New England Secondary School Consortium

2017 Conference

Pre-Conference Sessions

Empowering Parents and Families: Building Leadership Skills and Capacity Inside and Outside the School System

Annenberg Institute for School Reform, RI

In this interactive, hands-on, strategy-development session led by a team from the Annenberg Institute for School Reform, participants will think critically about how to design equity-driven school-family partnerships informed by Karen Mapp’s Dual-Capacity Building Framework for School-Family Partnerships and the Annenberg Institute for School Reform’s Family Leadership Framework. Putting Annenberg’s “smart education systems” idea into practice, participants will also reflect on how their current school, district, and community structures and practices align with these frameworks, and develop ideas and action steps to improve current practice or implement new ones.

The session will be organized into three parts: Learning, Reflection, and Planning. By the end, participants will have completed a quick analysis of their schools’ current school-family partnership practices and developed a plan for how to deepen their work to build dual capacity and support family leadership.

Suggested Participants

This workshop will work well for teams from the same district, school, or community that consist of district and school administrators, staff, teachers, and community-based partners and parent leaders. However, individual participants and/or teams with representation from one or two of the stakeholder groups listed above will also benefit.

*Pre-Reading

All registered participants should read the following documents in advance of the pre-conference workshop:

  1.  Partners in Education: A Dual Capacity-Building Framework for Family-School Partnerships
  2.  The Family Leadership Self-Assessment Rubric: An Indicator Tool for School Districts
Session
Student, Family, and Community Engagement
Presenters

Keith Catone (Associate Director of Community Organizing and Engagement, AISR); Joanna Geller (Senior Research Associate, AISR); Angela Romans (Co-Director of District Systems and Administration, AISR)

Contact

Keith Catone, keith_catone@brown.edu

Recalibrating School-Wide Discipline and Student Support: Building a Restorative and Accountable Approach

Engaging Schools, MA

Students, teachers, administrators, and district leaders all over the country are seeking to create innovative systems for reducing discipline problems in schools. With secondary school principals playing leading roles, these stakeholders are seeking alternatives to ineffective and inequitable disciplinary policies and practices that result in the use, overuse, and disproportional use of punitive and exclusionary sanctions that adversely impact students academically, socially, developmentally, and emotionally. Most educators aspire to help students develop the habits and skills of self-management, self-discipline, and social and emotional efficacy. However, the gap between these goals and current disciplinary practices is often great, the strategies for creating change are not clear, and the core elements of a different approach are not evident.

In this workshop, participants will (1) develop an integrated vision of school-wide discipline and student support, (2) improve their understanding of the role of school climate and culture in discipline and student support, (3) explore the qualities of an accountable and restorative model, (4) learn the components of an effective system of discipline and student support, (5) think together about a school’s vision (it’s mission, beliefs, and values) and how it provides direction for a school-wide discipline and student support model, and (6) explore school-wide initiatives that can become part “of the culture” and create an improved school climate.

Suggested Participants

This workshop is designed for district and school leaders, educators, and school-based teams—including support staff, counselors, social workers, psychologists, and special-education coordinators—as well as family and community leaders who work with youth on issues related to education, discipline, and social justice.

Pre-Reading Materials
Shifting Gears Chapter 2.pdf
Recalibrating Climate Culture and Discipline.pdf

Session
Student, Family, and Community Engagement
Presenters

Larry Dieringer (Executive Director)

Contact

Extreme Differentiation in the Math Classroom

Francis W. Parker Charter Essential School, Devens, MA

Tailoring instruction to meet each student’s specific needs is an essential aspect of personalized learning. Differentiated instruction—a practice many expert teachers have employed for years—is one way to accomplish this.

In this session, participants will learn techniques to differentiate in the math classroom, first by experiencing learning as a student and then reflecting alongside fellow participants. Participants will be led through a unit design process that will also provide an opportunity to try out the activities from a student’s point of view.

