AE’s 2023 Understanding by Design Retreats

Teachers will design high-quality “ready to teach” units as part of a 2-day Understanding by Design retreat. The retreat will feature expert professional development in a small-group, collaborative setting. Attendees will also receive access to a library of UbD resources and will receive implementation support through a one-on-one video coaching session in the months following the retreat.

What makes this opportunity unique?

AE’s UbD retreats offer participants:


Each retreat is capped at 16 attendees with up to two facilitators* for a highly personalized learning environment. Our retreats are tailored to the roles, needs, and expertise of our attendees.

*Retreats with up to 10 attendees will have a single facilitator. 


Authentic Education was founded by the late Grant Wiggins, co-author of the UbD experience. Our facilitators have extensive experience working with educators from around the world. 


Our retreats are structured to break down silos by having participants collaborate across grade levels and disciplines. 


In order to ensure long-term success implementing units created using the UbD framework, registration includes a one-on-one online coaching session with an AE Facilitator in the months that follow the workshop.

Locations & Dates

This summer, AE is offering four retreats, with two held in the Boston Area and two in San Francisco.


We will be hosting two retreat sessions in the greater Boston area
Retreat #1 – June 26-27
Retreat #2 – June 28-29

(The Boston retreat is currently waitlist only. If you’re interested in being added to the waitlist, please do so through the registration link. We will reach out if space becomes available or if, based upon sufficient interest, we’re able to add an additional Boston date.)

San Francisco

We will be hosting two retreat sessions
at the Drew School in San Francisco
Retreat #3 – July 24-25
Retreat #4 – July 26-27

Why a Retreat?

Through our extensive experience working with teachers and schools, we have identified key factors that contribute to the long-term success of planning with the UbD framework. We know that when teachers design curriculum collaboratively, learn in smaller groups that allow for one-on-one expert coaching, and receive ongoing implementation support, they are more successful not just designing their own units long term but are better equipped to be teacher leaders in their own school. We’ve designed the retreat opportunity to help set up teachers for long term success in their classrooms and schools.

Don’t just take our word for it – the experiences of past retreat attendees speak for themselves!

[The retreat] further convinced me that UbD is such powerful exercise for teachers to engage in and create such meaningful learning experiences.


Past UbD Retreat Attendee

It was exciting to look at my curriculum with a new lens. It was so valuable to hear what teachers were doing. If we had more opportunity to do this, it would be wonderful.


Past UbD Retreat Attendee

I enjoyed the opportunities to collaborate; recognizing the struggles others were having and being able to tell them, “You’re right where you need to be…”


Past UbD Retreat Attendee

By doing this work in a room with 10 of my colleagues for two solid days, I gained a deeper appreciation for the way our work is connected. It was inspiring to see how many of our transfer goals and essential questions were interwoven.


Past UbD Retreat Attendee

This has been so purposeful. We came knowing what units we wanted to work on. The way you shaped the retreat and the time constraints made me feel more productive. Little bursts of work time made it exciting; you could implement it right then and there.


Past UbD Retreat Attendee

The excitement I have about creating this unit I hope will be contagious to the kids. I had no idea what the unit was going to look like so it was great to get those ideas down. It was wonderful to have this cross section of faculty to work with.


Past UbD Retreat Attendee

Frequently asked questions

Who will be leading the retreats?

The 2023 summer retreats will be led by accomplished educators and UbD experts from the Authentic Education team, including Mike Matthews, President of Authentic Education.

To ensure a high-quality and highly-personalized retreat with significant individualized coaching and support, the retreats are capped at 16 attendees. Retreats with 10 or fewer attendees will have at least one facilitator and retreats with 11 to 16 attendees will have at least two facilitators.

Is it just for teachers? I’m in a leadership role. Can I attend?

From Curriculum Directors to DEI Leaders to Division Directors, we’ve had folks in non teaching roles attend past retreats. The retreat is designed around creating a “ready-to-try” unit. We welcome all K-12 educators who are interested in creating a UbD unit to attend.

For leaders who are interested in strategies for coaching teachers and leading curriculum work in their schools, we recommend our Curriculum Leader opportunity. More information is available here.

Do I need any experience? What if I’ve already planned units in UbD?

UbD experience is welcome and not required. The small-group format allows us to tailor instruction and support to meet all attendees where they are, whether they’re new to UbD or have extensive experience designing curriculum using the framework.

When and where will the retreats be held?

During the summer of 2023, we will be holding retreats in the San Francisco Bay Area and in the Greater Boston Area. The dates and locations are as follows:

Boston, MA, currently waitlist only
– Retreat #1 – June 26th-27th (Monday & Tuesday)
– Retreat #2 – June 28th-29th (Wednesday & Thursday)

San Francisco, CA, at the Drew School
– Retreat #3 – July 24th-25th (Monday & Tuesday)
– Retreat #4 – July 26th-27th (Wednesday & Thursday)

What will the retreat days look like?

The retreats will run from 9am-4pm each day, with breakfast available starting at 8:30am and a one-hour lunch break.

The daily schedule will be:

8:30am – Breakfast

9:00am – Morning Session

12:00pm – Lunch

1:00pm – Afternoon Session

4:00pm – End of day

I can’t make it in person. Can I attend virtually?

Due to the small-group and collaborative nature of the retreats, we require folks to attend in-person. 

In the event of an attendee not being able to attend last minute due to a health & safety protocol (e.g., mandatory isolation), we will make reasonable attempts to create a way for that attendee to attend portions of the retreat virtually.

If you’re not able to attend in person, we encourage you to consider our online workshop opportunities.

What health and safety protocols will be in place?

The safety of our retreat participants and facilitators is of the utmost importance. We will require adherence to the healthy and safety guidelines in place at the time of the retreat, including any requirements mandated by our host schools.

What is the cost of the retreat and what is included?

The retreat fee of $1,295 includes:

– 2-day UbD retreat
– A follow-up coaching session (attendees will be able to schedule a 30-minute video session within 3 months of the retreat)
– Two Understanding by Design books
– Breakfast, lunch, and snacks on both retreat days

Payment is due at time of registration.

I am ready to go! Should I book my flights and hotels now?

Do not incur any non-refundable expenses until after your registration is confirmed. If you’re not local to the retreat location, a member of the AE team will follow up to share detailed information on travel logistics.

What will I need to bring with me to the retreat?

You will need a laptop or a tablet with a keyboard. Attire is casual. We’ll provide everything else!

Will there be homework?

There will be a short pre-assessment that you’ll be asked to complete before the retreat. We do not assign any homework between the first and second days of the retreat.

What if I can’t attend after I’ve registered?

We know that life happens. We’ve created registration transfer and refund policies to give you peace of mind should something come up that changes your availability. 

Registrants unable to attend the retreat may send someone in their place, by making a request in writing at least 7 days prior to the start of the retreat. Requests to transfer to an alternate 2023 retreat session will be considered on a case-by-case basis. All registration transfer requests must be made in writing via email to

Cancellations submitted through April 25, 2023, will receive a full refund of registration fee, less a $100 processing fee. No refunds will be issued for cancellations submitted after April 25, 2023. Refunds will be issued in the same form as the original payment when possible. Authentic Education does not award payment credit towards future services or events. All refund
requests must be submitted in writing via email to

I have a different question. How can I get it answered?

We’re here to help! Email us at and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible. 

Join us for the 2023 Retreats!