July 1, 2020/
We heard from many educators that they also needed normal conversations, and to focus on ideas that went beyond the current reality and look to a future to when we are past this crisis.
This spring when the NHLI team met to discuss our summer conference, we knew it would be challenging to hold a conference this summer and that if we did hold a conference, we would need to be sensitive to the needs of educators who had a lot of uncertainty circling around them. My first thoughts were that educators would need to step away for a few weeks after the school year and just decompress, rather than think about any new professional learning.
Then as the weeks of quarantine stretched on, we started to hear from teachers and leaders that what they needed was some time to hear from fellow educators about what worked during remote learning as well as what innovative ideas were out there. The links and resources were helpful they told us, but they needed the collegiality of their peers. We heard from many educators that they also needed normal conversations and to focus on ideas that went beyond the current reality and look to a future to when we are past this crisis.
Leaders asked us to facilitate conversations and to create a learning community, where ideas could flow and where they could share challenges that could be discussed together. This group identified several areas of need across districts; support to help students and teachers with the trauma of this time, assessment strategies that went beyond standardized measures to identify what students needed, grading philosophy and student-centered reporting systems that employed feedback for learners, teachers identified the need to learn more about instructing students in building self-direction, and leaders identified the need to extend and support learning communities within schools.
Our conference was designed with these needs in mind. We have built a virtual experience that can’t take the place of in-person interactions, but we hope the flexibility of recorded sessions and access to outstanding experts nationally and from New Hampshire will be helpful. But mostly, we hope the teachers and leaders from our state presenting and sharing will help deepen the learning community already so strong across the districts in New Hampshire. We are in this together.