Sharing Ideas – Reflections from NAIS

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I spent 3 days last week at the NAIS (National Association of Independent Schools) Annual Conference which was hosted in Seattle with several other colleagues from the Junior, Middle and Senior School. The theme of the conference was “Innovation: imagine, invent, inspire, dream.”

WOW!

The conference was attended by about 4,000 educators and administrators from independent schools around the globe. It is no easy task trying to distill the most important pieces of information after hearing from speakers like Bill Gates, John Hunter (who created the World Peace Games – check out his TED talk at TED.com), Amy Chua (initiator of the “Tiger Mother” discussion) and Dan Savage (from the “It Gets Better” Project). These were riveting and relevant talks and I will be processing the content of the keynotes and the workshops for days and weeks to come.

Sharing Ideas

How to communicate and share ideas best?

Of course on one end of the spectrum, it is always a highlight to have lively and inspired conversations with colleagues relating topics back to a SMUS context, both reaffirmed by existing practice and motivated by new ideas. Through our discussions, we deepened our own understanding and enriched the topic even more. Exciting, engaging and memorable.

On the other end of the spectrum, and feeling vastly different, is using at most 140 characters to share a message that had a particular impact. During the talk, if I felt moved, I would “tweet” a quote or message that I felt had a particular resonance. I didn’t give it too much thought nor was any research done before I tweeted…just a personal reaction that I wanted to remember and share. It was amazing to see the comments posted by others in the room, others doing the same thing. Efficient, engaging and valuable.

Here are a few of my “Tweets” from NAIS:

  • Using social media, tech & innovation. Pushing the edge but reaffirming what is happening at SMUS
  • “Innovation is the means, Equity the end goal. Future belongs to those who can think of solutions to current problems.” Bill Gates
  • Goal – “Material so thrilling they can’t do w/out it, & so challenging that they almost can’t do it.” John Hunter
  • Anti-LGBTQ bullying, bad for all kids. Sexual violence towards girls connected to anti-gay attitudes.” Dan Savage
  • “Key to great teaching is relationship. If you touch their heart, the lessons of the mind go deeper.” John Hunter
  • Ways to get news “trending” is a huge area of focus for soc media spin doctors. Soraya Dorabi

The efficiency of social networks like Twitter is appealing and the possibilities are limitless. Being able to connect to others based on interest instead of geography is exciting. The critical thinking piece is key though. What is most effective, efficient, thorough, balanced, factual….?

Coming back to sharing ideas from the conference…my tweets have served as reminders of some great discussions and more conversations that I want to have….and for me, that is a great combination!

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Becky Anderson
Becky Anderson is Director of the Junior School. She has also held the position of Director of Leadership Development at SMUS.

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