Whether seeking to better understand experiential and place-based teaching and learning at The Island School or searching for a rejuvenating professional development experience, individuals attend our annual Educators Conference for all different reasons. While participants depart inspired and energized to embrace new teaching methods and with new colleagues around the globe, we, too, find the spirit and conversation surrounding our annual Educators Conference a true inspiration for The Island School and for classrooms and learning opportunities across the world.
This year’s Educators Conference welcomed 17 educators from four countries. Some participants were full-time classroom teachers, others were professors, administrators, program leaders, and outdoor educators. There were teachers of elementary, middle, and high school students.
Why a mini Island School experience?
We often describe the Educators Conference as a mini Island School experience. We do this not just to provide insight into a Semester or Summer Term at The Island School, but because we believe one of the best ways to learn is by doing. In the same way that students are pushed out of their comfort zone and experience the beauty and awe of the natural world, our educators are offered a similar experience. Through learning about ooids at the sandbar and testing their physical and mental strength through a run swim, participants are reminded that there are myriad ways to learn. Memorable lessons often come through experiencing the world through our senses, working alongside our peers, and sharing ideas.
While lessons take place in the field, there is also ample time during the Educators Conference to connect with fellow educators and colleagues, sharing ideas and building knowledge. As one participant reflected, “The discussions we had about readings and our experiences as educators were so inspiring and enjoyable, and I felt I learned a lot from the other educators, which was the goal.”
Each individual’s experience is different, but there’s tremendous power in like-minded educators coming together and sharing their experiences. In the same way that we care for our students, we welcome visitors eager to contribute to our School and to think about how we can live well in a place, whether here or in our communities back home.
“It is not a secret that I fell in love with The Island School this past week and want to return. No question that the beauty of the place played a part in this. But I have visited beautiful places often and live in a lovely place-and have never felt such an immediate connection. So, yes, lots of amazing experiences—but the work you did to make this a safe environment to explore and bring our whole selves—to feel confident taking risks, asking questions, daring to be vulnerable—that doesn’t happen because of location. That happens when you have open-hearted, love-centered educators leading the way.”