A portion of this design process includes the development of more challenging, open-ended assessment tasks aligned to school graduation standards that encompass the Common Core Mathematical Practices. Participants will complete an assignment and experience the possibilities for differentiation as they work authentically with the same problem. Participants will also have the opportunity to examine student work on this same problem and discuss the variety of ways that students can show success.

Session
Teaching + Learning
Presenters

Dawn Crane (math teacher)

Assessing Learning in a Proficiency-Based Learning System

Great Schools Partnership, ME

As schools move to implement personalized learning and enable students to demonstrate their learning in more individualized ways, the role of assessment becomes increasingly paramount. How can we ensure that while we personalize learning, we continue to define consistent and equitable standards for all students? In this session, coaches from the Great Schools Partnership will share strategies and resources that educators can use to create schools and classrooms in which students and teachers use a variety of methods to get a clear understanding of students’ strengths and weaknesses. Through discussion, interactive activities, and the review of examples, participants will consider how students can produce evidence of learning, and will explore how educators can use task-neutral scoring criteria to assess what students know and can do when they are engaged in different learning experiences.

Session
Teaching + Learning
Presenters

Mary Hastings (Senior Associate), Christina Horner (Senior Associate), Jon Ingram (Senior Associate)

Contact

On Your Way!: The Proficiency-Based Learning Journey Simplified

Great Schools Partnership, ME

Proficiency-based teaching and learning systems are designed to help students take charge of their learning by asking these three questions: Where do I want to be? Where am I now? How can I close the gap?  In this interactive workshop, participants will hear about the fundamental components of an effective proficiency-based teaching and learning system and learn about an array of resources to support them along their journey.  Participants will also begin to develop a plan that addresses policies, practices, and community-engagement activities that will lead to the successful implementation of proficiency-based learning.

Session
Teaching + Learning
Presenters

Tony Lamair Burks II (Senior Associate) + Kate Gardoqui (Senior Associate)

Contact

Reflection and Collaboration to Enhance Instructional Practice

Great Schools Partnership, ME

While the end of the school year is in sight, there is still time to reach each of your students and ensure they all finish the year well. Which students are thriving? Which ones, despite your best efforts, are still struggling?  How might you use an extended block of time with colleagues from across the country to reflect on your practice in a way that allows you to hone in on specific elements that will help students reach their year-end goals? Using a self-assessment tool, participants will identify areas of focus to enhance their instructional practice. Through reflecting on elements of effective instruction, participants will consider ways that attention to these elements can help teachers reach all learners. Participants will leave with a set of strategies to enhance their own practice, strengthen work with their professional learning group, or design school-wide professional development.

Session
Teaching + Learning
Presenters

Jean Haeger (Senior Associate) + Nicole Bradeen (Senior Associate)

Members Only: League of Innovative Schools Networking Meeting Leading and Learning for Equity

New England Secondary School Consortium

This meeting is for current League members. ​We will engage in interactive, collegial conversations and learning meant to deepen our understanding of equity, and will consider strategies for reaching the most vulnerable populations and ensuring their success.

Session
TBD

Plenary Sessions

Personalized Learning: The Path to Excellence and Equity

While we know what knowledge and skills our students need to master in order to be successful as adult learners, workers, and citizens, helping all students achieve them is more vital—and challenging—than ever. Personalization provides us with a framework for getting there, but is insufficient without a deep commitment to equity. Please join us as state officials, NESSC leaders, and educators underscore the importance of working together to achieve excellence and equity for all students.

Session
Monday, March 27, 1:00 PM

Why Community Matters: Voices from the Field

We are all members of a community. And there is perhaps no more important role for a community than ensuring its youngest members are supported, educated, and prepared for adult life. To reach that end, it is critical to engage in inclusive practices that foster a sense of community and develop strong relationships, trust, and shared agreements about education, equity, and excellence. Come hear from members of the NESSC community as they share their stories of engaging in large and small acts to foster vibrant and active communities in support of our learners.

