Kristen MacConnell, Ph.D.

“Education is a social process; education is growth; education is not preparation for life but is life itself.” 
― John Dewey



I am an adventurer. I love to visit new places, try new things, and meet new people. Sometimes being an adventurer can be scary, but taking risks and stepping outside of my comfort zone is also an exciting way to learn and grow. I want to bring that sense of excitement and adventure into the classroom. Empowering children to be curious, solve authentic problems, and learn deeply about the world in which they live is my passion.


My adventures in education have led me to become a thoughtful, well-rounded educator. I earned a Master's degree in School Psychology and Ph.D. in Special Education from the University of Oregon. Most recently I completed a M.Ed in School Leadership from High Tech High Graduate School of Education. I spent 8 years working as a School Psychologist and University Professor. Eight years ago my adventures took me to Chile. I worked as an Elementary School Counselor and a Literacy Specialist at an International School for 4 years. I spent 1 year as a field researcher working for International School Consultancy in Latin America which provided me with the opportunity to visit international schools throughout the region and learn about their educational practices. As part of my school leadership program I spent one school year as a leadership resident at High Tech Elementary Chula Vista in San Diego, CA. I returned to Nido de Aguilas in Santiago, Chile in 2017 as an Assistant Director in the Early Years School and then became the PK-12 Director of Curriculum and Professional Development. I currently serve as the Director of the Teacher Training Center Programs.


When I am not at work you are likely to find me planning my next adventure! I love to travel, practice yoga, run, hike, mountain bike, cook, play the ukulele, and spend time with family and friends.

“No one is born fully-formed: it is through self-experience in the world that we become what we are.” 
Paulo Freire


Lead Improvement

  • Cultivating Teacher Leadership (book chapter)

  • Design Thinking in the Early Years: Visioning a New Playground (book chapter)

Understand the Problem
Create a Shared Aim
Learn Together


Core Values and Founations



  • How do school organizations cultivate a shared vision centered on core values?


  • How can educators work together with colleagues to create equitable, rigorous learning environments? What are scholarly dispositions and habits?


  • How can they contribute to our understanding and effectiveness as practitioners and leaders? What questions emerge as we observe, and become immersed in, a learning organization?

  • How can we work together with colleagues to create more equitable learning environments?


  • How do personal cultural identities interact with structural influences such as power, authority, and privilege, to influence equity and inclusion in classrooms and schools?

Equity, Diversity, and Design


  • How can we best support adult learning in our schools through attention to the environmental architecture, as well as one-on-one coaching?

Facilitating Adult Learning


A copy of my paper is available upon request.

Leadership Fieldwork


Leadership Fieldwork


Leadership Fieldwork


Lead Learning

Below you will find a collection of tools, resources, and models that I am currently using to support teaching and learning in schools.

Project Design

These kindergarten students were learning how to become "Earth Protectors" by reducing their waste, recycling as much as possible, and reusing materials and clothes. 

Student Voice and Choice:

  • Some students became activists and lined the sidewalk while parents picked up their children to encourage recycling.

  • The same group of kindergarten activists also wrote and produced a song to share their message. Click here to listen.

  • Another group of students chose topics based on interest, conducted research, and then created public service announcement posters which they laser printed on wood, and mounted on the playground to leave a lasting mark.

  • Students from K2E were really engaged with recycling and reusing materials. They worked with Mr. Nils to 3D print parts that allowed them to build a new chair for their classroom out of plastic bottles.

Earth Protectors Project Planner
Backwards Project Planner Template

Modeling Lessons

Early Literacy Lesson: Kindergarten


Readers and Writers Workshop: Mini-Lessons


Kindergarten Reading Lesson
Third Grade Writing Lesson

Looking at Student Work


The Rounds protocol is based off of Pat Carini’s work, The Descriptive Review of a Child. In essence, the protocol guides the group through three passes (or rounds) of examining a piece of student work. During the first round, participants describe specific observations, or things they notice, while examining the work. In the second round, the group makes generalizations about what the student can do based on the first round of observations. Finally, in round three, the group brainstorms possible next steps for instruction.


Leadership Hacks

Teacher Leadership Hacks

Protocols to facilitate learning

Consultancy Protocol

Tuning Protocol

Rounds Protocol

Cultivating Adult Learning

World Cafe


Hopes and Fears

Success Analysis

My Favorite Ice Breakers and Energizers

Coming Soon


Lead Listening

Student perceptions are linked to academic outcomes, so it’s smart to know what your students are experiencing in your school and classrooms. Teacher voice and parent voice are also critical pieces of feedback necessary for school improvement. Below are some quotes from data gathered through our partnership with Youth Truth. Ask me about how we used these data to better understand our learning community and what changes we made based on these data!



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“If we teach today’s students as we taught yesterday’s, we rob them of tomorrow.” 
― John Dewey


"It's certain that teachers clearly care and want to help, not a lot do but the ones that do mean a lot. They show this by noticing when you're acting different and making sure you're okay privately after class. They also are willing to give extensions and understand it can be hard to balance everything at once." 

-High School Student


"I think the teachers, administrators, and support staff have made my child’s learning and happiness a huge priority. My daughter is loved, respected, challenged, and celebrated every single day. When it became clear that my daughter had a significant learning difference, her “team” rallied around her to ensure her success and her continued love of learning. She is such a happy, well-rounded, smart kid and we are so thankful for the role Nido is playing in her development."

-Elementary School Parent


"I'm proud of the work that I do. I have invested a great deal of time into generating curriculum and feedback. The connections that I make with my students are some of the most important relationships I have. I feel like I have offered a lot to the community and I feel recognized for my accomplishments."

-Middle School Faculty