2012 Best Practices for Better Schools National Conference - Special Early Registration

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K-8 Principals Gather to Discuss Raising Student Achievement, Shaping School Reform

Media Advisory
Kaylen Tucker, NAESP

Convention will feature education experts, community service project, and a new green initiative.

E-Learning Center



Let the Learning Continue!

Welcome, 2011 Convention attendee.

Convention Wrap-Up

Catch up on all that occurred during NAESP’s 2010 Convention and Exposition during the past few days by visiting Convention News Online. Read articles about the conference’s major events, take a look at our numerous photos, follow our convention blogger’s conference experience, and review messages from our Twitter team.
See you in Tampa, Florida, April 7-10, for next year’s conference!

Convention Concludes With Reflection and Appreciation

The city of Houston was blessed today with rays of sunshine, a little breeze, and 70° weather. At lunch I took a walk with some other principals through the Discovery Green area. Once arriving at The Lake House, a small café in this park, we were able to enjoy our lunch at an outdoor table.
Our conversations were information-seeking as well as reflective. Topics shifted from session presentations to details about our schools and from extended professional development opportunities, back to the yummy turkey and tomato sandwiches.
These casual “meetings of the mind” happened everywhere at the convention this week. In my opinion, they are just as important as the formal gatherings. Through these interpersonal conversations, principals are able to connect content from the convention to authentic practices in our own schools.
Once returning to the Hilton, I joined the NAESP leadership as a member of the Delegate Assembly. While I listened to agenda items that ranged from Association accomplishments and a budget analysis to revisions to the NAESP Platform, several things were evident in the room. First of all, we have a strong and committed leadership in this Association. From the NAESP staff to our colleagues who devote their time to represent us, good people are in the right places.
Second, there is a true sense of thankfulness among the general membership for all that is done through NAESP’s networks, supporting our role as school principals. Next, NAESP understands the importance of recognition, appreciation, and valuing those who contribute to our collective goals.
Finally, Executive Director Gail Connelly said it best as she beamed with pride while introducing her grandson to the audience. This cherub is clearly the treasure of Gail’s heart. She noted that her grandson will eventually graduate from high school in 2021, the same year NAESP will celebrate 100 years of representing the principals in our country. Gail reminded us today of the reason why we all do what we do—for every graduate yet to come.
This is the end of the 2010 convention and, thus, my role as the convention blogger. It has been a pleasure to share my experiences with you. My blessings to everyone for a safe trip back to your families and for a smooth end to the 2009-2010 school year.
If I can be of help or support to anyone in our Association, please don’t hesitate to contact me at MPats@spring-ford.net. I look forward to NAESP’s 90th Annual Convention and Exposition in the beautiful city of Tampa, Florida. See you there!

Education Breeds Hope and Freedom

This morning, I enjoyed listening to ideas about using school conflicts as a platform to grow and improve. Speakers Julie Combs and Stacy Edmonson facilitated an interesting session that required participants to reflect on disagreements and consider what we can do to move past interpersonal barriers. An awesome discussion broke out and by the end of the meeting, we had some good practices to implement back at our schools. 
Before heading to the Third General Session, I stopped to listen in at the Key Activists’ meeting. Organized by NAESP’s advocacy team, this forum provided an informative update about what is currently happening in Washington, D.C. The main areas of focus were ESEA reauthorization (and its significance for principals) and ideas for moving forward as a voice on “The Hill.” 
Moving on to the Third General Session, another outstanding keynote speaker captured the full attention of his audience. Greg Mortenson provided a summary of his mission in the Middle East and elements of the path he has traveled toward the promotion of peace for our global society. Although Greg now lives with his own family in Montana, it was interesting to learn that Greg’s mother was an elementary principal in Wisconsin. 
Greg’s message to the audience was that we need to listen more, respect others, and focus on building relationships. He spent time explaining the fascinating research behind the benefits of educating females as a method to influence positive change. The importance of service learning, acceptance of diversity, and civic engagement were also prominent themes. Greg extended his sincere gratitude to each of us for our daily work influencing children.
Here are some resources that Greg shared:
I’m off to lunch, a walk in the sunshine, and then to wrap up my convention experience by attending the Delegate Assembly! 

Where Did This Day Go?

