Signature Experiences

We invite you to take part in Thrive 2024 in a new and exciting way. Our Signature Experiences are focused explorations of urgent themes: embedding diversity, equity, inclusion, justice, and belonging (DEIJB) work; supporting social-emotional learning (SEL) initiatives, and exploring artificial intelligence (AI). Each experience is capped at 150 attendees and includes an exclusive Master Class keynote from an industry expert, deep discussions with an engaged cohort, and actionable takeaways on your chosen theme—and you still have access to the conference’s keynote speakers, workshops, and networking. Learn more about the Signature Experiences in the video below.

Signature Experience Schedule

Each of the three experiences has programming on both Thursday and Friday. 

Wednesday, February 28
4:15–5:15 PM CT 
Meet and Greet Reception for Signature Experience Participants (optional)

Thursday, February 29
11:00 AM–1:30 PM CT
Signature Experience Day 1 Session (lunch is included)

Friday, March 1
10:45 AM–1:30 PM CT
Signature Experience Day 2 Session (lunch is included)

Register for the conference now and you can choose to participate in either the original conference experience or a Signature Experience enhancement that focuses on one of three topics.

Signature Experience Topics

Signature Experience 1: Embedding DEI: Moving Beyond Buzzwords to Restructure for Equity

In a reflection of the world at large, independent schools are coming to terms with continued practices of inequity and injustice. How can our schools move beyond diversity training and curriculum reviews to embedding supportive structures of belonging into every aspect of our organizations? Walk away from this signature experience with an understanding of how our schools can design and flex to accommodate diversity, equity, inclusion, justice, and belonging (DEIJB) mindshifts. Examine the existing structures at your school and the challenges to dismantling them. Meet other educators and experts to give you perspective about ways you can change your thinking and doing on a structural level to enact real change.  

This Signature Experience is sponsored by Educator's Ally.

Educator's Ally
Day 1 Session (Thursday, February 29): Adopting and Implementing a Transformative Vision for Equity

In most schools, the equity challenge arises less from a lack of equity efforts than the tendency to adopt equity efforts that do not create more equity. Join us to explore what it means to embrace and implement a comprehensive, transformative approach to equity rooted in a deep commitment to real change. Learn and practice applying crucial transformative equity principles, trading equity baby steps for big equity leaps.
  • Presenter: Paul Gorski is the founder of the Equity Literacy Institute and EdChange. He has 25 years of experience helping educators, nonprofit workers, and others strengthen their equity efforts. 
Day 2 Session (Friday, March 1): Experience a Strategic Structure for Building DEIJB Principles in Schools

Join us for an introduction to the way schools can practically foster their inherent cultural diversity through practices like peacemaking circles. Acknowledging the prevailing inequalities and injustices, especially in independent schools, prompts the question of how institutions can progress beyond superficial diversity training and curriculum revisions. Gain experiential insight into the potential of such practices and the transformation you can instigate. Watch one of the presenters give a preview of this session here.
  • Presenters: Keiko Ozeki is a versatile organizational consultant, peacemaking circle keeper, and present-based coach. Specializing in transformative conversations, she facilitates healing and cultural change. E. Jabali Stewart brings a wealth of experience as a former independent school administrator, organizational consultant, leadership coach, public speaker, youth worker, and circle keeper.

Signature Experience 2: SEL That Sticks: Educating Hearts and Minds

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to social-emotional learning (SEL). Join this signature experience for a deep dive into the research behind the positive outcomes associated with authentic teaching of SEL skills. Participate in skill development through practices and collaborative experiences crafted to address self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making (the five core competencies). Outcomes of honing these skills include increases in academic performance, sustained healthy relationships and identity development, and emotional regulation. SEL can help address various systems and forms of inequity. It can prepare a school community to create change and sustainable practices for young people and adults in schools to feel a sense of belonging, develop interpersonal relationships that are balanced and fulfilling, wholly witness their career development, and engage fully as citizens of the world.

This Signature Experience is sponsored by the Center for Responsive Schools.

