Keynote: The Heart of Education

Education is about people working and learning together. It is about building relationships with the students and adults in an effort to create a learning community. How we treat each other and the way we interact with one another will set the tone for everything else we do in school.

This presentation is about building trust in relationships.  It is based on the premise that we make a difference in the lives of students by creating a positive school climate that is conducive to collaborative learning for all.  It is one thing to say that we should be part of a learning community, but it is another thing to translate that into action.

We make a difference. We have to believe that statement. Every child that enters our classrooms in September will be different in June. The question is how will they change? By next September will they simply be one year older? Will they simply have a year’s worth of new facts in their heads? Will they be more school-wise and better able to spew back what we want to hear? Or will they be independent thinkers, mature enough to tackle the academic and social challenges ahead of them? The answers to these questions come from within us, the adults. What we do with students and how we do it, from September to June is the critical factor.

Teaching is not a random act. Our planning and preparation, our teaching and marking, our modeling and mentoring are all designed to have an impact on each individual student. More important than our lesson plans and yearly overviews, it must be emphasized, is our personal interactions and relationships with these kids. How we treat each individual matters. The behaviors that we model and expect make a difference. The depth of our tolerance and height of our expectations set the tone. The variety of learning activities and the range of authentic assessments that we provide make learning meaningful. The adaptations and accommodations we make for individual differences, at both the low and high end of the spectrum, create opportunities for success for all students.

This is what school is about: all students learning and growing.

Session: Leading Tomorrow’s Schools Today
Blurb: Leadership has a very positive impact on student learning outcomes. What kind of leadership is needed in schools today? Where should this leadership come from? The impact of transformational and instructional leadership will be explored in this session.

Objectives and Outcomes:
• Embrace the notion of distributed leadership
• Establish the importance of presence
• Identify keep strategies needed to move school initiatives forward.
Related Resources: “Starting A Movement”, “RTI Is A Verb”

Session: Building Your Learning Community – All Hands on Deck
Blurb: We’ve all heard the adage “It takes a village to raise a child” and that is absolutely critical as we look to have ALL students achieve at high levels and transition to their next step. This session will look at the WHY and the HOW of engaging your entire school community (teachers, students, support staff, administration, parents, and the business community) in the essential work of schools.

Objectives and Outcomes:
• Discuss the need for broader community engagement
• Establish what is needed for a whole school (community) approach
• Provide practical examples of possible next steps
Related Resources: “Pyramid of Behavior Interventions” and “Seven Keys to a Positive Learning Environment in Your Classroom”

Session: Where Passion Meets Purpose: Moving From Believe to Achieve
Blurb: If educators are prepared to commit to every child, every day, two questions must be addressed:
1. Do we believe all students can learn at high levels?
2. Will we take collective responsibility to make this a reality?
Objectives and Outcomes:
• Identify the barriers to achieving this outcome
• Discuss the notion of “easy” versus “hard” work and the impact of those decisions
• Identify tools, resources, structures to make achievement for All a reality
Related Resources: “Starting A Movement” and “Seven Keys to a Positive Learning Environment in Your Classroom”

Session: Moving Schools Forward: On Purpose
Blurb: If we truly aim to have a culture that embraces “learning for ALL”, we must first begin with building effective relationships with all constituents of a school community as we carefully craft our collective commitment and purpose. As Viviane Robinson (2011) states, “Effective educational leadership is not about getting the relationships right and then tackling the difficult work challenges. It is about doing both simultaneously so that relationships are strengthened through doing the hard, collective work of improving teaching and learning” (page 16). Building our collective commitment starts with the “Why” and underpinning this critical step is the reason educators entered the profession – to make a difference and improve the life chances of every student. Connecting the overarching mission with the behaviors, decisions, feedback, and actions of all staff members requires meaningful, collaborative conversations. It also requires a focal point to connect the work.

Objectives and Outcomes:
• Embrace the idea of defining your WHY
• Align policy, procedure, and practice with purpose
• Understand the impact of DNA
Related Resources: “Starting A Movement”

Session: Authentic Alignment – Moving From Compliance to Commitment
Blurb: The most common challenge for schools is how to transition from a culture of compliance to a culture of commitment. How to move from ‘doing’ to ‘becoming’; from ‘my kids’ to ‘our kids.’ The gap between these two junctures is a critical and often-overlooked aspect of a school’s journey; creating a culture of collective responsibility.

Objectives and Outcomes:
• Discuss the four stages of authentic alignment
• Establish what is needed for a collective commitment
• Plan next steps in your school’s journey
Related Resources: “Starting A Movement”

Session: Pyramid of Behavior Interventions – Seven Keys to a Positive Learning Environment
Blurb: Participants will walk through seven steps to align academic and behavior interventions to create a learning environment where all students can succeed. Designing a pyramid of behavior interventions may be new territory for many; it aligns to other system responses such as RTI and data analysis to support student success. Participants will learn how to take current interventions and practice and combine that with new approaches to build a comprehensive and sustainable approach.

Objectives and Outcomes:
• Develop shared knowledge of research behind behavior and behavior supports.
• Design school wide policies aligned to research on positive support and reinforcement.
• Frame the components of a comprehensive pyramid of behavior interventions.

Related Resources: “Pyramid of Behavior Interventions” and “Seven Keys to a Positive Learning Environment in Your Classroom”

Session: Building Common Expectations: The Behavior Matrix
Blurb: Creating common behavioral expectations for all students, and then building in mechanisms to help them all attain proficiency, requires a collective commitment. Participants will look at establishing a behavioral matrix for their school and connect that to the desired outcomes of their classroom.

Objectives and Outcomes:
• Identify what are common expectations
• Identify areas of the school or routines that are problematic
• Frame a matrix of expectations that delineates desired outcomes
Related Resources: “Pyramid of Behavior Interventions” and “Seven Keys to a Positive Learning Environment in Your Classroom”

Session: Assessment Literacy – Evidence Gathering or Number Gathering
Blurb: Assessment is often missed as a key component of the teaching and learning cycle because the focus on measurement and sorting takes away from the positive capacity to leverage student achievement and instructional design. Using assessment as a tool to hone in on student strengths and uncover gaps in their knowledge provides the opportunity to build success for all. This requires developing assessment literacy in all educators and agreeing on a balanced system of assessment while embedding time for educators to collaborate.

Objectives and Outcomes:
• Deepen awareness of the impact of formative assessment
• Explore methods to seek, gather, and discuss evidence gathered from students
• Shift the dialogue from assessment as number gathering to assessment as evidence gathering
Related Resources: “Assessing Unstoppable Learning” and “Grading For Impact”.