#NAISAC14: Opening General Session with John Chubb and Lyn Heward

daretoexploreThe official opening of NAISAC14 was filled with excitement and energy. John Chubb’s first remarks as President were critically analyzed by everyone in the room. I was impressed with his tone and enthusiasm and liked what he had to say. And while I felt Lyn Heward’s (COO and Creative Content Division Director for Cirque du Soleil)   talk went on a bit too long, she offered some inspiring words on creativity and risk-taking. Both helped set the tone for the conference opening. I was a little disappointed, given the theme was “Dare to Explore and Discover” and we were so close to the Kennedy Space Center, that an inspiring talk from an astronaut was not on the opening agenda.

Here are my notes:

#NAISAC14: The Distraction Addiction w/ author Alex Soojung-Kim Pang

Although I couldn’t stay for this entire session because I needed to set up for my presentation, Alex’s talk was intriguing and I didn’t want to leave.  His book is now on my “to read” list. Being that I consider myself a self-proclaimed “multi-tasker,” I really had a lot to listen to. I also admit that, since this session, I am more aware of the fact that I do hold my breath when my email is loading… and I know that I look at my phone more than 150 times a day. #beinghonest

Here are my tweets from this session:

#NAISAC14: Teachers Unplugged

Session leaders Jenni Swanson Voorhees, Chris Bigenho, Jill Brown, Liz Davis, Sophie Halliday and Linda Swarlis led us in an amazing conversation where WE got to choose the topics!

Here’s the description from the conference blog:photo (30)

“Connect with colleagues and join innovative conversations in this new participant-driven session for teachers. Based on the “unconference” format, this session offers you the opportunity to drive discussion topics, share knowledge and passions, and find solutions to problems. Learn from colleagues and share your expertise with others. After a fun introduction to the open session format, join conversations on topics that you choose.”

The round table discussion I was involved in was entitled: “How to stop doing what we know we should not be doing.”  I have very few tweets from this session because it was hard to tweet, talk. and listen at the same time. I didn’t want to miss anything that anyone in this circle was saying! We were all noting that we wished that there were more sessions of this type throughout the conference– as opposed to a “sage on the stage” model. Our own professional development should model what we want our classroom to look like! 

My favorite tweet is the first one in this list! As a new person to the Lower School world, I couldn’t agree with it more!

#NAISAC14 General Session: John Chubb/ John Quinones

photo (31)Here are my notes from Friday Morning’s General Session with NAIS President, John Chubb, and Featured Speaker, John Quinones from ABC News. John Chubb shared the vision of NAIS and talked about the importance of quality teachers. John Quinones gave a heartfelt reflection on the impact of teachers in his life and  the power of making mistakes and learning from them.

#NAISAC14 “Beyond These Walls: How Augmented Reality Can Promote Your School’s Message”

Justine Fellows (Greens Farms Academy) and I presented at the Speed Innovating Session at NAIS (Disney World!). The session is set up much like “Speed Dating.” Attendees pre-register for three topics they want to learn more about and presenters have 15 minutes to share their topic. When the 15 minutes is up, participants move to their next topic of choice.  There’s a large, (very intimidating) stop watch on the screen at the front to keep everyone on schedule.

We started with a 3 minute description of augmented reality and then let our participants “play” for 5-7 minutes. We had iPads (yes, we lugged them from CT), headphones, and our trigger images all ready to go. We spent the next 5 minutes sharing ideas we had for using Augmented Reality to promote our school’s message, and we ended with a “share” of ideas that participants offered. It’s high energy, a lot of fun, and attendees learn just enough to figure out whether they want to learn more about the topic. They now have a contact person at another school to reach out to so they can. We had a blast! 

Here is our presentation along with handouts.

Getting the (blog) monkey off my back

photoSo, my last post on this blog was on June 8th and it has been hanging over my head ever since. It’s not as if I haven’t thought about blogging. Believe me. I have thought about it. A LOT. I even have a list in my phone of things I have wanted to blog about. I just never got to it. I strongly dislike (don’t really like to use the word “hate”) the fact that one of my New Year’s Resolutions in 2013 was to blog at least twice a month. And I didn’t do it.

I’m not here to make excuses but life has been a little busy since June 8th. Well… a lot busy. Never have I had to deal with so many changes at the same time. On July 1st,  I began a new job at Hamden Hall– Acting Director of Lower School. We sold our house of 14 years, and we moved to a house on campus. All the while we tried to keep life as “normal” as possible for our two teenage daughters. Moving was tough, but purging unnecessary “stuff” was definitely liberating. And I really enjoyed reliving many amazing memories as I packed each box. But, I’m glad it’s done. I finally feel settled and somewhat organized in my work and home life. I had a relaxing and restful Thanksgiving Break. I even read a book… for pleasure - “The Other Wes Moore”. I highly recommend it.

