by Meredith Sjoberg, Upper School counseling center coordinator
Lakeside School is a founding member of Global Online Academy, a consortium of leading independent schools from around the world that fosters new, modern ways for students to learn and teachers to teach.
Anyone who is lucky enough to have reason to go Islandwood on Bainbridge Island should get excited. Those that have been there know the beauty of the location, the peaceful nature of the setting, and have experienced the delicious meals. I was fortunate to spend three nights there in late July, with colleagues from around the globe, for Global Online Academy’s Learning Summit. I was invited because I will be teaching their positive psychology course in the spring.
The learning summit was for teachers of a GOA course as well as faculty and staff of schools looking to invest in their own lifelong learning and professional development. I was there with Lakeside colleagues, as well as the faculty from The Downtown School, so I felt immediately comfortable. But I was also surrounded by new faces and was rewarded by how wonderful they were, especially because they all share the passion of being an educator.
In truth, I was a bit nervous heading into the summit, as I haven’t been in the classroom in a formal capacity in a number of years. And I certainly have not taught an exclusively online course. I wondered if I would feel out of my realm. While I was keenly aware of the wisdom and depth of experience in the room, I was welcomed with open arms and a great deal of support. I left the summit with a sense of excitement and eagerness for the coming school year.
I also left the summit with some fantastic new colleagues. I think part of the reason I felt so welcomed and comfortable was because GOA practices what they preach. They emphasize connection and collaboration and that is what the summit was all about. We spent our days learning, implementing, sharing meals, and discussing our schools and our lives. Even when we were working on an individual aspect of our course, there was always someone around to offer an idea or a solution. The spirit of collaboration was palpable. By the end of the summit, I had a fully planned course and felt confident that I have a team of people I can count on. Our days were packed, but there was something to the rhythm and routine of it all: It made me want to give my best self to the work. And instead of the summit being exhausting, it was fully engaging, and I left energized. I hope I have the chance to attend again and that other Lakeside colleagues take advantage of the wide range of professional development offerings through GOA.