NAIS Conference Reflections: PLNs, Speed Exposure, and Choices
February 27, 2011 § 1 Comment
No Weekly Roundup this week. We didn’t have school on Monday (President’s Day) or Tuesday (snow day!), and on Wednesday I traveled to National Harbor, MD to attend the National Association of Independent Schools conference. I attended several workshops, general sessions, and did my best to stay on top of the Twitter stream. Speaking of Twitter, personal learning networks (PLN) were frequently discussed as a great way to stay connected with new ideas in teaching and learning (one small step to being a networked school). You can create a PLN by joining Twitter and strategically choosing who to follow. Karen Blumberg, Technology Integrator at the School of Columbia University, suggested that PLNs are becoming “an industry standard” despite the fact that many administrators and faculty are not on Twitter. I think PLNs offer tremendous potential in teacher professional development, and I’m wondering how educational technology specialists are working to move their colleagues in this direction.
I was able to learn more about PLNs during the Speed Networking session, where I attended three mini-sessions from independent school “movers and shakers.” I loved the format for this session, which consisted of three intimate, 10-minute “dates.” I think this is a great way to expose educators to interesting ideas, and it would be a wonderful addition to a school’s professional development agenda. Fun too. In addition to PLNs, I had the opportunity to talk about disruptive innovation and design thinking (great topics for future blog posts).
Several other sessions addressed the power and difficulties of successful partnerships. I met several people I’m looking forward to connecting with more, including Jason Gregory, Director of Community Life and Public Purpose at Sage Hill School in California. We talked briefly about the need to create a network of educators in positions like ours, a topic I also discussed with colleagues from the Westminster Schools in Atlanta. Hopefully, we will see that develop over the next several months. As for partnership making, the necessity for independent schools to understand the needs of our partners was front and center. I have already shared my enthusiasm for this process here and here.
I enjoyed the general sessions by Sheena Iyengar and Dan Heath. Both made me think differently about how I approach faculty and community partners in terms of change management. Iyengar discussed the Art of Choosing and spoke about how some of us work better with many choices while others succeed with fewer choices — it is the job of a leader to know the difference. I never thought about how the level of choice affects our performance, but I certainly will as I move forward. Dan Heath reminded me about the role of emotion in change and made me consider how to simplify the goals of a program like City as Our Campus, which requires us to rethink the ways we teach, in a manner that embraces that emotion.
It is the difference between this: