Inspirational Day 1 of Conference

Today was the first day of the AASA National Conference on Education. It has been a very productive day packed with sessions that both validated my thoughts and practices as a leader and provoked me to reflect on ways to grow and improve. From teacher evaluation to 21st Century Learning to going from good to great, all of the sessions I attended were outstanding!

I began the morning by attending the Thought Leader Session, Making the Most of Teacher Evaluation, with Charlotte Danielson. Danielson discussed that the purposes of teacher evaluation are for quality assurance and to provide professional development. A teacher evaluation system should be accurate, reliable, valid, and educative. She warns of high stakes, low rigor evaluation systems.

Danielson says that effective teaching can be defined in two ways: teacher practices and results. She prefers to focus on teacher practices and encourages us to ask ourselves, when you walk into a classroom, what would convince you that you are in the presence of an expert? She also recommends that the evaluation system be educative. The process should encourage learning and promote professional development in a culture of inquiry. My favorite quote from Danielson was “You can’t fire your way to Finland!”.

The second session I attended was on 21st Century learning. The panel consisting of Ken Kay from EdLeader 21 and Jim Merrill, superintendent of Virginia Beach City Public Schools, defined 21st Century learning and gave suggestions on how to implement 21st Century Learning in a school district. Reflecting on the information provided, I feel that my school division is heading in the right direction and left the session with ways to improve our implementation plan such as assuring alignment to the 21st Century learning vision and message. The importance of building community input, assistance, and support is crucial to the success of transforming the culture.

For lunch, I attended the AASA Federal Relations Luncheon. Richard Rothstein delivered a powerful and informative message about the history and politics of education, poverty, and opportunity. This also gave me the chance to meet and network with other superintendents from around the nation.

My last stop was the General Session with author, Jim Collins. I was very excited to have the chance to hear Collins speak. I have been reading, studying, and quoting from his books for years! He did not disappoint!  He spoke about the Levels of Leadership, getting the right people on the bus, confronting the brutal facts, and the 20 mile march. He left us with twelve questions to answer with our leadership teams. He provoked us to preserve the core and stimulate progress. He challenged us to determine what is the right 20 percent to change in our schools and why. He also reminded us that if we don’t change, we will become irrelevant.

This is my first time attending the AASA Conference on Education. Day 1 of the conference has left me inspired to return to my school division and answer Jim Collin’s twelve questions with my leadership team, reflect on our teacher evaluation system, and improve our 21st Century Learning Implementation Plan! Of course, today was not all about listening to thought provoking speakers. I ended my evening with attending a Clippers Game!  You can’t beat that!

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