Two Powhatan School faculty members recently made presentations at statewide conferences.

On Monday, Mrs. Robb presented at the annual VAIS conference. She shared the question-fueled, exploratory process of “chapel talk” at Powhatan within the context of eighth grade capstone projects in a joint session with her colleagues at The Langley School, a fellow VAIS member school located in McLean, Va.

The overarching theme of the conference was “Cultivating Curiosity and Joy” and the two conjoining sessions related to giving students choice in their studies. “It really revolves around the question of: what are you passionate about?” At the core of the activity, chapel talks get students excited about learning because they are choosing their own topics to explore. “This is self-directed inquiry at its best,” continued Mrs. Robb, as students generate questions throughout the process that guide their research, drafting, creating, rehearsing, and presenting.”

Click on the image to listen to the podcast as Mrs. Robb discusses Growth Mindset…

During the presentation, Mrs. Robb walked colleagues through the pedagogy of how she teaches the public speaking component of the activity. Included in this is her focus on equipping students with a Growth Mindset as they prepare for the actual speech. “One of the greatest fears people have is public speaking, says Mrs. Robb. “We go over visualization techniques and talk about the fact that it is okay to be somewhat afraid as they haven’t done this yet. Of course, we focus on the word ‘yet’ and instill in them that all of the hard work and practice will help transform that ‘yet’ into a successful endeavor. They have to put the work in first; only after that will they be ready to successfully complete their chapel talk.”

The week before, a team of four teachers from Powhatan attended the Virginia Conference for Social Studies Educators in Richmond, Va. Included in this group was Mrs. Naghib, Upper School social studies teacher, who presented “Teaching US History from a Global Perspective.”

“It’s vital that educators continue to learn and grow,” said Mrs. Naghib as she reflected on her presentation. “I have long greatly valued the opportunity to share, learn and collaborate with colleagues at conferences, so I was excited about the opportunity to share what and how we teach to a broad audience of peers. I love the fact that at Powhatan we are encouraged and supported to seek out professional development and continue our own personal learning.”

“As teachers we are committed to lifelong learning and the process of continuing to strengthen our craft. Whether that is through going to a conference, or hosting a day of Professional Development on campus, we as teachers live our school motto — we learn not for school but for life.”


“We as teachers live our school motto — we learn not for school but for life.”  ~ Mrs. Naghib


Session descriptions:

2017 VAIS Leading Learning Conference: Cultivating Curiosity and Joy

ACTIVate Your Students’ Imagination, Creativity, and Passion!
Ann Robb, English Teacher
Powhatan School

What are you passionate about? Curious about? What brings you joy? Powhatan eighth graders ponder these questions before choosing topics they research and present to the school community via a “chapel talk.” Come learn about this question-fueled, exploratory capstone project while participating in interactive exercises that activate somatic learning.

A Powhatan School tradition: the 8th grade “chapel talk” = a capstone project that incorporates the students’ PreK-8th grade learning about reading for information, researching, writing, and presenting – with an emphasis on questioning driving the process. To share three activities during the presentation: beginning (a before, visualizing activity), middle (a during, focusing activity), and end (an after, congratulatory activity).

Virginia Conference for Social Studies Educators

Teaching U.S. History from a Global Perspective
Carina Naghib, History Teacher
Powhatan School

This session will examine the reasons why it is critical for educators to present American History within a global context.

“Global citizenship education- global citizens mitigate global risk. At the genesis of the United Nations the founders sought to create an institution that would promote peace and cooperation between nations, led by a global citizen who would balance personal and national needs with global needs. In 2015 the UN came together to come up with sustainable development goals. Sustainable peace cannot be reached through treaties and diplomacy alone, but it needs to begin in the “attitudes and beliefs of individuals.” Schools should help students learn about other cultures and the world. We need to to teach empathy and that we are all bound as humans, working to build bridges and not walls between nations, emphasizing the need for shared global responsibility. Problems such as pollution are not national and require international collaboration.”