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Spring 2018 | Volume 20 | Number 3
Table of Contents-Spring Issue

2018 Spring Educators Conference - Athens

Learner Agency: A Clarion Call to Impact Student Learning
March 30 - April 1, 2018

NESA educators came together at the Athenaeum InterContinental for three days of transformational learning, inspiration and new networks and relationships, to support their teaching, and ultimately, impact student learning.

Learner agency – of both student and adult learners – was at the core of the conference, with the three keynoters exploring the power of groups and individuals as architects of their own learning. Carolyn McKanders’ extended, all-morning keynote, What Makes for Human Flourishing? Creating a Culture of Wholeness in Schools sponsored by ISS examined the balance between ‘head’ and ‘heart’ and how engaging learners and educators holistically allows them to flourish. Ms McKanders’ challenged school teams to pose “What if. . .?” questions. A sampling:

  • What if. . .the classroom was not limited to the boundaries of its four walls?
  • What if. . .schools educate students for success in life?
  • What if. . .all schools stopped grading?
  • What if. . .we redesign the way we navigate through the school day?
  • What if. . .students could learn at their own pace, pursuing their own passions?
  • What if. . .we were less outcome-focused and more process-oriented?

Agency was also at the heart of Cathryn Berger Kaye’s keynoteSaturday, Aligning Purpose with Practice: Service Learning, where she asked, ‘How do we transform education into action?’ and described how to provide learning experiences transferable to students’ lives outside of school in order to foster a sense of personal agency to make healthy choices.

In his keynote Sunday, The Innovator’s Mindset, George Couros spoke about the fast-changing educational landscape with its focus on putting learners at the center – student agency — and how we must move beyond a ‘growth mindset’ to an ‘innovator’s mindset’, to focus not only on ‘what we know, but on what we do with what we know’.

NESA’s Professional Development Advisory Committee (PDAC) crafted a powerful program of professional learning with four-hour specialist workshops ranging from NGSS, collaborative inquiry into data, and instructional leadership, to design thinking, innovative teaching and learning and formative assessment. Certificate courses were offered in ‘Advanced Adaptive Schools’ and ‘Positive Discipline in the Classroom’, plus multi-day Literacy and Administrative Assistants institutes. NESA educators led 38 workshops for their peers over three days, and NESA affiliates presented General Interest Workshops.

It was fitting that the SEC – a gathering of educators – was located in Athens, so important to literature, philosophy, the arts and western culture. Friday’s Welcome Reception was imbued with the spirit of ancient Greece, as educators mingled on the InterContinental’s roof terrace with a perfect view of the Acropolis. At Saturday’s social, “A Taste of Greece”, delegates enjoyed delicious Greek food and traditional line dancing to live music in the InterCon’s ballroom, transformed into a Greek ‘village’.

NESA endeavors to support individual teacher agency as teachers collaborate, model, plan and practice. Through the SEC and all of its professional development events, NESA supports educators in a powerful stance of inquiry, growth mindset, practice and reflection so they can make an IMPACT!

SEC 2018 Photo Gallery

Next year’s SEC: March 29-31, 2019, Royal Orchid Sheraton, Bangkok, Thailand. See you there!