October always feels like a surprise to me. It’s not quite that September didn’t happen, but it happens so fast. September was a very full month at SAIS, as it brought about the launch of our new website and it has set us on the runway for launching the Head Search Database. Very much at the forefront of our minds, however, is our Annual Conference in Atlanta in less than two weeks.
There are any number of reasons to be excited about the Annual Conference, not the least of which is that we have not had an opportunity to bring a sizeable group of us together for some time. The program is packed with relevant sessions as well as opportunities to reconnect with longtime colleagues and meet news ones. I hope you will be able to take advantage of these few days in Atlanta to step back a bit and reflect both on how far we have come and the road ahead.
We are extremely proud of all of our speakers for this event, but for this HeadLines, we are focusing on conflict, as I suspect we have all seen more of it over the last 18 months than we ever thought we would. Our opening conference speaker is Amanda Ripley and I highly recommend her timely book High Conflict. You might also remember Amanda’s earlier books, including The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes – and Why in which she dives deeply into the psychology and neurology of groups and individuals when faced with disasters and The Smartest Kids in the World: And How They Got that Way, where she followed the journeys of three American teenagers as they experienced the education systems in Poland, Finland, and South Korea, studying the methods and data behind each. That is quite a trio of books for us all to consider right now.
Conflict has been so pervasive in so many decisions we have faced over the last few months that it seems we almost have an instinct or at least tendency to readily screen for conflict in every decision we make. It has been exhausting, particularly when so many of the day-to-day complexities for running schools has been going so well on so many campuses. As educators, we do not embrace conflict even though we understand the role we must play in helping students learn to manage difficult conversations as a crucial life skill. Amanda will provide insight into managing these stressors more effectively, as we can expect further engagement around strongly held divergent opinions for some time to come.
All of us at SAIS look forward to seeing many of you in-person soon! In the meantime, please let us know if there is anything at all we can do for you!