It was over in a blink!
I spent time this afternoon visiting with many of the vendors in the exhibit hall. I found some great information about classroom materials, graduate programs, staff development opportunities, international travel, character education programs, motivational supports, and “hot off the press” research-based learning tools.
Talking with professionals who design, develop, and market these items was great. I have so much information to take back to my school and share with others. It’s amazing how many ideas are swirling in my mind just from seeing new products and gathering ideas from others!
I also had a chance today to find the NAESP Foundation’s silent auction! There are some very cool items up for grabs in that room. Hotel stays, travel packages, hot air balloon rides, sports memorabilia, golf packages, etc.
I put three bids down—but I’ll say no more. I’m just crossing my fingers that I’m the lucky winner on one of my bids! What a nice way to raise money for the NAESP Foundation and it added another element of fun to the convention.
Tonight I’m looking forward to a state reception and then finding another good Texas restaurant. Pete’s Dueling Pianos on Fannin Street is also on the agenda as a possible after-dinner adventure.
First session on Sunday is at 7 a.m., so I won’t be singing along with the pianos too late! I’m looking forward to hearing about uncommon leadership tools and collaborative practices among principals. Greg Mortenson is the keynoter on Sunday at 10 a.m. I’m very interested in hearing his message to school principals.
Until then, have a safe and relaxing evening.

Different Schools, Same Issues

This morning I joined Kathleen Sciarappa of New Hampshire to hear her information about bullying in the workplace. What I learned was that, in one degree or another, there are many principals with this type of situation at their school. Kathleen guided her session participants through some sharing activities. I exchanged ideas with a colleague from Florida. It’s always amazing to me that even though we are in different parts of the country, some of our issues are identical. Better yet, so are the solutions. I didn’t have time for breakfast today, so I snagged a soft pretzel on the way to the Second General Session. So much for healthy choices! It’s just like school; take a few minutes for the daily walking lunch period during all the “do you have a minute” requests. I guess some things never change.
I headed over to the ballroom with my walking breakfast to hear keynote speaker Marlee Martin. She is a zealous woman with powerful messages advocating not only for the hearing-impaired population, but for all people who have a disability of any type. It was a pleasure to experience Marlee delivering her speech using sign language and an interpreter. She touched every heart in the audience with her passion, courage, and dreams. Her mantra is shared by President Obama: “Yes, We Can!” 
Marlee asked principals to work with children by seeing abilities, not disabilities. She shared statistics that prove that discrimination against disabled citizens occurs with frequency in our culture. Marlee, a mother of four, went on to pledge that every child deserves to be loved, respected, and heard.
This afternoon, I’m looking forward to getting through more of the exhibit hall booths, meeting fellow principals at the state/zone booths, and learning about transformational leadership by some veteran pros!


An Afternoon Full of Activity

Houston has pretty wonderful things happening! I have to say that I am impressed—not only with the organization that went into this convention, but also with the level of leadership it took to coordinate all that is happening at this assembly of elementary school principals.
This afternoon I had the pleasure of joining the “Big Ten” Consortium for its annual meeting. Based on what I heard, there are truly brilliant movements happening across many states that benefit principals and, ultimately, kids. Led by Sandi Bisceglia of Florida, and sponsored by VALIC, this gathering is a place where state leaders share strategies and innovative programs. Listening to the collaborative discussions assured me that there are many committed leaders shining a light on our path.
Mid-afternoon, I was able to touch base with a few people in the hallways between meetings. I also had a chance to see a few vendors in the exhibit hall. Later in the afternoon, I spent time with colleagues at the Mentor Reunion Reception. This event is designed to reconnect principals who have gone through the NAESP’s Mentor Training Program. Mentoring our profession provides a path to give back to the principalship. It was great to see everyone!
If you, as a veteran principal, feel the calling to contribute to the next generation of principals, this is the avenue for you. With authentic sincerity, the Leadership Immersion Institute component of the Mentor Training Program has been THE most valuable professional development tool I have come across as a school principal.
Whew! What a busy day. I’m ready to kick back and relax. Tonight, I plan on having a casual meal and great conversations. A lovely lady at the Houston guide booth recommended three great (and casual) restaurants within walking distance of the convention center: The Grove on Lamar Street, The Lake House on McKinney Street, and Sambuca on Texas Avenue. I’ll be exploring one of these spots this evening. I also hope to see many of you at the LifeTouch-sponsored Welcome Reception tonight. It promises to be a good time!   Stay safe tonight and be sure to get your sleep. The first session on Saturday is at 7 a.m. sharp!

