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SEC2016 - Archive

Conference Report

April 1-4, 2016 - Royal Orchid Sheraton, Bangkok, Thailand

NESA educators returned to exotic and bustling Bangkok at our favorite Royal Orchid Sheraton on the banks of the Chao Praya River for four days of outstanding professional learning. NESA’s Spring Educators Conference, April 1-4 offered three keynotes, three half-day specialist sessions, four teacher workshop sessions (from a choice of 43!) and several General Interest Workshops given by NESA affiliates. Almost half the delegates attended extended workshops in Adaptive Schools (5-days), Literacy: Reading Focus (3-days), Visible Thinking (3-days), and an Administrative Assistants Strand (2-days). Additionally, two-day AERO preconferences in English/Language Arts, HS Math and the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) were offered prior to the SEC.

Keynote speakers perfectly balanced inspiration with ‘nuts & bolts’: Rick Wormeli (sponsored by International Schools Services) got everyone up and energized with his finale linking “Do-Re-Mi” from The Sound of Music to education in “What We Can Do If We Are Brave Together”; Katherine Bomer laid out a new vision of essays as “explorations that develop and communicate complex, engaging content inside organic, logical structures” in her talk “The Journey is Everything: Teaching Essays that Students Want to Write for People Who Want to Read Them”; and Monday morning’s speaker, Steve Barkley, in “Creating a School Culture of Coaching”, described how educators must collaborate to improve teaching and learning, and how a coaching culture among educators models practices we want students to adopt.

Extended (multi-day) workshops were a major feature of the program: the legengary Bob Garmston and Carolyn McKanders again led their popular “Five-Day Adaptive Schools Certificate Program”, with three-day institutes in “Literacy-Reading Focus” presented by Christy Curran (K-2), Emily DeLiddo (3-5), and Vicki Vinton (6-8); and in “Making Thinking Visible”, by Mark Church.

The four-hour "specialist” workshops hit all of the professional learning areas laid out by NESA’s Professional Development Advisory Committee (PDAC) from differentiated instruction, programmable robots, coaching, emotional intelligence, student writing and inclusion, to rubrics, NGSS, assessment and feedback, the power of teacher language and educating adolescents. NESA affiliates also presented General Interest Workshops, and NESA educators led 43 workshops for their peers. The NESA "Twitter-sphere" was also very active throughout -- check out #nesasec!

NESA means a balance of professional and personal development, so delegates got a chance to connect at Friday's Welcome Reception on the Sheraton’s Riverside Terrace and at Sunday evening’s Gala, with an amazing buffet and a traditional Thai dance and puppet performance followed by great dance music! Marcus Hallberg, Luke Hansen’s best friend and now a teacher at International Schools Group-Dhahran, movingly spoke about Luke and presented the Stanley Haas/Luke Hansen Student Award (sponsored by GBG/TieCare) to Olivia Efird from AIS-Riyadh, who addressed Gala delegates. Both Marcus and Olivia are remarkable young people who inspire and exemplify the spirit of the award. (See NESA awards)