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You Don't Know What is Going to Happen Tomorrow...

19 Mar 2024 12:12 PM | Chris Ouellette (Administrator)

You Don’t Know What is Going to Happen Tomorrow...

by Chris Ouellette

NEALS' President

Director of Learning Support, Learning Specialist Emma Willard School

Happy Tuesday Folx!

As we commemorate 25 years of our journey, we eagerly anticipate our first in-person NEALS’ conference since 2019, with an unwavering commitment to directing our gaze towards the future!

Our educational landscape is rapidly evolving as our understanding of neuroscience grows, we gain more experience with diverse student populations, and innovative ways to meet the needs of our students continue to emerge. Generative AI continues to grow and shape policy at schools, so much so that we centered last year’s conference around it. The College Board plans for the SAT to be fully digital by the end of this year. How do we plan for our future when it is impossible to predict? Looking at trends can be helpful (rise in teen mental health needs) especially as trends often turn into reality (counseling departments at independent schools are seeing more and more students every day). We can also look at the signals (more students missing class days when tests are scheduled), though they aren’t always the best predictors. As Greg Bamford from Leadership+Design told us, “Trends evoke certainty. Signals raise questions. Trends are often discussed. But signals, as perceived outliers, are often dismissed”.

In order for us to really dive into planning for the future, we have secured a dynamic partner of the Leadership+Design group for our Keynote speaker, Antonio Viva. Antonio will be leading us through a keynote and afternoon activity focused on: “Educators as Experience Designers, Thinking Like Futurists”. The hope is that this work will assist you on your task of finding clarity, not certainty, about the future landscape. Bob Johansen reminds us that “the future will reward clarity, and punish certainty”, while Leadership+Design remind us to "be more curious than certain". 

A quick search on Futurist Thinking yields: “Futuristic thinkers have the ability to look past the events of today and into the possibilities of tomorrow. They can visualize compulsory new ideas about customers, products, services, strategies and business models” (The Complete Leader). In the realm of education, it's vital to reframe our approach away from purely business-oriented thinking. Our students and their families are not just customers but integral members of our educational community. Instead of selling products, we provide curricula; our services encompass the expertise of specialists. Our strategic plans serve as blueprints for educational models rather than business strategies. Regardless of where you fit into this educational ecosystem, it's incumbent upon us to guide our communities in envisioning the potential future. By doing so, we ensure that we're offering our young learners the best opportunities for growth and success.   

We are truly looking forward to seeing you in person at Emma Willard School on April 19th! Please make sure to register on our NEALS’ website by April 10th so that we can finalize our numbers. 

The wise words of Immortal Technique tell us that "You cannot change the past but you can make the future". I am truly honored to make the future alongside each of you! 



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