In Bangkok March 29-31, Senior Associate Gary MacPhie joined 350 teachers from around the region at the East South Asia Council of Overseas Schools (NESA) Spring Educator Conference. The 50th anniversary celebration emphasized the importance of professional learning, with a conference program explaining Differentiated Levels of Learning and how NESA guides and supports all its teachers to reach explicit Learning Principles. As Sponsor for the conference lanyards, Search Associates (SEARCH) was everywhere!
A highlight of the event was a choice of three or four-day certificate courses, which allowed teachers to focus their professional development (PD) time on areas in which they wish to excel. Examples of three-day certificate courses: The Art & Science of Mathematical Story Telling (6-12) and Creating Powerful Playful Inquiry in Early Childhood, and Assessing 21st Century Skills. Four-day certificate courses included the following: Foundation Courses in Writing Workshop (K-2), Foundation Courses in Writing Workshop (3-8), and Teaching Parenting the Positive Discipline Way. Teachers were very keen to earn certificates and take valuable teaching tools to use and share back at their schools.
Other engaging sessions included the importance of social/emotional learning, coaching and the coaching approach in various subjects, information on thinking skills and meeting standards as well as frameworks for personalized learning. Since NESA is very committed to continuous improvement, with their own outline of Learning Principles, they asked teachers for feedback on every session.
The conference featured three inspired keynote speakers. On Friday, Joellen Killion, author of Assessing Impact: Evaluating Professional Learning, 3rd Edition, along with a panel of guests, discussed School Change: Innovations, Opportunities, and Transformational Learning. Joellen and the panelists, four other prominent authors, shared where education is heading, in areas such as service learning for students, the importance of a standards-based mindset in student assessments, and the need more playful inquiry for elementary students. Saturday’s keynote by Steve Barkley—a consultant specializing in school improvement, professional development and coaching—expounded on the importance of strong coaching and its effects on teachers and students. Finally, on Sunday, Ben Mardell presented on the importance of Playful Inquiry. Mr. Mardell is currently the Principal Investigator at Project Zero, Harvard Graduate School of Education. He is the co-author of Making Learning Visible: Children as Individual and Group Learners.
In the Exhibitors Area, Gary took pleasure in meeting many Search Associates (SEARCH) candidates who stopped by to say hello. They were delighted that a SEARCH representative at the conference was there to answer their questions. These ranged from discussing next steps in their careers, inquiring about other SEARCH schools in different regions of the world, or wanting information on how to move into a leadership position. While most of the teachers who came by the table were already members of Search Associates, a few candidates simply wanted more information on how to register. Gary reflects on the Spring Educators Conference with satisfaction:
“This was very positive for me, being able to listen and give feedback to the many SEARCH candidates. . . It was a wonderful weekend to meet many candidates from the NESA region.”