The Annual Conference of the National Association of Independent Schools is just one month away, next February 23-25 in Washington DC’s National Harbor Convention Center.

This will be my  eleventh attendance at an annual conference.   Two years ago, in Chicago,  I was thrilled to be an “official blogger” for the AC; last year I contributed many posts to Chris Bigenho’s AC online community, which is a terrific resource and highly recommended.

However, I have never before presented at NAIS AC; somewhat to my surprise I find myself preparing for presentations in four sessions, sessions I very much hope 21k12 readers will consider attending: please know you are warmly invited and I will be delighted to see you in the audience (be sure to say hello!).   Consider too sharing these sessions with your friends and colleagues outside our “blogosphere.”

A Preview of Four Sessions in which I am participating:

1. Thursday Workshop, Block2, 12:00-1:00: 21st century learning at NAIS Schools: Leading and Networking for Progress. I have been referring this loosely as Leading in 21st century learning.

This will be a panel discussion led by my fellow Tucson educational leader, Ken Kay, the founder and former, long term President of the national Partnership for 21st century Skills. Ken has a new endeavor, EdLeader 21, by which he is facilitating and consulting to a new collaborative network of 21st century district superintendents (and, perhaps, NAIS Heads); he and I decided to make a proposal to NAIS that we bring to the AC his model of collaboration while also sharing stories of 21st century learning leadership.   I am delighted to have join me on the panel two terrific colleagues, Mark Hale, Head of Greensboro Day School (NC) and Mike Davis, Head of Colorado Academy.    (Fun fact: Mike is a St. Gregory graduate).

In the discussion, Ken Kay will articulate his vision of 21st century learning, and then moderate the three of us as we articulate our visions and actions as leaders of 21st century learning.    Important to note is that the three of us all are all working within conventional, mainstream, centrist schools; we are practicing balancing and reconciling acts everyday to move our schools forward while honoring their distinguished traditions.  The session then might be valuable to school-leaders of all kinds, Heads and others, who are similarly working to advance the ideas and ideals of 21st century learning within their schools.

2. Friday workshop, Block 4, 8:00-9:00 am.  Blogging Heads: Three Heads Discuss Why and How they Blog. Readers reading this post now will have no difficulty recognizing why I am offering this session, and you will appreciate that I am very excited to be so doing.   I will be joined on the panel by two of my terrific blogging head colleagues, Josie Holford from Poughkeepsie Day School (NY), and Michael Ebeling from Summit School (NC).   Sarah Hanawald, Academic Dean at Cannon School (NC), has kindly agreed to moderate.  In this session I am excited to be able to share and converse my passion for the value and significance of blogging as a school-leader: I think it is not only a great way, but it very well may be the best way to exercise educational leadership both inside and outside one’s school community.

3. Friday workshop, Block 5, 11:30-12:30. “The College Work Readiness Assessment (CWRA): An excellent Outcomes Measurement.” Regular readers here need no reminding of my enthusiasm for the CWRA as a tool for assessing our schools’

success at preparing students for the kind of higher order critical thinking, problem solving, and writing effectiveness skills which are so essential for success in college and beyond.   In the past two years I have attended the “outside of the formal conference” CWRA sessions that the good folks from CAE/CLA/CWRA have been kind enough to offer; now I am delighted that my NAIS AC proposal was accepted and we can bring CWRA into the conference formally.

On the panel, which will be overseen by Chris Jackson, CWRA Program Administrator, I will be joined by my colleague Mark Desjardins, Head of St. Johns School (TX).    Mark and I met first in January 2008 as fellow Klingenstein Visiting Fellows, at Columbia University Teachers College; I was immediately fascinated by his research topic, it being the first I had heard of the CWRA, which Mark had pioneered implementation of at Holland Hall (OK).   Mark and I co-presented a session on 21st century learning  in Fall 2009 at the Independent School Association of the Southwest (ISAS) meeting with Rhonda Durham, ISAS ED.

4. Three hour Wednesday workshop, (1-4pm): Schools of the Future (SoF): The Conversation Continues.

This session is being facilitated by four of the NAIS Board and Commission members who have been driving the SoF project, a project that I believe will become more prominent with the forthcoming release of its new Guide to becoming a School of the Future.   I have seen a preview version of this 50 page online document, and it looks great and very valuable: I can’t wait to blog about it upon its full release.   My formal contribution to this session will be very small, one of ten five minute mini-presentations on aspects of becoming an SoF; my topic will be Reverse Instruction, a topic I have written about here on the blog several times.  I also look forward to being an active participant in the “continuing conversation.”

I should add that I don’t believe I would be presenting on any of these topics were it it not for the very good fortune I have in having the honor to Head St. Gregory and having the great support I receive in this role from trustees, administrators, teachers, students and parents.

I am quite sure also that I would not be participating in any of these four sessions were it not for blogging and professional learning network surrounding the blog platform.  I truly believe that writing is an incredibly valuable vehicle for learning, and it is by blogging that I have been able to develop both my understanding of these topics and also my voice in articulating, sharing, and advocating for my views on these topics.

In the coming weeks I will post a few more times anticipating the conference; I will be sharing some of my thinking as I prepare these sessions further, and I will seek to pose a challenge to readers to share their views in anticipation of these conversations.

I am very excited to be seeing many of my readers, and I do hope some of you in attendance will join me for a session (or two).

If you are intending to attend, I’d welcome your feedback, suggestions, and questions you might have about any of these topics as I complete preparation of the presentations.  Use the comment box to write a note!   Alternately, you might blog yourself your thoughts on these topics, with pingbacks to this post, which I will be sure to read.