The International Educator recently published an article about the power of partnerships and transformative learning at the 2019 AASSA Conference hosted at Nido de Aguilas.
AASSA Emphasizes Partnerships and Transformative Learningby Kristen MacConnell
Preparing to host this year's Association of American Schools in South America (AASSA) Educator's Conference, the Nido de Aguilas Theme Team imagined a wide variety of partnerships that could be showcased to highlight transformational learning. Strands included: Women in Leadership, Child Protection, Project-Based Learning, Design Thinking, Inclusion, Global Mindedness, Adult Collaboration, Deeper Learning, and Sustainability.
The Association of American Schools in South America (AASSA) held its 2019 Educators' Conference at the International School Nido de Aguilas in Santiago, Chile Partnership models included co-teaching in classrooms, teaching partnerships between classroom teachers and support teachers, and partnerships among school leadership and teachers, to name a few examples. Little did we know, one of the most powerful partnerships that yielded transformational learning at this conference happened right under our noses.
Nido's conference organizational team partnered with 20 high school student ambassadors in preparation for this year's AASSA conference. Student ambassadors were charged with several tasks, serving as (1) student liaisons to help guide people around the large campus, (2) technology support providers for presenters, (3) photographers to help capture learning throughout the conference, and (4) presenters during the plenary session to showcase the student ambassador program.
Once conference presenters were effectively connected to the Internet, the projectors were functioning, and participants had found their way to their sessions, student ambassadors were encouraged to join in and to be a part of the learning. They fully embraced this opportunity.
Over the course of two days, student ambassadors participated actively in the conference. They spoke with presenters, learned how to create an escape room, and joined conversations about women in leadership. On the last day of the conference, students came together to reflect on their experience. They shared some of their key learnings, provided feedback to the conference organizers about what worked, and presented ideas for improvement. The student ambassadors videotaped their reflections and submitted written feedback along with the video. It was powerful to listen to their AASSA experience, in their own words, and to see the conference through the eyes of students.
As educators we attend conferences and trainings to become better at our craft for the sake of our students. After listening to the students' reflections, I realized that sometimes we may forget to share the "why" behind our professional learning opportunities with those these experiences are meant to benefit.
We want to get better at our craft, with the goal of helping our students learn in authentic and meaningful ways. We want to encounter new ideas and learn more strategies to improve our teaching, but we may not communicate those goals to our students.
Through this experience, the student ambassadors discovered that teachers are people just like them. And like them, teachers don't always follow the rules. For instance, they may have a hard time disconnecting from their phones and fully engaging in activities.
The ambassadors also learned how much teachers care about their students. By volunteering at AASSA, the students realized that all of the educators on our campus were there because they love their students and want to be better teachers for their sake.
The next time you attend a training or a conference, take the time to explain to your students where you are going and why. When you return from the event, tell them what you learned. I would also encourage you to find ways to learn with your students. What we if we created learning opportunities at conferences and trainings to learn alongside our students? That, I would argue, is true transformational learning!
Access the student ambassadors' reflections here:
Kristen L. MacConnell is Director of Professional Development and Curriculum at International School Nido de Aguilas.