Best of the 2017 National Principals Conference

School leaders share top takeaways on hiring, school culture, and relationships.

July 2017, Volume 40, Issue 11

More than 3,000 Pre-K through grade 12 principals from around the nation recently gathered together at the National Principals Conference in Philadelphia to engage, learn, and share effective strategies for student success.

The conference featured a variety of thought-leader sessions and panel discussions on topics such as increasing professional capacity, elevating student efficacy, connecting positive climate, and personalized student learning. We asked pre-K-8 principals to share some key takeaways from the 2017 National Principals Conference.

Is Your School Better Because You Lead It?

A simple message from Baruti Kafele: Is your school better because you lead it? Kafele challenged the audience to think about leadership mission, purpose, and vision while leading with confidence. Are you leading with purpose, do you know where you are headed, and why this is important? If you cannot answer this with an emphatic yes, there is work to be done. When we have identified our “why” and taking intentional, daily steps to achieve it, the rest of our work will fall into place.

—Dan Butler

Take Control of the Interview Process

Making that phone call to give potential candidates feedback on the reason why they were not selected is important. During Jimmy Casas’ session, I learned that taking control of the interview process will help not only my school, but also the teaching profession overall. From scheduling the interview to calling candidates to letting them know they were not selectedsetting the tone matters.

—Lynn Colon


Creating a “Cool” Learning Environment

“We want to create a school where students, staff, and parents are beating down the doors to get in…not out.”

—Beth Houf

To do this you need to make students want to come back on the second day of school or after Christmas break because of a theme day or other fun event! My AP and I are going to model this idea with our School Improvement Team by having a birthday party theme with cake, favors, presents, etc.

—Jenny Nauman

The Importance of Relationships

So many speakers confirmed the importance of relationships. Relationships with students, parents, community members, teachers, and other administrators are crucial to school success. Kevin Carroll highlights the importance of play and the connections we make through it. We can build relationships through appreciation. Shelley Burgess and Beth Houf gave several strategies and tips to demonstrate appreciation. Several other presenters combined the importance of relationships with their topics. Christian Moore, Founder of “Why Try” stated that lasting change and motivation for youth involves relationships. One important aspect of positive and healthy relationships involves empowering those people to become the best versions of themselves.

—Shanna Spickard

Social Media

In addition, one day prior to the conference, over 100 principals came together to build a playground at Stonehurst Hills Elementary School in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, as a part of the NAESP and Landscape Structures community service day. In addition to building the school playground, principals landscaped, painted and participated in other beautification projects at the school.

School leaders were encouraged to share their conference experience on social media using the hashtag #NPC17. We’ve highlighted some of the memorable tweets below:

Cindy Emerson @Emersizzle: Love that while we were working hard growing as leaders @NAESP #npc17 this article made the front of our newspaper

Linda Hasler Reid @lindahaslerreid: #NPC17 -our 1st @NAESP conference. SLAM DUNK! Gathered great ideas, expanded my PLN, & renewed enthusiasm. Can’t wait for next year. #oklaed

Matt Fried @Matt_Fried: Great keynote by @kckatalyst at #NPC17. Adulting is overrated. “The distance between a dream & reality is action.” Awesome conference!

David Geurin @DavidGeurin: Principals should always remember we don’t just represent ourselves or even just our schools, we are representing the profession. #NPC17

Jodie Pierpoint @jodiepierpoint: Such an AMAZING experience at #NPC17. Feeling more positive than ever about our profession!! Thank you!! #inspired

Get more highlights, videos and blog links for a recap of the 2017 National Principals Conference by viewing the hashtag #NPC17.

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