reading workshop, backward design, and transferring learning beyond the classroom walls, to the flipped classroom, habits of mind, inclusion, child protection, student success and resilience, and peace-building. NESA affiliates also presented General Interest Workshops, and NESA educators led 50 workshops for their peers. The NESA "Twitter-sphere" also took off -- check it out at #nesasec!

NESA events are a balance of professional learning and personal connection, and delegates got their chance to mingle at Friday's Welcome Reception at the Hilton and at Sunday evening’s Gala, with a 'carnival/street fair' theme, a delicious buffet, a Turkish folkloric dance performance, and great dance music! (See delegates' exotic, silly, and imaginative headwear on our website's photo galleries.) Abhi B. Sharma of the American School of Doha, was honored as the winner of the Stanley Haas/Luke Hansen Student Award (sponsored by GBG/TieCare), and addressed delegates at the Gala.