Session
Tuesday, March 28, 8:00 AM

NESSC States

Connecticut Sessions

The Gradebook Whisperer: Using Traditional Tools to Support Mastery Based Learning and Assessment

Academy of Information Technology + Engineering, CT

Can’t wait to get started with mastery-based learning and assessments? In this session, teachers from the Academy of Information Technology and Engineering, a public magnet school in the urban district of Stamford, Connecticut, share their successful strategies for implementing mastery-based learning in their classrooms without waiting for district-wide changes in technology infrastructure.

The thoughtful early adoption of mastery-based learning and assessment discussed in this session will inform participants about piloting this model within their own school cultures, and help identify pitfalls, opportunities, and best practices before widespread implementation.

Participants will learn how to develop a culture supporting mastery-based learning while using current gradebook software and existing assessments as tools for communication and empowerment rather than summative judgment, putting students at the center of their own learning. They will also learn how to use parent outreach to create a community of personalized learning in their own classrooms.

Session
TBD

When Developing a Vibrant Community of Learners, Which Comes First: Students or Teachers?

Ellington Middle School, CT

Can there be a vibrant culture of learning and risk taking for students in schools without first establishing one for the adults who teach them? In this session, Ellington Middle School will share its approach to developing such a vibrant professional learning culture using structures like teacher-led book clubs, schoolwide learning walks, and professional inquiry groups focused on personalized learning.

Presenters will share the practical strategies they used to foster a school culture and climate where adult learners regularly participate in, and lead, high-level personalized learning and group-based professional conversations. Participants will have the opportunity to use Backchanneling, an interactive digital platform, in real time.

Participants will discover how Ellington Middle School used the Great Schools Partnership’s Proficiency-Based Learning Self-Assessment as a framework for individual and schoolwide reflection and goal-setting. This session will also zero in on the NESSC’s Global Best Practices Indicator 1.8: Learning Communities.

Session
Organizational Design
Contact

David Pearson, dpearson@ellingtonschools.net 

What’s Equity Got to Do With It?: Creating a Pathway for All Students to Succeed

Everyday Democracy, CT

In an effort to remove barriers to student success, many schools employ evidence-based best practices in classroom design, utilize the latest technology to engage students, and implement strategies to reach out to parents as partners. And yet, many of those schools still observe some of their students, particularly those who have been historically marginalized, still falling behind. All too often, barriers to student achievement are difficult to see and therefore difficult to address.

In this interactive workshop, presenters will share how one Connecticut school opened its doors to explore how race, ethnicity, and class can impact student achievement. Presenters will explain how the strategy revealed and addressed some of the hidden barriers to student success.

Participants will leave with tools to unpack how certain practices and policies serve as racialized structural barriers to all students succeeding. Participants will be offered the opportunity to practice activities and explore how white privilege, implicit bias, school culture, and unconscious expectations work to perpetuate student disadvantages.

Session
Student, Family, + Community Engagement

Story Exchange: A Tool for Culturally Responsive Teaching

High School in the Community Academy for Law + Social Justice, CT

High School in the Community set out to build professional development around teaching, learning, and leading across differences knowing they needed to provide the space for teachers and students to connect and truly understand the value and purpose of culturally responsive education.

With support from Narrative 4, an organization that strives “to build a community of empathic global citizens who improve the world through the exchange of personal narratives,” teachers and students joined together for a story exchange. The story exchange model challenges participants to walk in another person’s shoes by trading personal stories and then retelling their partners’ stories as if they were their own.

Participants in this workshop will learn about High School in the Community’s experience with the story exchange model and receive strategies for using the model in their schools to promote equity and voice for students and teachers. They will also gain an understanding of the importance of building relationships and strengthening communication when working to establish culturally responsive instructional practices.

Session
Teaching + Learning
Contact

Cari Strand, cari.strand@nhboe.net

Celebrating Authentic Student Work and Reflection with the Senior Portfolio

Metropolitan Business Academy, CT

At Metropolitan Business Academy, seniors are required to present on work that demonstrates mastery of the school’s six interdisciplinary graduation standards to fulfill their senior graduation portfolio requirement.

