Remember when student learning took place in a one-room school (think “Little House on the Prairie”)? There was a time when all students were together—learning in one culture and one environment.
But as communities got bigger, we started separating students by developmental stages. As a result, students now have to transition from school to school—experiencing different cultures and curriculums each time. And there is no doubt that those transitions can be difficult.
That’s why the 2017 National Principals Conference was created! As the first-ever joint national conference for Pre-K through 12 school leaders, this event is focused on addressing student transitions and harkening back to that one-room school perspective.
To ensure school leaders from all levels come together to exchange ideas and build transition bridges, we are shaking up the traditional conference format and building in much more unstructured collaboration time.
How it will be different
You really need to come to this conference with an open mind. We’re changing the whole delivery of the conference—it will be more of an applied learning design.
- You start at the top with a thought leader.
- At the next level, you have practitioner experts at concurrent sessions where people with programs or solutions are actually demonstrating them.
- The next layer is facilitated conversations, sometimes called “Edcamps” or “unconferences,” where anything in that strand will be discussed in that room and the attendees select the topics.
- An additional layer of learning is the hackathon, where you pose a question and fellow practitioners will be around the table to help you find a solution.
We’ve also asked our exhibitors to make their booths participatory rather than just handing out a piece of paper—we want to see how these products work in action with actual teachers and students.
In addition, floor areas will be planned around the strands of the conference. Various learning labs will be going on throughout the conference. And we’re going to create learning spaces where you will see classrooms coming to life with actual students and teachers inside.
How the learning is organized
We’ve structured the conference into four strands—each with its own corresponding thought leaders and practitioner experts, so you can create a conference experience tailor-made for your needs.
It is very important for you as a school leader to understand that you not only have to increase the professional capacity of your teachers, but that you also have to increase the professional capacity within yourself. This is an opportunity for you to begin to take control of your own professional destiny.
We hear a lot about grit and student agency, and this strand is about the understanding that we need to fortify students with skills and capabilities to transcend the K–12 continuum. And school leaders need to know how they can help students advocate for themselves.
Connecting Positive Climate, Culture, and Community
Our schools reflect the world, so we need to honor and build up our schools so they are welcoming places for parents and members of the community. We want to help school leaders make the school a hub of the community, and climate plays a very important role in that.
We all want students to take more ownership of their own learning. Here, you will learn how to make a connection with students to ensure they believe that we, as educators, are in their corner and helping them traverse that continuum.
What you’ll take away
At the heart of the National Principals Conference is the fact that school leaders need to learn together how to build a climate and a culture that honors and values each student and their diversity, and can remain constant and supportive from the first day of Pre-K through high school graduation.
However, it’s essential to consider the vertical articulation of the curriculum—when teachers get together and principals facilitate the articulation of what students should learn across the continuum and between one grade and the next. What skills and concepts should they have been learning in third grade to be prepared for learning in fourth grade, or in eighth to be better prepared for ninth? If school leaders are working together, facilitating that vertical articulation with subject teams across all levels, we can begin to understand the strengths and challenges of leading learning.
In the end, students are in the school’s hands from the moment they enter until they graduate. Bringing school leaders together to align their mission and vision supports their journey.
When we join hands, we drive student success.