Three-Hour Workshops

Please note that three-hour workshops are offered only on Wednesday, February 26, require registration, and cost $95.

Click or tap on a workshop to get expanded details, including the workshop summary, presenters, and learning objectives.

Conference Tracks:
  • Communications and Advancement: Designed for heads and trustees as well as communication and advancement practitioners, these workshops address what it takes to ensure effective communication to – and relations with – all key constituencies.
  • Governance: Designed for trustees and heads of schools in their role as liaisons with the board, these workshops focus on all aspects of board governance.
  • Leadership Development: Designed for heads and all academic and administrative leaders, these workshops focus on effective school leadership and professional development.
  • Management: Designed primarily for heads, business officers, financial aid directors, division heads, and deans, these workshops focus on the day-to-day management of people, programs, finance, enrollment, the market, and operations.
  • The Classroom Experience: Designed for all educators and academic leaders, these workshops focus on design and implementation of academic programs. These workshops may be of special interest to teachers. 
  • The Student Experience: Designed for all educators and academic leaders, these workshops focus on the student experience, including: equity and justice issues, bullying, student wellness, families, and character development.These workshops may be of special interest to teachers. 


Title Block Time Summary Track
W01. Advancement Essentials for Small Schools and Small Shops Three-Hour Workshop Wednesday, February 26,
1:00 PM-4:00 PM
  • Summary: Making small school advancement make sense. It requires vision, confidence, collaboration, creativity, efficiency, and action plans that are both meaningful and practical. What priorities should sustain your advancement plan? How can you structure and communicate your advancement activities to keep the cart behind the horse? In this session we'll figure out the best ways to combine these elements into a strong, sustainable, and cutting-edge program for your school.
  • Block: Three-Hour Workshop (Wednesday, February 26, 1:00 PM-4:00 PM)
  • Category: Three-Hour Workshop
  • Learning objectives:
    • Explore core elements of successful small school advancement practice.
    • Identify optimal approaches to establishing and evaluating advancement goals and to ensuring acceptance of and support for advancement priorities.
    • Keep your head focused on “the important stuff” when things seem crazy!
  • Presenters: Starr Snead, Advancement Connections; Shelley Reese, Park Street School (MA)
Communications and Advancement
W07. Innovation and Transformation in Challenging Times Three-Hour Workshop Wednesday, February 26,
1:00 PM-4:00 PM
  • Summary: Learn how bold action, brand clarity, and careful risk analysis enabled McLean School in Potomac, Maryland, to grow enrollment by 35% over six years, becoming the fastest growing independent school in the Washington, DC area. This growth reversed five years of enrollment decline. The school now enjoys enhanced brand strength, program breadth, school spirit, and employee morale. In this workshop Board Chair Steve Anthony and Head of School Mike Saxenian will use a case study format, quantitative data, and participant discussion to explore the choices that drove the school's success. Lessons will be useful for schools struggling to adapt to the changing industry landscape.
  • Block: Three-Hour Workshop (Wednesday, February 26, 1:00 PM-4:00 PM)
  • Category: Three-Hour Workshop
  • Learning objectives:
    • Understand why schools need to be clear about their brand and explore how to gain that clarity.
    • Explore how to evaluate risk and make prudent choices.
    • Learn the importance of a strong partnership between boards and heads of school.
  • Presenters: Michael Saxenian and Steve Anthony, McLean School (MD)
Governance
W04. Designing In-House Professional Development Three-Hour Workshop Wednesday, February 26,
1:00 PM-4:00 PM
  • Summary: Teachers are always thinking, designing, and discovering. We are the types of lifelong learners we want our students to be. Why not tap into that learning? In this workshop, explore four professional development structures that affirm and make use of in-house expertise: the workshop, the council, the toolbox share, and the study group. Learn protocols that will enable you to use these structures at your school. Explore how to create a school-wide PD plan that integrates the four structures, assess faculty and staff members’ needs and strengths, and address the vulnerability that peer-to-peer PD invokes.