Convention Starts Off Great

What a fantastic morning in Houston! The sky is clear and brilliant with sunshine.
I started out with a cup of coffee and Diane Hodge’s session, “Season it with Fun.” Great ideas were shared. One of my favorites was to gather staff at the opening of a school year for a “Happy New Year” bash at lunch time. Complete with banners, noisemakers, and balloons, when the clock hits 12 p.m., engage your staff in a celebration to kick off the new year in a fun-filled manner. Diane has a variety of books available; the one I’m purchasing is Quote This!
I met fellow principal, Jacquie Havrilla, in the hallway after my session concluded. She had attended Betty Hollas’ presentation on differentiating instruction. Jacquie was beaming with enthusiasm as she told me about the valuable materials she collected. Betty has a book out called The Differentiated Instruction Coach’s Guide, which sounds like something I’ll be ordering soon. (A great tip to get more out of the convention is to find a friend, then divide and conquer. Go to different sessions and compare notes afterward.)
The first general session was amazing! Entering the ballroom, attendees were greeted by the beautiful talents of the Pasadena Independent School Distirct’s Festival Choir and Dance Group. Wow, what an impressive group of youths! Their voices blanketed a mood of happiness in the room and provided a perfect transition into the keynote speaker, Chris Gardner.
From the moment that Chris Gardner began to speak, I was completely captivated. He is a master storyteller with strong and vital messages. His inspirational offering to the audience had multiple layers of meaning. Here are just three points that touched my heart:

  1. Persevere and hold strong to what you believe in, especially yourself. Keep your eye on the prize. What you want is there—make it happen.
  2. Being the best father in life sometimes means you have to be the best Mama, too.
  3. Find the courage to break a cycle of negative elements for future generations. Whatever might do harm, make every effort not to pass this trait on to those you influence.

This afternoon I’m looking forward to sharing a good meal with fellow principals at the “Big Ten” Consortium Luncheon, catching up with colleagues at the Mentor Coaches Meeting and at the Mentor Reunion Reception, as well as chatting with vendors in the exhibit hall.
I have my eyes on this beautiful weather, too. A walk outside is definitely on my “to do” list! I’ll be sure to let you all know what I find during my travels!

Houston, Here I Come

Melissa “Missie” Patschke, principal of Upper Providence Elementary School in Royersford, Pennsylvania, begins her convention coverage:
Happy spring to all my fellow NAESP colleagues!
I am eager to share my thoughts with everyone by serving as NAESP’s blogger for the 89th annual convention. As an elementary school principal for 14 years in southeastern Pennsylvania, I always look forward to the NAESP conventions. There are times on the job when I am confident and secure, and there certainly are still times when I feel that I have much to learn. NAESP conventions are the perfect place to do just that—learn. This year, I look forward to gathering new ideas, meeting new people, and exploring the city of Houston.
My goal as your convention blogger is to capture a few highlights of the experience through my own lens and share them with you. After reviewing the agenda, it’s clear that there are some truly great speakers and sessions to attend. Here are a few tips to get you started:

  1. Bring business cards and preprinted address labels to share with colleagues and vendors. You’ll find many opportunities to use these cards and stickers.
  2. Read through all of the convention materials that you are given when you check in with NAESP. Highlight every session that interests you and find out where it is held.
  3. Be friendly and initiate conversations with fellow attendees. Whether you chat with other principals in the hotel, stay after a session to exchange ideas, or have dinner with a colleague, it’s all worth your time!

Friday morning, I know I want to hear Chris Gardner’s message at 10 a.m. His book, Start Where You Are was a great read! The text highlights many lessons learned from a lifetime of joys and struggles. After hearing Gardner, I’m heading to the exhibit hall to meet some of the vendors and see what new ideas I can find to support my school. I’m also curious about the NAESP Foundation’s silent auction. I definitely plan to check it out.  
I look forward to sharing more with you as the convention unfolds!

Pardon the Interruption

NAESP’s convention coverage is officially taking over the Principals’ Office. Check back daily to read convention blogger Melissa Patschke’s messages about what’s going on during the Association’s Annual Convention and Exposition, which takes place Thursday, April 8 through Sunday, April 11.
Also make sure to check out Convention News Online, where our team of writers will keep you updated on all the major events with daily articles. Whether or not you’re heading to Houston to attend convention later this week, you won’t want to miss the coverage we have in store for you.