In this interactive session, participants will learn through direct analysis of relevant student work and artifacts, and review and discuss New Haven’s 21st century competencies, exemplar portfolios, portfolio templates, and student reflections. They will hear directly from current seniors and recent graduates about their experiences building, improving, and presenting their senior portfolios. Students will share excerpts from their portfolios that highlight their areas of strength and growth, and show how personalized this form of performance-based assessment can be.

Presenters will also discuss how graduation portfolios tell the full story of adolescent learning more than narrow forms of assessment like standardized testing, and a senior advisor will share best practices and lessons learned after two successful years of 100% student participation.

Session
Teaching + Learning
Contact

Promoting High Achievement through Teacher Collaboration using Critical Race Theory and Harro’s Cycle of Liberation

Metropolitan Learning Center for Global + International Studies, CT

In this critical conversation, participants will explore collaborative processes to support academic achievement for diverse learners. Using Critical Race Theory and the Cycle of Liberation as conceptual frameworks, the presenters will use private reflection, group discussion, and teamwork to consider the effects teacher collaboration can have on academic outcomes for diverse learners.

Guided by the work of Lopez and Lopez (2010) on counter-storytelling, participants will consider the following three questions: How do racism, sexism, classism and other forms of subordination shape the experiences of students in the U.S? How do institutions of education maintain race, gender, class and immigration status (alienage) discrimination? How does education work as a tool to remedy these problems?

By engaging in this session, participants will explore how teacher-collaboration can be used to enhance learning opportunities for diverse learners and promote academic achievement.

Session
Teaching + Learning
Contact

Sasha Douglas, sdouglas@crec.org

Wingman: A Student-Centered Approach to Social and Emotional Learning

New Fairfield Middle School, CT

The Wingman program at New Fairfield Middle School strives to make every student feel accepted. This student-led program is run primarily by the 7th and 8th grade Pack Leadership Team, which teaches lessons throughout the year to classmates dealing with a wide variety of topics such as empathy, teamwork, and the power of words. The Wingman program teaches students through activities encouraging reinforcement, and also recognizes students throughout the school year who step up for their fellow classmates.

Co-advisors Joel Pardalis and Rachel Wilson and their Pack Student Leadership students will present the framework of the program and share tips for getting a Wingman program up and running in their school. Participants will leave with model lessons and strategies that have made this program successful and sustainable in New Fairfield.

Session
Teaching + Learning
Contact

Separating Academic Performance and Habits of Work: Lessons Learned and Shared

New Haven Academy, CT

What do schools need to consider when separating academic performance and habits of work? What challenges does this separation present? What works well? Many schools implementing mastery-based learning disaggregate academic performance and habits of work, but opportunities for schools to gather and explore these questions are not common.

In this session, staff from New Haven Academy will present their approach to establishing this separation as a way to start a conversation among peers who are in the implementation phase of mastery-based learning.

Participants will engage in critical reflection on the essential questions posed above. They will be asked to share their own strategies for separating academic performance and habits of work, and will have the chance to hear strategies and lessons learned from New Haven Academy presenters and their fellow participants.

Session
Teaching + Learning
Contact

Making the Move to Mastery: Lessons Learned at Windsor Locks Middle School

Windsor Locks Middle School, CT

Windsor Locks Middle School has been implementing a mastery-based, student-centered learning system since 2013. Over the course of the last three years, they have achieved considerable success and faced some interesting challenges.

Leaders and teachers from the Middle School will share these experiences and emphasize key practices and policies that have helped them to course-correct and refine their commitment to ensuring that all students achieve academic success within a personalized teaching and learning system.

Participants will engage in thought-provoking discussions to analyze potential pitfalls they will face in their journey, and to consider the strategies they can employ to overcome those pitfalls or avoid them altogether. They will be able to use the experiences and lessons learned from an “early innovator” school to guide their own change process and examine school practices and policies that promote mastery-based, student-centered learning.

Session
School + District Leadership
Contact

David Prinstein, dprinstein@wlps.org

Maine Sessions

Taking Back Tutorials: Creating a Student-Centered, Collegiate Learning Commons at Your High School

Baxter Academy for Technology + Science, ME

Hear from the student director of the Baxter Learning Commons (BLC) about how to start a student-centered, student-directed learning lab modeled after a college writing center. Using the BLC’s three-tiered approach to academic support, students are able to book appointments with a peer tutor, with a teacher, or at an independent work-station for support in courses across the curriculum. They are empowered to seek help of their own accord.

