Day 2 at NAIS began with a fantastic session entitled “Parents Who Insist Their Child Is Being Bullied (Even Though the School Doesn’t See It)” with Michael Thompson, Psychologist and Daisy Pellant (Breck School – MN).
This useful and interactive workshop discussed four case studies and provided practical suggestions in managing the disconnect that can sometimes occur between families and a school. Is it bullying, social cruelty, or something else?
Here are some notes:
- Families and schools need to build trust in order to deal with social situations effectively.
- Parents can bring their own social trauma and situations to their child’s experiences.
- Advice for schools re:bullying
- Stay Centered
- Don’t get defensive
- Don’t get bullied
- Remember child development
- Follow school protocol
- A clear anti-bullying protocol externalizes response and creates consistency.
- Anti-bullying law defines bullying in spirit & action. Differ from state to state.(public, charter, independent)
- Schools should create a developmentally appropriate protocol for bullying. Different for 5-year-old and a 12-year-old.
- Buckingham Browne and Nichols’ Bullying Protocol was noted as an exemplary plan.
- What teachers fear re: bullying incidents:
- fear of mistakes
- parent retaliation/ job security
- lack of admin support
- Admin must publicly back the process and the teacher dealing with a bullying situation.
- Admin need to intervene at the right time. Support your teachers. “Adopt” the parent, if needed. (Meaning: take the weight off the teacher.)
- Call in experts if you need them. (ie. Psychologists)
- Pre-load developmentally appropriate expectations to parents-
- Explicitly say in September -“There will be a biter. There will be a bitee. Someone will be poked.”
- After parents explain their side, ask parents “Would you be willing to hear our point of view?” Parent opens the door.
- Nothing like having data/observations documented for two children’s interactions to support your stance.
I appreciated the valuable advice provided in this session to help parents understand that providing a “safe” school is not necessarily the same as creating an environment where nothing socially challenging, difficult, or negative happens to a child.
Here is a link to my tweets during this session.
To a packed room filled with 99% women, Amada Torres (NAIS), Susan Goodman (Greensboro Day School- NC), Tekakwitha Pernambuco-Wise (Seacrest School – CA), and Laura Blackburn Reed (NCAIS) facilitated a workshop that invited conversation and action-planning to “build a deeper understanding of the variables at the intersection of gender and culture in independent schools.”
Amada Torres began the session presenting data to frame the issue of women being underrepresented in headship positions at NAIS Schools. Why has this number remained virtually flat since 2001-2002? There are many women in independent schools as teachers and in other administrator roles. Why aren’t they becoming Heads? Do they want to become Heads? If not, why not?
Here are some notes:
- Women are underrepresented at every level in corporate America.
- Good news at Independent Schools is that women are well-represented in all areas other than Head – administrators, instructional support, teachers, division heads.
- Better chance of females becoming a head at K-12 schools, at all girls schools, and at West Coast schools.
- Women have fewer opportunities for a mentor/sponsor — a cheerleader for her.
We began unpacking three essential questions through an Affinity Mapping Activity to see if we could come to some understanding, explanation, and plans for the future. What needs to change?
My group explored the question: How will opportunities available to candidates change when indy school communities commit to creating an equitable hiring process?
Where are the opportunities/ roadblocks to creating more female leaders?
- Put pressure on search firms to change the model.
- Create a search firm around the work of female leadership.
- Consider women’s ways to lead! Redefine the head’s roles.
- Can headship job descriptions be re-written such that women will recognize all of the qualities that they can offer to a headship position?
- Do women focus on the parts of the job descriptions they do not meet?
- “Gender-blind” resume review.
- Bias of committees, access to leadership PD. Do women have the same opportunities to learn about the financial and fundraising aspects at a school?
- School communities and hiring committees need to be explicit about commitment to diverse candidate pool.
- Interesting data from NC Schools: 80% of heads are male and they were hired under Board Chairs who will 80% male. How can we break this cycle? Change school culture.
Some amazing conversations happened in this room filled with people who care deeply about providing equitable leadership opportunities for women.
Final takeaway– we need to keep talking about BREAKING THE MOLD at our schools, within our regional associations, and at NAIS.