  • Block: Three-Hour Workshop (Wednesday, February 26, 1:00 PM-4:00 PM)
  • Category: Three-Hour Workshop
  • Learning objectives:
    • Use four PD structures that affirm and make use of in-house expertise.
    • Assess faculty and staff members’ needs and strengths using perspective-taking questions.
    • Address the vulnerability that peer-to-peer PD invokes.
  • Presenters: Lauren Porosoff and Jonathan Weinstein, EMPOWER Forwards
Leadership Development
W02. Building Innovation: New Models for Independent Schools Three-Hour Workshop Wednesday, February 26,
1:00 PM-4:00 PM
  • Summary: Innovation and change are challenging but essential for today's independent schools. If you are considering new approaches to "doing school," this workshop is for you. Join school founders from the Innovative Schools Cooperative (ISC) in a highly interactive deep dive into innovative schools designed for the future. ISC leaders will share what has worked — and some of what has not — in their bold attempts to reimagine school. You’ll get help designing and developing your own innovative learning models and receive one-to-one feedback from experienced and successful trailblazers.
  • Block: Three-Hour Workshop (Wednesday, February 26, 1:00 PM-4:00 PM)
  • Category: Three-Hour Workshop
  • Learning objectives:
    • Gain a deeper understanding of what it takes to create new, innovative schools. Benefit from authentic narrative and data.
    • Take your vision for a test drive: exchange feedback and receive coaching on ideas and models.
    • Connect to people and organizations that are doing real work in this area. Build community!
  • Presenters: Thomas McManus, Revolution School (PA); Andrew Ravin, The Workshop Independent School (NY); Cate Han and Stacey Seltzer, Hudson Lab School (NY); Doug Schachtel, Portfolio School (NY)
Leadership Development
W14. Truth-Seeking Pods: Why Non-Confirmatory Thinking is the Tool You Need Now as a Leader Three-Hour Workshop Wednesday, February 26,
1:00 PM-4:00 PM
  • Summary: Based on the work of Leadership + Design and Annie Duke, this workshop will build capacity, create conversation and make connections with the pedagogy behind Truth-Seeking Pods. Truth-Seeking Pods are small cohorts of leaders that gather weekly for three months to learn, laugh and grow by utilizing exploratory, not confirmatory feedback protocols. Learn the theory behind “exploratory feedback” and practice it in a curated Truth-Seeking Pod.” Reflect on how this type of feedback could be integrated into your school. Consider where we hold our colleagues capable, and where are we avoiding the types of conversation that pushes one to grow?
  • Block: Three-Hour Workshop (Wednesday, February 26, 1:00 PM-4:00 PM)
  • Category: Three-Hour Workshop
  • Learning objectives:
    • Learn about and practice exploratory and confirmatory feedback.
    • Build skill and confidence in asking exploratory questions and giving exploratory feedback.
    • Consider how to apply these techniques at your school, for example, how to push colleagues instead of solving problems for them.
  • Presenters: Ryan Burke, Leadership + Design; Jennifer Bowders, McDonogh School (DC); Brenda Leaks, Seattle Girls School (WA); Derek Krein, Tabor Academy (MA)
Leadership Development
W10. Origin Stories and Transformation: Leading Change while Preserving what Matters Three-Hour Workshop Wednesday, February 26,
1:00 PM-4:00 PM
  • Summary: Organizations are the “lengthened shadows of their founders." All institutions have a Genesis story, the myth and reality of why they were called into existence, and why that matters. The degree to which leaders fully understand the arc of history and culture is the degree to which any organization and its people survive and thrive. In this workshop, three heads with three different school origin stories will share their school narratives.They will demonstrate the importance of leaders to preserve what matters while leading change and transformation. Debbie Freed, organization development consultant, will present her “historical-cultural mapping” storyboarding exercise to deepen this highly interactive workshop.
  • Block: Three-Hour Workshop (Wednesday, February 26, 1:00 PM-4:00 PM)
  • Category: Three-Hour Workshop
  • Learning objectives:
    • To recognize the ongoing impact of the school’s origins and cultural narrative while leading change and transformation
    • To apply Freed’s “systems lens model of leadership” and “historical-cultural mapping exercise” as tools in differentiating between “presenting problems” and “root causes”
    • To ultimately ensure that the Mission is true, relevant, enduring and sustainable
  • Presenters: Debbie Freed, Organizational Development Consultant; Mark McKee, Viewpoint School (CA); Mark Stanek, Shady Hill School (MA); Jim Eagen, Synapse School (CA)
Leadership Development
W12. Tackling Grading: How Our Grading Can Be More Consistent and Equitable School Wide Three-Hour Workshop Wednesday, February 26,
1:00 PM-4:00 PM
  • Summary: Grades inform monumental decisions about our students — course placement, interventions, promotion and retention, athletic eligibility, scholarships and financial aid, graduation, and college admission. They can also impact a student's self-concept and psychological well-being. Yet grading practices in schools often vary widely from teacher to teacher and can be a source of intense stress for students and families. Even worse, many common grading practices, created during the Industrial Revolution, are imbued with institutional and implicit biases that undermine our equity work. In this workshop, learn about more equitable grading practices and how they have been introduced and embraced by teachers and schools.
  • Block: Three-Hour Workshop (Wednesday, February 26, 1:00 PM-4:00 PM)
  • Category: Three-Hour Workshop
  • Learning objectives:
    • Learn how traditional grading practices undermine effective teaching and learning as well as equity in the classroom.
    • Explore a sampling of grading practices that make grades more accurate and equitable.
    • Understand strategies to tackle "the grading conversation" through teacher-driven examination and action-research cycles.
  • Presenters: Joe Feldman, Crescendo Education Group; Debby Previna, Georgetown Day School (DC)
Leadership Development
W05. Educational Neuroscience and the Future of School Innovation Three-Hour Workshop Wednesday, February 26,
1:00 PM-4:00 PM
  • Summary: A growing body of educational neuroscience research provides an underutilized lens through which teachers, school leaders, and trustees can elevate teacher quality, student outcomes, and the whole-child school experience. This research and promising new strategies offer a pathway for schools to become more brain-friendly, inclusive, and innovative. After participating in this workshop, you will return to your school with a science-based rationale for why school innovation should align with what we now know about how the brain learns, works, changes, and thrives.
  • Block: Three-Hour Workshop (Wednesday, February 26, 1:00 PM-4:00 PM)
  • Category: Three-Hour Workshop
  • Learning objectives:
    • Develop an understanding of the educational neuroscience research that every teacher and school leader should know today.
    • Evaluate your school’s mission and strategic thinking through an educational neuroscience framework.
    • Arm yourself with neuroscience-informed action steps for innovation you can take back to your school.
  • Presenters: Glenn Whitman and Ian Kelleher, The Center for Transformative Teaching and Learning at St. Andrew's (MD)
Leadership Development
W09. Mastery Learning Journey For Culturally Responsive White Leaders: Measuring Position, Orientation, and Rate of Change Three-Hour Workshop Wednesday, February 26,
1:00 PM-4:00 PM
  • Summary: As investment increases in professional development around diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), how are you assessing the skills and readiness of your white leaders? How does your institution define culturally responsive leadership, metrics of success, measures of accountability, and knowledge-to-skill transfer? In this workshop you will explore how to leverage mastery learning as a capacity-building modality, to use rubrics to assess evidence of skill acquisition and meaning making, and to visualize the learner profile of a culturally responsive white leader. Commit to “walking the walk”; learn to calibrate your metacognitive lens to track the impact of your white leadership footprint and to inform culturally responsive, sustainable whole-school change.
  • Block: Three-Hour Workshop (Wednesday, February 26, 1:00 PM-4:00 PM)
  • Category: Three-Hour Workshop
  • Learning objectives:
    • Explore mastery learning as a modality for skill building with culturally responsive white leaders.
    • Develop, assess, and visualize the impact of culturally responsive training among white leaders.
    • Identify resources needed to grow, evaluate, and sustain mastery learning for white leaders and their peers of color.
  • Presenters: Maria Graciela Alcid, Gann Academy (MA); Jack Hill, Cambridge Friends School (MA); Kawai Lai, VizLit.org; Alda Farlow, Buckingham Browne & Nichols School (MA); Lilia Cai-Hurteau, Phillips Academy Andover (MA)
Leadership Development
W13. The Legacy of Female Leadership in Schools: Finding and Being Mentors, Sponsors, and Role Models Three-Hour Workshop Wednesday, February 26,
1:00 PM-4:00 PM
  • Summary: The legacy of women in independent schools is still being written. There are many opportunities to be a student of leadership at every level in your school. Come to this workshop for honest conversation about ways women lead, cultivate a leadership style, and build teams. An experienced head of school, a new head of school, and two associate heads of school will share insights regarding what keeps us from our seats at the table, where to look for mentors and sponsors, and how to model female leadership for our students. Enjoy the camaraderie and kinship of the work we do!
  • Block: Three-Hour Workshop (Wednesday, February 26, 1:00 PM-4:00 PM)
  • Category: Three-Hour Workshop
  • Learning objectives:
    • Identify your leadership style so you can maximize opportunities to lead in your school and model high-quality female leadership for students.
    • Identify your opportunities to mentor and sponsor or be mentored or sponsored by local leaders in your area.
    • Identify the ways that women learn to lead by constituent group: faculty, peers, parents, and board.
  • Presenters: Ruth Bissell, San Francisco Day School (CA), Nisa Frank, Prospect Sierra School (CA), Kathleen McNamara, Seven Hills School (CA); Colleen Schilly, Hillbrook School (CA)
Leadership Development
W11. Strategy Every Day: Launch “Agile Teams” to Build Capacity, Develop Leaders, and Execute with Power Three-Hour Workshop Wednesday, February 26,
1:00 PM-4:00 PM
  • Summary: How can agile, cross-functional teams unleash talent and strengthen your school? In this workshop you will explore an innovative approach to cultivating diverse, high-potential talent as you advance mission-critical work. Learn how one school reorganized talent as a way to grow leaders, align work to strategy, and bring a vision for learning to life inside the school community. Consider how your school might prototype new ways of organizing people to get big work done.
  • Block: Three-Hour Workshop (Wednesday, February 26, 1:00 PM-4:00 PM)
  • Category: Three-Hour Workshop
  • Learning objectives:
    • Discuss the value of cross-functional teams for developing talent and driving strategic work.
    • Explore how to organize formally and informally by harnessing an “agile team” approach.
    • Build a process for prototyping new ways of working through teams in your school.
  • Presenters: Stephanie Rogen, Greenwich Leadership Partners; Randall Dunn, The Latin School of Chicago (IL)
Leadership Development
W15. Turning Wicked Team Problems into Leverageable Solutions Three-Hour Workshop Wednesday, February 26,
1:00 PM-4:00 PM
  • Summary: While some issues are problems with a definite answer, the more challenging issues are “polarities” — situations in which either side has its benefits and drawbacks. Attempting to address these issues with traditional problem-solving approaches only makes things worse. There is a signicant, competitive advantage for a leader who can distinguish between a problem to solve and a polarity to manage. In this session, explore Polarity Thinking and how to use this lens to effectively manage individual, team, and organizational challenges. Explore how to find leverageable solutions to your team's most critical challenges.
  • Block: Three-Hour Workshop (Wednesday, February 26, 1:00 PM-4:00 PM)
  • Category: Three-Hour Workshop
  • Learning objectives:
    • Increase your understanding of polarities and tensions that exist within your leadership roles.
    • Understand polarity mapping as a tool for developing action plans and increasing leadership effectiveness.
    • Learn about an assessment tool that invites shared team responsibility for leveraging important tensions that impact school culture.
  • Presenters: Marin Burton, Center For Creative Leadership
Leadership Development
W06. Five Steps to Mastery: An Implementation Guide for Mastery-Based Learning at Independent Schools Three-Hour Workshop Wednesday, February 26,
1:00 PM-4:00 PM
  • Summary: Mastery-based learning is a system where all stakeholders (students, teachers, parents/guardians, administrators) know what students are expected to learn, have accurate information about their current understanding or skill level in relation to these targets, and — through feedback — understand how to improve in order to hit these targets. In this workshop, you’ll hear about Pilgrim School’s journey to mastery-based learning in grades K-12. Learn the steps to take in your own journey, moving from idea to implementation.
  • Block: Three-Hour Workshop (Wednesday, February 26, 1:00 PM-4:00 PM)
  • Category: Three-Hour Workshop
  • Learning objectives:
    • Understand the key steps in a school-wide transition to mastery-based learning.
    • Identify the essential professional learning required for faculty to be successful in shifting their practice.
    • Understand the potential challenges that might occur in this transition and plan for possible solutions.
  • Presenters: Ryan Grady, Sheryl Cohen, Nora Kiely, and LaToya Franklyn, Pilgrim School (CA)
The Classroom Experience
W03. Calm is Contagious: Partnering With Parents to Create a Non-Anxious Environment for Students Three-Hour Workshop Wednesday, February 26,
1:00 PM-4:00 PM
  • Summary: Neuropsychologist Dr. William R. Stixrud began noticing that even high-performing students were coming to him for acute anxiety, feeling a lack of intrinsic motivation and complaining that they had no real control over their lives. Based on the findings of Dr. Stixrud's best selling book, The Self-Driven Child: The Science and Sense of Giving Your Kids More Control Over Their Lives, this workshop will address how we can actively help our students sculpt brains that are resilient, stress-proof, and eager to take on new challenges. You will learn the science behind the theory, participate in a strategy lab, and hear how the Archer School for Girls made eliminating toxic stress among students a priority for its entire community.
  • Block: Three-Hour Workshop (Wednesday, February 26, 1:00 PM-4:00 PM)
  • Category: Three-Hour Workshop
  • Learning objectives:
    • Understand the connection between a low sense of control and acute anxiety among students.
    • Develop strategies to help parents to stop acting like their children's managers.
    • Identify the systems and practices that diminish students' sense of control. Explore ways to increase student agency.
  • Presenters: Bill Stixrud, George Washington University; Karen Pavliscak and Elizabeth English, The Archer School for Girls (CA)
The Student Experience
W08. Insights to Action: Why Donors Give To Independent Schools Three-Hour Workshop Wednesday, February 26,
1:00 PM-4:00 PM
  • Summary: Using an innovative research methodology known as Jobs-to-Be-Done, NAIS identified the key reasons why donors give to independent schools and why they choose to donate to specific campaigns. In this workshop you’ll explore this research and the context, motivations, and outcomes behind donations. Learn practical strategies for turning these research insights into action as you enhance your advancement strategy. Join us for this session if you want to analyze cutting-edge research on donor decision making and learn concrete ways to improve your outreach to prospective donors.
  • Block: Three-Hour Workshop (Wednesday, February 26, 1:00 PM-4:00 PM)
  • Category: Three-Hour Workshop
  • Learning objectives:
    • Learn about the “Donor Jobs” uncovered through NAIS’s Jobs-to-Be-Done research.
    • Learn about innovation frameworks that can help you turn these research insights into action.
    • Practice applying the Jobs-to-Be-Done lens and innovation frameworks to solve common problems around advancement.
  • Presenters: Mark Mitchell and Joe Corbett, NAIS
Communications and Advancement