At NESA we focus on continuous adult learning because we know it has an impact
on continuous student learning. The time we spend together trickles into every aspect
of the schools we serve, reaching thousands of students every day.
– Madeleine Hewitt, NESA Executive Director
What If. . .? Building Cultures of Wholeness & Flourishing in Schools
Fall Leadership Conference – Abu Dhabi
October 19-22, 2017
NESA's 2017 Fall Leadership Conference was a celebration of community, collaboration and professional learning. The overarching theme of "human flourishing" and "cultures of wholeness" -- for educators and students – infused the entire event, starting with NESA Board President Rose Puffer inviting into the opening plenary a group who could not be present -- the children in our schools – via a video of NESA students at school. Ten NESA member schools took part in this inspiring visual project.
The video set the tone for Carolyn McKanders' extended keynote, where she explored flourishing, growth, and the balance between 'head' and 'heart'. She challenged NESA leaders to think about how to foster 'cultures of wholeness' at their schools by asking "What if...?". School teams posed provocative questions, such as:
What if we develop dispositions instead of focusing on content?
What if we no longer assigned grades?
What if we redefine success?
What if all assessments were formative?
What if collaborative replaced competitive?
What if every student had a passion project?
What if the kids lead the learning?
On Friday, keynoter Ron Berger continued the theme of human flourishing by challenging school leaders to pursue an "ethic of excellence" where scholarship and character unite to create 'beautiful work'. And Steve Barkley in his Saturday keynote explored how to build a culture of coaching in schools to generate teacher learning that impacts student success.
In the NESA spirit of collaboration, school leaders teamed with specialist presenters to share how innovations at their schools have impacted student learning in the areas of advancement/development, becoming a culture of thinking, and technology, in partnership with the NESA EdTech Leaders Collaborative.
The program also included preconferences for principals and advancement/development professionals, 17 three-hour specialist workshops, and 24 General Interest Workshops presented by NESA administrators and affiliate organizations. The NESA Business Managers and Human Resources Directors Collaboratives each met in facilitated, multi-day workshops, as did Board Trustees.
NESA's adult learning program addresses every domain of a school, offering transformational learning to all who work to make an impact on students and take the time to ask, 'What if...?'
Next year's FLC: October 18-21, InterContinental Hotel, Athens, Greece. We'll see you there!