INDEX Academic Conference – Little America Hotel, Salt Lake City

Thursday, April 7, 2022

7:30 – 8:30 am Breakfast (Ballroom A, 1st Floor. Pick up name badges in ballroom foyer)
8:30 – 9:30 am Welcome and Introductions (Ballroom B, 1st Floor. See table assignments.)
Lisa Pullman, Executive Director, INDEX and Rachel Herlein, Academic Dean, Holton-Arms School (MD)
9:30 – 10:30 am Leading and Teaching with Compassion
Uche Amaechi, Lecturer, Harvard Graduate School of Education
This year’s teaching challenges are multifaceted, calling on a range of leadership skills, instructional decisions, and – perhaps most important – empathy and compassion. At a time of continued anxiety, how can we make our classrooms welcoming, inclusive, safe, and caring? How can we teach, lead, mentor, and coach with compassion? Join us as we share insights on how to cultivate compassion and leadership in our teaching, as we navigate the challenges we’re seeing in classrooms now.
10:30 – 11:00 am Break (Ballroom Foyer and Arizona Room, 1st Floor)
11:00 – 12:00 pm Leading and Teaching with Compassion (Ballroom B)
12:00 – 1:00 pm Lunch (Ballroom A)
1:00 – 2:00 pm Concurrent Sessions (All breakout rooms are on the 2nd floor)

  • Moving the Needle: Setting and Supporting Expectations for Inclusive Pedagogy (Sun Valley Room, 2nd floor)
    Julie Gentile, Assistant Head of School for Teaching and Learning, Neisha Payne, Middle School Dean of Students, and Lydia Barovero, Upper School Academic Dean, Kent Place School (NJ)
    In this session, we will share our six year process to build faculty cultural competency and confidence in implementing inclusive pedagogy. Our process prioritizes faculty self-reflection on best pedagogical practices, a sequenced curriculum for students to explore identity, collegial and student feedback, and a formal evaluation process. The philosophical underpinnings of our ongoing work has been that we know that each student learns best when curriculum, pedagogy, and content honor their identity and support them as they grow in that identity. Although there is more work to do, we are striving to build an inclusive, anti-bias and anti-racist community in all aspects of our program. In this session, we will also plan time to partner in thought as we aspire to be better, more responsive educators in-service of all kids.

  • Making Wellness the Center of Everything (Tucson Room, 2nd floor)
    Eric Chandler, Director of Upper School and Carrie Green, Director of Middle School, Kent Denver School (CO)
    In this session, we will present how Kent Denver has worked to make community wellness at the center of everything the school does. This interactive session will give participants the opportunity to contemplate community wellness at their schools and school practices in general that can undermine or enhance wellness.

  • Can Faculty Observations and Feedback Improve Individual and Collective Well-Being? (Uintah Room, 2nd floor)
    Jeff Edmonds, Academic Dean and Quinton Walker, Head of High School, University School of Nashville (TN)
    Faculty well-being requires supporting teachers as they take work that can sometimes be seen as ancillary to teaching. It also requires administrators being present and seeing them doing what they do best – teaching and creating spaces of learning for our students. What does supporting both look like? How do school leaders balance a school culture that takes care of “big things” like relationships, meaningful classroom experiences, excited and dynamic teaching with “little things” like timely student feedback, qualitative reporting, consistency and collaboration in teaching teams? Can tending to both improve individual and collective faculty well-being?

2:00 – 2:30 pm Break (Mezzanine, 2nd floor)
2:30 – 3:30 pm Concurrent Sessions (2nd floor)

  • PLCs and Rebuilding Community (Sun Valley Room, 2nd floor)
    Trey Blair, Head of Lower School, Fort Worth Country Day School (TX)
    COVID really fractured our faculty morale and community. Through an intentional design of release days monthly (half days), we have instituted PLCs led by faculty for the faculty. The overarching goal was to put people together who otherwise haven’t connected in over a year. The PLCs were chosen with some faculty input, but designed and led by a small group of faculty leaders. The entire process was carefully planned and designed. The results have been amazing. We have rebuilt relationships and morale all while enhancing and crafting our teaching practices.

  • Disentangling Perfection & Excellence: Towards a Better Practice of Self-Care (Tucson Room, 2nd floor)
    Karen Boyle, Lower School Division Head & Jason Gines, Director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, Pembroke Hill School (MO)
    Educators tend to be perfectionistic and hold themselves to extremely high, often unrealistic, standards. In light of the ongoing impacts of the pandemic and social unrest, the ability to give not only others, but also oneself grace, is critically important. This fall we engaged our faculty in assessing and reflecting upon their individual and collective tendencies toward perfection and critically discussed the questions: Based on your educational and cultural lenses, how have you come to understand and define excellence? How is this different from perfection? We also examined the level of perfection they expected from others in their professional lives and discussed the importance of showing oneself the same grace we show others. Through this work with our faculty, we were able to build individual and collective self-awareness, develop strategies for holding each other accountable to strive for excellence rather than perfection, and most importantly, build our appreciation of the power of space and grace. In this session, we will share our process and what our entire team learned from that experience.

  • Building Community and a Sense of Belonging Through In-House PD Experiences (Uintah Room, 2nd floor)
    Rachel Herlein, Academic Dean and Mary Dobroth, Assistant Academic Dean, Holton-Arms School (MD)
    Independent Schools commit to graduating students who demonstrate global competence, maintain their social and emotional wellbeing, and desire to lead change around issues of equity and justice. But schools’ vision statements can remain relegated to aspirational sentiments printed on a poster unless leaders prioritize professional development programming. This session introduces a framework grounded in theories of motivation and collective efficacy to promote well being and belonging through in house professional learning experiences. Session leaders will share their experience developing sessions to prepare for and reflect on a two day training sessions. Participants will be asked to share their stories of deepening teachers’ feelings of well being and belonging through in house PD experiences.

3:30 – 4:30 pm Share-out & De-brief (Ballroom B, 1st floor)
4:30 pm Adjourn
6:00 pm Reception and Dinner (Ballroom A, 1st floor)

Friday, April 8, 2022

7:30 – 8:30 am Breakfast (Ballroom A, 1st floor)
8:30 – 10:00 am Using Data to Drive Action – Panel (Ballroom B, 1st floor)
Christopher Front, Assistant Head of School for Academic Affairs, John Burroughs School (MO)
Rachel Herlein, Academic Dean, Holton-Arms School (MD)
Reshan Richards, Director of Studies, New Canaan Country School (CT)
Quinton P. Walker, Head of the High School, University School of Nashville (TN)

Schools use a variety of formats, procedures, and tools to collect data and inferences on school climate and mental health. Some methods are formal and standardized while some are ad-hoc and grass roots. Regardless of method and means, the most crucial step is translating talk and data into action and agents of change. Using their schools as case studies, our panelist will describe how their schools turn data and anecdote into action.

10:00 – 10:30 am Break
10:30 -11:30 am Table Conversations Click here to submit a discussion topic
Topics will be decided in advance, and participants can decide which table to join.
11:30 – 12:00 pm De-Brief, Wrap-Up & Adjourn