TFE Symposium Testimonials

Thoughts from past participants:

"The TFE Symposium transformed many of my perspectives on education and teaching.  The diverse voices that I heard during the varied types of presentations, seminars and other facets of the Symposium have informed and enlightened my many years in the classrooms and institutions of learning.  The several serendipitous moments of realizations about the nature of learning and education will provide motivation for my continued professional growth even after almost forty years of teaching.  The pedagogical connections I experienced with such a global representation of educators was a wonderfully fortunate experience that will resonate with my teaching."

Mike Nadler, Albuquerque Academy, Symposium 2015

"The symposium was transformational for how I see teaching and learning. The immersion experience in experiential education -- from developing creative and challenging questions for David Coleman and Mariko Silver to laughing and crying over the beauty of Fun Home (and then chatting with the entire cast afterwards) -- reminded me what it is like to be an experiential learner.  With an abundance of opportunities for "serendipity" and "transfer", I am bringing back new visions of what is possible -- creative collaboration, urban labs, and ambitious new ways of thinking about teaching and learning. Now the challenge is to implement, implement, implement."

Adam Machson-Carter, Codman Academy Charter School, Symposium 2015

"Awesome conference. The thing that stood out to me is that it's maybe the only educational conference that I've been to that was executed consistently with the pedagogy. Most of the sessions I went to were taught experientially. As an example, the session on having authors visit your classroom, went as follows:

  • The first third of the session was doing a well-executed creative writing assignment set to some music. In the discussion phase, we all coalesced around a similar themes, and questions started arising as to the nature and intent of the music.
  • At this point, the presenter turned around his laptop and got the composer of the music on video chat. We got to ask him all of our questions.
  • In the last third of the presentation, we analyzed what happened: how he created a need in us to speak to the author, and how this led to a more authentic experience than the usual formats for inviting authors (where students are artificially required to come up with questions).

Almost every session had something like this -- and so did the whole conference."

Matt Bateman, LePort Schools, Symposium 2015

"The workshop on 'Design Thinking' was a great help and introduction to the Stanford ideas and I’m already working to implement some of what I learned into our community government next year. I loved my workshop about math – especially the idea that mathematics is about ambiguity, which runs so counter to everything I was ever taught.

But best of all was the chance to meet some amazing people, get into some deep conversations – and of course, eat good food and watch a wonderful musical. I’m still thinking about it on a daily basis."

Matt Ives, The Masters School, Symposium 2015

"It has been my experience that school communities do not often provide spaces where teachers can openly explore our questions and assumptions about learning and teaching and think about how we can create more authentic and meaningful experiences for our students. The Teaching for Experience Symposium is that place where teachers can find a community to question and create together. Because I had the chance to participate in the Symposium, I have already begun to implement more cognitive assessment and reflection in my classes, more effective collaboration strategies, and more experiential learning opportunities. I can't really put into words how meaningful it is to feel that I am part of a larger community that is also interested in constantly questioning and experimenting. It gives me so much more confidence to put my ideas into action."

Miranda Thorman, Marin Academy, Symposium 2015

"At age 71, perhaps the oldest TFE participant, I returned to my Texas school transformed in spirit but challenged by my school's seven-day rotation of 45-minute classes. I envied Holland Hall, Hawken, and other presenter teachers with more student-friendly schedules. Obviously my first task is to persuade colleagues and administrators to carve out a few weeks or even days of collaborative, student-centered time for experiential learning.

The TFE Symposium convinced me that I'm not ready to retire but instead to curate change. As Khalil Gibran said, "Time has been transformed, and we have changed; it has advanced and set us in motion; it has unveiled its faced, inspiring us with bewilderment and exhilaration."

Dorothy De La Garza, St. Andrew's Episcopal School, Symposium 2015

"I found the Symposium inspiring to keep improving my craft. I felt like everyone was drinking the 'Kool-Aid' of experiential learning and that we grew strength and courage from one another.   I engaged in lively and passionate discussion with teachers and administrators that encouraged me to keep doing what I am doing.  I also learned new lesson ideas and strategies to add to my teaching tool belt.  I greatly enjoyed the speakers including the panel at the beginning. The balance of sessions and time to discuss was a good one. I didn't feel overwhelmed with the amount of sessions I just wanted it to keep going. For me, the Broadway play and Dr. Silver were amazing memories I will not soon forget.  Thanks so much for hosting this experience which has brought back an energy that was squashed during my previous teaching year."

Doniellle Albrecht, John Cooper School, Symposium 2015

"One highlight was hearing from President Mariko Silver from Bennington College. Her thoughtfulness and pragmatism about experiential learning was inspiring. She underscored for me that some colleges do care about this work, which is helpful in making the case (to administration, college counselors and parents) for doing it at our secondary schools."

Eder Williams-McKnight, Holland Hall, Symposium 2015

"One of the recurring topics for me (and those at my tables) during the conference was the challenge of sustaining imaginative and transformative teaching over time (a year or in a career). Finding what nourishes and recharges teachers is key. For me, the three day conference was a recharge and a reset--I feel full of possibilities, ready to take them on, and I have some new contacts to help me, in David's words, keep the faith." 

Richard Davis, Hotchkiss School, Symposium 2015

"It was fantastically inspiring to be around people who 'got it' about what I'm trying to do in my classes.  So, just that fact of being with others who are hoeing the same row was enough to leave me feeling giddy for most of the week and the following week.

It was amazing to hear heads of school talk about the ways that they are working to change their schools (or start new ones) and think about experiential education from the outset rather than as an add-on.  It gave me huge hope.

I was totally inspired by colleagues at other schools and the projects and programs they are working on.  And was excited to have the opportunity to steal great stuff from them.  It made me rethink what I'm doing in constructive ways."

Kim Fredrick, Concord Academy, Symposium 2015

"Attending TFE this summer left me energized and inspired. Every conversation I had with educators and administrators over the course of the three days had applications for both my teaching practice and my personal life. Throughout the breakout sessions, guest speakers, events and adventures, we explored the concept of creating space in the classroom and in lived experience for authenticity, availability, collaboration and transformation. I walked away excited about the year to come, and feeling open to chance without trepidation. I am deeply grateful for the financial aid I was given; as a long-term sub, I wasn't able to ask my school to cover the expense. I will be back!"

Claire Kessler-Bradner, Marin Country Day, Symposium 2015


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