Thanks to the presenters for a great session!
Here is a link to my tweets during the session.
Day 1 of #NAISAC began with an engaging session with Barry Gilmore (Hutchinson School – TN), Matthew Rush (Allen Academy- (TX), Michelle Alexander (Cannon School – NC).
Each presenter shared a “challenge” in their schools- what happened? who was involved? Barry described an issue surrounding the school’s discipline’s system, Matthew shared a challenge with the school’s Diversity and Inclusivity statement, and Michelle described how she overcame a major curriculum challenge regarding Literacy.
Here are some highlights:
- Great organizations grow and change.
- Preserve the core (your mission), but stimulate progress (change).
- Dealing with thorny issues at school involves letting people talk, giving ample time for discussion, talk about culture, lay out a process.
- Give teachers autonomy/ownership in the solution, everyone has a voice, who are people listening to?
- There is power in visuals. A simple chart can help people understand the issue and possible solutions.
- What do we do to arrive at a common vision? How do you move forward without bruising egos? Who is included in conversations?
- Include all parties, buy-in makes a difference, ask the hard questions, transparency is key. Create a plan.
- Solving thorny issues – Get the right people around the table. Include STUDENTS when possible!
- Allen Academy’s students were charged to write their school’s inclusivity statement. Powerful message!
- Give (away) power to grow as a community.
- What does dealing with tough times involve? — Change, Community, Growth
- Board/student connection can be powerful.
- Be transparent about how the decisions will be made. Everyone has a voice, not everyone gets a vote. Communication is key.
- Provide opportunities for the community to be “heard.” Your opinion is valued.
The session ended with one of my favorite quotes:
Do you have all the right people on the bus to make the changes that need to be made at your school?
Thanks to the presenters!
Here’s a link to the archive of my tweets during this session.
I love the excitement and anticipation before attending a conference, especially NAIS. Whether it’s your first time at Annual Conference or if you are a frequent participant, here’s some advice before you head to Baltimore:
#1 Download the app! Seriously, do it right now. You won’t regret it.
- Familiarizing yourself with the app ahead of time will help you to get a handle on all that the conference has to offer.
- Each year the app gets better. I see myself using tools such as “My Schedule,” “Workshops,” “Speakers,” “What’s on Now,” “Exhibitors,” and “Downloads.” And there’s more, too! Check it out. Now.
#2 Plan ahead. Now that you downloaded the app, USE IT!
- Spend some time planning your days BEFORE you arrive. You can browse the workshops “by day,” “by track,” and “by type.” How convenient is that?
- Plan multiple options for each time slot. This way, if a session is not meeting your needs, you have a backup plan. Attending EdCamps helped me realize my time is too precious at conferences like this to waste them in a session that is not meeting my needs.
- Read up on the Keynote speakers ahead of time and if you are extra ambitious, maybe even do a little research about them. Personally, I am looking forward to Sir Ken Robinson on Friday morning!
- Browse the exhibitors to see who will be there. Identify the vendors that you want to make sure you visit. You can view these “by category” or “by location.” Great, again! Exhibition Hall can be super overwhelming if you don’t have a focus.
#3 Follow #NAISAC on Twitter. And if you are not on Twitter, join today*.
- The conversations tagged with #NAISAC enrich the conference experience on so many levels.
- Discussions are continued beyond the finite time within a workshop or keynote.
- It’s easy to make connections with others and continue them long after the conference is over. So many amazing independent school educators will be at your fingertips through the #NAISAC hashtag.
- Because you can’t be in two places at once, following #NAISAC can help you learn from people in other sessions.
- If you are social media shy, the NAISAC app will allow you to see what people are talking about on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Linkedin, and YouTube through the “Social Media” link.
- If you are comfortable, share what you are learning as you go. I use twitter as a way to take notes. It keeps them short, sweet, and to the point. (140 characters or less!) And others can benefit from what I am learning and add to them.
*(Note: Here, here, and here are some resources on Twitter for educators.)
A little time invested now will pay off in the long run, making #NAISAC 2017 the best yet. See you in Baltimore!
P.S. If you have additional tips and advice, please leave a comment.