Here at General Session: Screen looks great; the rotating earth with the NAIS AC logo moving around it– really sharp, attractive, appealing visual.   

Charming song from Quest  Academy students singers– “Come Sail Away,” nicely aligned with the conference theme.   In my many headship interviews last fall I was often asked what I like most about the role, and my answer was that I enjoy enormously the many opportunities to observe and celebrate our students’ performances and demonstrations– it is a great feeling to see our students share what they have accomplished, what they have learned,  what they can do.  This is a case in point.

After the jump: Basset and Heath takeaways. 

3200 in attendance, NAIS Chair Marcia Spiller reports, which I think is half of the number in NYC last year.   I think the economy downturn has really diminished attendance here.   She urges us to return to our school “Eager, energized, and ready to assist in making our schools the safe harbors as we sail these winds of change.”   Nice, but I’m not sure the metaphor works perfectly:  our schools do need to be safe harbors, but they also MUST sail out of that safe harbors and into the tempestuous seas to arrive, after difficulty, at ultimately rewarding destinations. 

On comes Bassett with stormy seas behind him– love it; Bassett: “I love high tech.”  Bassett on theme: “Could have been The Perfect Storm: Riding the Waves of Roiling Seas.”   2nd grade Letter to God:  “Dear God, You do not have to worry about me; I always look both ways.”  

Call the economy a shipwreck, but the way we are actually feeling from the lighthouse observing the shipwreck is “high anxiety.”   Now the trailer for the film.  Fun– and again, I Love this use of video in presentations, and think all educators need to do more of this.   PB: “A choice here: Hunker Down, or, Sail into the Storm, Boldly.”  (Aligned with my response to Spillman, above; it is not the time to go into safe harbors.)    PB: Two video suggestions:  Oakwood School, Don’t Give.   Upper Canada College, I believe.  

PB: How appropriate to be in Chicago, home of our new, young, and CONFIDENT President.  Best Obama line: “We are the Change we are Waiting For. ”   PB: It is time to launch into these seas, but not outrun the storm, not to ride the wave, but to sail directly into it.  In stormy sailing, sail into the seas.  Navigate NOT back into safe harbors.   

PB: Leaders here: Learn, take notes.  Do your homework, look at data, look at research in an inclusive, transparent way.  Build a stronger vessel to take into the winds of change. 

Dan Heath:  We all have an idea (enrollment growth), and an audience (parents and prospective parents).   How do you fill what is in-between?  That is what Made to Stick is all about?  What makes an idea stick?   Spot the rules of sticky ideas.    3 rules of sticky ideas: It is understood, it is remembered, and it changes something.     Proverbs are great examples: Bird in hand is worth two in the bush. 

DH: 6 principles of sticky ideas:  Simple. Unexpected. Concrete (Sensory).  Credible. Emotional. Stories.    (SUCCES).   Focus on Credibility: Sticky ideas inspire belief.   Make an idea stick by making it experiential, live the life of the message.     Journalism is about finding the heart of the story, experiencing the core.    Help others experience your ideas.  

Focus on unexpected: Sticky ideas violate expectations, the Atkins diet being a great example.  When people have the wrong idea, shatter them.   If people think that independent schools have unrealistic environments (just a sheltered set of rich, snooty kids), you have to show them something to shatter those perceptions.    A psychological truth: the more you know something, the harder it is for you to understand what it is like to not know it.  Computer IT guys can be a good example.   Love the example of why study algebra?  Not because you will ever use it, but you will never need to lift a barbell in real life either, but you practice that at the gym all the time; the answer is that  math is mental weight training– it strengthens the muscle of reasoning and analysis.    

Stories need to be concrete, sensual, bodily: an example being the stolen kidney story, which has so many sensory details that etch themselves into your brain.   Being concrete to set your schools apart; the language of differentiation is concreteness, not abstractness.  Athletic math nerd looking for somone to hum Seinfeld them with.    Make it concrete, make it real.   Instead of  stating I can make you laugh, use “the guy above me is married, the guy below me is a stalker.”    Yet, the language of our school websites is usually generic and abstract.   We must make our language more concrete.    Successful example: At Purnell, every girl sits in the front row.  A good idea by itself is not enough to make it stick.  There are rules to make it stick; learning these rules will give you more impact for your ideas.