Participants in this session will examine data from the BLC entrance and exit surveys and hear about the programmatic and philosophical essentials required to start a learning commons of their own. This session will also address the role of advisors, response to intervention coordinators, guidance counselors, parents/guardians, and special educators in launching and supporting this unique, positively framed learning center.

Session
Teaching + Learning
Contact

We’ve Come Miles and Have Miles to Go

Gorham Middle School, ME

Participants will hear administrator, teacher, and student perspectives on Gorham Middle School’s journey toward developing a proficiency-based teaching and learning system. Presenters will discuss changing the dialogue around learning, creating graduation standards and performance indicators for skills for life (work habits), and reporting student performance using JumpRope, a web-based grade book for standards-based grading.

Presenters will facilitate a small groups activity during which participants will gain firsthand experience with the process of examining student work for alignment with performance indicators. Participants will learn to use the collaborative definitions of graduation standards and performance indicators, and they will discuss student work samples in order to develop shared language and definitions about good teaching. The session will end with a brief reflection and the sharing of a packet of resources that Gorham Schools found helpful when first shifting to proficiency-based learning.

 

Session
Teaching + Learning
Contact

Individualized Education Plans: Personalized Learning Come to Life

Kids RSU #2, ME

In this session, participants will see how a student’s individualized education plan (IEP) is personalized learning coming to life. Presenters will share the journey of a student with an IEP, as the student receives specially designed instruction and participates with peers in the general curriculum.

Participants will gain insight and practical applications about using strategies to meet higher-level standards while incorporating the skill-acquisition needed to meet proficiency. They will leave with a meaningful understanding of the connections students with disabilities and their teachers create in the journey through student-centered, proficiency-based learning.

Session
Teaching + Learning
Contact

Deb Murphy, dmurphy@kidsrsu.org

Reaching Across Language and Culture: Engaging Multilingual Families from Diverse Backgrounds

Portland Public Schools Multilingual and Multicultural Center, ME

In many districts and schools, the membership of important groups, from the school board to the PTO, and the attendees of open houses, events, and other activities do not reflect the diversity of the student body. How can schools increase parent and family involvement, particularly among culturally diverse or non-English-speaking families? What are the typical barriers and how can schools overcome them? Portland Public Schools in Portland, Maine, serves more than 2,400 students, including 1,700 English-language learners, who come from homes in which approximately 60 different native languages are spoken—a situation that clearly makes family engagement particularly challenging. In this context, the district’s Multilingual and Multicultural Center works to empower learners by ensuring proficiency in English and other world languages, deepen appreciation and understanding of cultural identity, and build supportive relationships among families, educators, and the community.

In this workshop, participants will examine common teacher, staff, and parent expectations about family involvement, and how culture influences perceptions and understanding of the roles that parents, teachers, school leaders, and other staff can or should play the education of students. Participants will leave with practical strategies they can use to successfully reach out to, communicate with, and actively engage multilingual families in the life of the school, including those who are recent arrivals to the United States.

Session
Student, Family, and Community Engagement
Presenters

Maureen Clancy (Language Access Coordinator), Grace Valenzuela (Director)

Contact

Grace Valenzuela | valeng@portlandschools.org

New Hampshire Sessions

Assessing Learning Targets Through Project-Based Learning

Great Bay Charter School, NH

At Great Bay Charter School, students engage in project-based learning that assesses the knowledge and skills they have gained throughout the course of a quarter, semester, and year in a competency-based system. In this presentation, participants will be introduced to the school’s approach to project-based learning that encompasses the entire school community, grades 7-12, including interdisciplinary study classes.

Great Bay Charter School’s administrators and English and math teachers will share their experiences writing and implementing projects that allow students to meet competencies through real-life situations and creative means. Presenters will share examples of projects, including school-wide multidisciplinary exhibition projects, short-term Quickfire projects, advisory projects, and interdisciplinary projects between two or more classes.