And I also committed to “treating” myself to getting the (blog) monkey off my back! Now that I’ve admitted it publicly, the weight is lifted. I’m moving on.





2013 CAIS Academic Tech Retreat: The best yet!

Each year, the CAIS Academic Technology Retreat is the “prize” and we keep our eye on it the whole year.  It’s a time to sharecheryl tweet the great things that are happening, to learn from others, and to dive into some new technologies that can enhance teaching and learning at our schools.  Cheryl Costello summed up the feeling with this tweet:

After hearing that our longstanding venue, Trinity Conference Center in Cornwall, CT, was closing, we got a little down. It was a space we were familiar with; it was charted “territory”. Guest House in Chester, CT was recommended as a replacement, and I am happy to report that it did not disappoint.  This new venue forced us to rethink (and improve) the conference on the whole, and, because the place could accommodate more guests , new and different people were able to attend. We loved the spaces for break out sessions and the common areas were very flexible, allowing for the unconference model to work even better!

Dirk DeLo from Avenues: World School was our keynote. In his presentation, “Classroom in the Cloud”, he shared his technology journey, and Avenues’ journey, and offered inspiring words about moving our schools forward. Here are some quotes that have stuck with me:

  • “Best way to predict your future is to invent it”
  • “It’s no longer about IT it’s about TI (technology integration).”
  • On digital content creation …. “Teachers need to make their own”playlists” using tools to create their own digital resources. “Teachers should be curators of content”.
  • “iPad is the new Trapper Keeper”
  • Digital Diet. Choose a few tools. Classroom in the cloud: Stick w/ core tools. Evernote, iTunes U, Subtext, GDocs, Dropbox, Showbie
  • You have the tech tools, how do you get the teachers to accept this ‘invasive species’?
  • “You have to get the teachers to take the bait”
  • “Technology should not drive the curriculum, curriculum should drive technology . IT needs to “retool”
  • Challenge Based Learning… not about technology. Tech is the tool. What is the big idea? Essential Questions?
  • “Substitution”, “Augmentation”,, “Modification”, “Redefinition”
  • The goal of tech integration is REDEFINITION: Tech for the creation of new tasks, previously inconceivable!


Following Dirk, we had an “App Smackdown”, where each person attending shared their favorite website or app.  Here is this year’s list of recommendations from colleagues at CAIS schools. The second tab in the spreadsheet are twitter handles from other CAIS educators. The third tab includes resources from a session called “Bleeding Edge: Where do you hear about the next big thing? Come and share your favorite reliable sources.”

Our sessions for the remainder of the unconference were impressive! Check out the board!

I led a few sessions, including: photo 4

Twitter Maniacs (w/ fellow twitter addicts Sharon Plante and Cheryl Costello)“If you aren’t on Twitter you should be! Come talk about how being a Twitter Maniac will help you be a Connected Educator.”  The session was PACKED and we all have many new connections to continue our learning 24/7! We had a blast!
How to Poke the Sleeping Dragon: Implementing Change & Tips to Manage from the Middle (w/ Justine Fellows) A great discussion implementing change in our schools.

Instead of a “normal” social hour,  we really geeked out. Some were trying to program a robot and another group was learning how to “augment reality” with an iPad app called “Aurasma”. Awesome to think of the many ways this can be used at our schools. COOL STUFF!  In keeping with our tradition, some of our colleagues provided musical accompaniment.

We also played techie charades/ pictionary, once again.

is the archive of tweets from the conference.

Thanks to everyone who attended, shared, inspired, collaborated, and learned with me these two amazing days. It’s what true professional development is all about! 

Here are some more pics:

Whipple Hill’s Follow Friday: The Evolution of #ISEDchat

Follow Friday

I am honored to have been chosen to kick off Whipple Hill’s new blog #Follow Friday.  I really enjoyed sharing the story of #ISEDchat! Please join us on Thursday night’s at 9pm EST.

Follow Friday: The Evolution of #ISEDchat – a Q&A with Lorri Carroll



Some final thoughts on #NAISAC13… FINALLY!

photo 2We are officially on Spring Break now. Phew. This blog post has been on my “to-do” list for more than two weeks.  It’s the first time that I can exhale.

