Nashville: National Association of Elementary School Principals – NAESP

NAESP  is the National Association of Elementary School Principals.  School principals, superintendents, teachers, and decision-makers from around the country gathered in Nashville  to learn about the latest ideas and best practices.  A misconception exists that raising standards will improve student achievement, we were told. However, raising expectations through standards without addressing instructional practices will only widen the existing achievement gap.  A keynoter presented structures that can ensure every student acquires common core skill sets, communications, collaboration, and critical thinking.  Other well-attended sessions looked at Challenges and Opportunities — Why Poverty Matters and What Schools Must Do, and Flipping Professional Learning to Impact Student Achievement.  Serious stuff.  Except that the “flipping” thing sounds a little… well… flippant, no?  #naesp14

Atlanta: ISTE – International Society for Technology in Education – NECC

ISTE is the International Society for Technology in Education, and the conference took as its theme the idea of “connected learning, connected world”.  ISTE 2014 featured sessions in several different formats to accommodate a variety of learning styles. Professional learning sessions focused on the development of leaders and training in leadership among teachers.  There were further sessions focusing on the technology, resources and policies necessary to build the infrastructure for effective teaching, learning and administration, plus original research papers investigating the use of technology to enhance education.  Among keynoters was the comely actress and activist Ashley Judd, who, we heard, has visited grassroots programs around the world carrying a message of empowerment and equality to heads of state, donors, the private sector and the media. Unlike a certain ex-president, Ms. Judd did NOT ask “Is our children learning?”… #ISTE2014

Las Vegas: National Charter Schools Conference – NCSC

Charter schools, we heard, are “unique public schools that are allowed the freedom to be more innovative while being held accountable for advancing student achievement”.  The core of the charter school model is the belief that public schools should be accountable for student learning.  NCSC is the National Charter Schools Conference, and it is the largest gathering of the charter school movement. The stated mission is to lead public education to new levels of academic achievement for all students, by fostering a strong charter sector. The National Alliance provides assistance to state charter school associations and resource centers, develops and advocates for improved public policies, and serves as the united voice for this large and diverse movement.   4,000 participants from around the country came to learn, connect and share ideas on education.  What they learned was an education in itself…  #NCSC14

Las Vegas: Association of Private Sector Colleges & Universities – APSCU

APSCU is the Association of Private Sector Colleges & Universities.  The APSCU Convention & Exposition is (appropriately to its educational theme) a “rich learning experience”, we heard, bringing together approximately 50 topical concurrent sessions in five educational tracks on the subjects driving career education today.  Delegates could address practical solutions and best management practices. Additional benefits included the opportunity to pin down strategic ideas, innovations and inspiration from thought leaders and trend setters, joining more than 1,200 education professionals, all working under one roof to advance higher education.  Topics ranged over Admissions, Financial Aid, Compliance, Career/Student Services, Finance and Accounting, and Education Services generally.  Leading speakers included the will-he-won’t-he possible 2016 presidential candidate Jeb Bush. So Gov. Bush, if you were president, what would you do about education… ?

Washington DC: American Association of Community Colleges – AACC

AACC is the American Association of Community Colleges, and this was among the largest gatherings of educational leaders, attracting over 2,000 community college presidents and senior administrators, as well as international educators, representatives of business and industry, and federal agencies.  Billed as the premier event for community college leaders, AACC’s Annual Convention offered professional development as well as the opportunity to network, share, and learn from professionals in the fields of education, business and industry and the government sector. Convention attendees included community college administrators (chancellors, presidents, vice presidents, deans, and department chairs), trustees, faculty, and business/industry representatives who work with community colleges, federal or state government representatives, and graduate students.  All in all, quite a… well… Community….

Washington DC: American Society for Training & Development – ASTD

ASTD is the American Society for Training & Development, and the conference aimed to “bring the training and development industry to life”. Various aspects of the training biz were covered for different levels of practitioner, from CEO to specialist, from dean to student. At ASTD 2014, delegates could join more than 9,000 of their learning colleagues from around the globe, to share best practices and insights. Discussion homed in on current and future trends, and how to interpret and apply them on the job to get results.  Keynote speakers included the Huffington Post Media Group’s Arianna Huffington and retired general Stan McChrystal, now heading the McChrystal Group, whose mission is to deliver “innovative leadership solutions to organizations, which help them transform and succeed in challenging and dynamic environments”.  So who gets the last word on training and instruction “challenges”, the General or the Media Lady…?  #leadership

New Orleans: National School Boards Association – Annual – NSBA

NSBA is the National School Boards Association, a not-for-profit organization representing state associations of school boards across the United States. NSBA achieves its mission by representing the school board perspective in working with federal government agencies and national organizations that impact education.  It also provides vital information and services to state associations of school boards nationwide.  Over 5,000 board members, superintendents and education leaders from across the country and beyond were there to gain valuable knowledge and information in five key areas — leadership, advocacy, technology & learning, urban school issues, and school law.  This, we heard, was a national event that brought together education leaders at a time when domestic policies and global trends are combining to shape the future of students.  Guru journalist and writer Thomas L. Friedman was there to kick off proceedings, and remind delegates that, as his book title has it, “The World Is Flat”.  Wait:  educators have been trying to shake off Flat-Earthism for 500 years…  #education