Participants will discover how to approach both classroom-based and school-wide projects, and will hear how teachers can use these projects to assess learning targets. Participants will leave with several sample projects that have been successful at Great Bay Charter School.

Session
Teaching + Learning
Contact

Peter Stackhouse, pstackhouse@gbecs.org

Moving Toward Collaboration: Lessons from Research in Rural Areas

Plymouth State University, NH

Research has shown that, on average, high school students with disabilities are 3.4 years behind grade level in reading and 3.2 years behind in math. Statewide and national reform efforts seek to close that gap. But how do we do that?

One way is to provide multi-tiered levels of support within the inclusionary classroom, but such delivery models require specific knowledge and skills. This session will inform participants about what teachers need to collaboratively deliver instruction. Presenters will share findings from research in rural areas that indicate that a meaningful sense of shared responsibility is not consistently present in schools, and the necessary structures to promote this variable are not currently in place.

Participants will gain an understanding of the context that supports shared responsibility and the action steps necessary to increase meaningful collaboration in their school. They will learn how collaboration between general and special educators in inclusionary settings has been related to teacher satisfaction and commitment. Finally, participants will be able to examine their own school context and develop steps to promote collaborative teaching systems.

Session
TBD

Liberating Learning Through Extended Learning Opportunities (ELO)

Winnacunnet High School, NH

Winnacunnet High School is liberating learning through the implementation of extended learning opportunities (ELOs). ELOs break free from traditional school structures and allow students to participate in personalized experiences that are authentic demonstrations of learning through school and community contexts. Building off of presentations from previous years, Winnacunnet High School will discuss systemic changes that continue to be made to their school-wide program.

The session will describe Winnacunnet High School’s ELO program structure, which provides rigorous, valid, and authentic components of individualized and group ELO experiences. Participants will receive tools to support the structure and implementation of an ELO program, including project planning templates, formative and summative assessment criteria, worksheets, and rubrics.

Session
Organizational Design
Contact

Rhode Island Sessions

Personalizing Learning with Student Voice and Choice

Alan Shawn Feinstein Middle School, RI

Alan Shawn Feinstein Middle School, which serves over 1,100 students, has been moving towards developing a more personalized learning environment. After teachers worked to develop a growth mindset and examined what personalized learning could look like in their classrooms, student choice and voice emerged as a key personalization structure they wanted to examine and to attempt.

In this session, participants will hear from a team of seventh-grade students and teachers about their journeys through academic units that were primarily taught via student choice and voice. Teachers will provide adaptable materials and concrete solutions for creating a personalized unit. Students will share their thoughts on what personalized learning looks like—from the curriculum, to learning targets, menus of choices, assessments, and parent responses. They will also offer their unique perspective on the challenges and joys this approach to learning brings to the classroom.

Session
Teaching + Learning
Contact

Teachers as Designers: A Human-Centered Approach to Solving Problems—and Creating New Opportunities—in Schools

Business Innovation Factory, RI

Over the past few years, “design thinking” has emerged as one of the most effective collaborative strategies that leaders, educators, and students can use to tap into the intrinsic capacities that all individuals and groups possess, but that tend to be overlooked by more conventional approaches to leadership, problem-solving, and collective action. By bringing a human-centered approach to investigating and solving problems, design thinking helps organizations and groups create experiences and products that will provide the best outcomes for everyone involved. Over the past several years, the Business Innovation Factory in Providence, Rhode Island, has been working with teachers to harness the creativity and critical-thinking skills they use everyday to solve tough problems in education—from creating student-centered schools to elevating the priorities of teachers in school governance to creating, testing, and implementing classroom activities and pedagogical approaches that meet the needs of every student.

In this workshop, participants will (1) develop a working understanding of the value and methodology of design thinking and how it can be applied to their practice, (2) learn specific exercises for using design thinking to tackle challenges in classrooms, schools, districts, and communities, and (3) be introduced to Teachers Design for Education (TD4Ed), a free, online platform that the Business Innovation Factory’s Student Experience Lab co-created with teachers.