Center for Responsive Schools

Day 1 Session (Thursday, February 29): Beyond an Initiative: Practices, Frameworks, and Approaches for Sustainable and Equitable SEL 

Join us in this creative, experiential workshop designed to inspire, empower, and nurture K-12 educators and leaders seeking to build and sustain a whole-community approach to SEL. The evidence-led content and experiences bring to life a simple framework of student SEL skills and mindsets. Model educator practices that activate SEL in all teaching and learning moments. Take away a range of tools and flexible curriculum materials that you can use to deepen the five SEL competencies. Also focus on the critical importance of adult SEL and well-being, along with the benefits of working to align school-wide systems and structures to supercharge a collective vision for SEL. Watch the presenters give a preview of this session here.
  • Presenters: Nick Haisman-Smith is the executive director and co-founder of The Institute for Social and Emotional Learning (IFSEL) and a doctoral researcher at the University of Bristol, focusing on social and emotional learning and educator well-being. IFSEL Co-Founder and Director Elizabeth McLeod leads IFSEL’s Schools Program, which provides professional learning and consulting for schools and districts around the world. 
Day 2 Session (Friday, March 1): LiberatED: Including Liberatory Practices that Center Humanity in the Classroom

Reimagine social-emotional learning (SEL) so that it honors and facilitates identity-affirmation, advances social and racial justice, and promotes healing and liberation. Join this interactive session to co-create a deeper understanding of SEL and make meaning of how we can embed liberatory practices in our classrooms and schools. Explore ways to expand our understanding and practice beyond SEL competencies to include liberatory practices and mindsets that center humanity and the whole child in our classrooms. Watch the presenters give a preview of this session here.
  • Presenters: Miriam Miller is a learner, teacher-educator, researcher, and storyteller committed to working alongside educators to embed social and emotional learning, well-being, and racial justice into their practice. Aileen Mokuria is a passionate educator who has dedicated her life to co-creating communities with youth that are identity-affirming and support thriving. Both are facilitators and programming co-leads for LiberatED.

Signature Experience 3: The AI Revolution: Future-Forward Teaching and Learning

Artificial intelligence (AI) and the era of spatial computing aren't things to just place in the future—they are here now. It’s time to consider the positive aspects and the risks to make educators aware and able to use these tools in meaningful ways. Investigate questions of how and why to use AI for learning. Experience the views and thoughts of people working in schools who are exploring the application of generative AI and virtual and augmented reality at deep levels. Join this signature experience to address opportunities and benefits of AI and spatial computing, risks and threats, ethical and legal dilemmas, and suggestions for use in today’s independent school.

This Signature Experience is sponsored by Hastings & Chivetta Architects.

Hastings & Chivetta Architects

Day 1 Session (Thursday, February 29): The Implications and Applications of AI Tools in Education

Join this comprehensive exploration of AI’s application in education. During the first part, “Artificial Intelligence in the Classroom: Promise and Peril,” learn about the capabilities and implications of AI-based tools in the learning environment, and get an overview of the rapidly evolving landscape of AI in education. The second segment, “Utilizing AI to Elevate Productivity and Innovation for Administration, Faculty, and Staff,” shifts to a more practical and hands-on approach, demonstrating actionable AI applications to optimize daily operational activities across educational teams. Leave with high-level insights and grounded, practical strategies, having gained a well-rounded perspective on leveraging AI responsibly and effectively in education.
  • Facilitator: Andy Van Schaack is a professor of education and engineering at Vanderbilt University, and founder and chief scientist for several Silicon Valley-based companies specializing in instructional technologies.
Day 2 Session (Friday, March 1): National and Global Perspectives on AI Usage in Schools

The first part of this session will highlight national deliberative polls on AI governance and usage. In the first segment, learn about the perspectives of high school students who participated in an October 2023 national deliberation on using AI in schools. The results offer insights into what high school students expect of school policies, penalties, and teachers’ usage of AI tools. This segment will also present findings from five national deliberations to provide a global perspective on AI usage. In the second part, participate in an interactive session demonstrating the Stanford Online Deliberation Platform and the Stanford Deliberation Partners.  You'll join the platform on your device and have a brief deliberative experience. Walk away with concrete ideas of using these technologies in your classroom.
  • Facilitator: Alice Sui is associate director of the Deliberative Democracy Lab at Stanford University and a lead collaborator on the Stanford Online Deliberation Platform.