Aside from the conference itself being an amazing professional development experience filled with inspiring speakers and terrific workshops, NAISAC13 afforded me the opportunity to achieve a professional goal I set for myself– to present! I thank my Head of School for supporting me in this endeavor.

photo 3

Although I was really nervous leading up to the session, once we got started, it was as if I had presented with Chris Bigenho and Jason Kern many times before. Truth is… I “met” them for the first time on Wednesday night when we arrived in Philly. Here’s a link to our presentation: NAIS 2013- To Flip or Not to Flip: Practical Lessons Learned We had a standing-room-only crowd and the time flew by! The Q and A portion included some insightful questions and we received positive feedback when it was all over. It was an experience I won’t soon forget! Thanks guys!

Here are my top take-aways from the rest of the conference. They come from my tweets and notes.
(I hope I attributed these remarks with the correct people.)

1) Manage Up, Manage Down: (Re)volution in Middle Management  was a perfect start to my NAIS experience. This “leading from the middle” session really hit home. Here ‘s a link to my tweets throughout the hour. I have looked at these four or five times since I have gotten home, a sure sign of a worthwhile session!  Four snippets, in particular, stand out for me:

  • “You have to learn to manage “up” to your supervisor. It’s worth becoming a student of leadership.”
  • photo 4“The Head of School is the Head of School. Your role is to implement the vision of the Head of School.”
  • “Change is inevitable, adaptation is optional.”
  • “These mantras are worth looking at! Great stuff here! pic.twitter.com/tMpS0lEwCu

2) “The difference between a good leader and a great leader: humility… combined with an utterly ferocious will.” -Jim Collins

3) “Signature of mediocrity is chronic inconsistency.
Don’t grab the new silvery thing… every 3 years try another one. chronic inconsistency
Look at the good programs, and make them GREAT…
what are we passionate about? what can we be the best at?
stay focused with great consistency.
no greatness happens in one step!
discipline alone is not enough
discipline AND creativity AND  innovation” - Jim Collins

4) “A great institution meets 3 tests:

  • superior performance relative to your mission,
  • makes a distinctive impact on the world it touches  (if your school went away, would it leave an unfillable hole? who would miss you, and why)
  • achieves lasting endurance… beyond any leader. Your school cannot be great if it cannot be great without you.” - Jim Collins

5)  From 12 Questions for leaders:

 “if you have more than 3 priorities you have too many. what should we stop doing?
do we have the right people on our school bus? are 95% of the seats filled with the right people?”- Jim Collins

6)   “You must vow to get comfortable each day in shoes that are not your own.” - Sekou Andrews

7) “Leadership is comprised of four things: aspiration, inspiration, perspiration, and respiration.” -Soumitra Dutta

8) “We give way too much credit to technology. We almost want technology to drag us into change.” “Technology, as a practice, means not only that new tools change, but also that we can change the practice. We want to see technology as an independent force, but it’s not. It’s ubiquitous.”-Alexis Madrigal

9) “Let go of the old metrics… ROE(rules of engagement) is the new ROI “-Alexis Madrigal

10) “On Madison’s leadership: do the homework, work the network!, communicate frequently and clearly, change course as needed”- photo 1Pat Bassett

11) “Your dreams will never have greater meaning if they are not connected to your community.” - Tererai Trent

12)  “Pat Bassett … distinguished educator turned champion!” RT @raventech: @PatBassett Your leadership & vision has provided ed tech folks in #indyschools a voice we didn’t have. Thanks!”

Thanks to Kim SivickProof Group and Travis Warren, CEO of Whipple Hill, for arranging meet-ups. It felt good to meet people “face to face” and not speak with the constriction of 140 characters. ;) PLN- Thanks for sharing  from wherever you were! You added another dimension to my conference experience. I’m sad I couldn’t connect with everyone I wanted to… hopefully next year!

NAIS Conference Committee-   I loved the conference, the wifi, the conference app and the online community. I did, in fact, “Think big and Think great!” 

And Philly! You were an awesome venue. I felt so comfortable here.

Note: The week following NAIS, we dedicated our Thursday 9PM EST #isedchat to an #NAISAC13 Recap. Here is the archive from this chat.

NAIS 2013 Presentation: To Flip or Not to Flip: Practical Lessons Learned

Here is the presentation that Chris Bigenho, Jason Kern and I gave at NAIS 2013. We had a packed house and some great questions.  It was so much fun!

I have a lot to post about the conference… need to catch my breath first. More to follow soon!


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