Being a principal, at any level, requires a diverse array of skills to ensure effective strategies are in place to meet the unique needs of all our students. Gathering this knowledge and these new strategies requires outstanding principals to learn from a variety of resources; we must maximize every opportunity we have to improve and develop our professional practices.
Two excellent sources of principal professional development are conference learning and peer networking. NASSP’s Ignite conference offers both of these sources at high levels in a jam-packed three days of professional learning.
First, Ignite is the only national conference focused solely on secondary level principals and the unique challenges we face. Ignite presents the highest level of recognized experts on a dynamic range of topics to enhance your learning. Ignite learning comes in a variety of formats: from large group general sessions to focused learning labs to Twitter hangouts to Edcamp. Whatever your needs and topics of interest, you will find it there!
Peer networking occurs at the highest levels at Ignite. You can build a new Personal Learning Network or recruit hundreds of new Twitter followers. Some of my most unique leaning experiences have been lobby conversations with experts like Todd Whittaker and Eric Sheninger. Ignite speakers often hang out after their sessions and interact with principals informally—giving you a wonderful opportunity to ask specific questions related to your needs.
Most valuable to me has been the unique personal relationships I have developed with peers from diverse communities across the world. Years ago I met Suzi, a dynamic and knowledgeable principal from Utah. Suzi’s school had unfortunately endured student suicides and she had shared with me the many challenges she faced in leading a school community at that difficult time. When I was faced with the same challenge, I gave her a call and she provided sound advice and wisdom on how to lead my school community through the same difficult loss.
I have also built strong relationships and friendships with other great principal leaders in Australia, Great Britain, and Wyoming simply by starting a conversation over a cold beverage during conference social events or asking a question by the hotel pool.
I urge you to light a fire in your own personal learning and in building your professional network by attending Ignite ’16 in Orlando, FL, this February. The opportunity is there; don’t miss it.
If you do attend, please look me up and introduce yourself—I would love to add you to my Personal Learning Network!
Michael Allison is the 2015–16 NASSP President. Follow him on Twitter @tallprincipal.