Professional Development > Conferences and Workshops

Conferences and Workshops
(Click here for the 2019-2020 Professional Development Series PDF)


Real-World Learning in Independent Schools
Greg Bamford

Monday, February 12, 2018
9:30 am - 3:00 pm

ISACS Classroom
Chicago, IL

Independent schools are embracing the challenge of “creating innovators,” in Tony Wagner’s words, through new programs that tackle real-world problems. We see schools experimenting with many innovative initiatives with labels like STEAM, design thinking, or experiential learning. Sometimes, these programs are put in a silo, limited in time or space. This workshop is for educators and leaders who want to go even farther.

Learn from a school that has developed an innovative model that integrates English, history, and science in “expedition” courses that take students off campus to do complex field work. Through its Traverse Conference, it has partnered with, and learning from, a wide range of other independent schools that are experimenting with "real world learning" in ways that make sense for them.

In this workshop, Bamford will share concrete examples from a highly successful school programs.  He will discuss principles of effective real-world learning that can be applied to participants' specific contexts, with a focus on program development, schedule, calendar, and assessment - among many other facets.

Before leaving, participants will develop a road map for their own journey towards real-world learning. You'll leave inspired, with new ideas and enthusiasm for making your own school more real-world, entrepreneurial, and expeditionary..

This workshop is for teacher leaders, academic administrators (including division heads, and deans and department chairs) and heads of school. 

Greg Bamford is the head of school at Watershed School in Boulder, Colorado.  Watershed is a young, innovative independent school with a focus on "real-world" learning. Watershed students learn in interdisciplinary units that connect academic content to real-world challenges, travel nationally and globally, and experience a comprehensive character education program. In his time at Watershed, enrollment has nearly doubled.  He is also a co-founder of Leadership+Design, a nonprofit that supports school innovation, through which he consults on design thinking, leadership, and strategic thinking. His clients have included such organizations as Catlin Gabel School, the Los Altos School District, Mount Vernon Presbyterian School, and the Urban School of San Francisco.  Bamford holds an Ed.M. in Educational Leadership from Columbia University, and has been a featured speaker at events like the NAIS Annual Conference, the ISACS Heads Conference, the NWAIS Annual Heads' Conference, and EduCon.

Location of Workshop
The workshop will take place at the ISACS classroom at 55 West Wacker Drive, Suite 702, Chicago, IL. 

Directions, Parking & Public Transportation
The location is located in the heart of Chicago, with easy access to public transportation.

Click here for directions to the ISACS classroom including driving, parking and public transportation directions. Parking is available at several area garages. To secure discounted rates prior to your arrival in Chicago, visit If possible, we suggest taking public transportation.

Air Travel
Both Midway and O'Hare airports are easily accessible to the ISACS classroom. Fly into Midway (on Southwest Airlines) or into O'Hare and take the "L" (Chicago's public transportation) and be at the ISACS classroom in less than an hour.  

‚ÄčGO Airport Express (Share-a-Ride) Shuttle Service
ISACS has negotiated a special rate with GO Airport Express for ISACS members – 15% off the standard rates. Reservations MUST be made in advance and online to receive the discounted rate.  The standard rate per person to/from O’Hare is approximately $28 one-way; $49 round-trip. The standard rate per person to/from Midway is approximately $24 one-way; $40 round-trip. To receive the 15% discount off the standard rates, please click here for the Go Airport Express website to make a reservation in advance. A credit card is required and charged at the time of reservation. Airport walk-ups are not eligible for the discounted rate. Parties of two more reserving at the same time receive a discount. Please visit their website for more information.  

Hotel Accommodations
ISACS has secured discounted hotel accommodations at The Godfrey Hotel Chicago: a luxury boutique hotel with commanding southern views of the city skyline. To make a reservation, please contact The Godfrey Hotel Chicago at 312-649-2000 and make sure to identify yourself as a member with the Independent Schools Association of Central States (ISACS) and provide them with the Group Code: ISACS Real-World Learning Workshop. Credit cards are required to book all room reservations. If you would prefer to book online please click here to make your reservation. For directions to The Godfrey Hotel Chicago, which also includes walking directions to the ISACS classroom, click here

If you are looking for another option or the room block is full, please take a moment to check out the other hotels which ISACS has partnered with in the Chicago area. The hotels are within walking distance of the ISACS classroom and, as a member of ISACS, you have access to the discounted rates all year long for your professional and personal travel. Click here to find out how to make a reservation at any of the hotels and select the option that meets your travel needs. We recommend booking your hotel room early. 

If you have any difficulties booking a room at The Godfrey Hotel Chicago or any other property, please contact the ISACS office at 312-750-1190.

Registration Fee

  • $190 member fee 
  • $240 non-member fee 
  • Workshop includes coffee/tea, light breakfast, lunch and refreshments.
  • Please review the Registration Confirmation information below

Registration Confirmation Communications from ISACS
Once registration for the workshop has been completed the following communications will be sent from ISACS:

  • Once registration is complete, an email will automatically be sent to the contact person on the registration confirming that registration has been completed.
  • Approximately three weeks prior to the workshop, ISACS will send a confirmation email to the registrant with details for the workshop.
  • Approximately one week prior to the workshop, ISACS will send a final confirmation email to the registrant with details for the workshop.

If you do not receive these emails prior to arriving at a workshop, please call the ISACS office at 312-750-1190. It is possible your email address was entered incorrectly OR your registration was not completed.

Cancellation Policy
Cancellations for workshops held at the ISACS classroom must be received in writing to ISACS by emailing 10 business days prior to the event to receive a refund. ISACS will determine the refund amount, if any, on a per workshop basis and may be unable to determine the refund amount until the workshop’s conclusion. At any time, registration may be transferred to another member from the same school. If a workshop has a waitlist and ISACS can identify a replacement, a full refund will be provided. ISACS reserves the right to cancel the workshop for insufficient enrollment. In this case, participants will be notified and given a full refund. 

Member Cost: $190     Non-member Cost: $240


55 West Wacker, Suite 701 · Chicago, IL 60601 · Telephone (312) 750-1190 · Fax (312) 750-1193
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