reflecting: NAFNext Conference, 2015

July 29, 2015

After spending three very full days in Anaheim, it's nice to sit down and reflect on what my takeaways from the NAFNext Conference. The National Academy Foundation puts on a great conference annually, and the days were filled with sessions that attendees could elect to attend, speakers during meals, and time to plan with academy teams.

Conferences and trainings in general

I think it is very worthwhile to attend conferences and trainings if you teach with national programs like NAF, AP, IB, or AVID. Attending this conference allowed me to understand the larger goals of the National Academy Foundation, network with teachers from throughout America, plan with my team, and learn from experts. Often, the time spent speaking with teachers from other areas is as illuminating as the lessons from the speakers; it's interesting to hear how other schools operate and implement their programs. These insights also allow me to examine what my school and district do well, and what we can continue to strive to improve.

Career education

The National Academy Foundation is committed to marrying rigor and career education. They are opening thousands of industry themed academies around America to help close the skills gap between what students know leaving school and what companies are looking for. Career education is not just for other people's children, it is not for students who are not cut out for college. Career education is a way into college, with a focused purpose and distinct direction.

Why teachers should seize every summer training opportunity

It was truly a pleasure to get to interact with teachers from my school, as well as teachers and administrators from across the country. If you teach with a national program, or a program that provides training during the summer, think about going. Not just for the content, but for the opportunity to network and reflect on your practices. Sometimes it’s necessary to take some time to get out of your house during the summer and really schedule some time to intensively work on planning for the year to come. It’s easier to do that when you are surrounded by other inspiring and inspired professionals, rather than with your dog who wants to constantly go for a walk and pull you away from your work station at the dining room table.

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