Session
Student, Family, and Community Engagement
Presenters

Jessica Brown (Student Experience Lab Associate), Kirtley Fisher (Experience Designer), Stephanie Lanoue (Talent Associate)

Contact

Implementing Restorative Practices: Successes and Lessons Learned

Central Falls High School, RI

Data over the past several years show a substantial decline in the number of suspensions at Central Falls High School throughout their restorative practice implementation. Restorative practice is a dynamic, ongoing process and the approach at Central Falls High School integrates the perspective and work of multiple team members.

Throughout the presentation, the team will elaborate on the successes and lessons learned in developing protocols, incorporating student voice, establishing data collection protocols, and coordinating with community agencies such as the Central Falls Police Department and youth service organizations. In addition, specific data trends in discipline referrals, suspensions, and recidivism will be shared.

Participants will gain practical knowledge about the implementation of restorative practices at an urban high school, specifically the key aspects of the implementation process: daily protocols and systems, data collection and decision-making, student voice, and partnerships with community organizations.

Session
Organizational Design
Contact

Troy Silvia, silviat@cfschools.net

Being an Adult Ally: Practical Strategies for Empowering Youth Voice, Agency, and Leadership

Providence Student Union + Young Voices, RI

How can educators and other adults create authentic opportunities for youth to assume leadership roles, advocate for issues that truly matter to them, and have their voices not only be heard but acted upon by district, school, and community leaders? What is the difference between being an adult advisor and being a true adult ally? How can adults working with youth move beyond support to achieve genuine empowerment? Throughout New England and the country, educators, parents, and community members have realized that the voices, needs, and priorities of students need to be at the forefront of school improvement. Drawing on their experiences working with hundreds of youth leaders and organizers in Providence, Rhode Island, the facilitators will share lessons and best practices for empowering youth voice and action in schools and communities.

In this interactive workshop, participants will learn about the common challenges adults face when working with youth, alternative student-driven approaches educational decision-making, and practical techniques that adult allies can use to elevate youth agency in everything from municipal policy and school governance to classroom instruction and curriculum design.

Session
Student, Family, and Community Engagement
Presenters

Karen Feldman (Executive Director, Young Voices), Zack Mezera (Executive Director, Providence Student Union)

Contact

Vermont Sessions

Elements of an Engaging Learning Experience: What Students Have to Say

Harwood Union Middle and High School, VT

Coordinated student engagement can help students explore their interests, learn self-advocacy, and better understand why what they are learning is important. In this session, a student will discuss the action research project she employed to solicit student feedback and will review the qualitative and quantitative data she collected. She will also share the conditions that exist at Harwood Union Middle/High School that influence student engagement.

Participants will hear from students how student engagement is prioritized and encouraged at Harwood Union Middle/High School. They will engage in a student-facilitated Socratic dialogue around a central question derived from the action research, bringing forth a depth of diverse thinking from within the room. The Socratic dialogue will allow participants to think, in small and large groups, about conditions in their own schools and new ways to support student engagement.

Session
Teaching + Learning
Contact

Anneka Williams, awilliams2017@wwsu.org

Avoiding the Equity Traps: Personalized and Proficiency-Based Learning to Improve Outcomes for All Students

Montpelier High School, VT

To improve outcomes for all students, schools around Vermont are working hard to shift to personalized, proficiency-based learning. There is a growing concern, however, that without thoughtful implementation, flexible pathways and proficiency-based graduation requirements could actually exacerbate the achievement gap. This session will explore the potential “equity traps” posed by these challenges and examine the new systems and structures needed to provide all students with the resources they need, both in the classroom and beyond.

Through professional dialogue and examples from the field, participants will gain a deeper understanding of the importance of clarity, supports, and learner agency in the context of high school redesign initiatives. Participants will have the opportunity to examine their own schools’ systems and structures through the lens of improving equity for all students. Presenters will provide useful community-based learning, curriculum, and communications resources for schools to borrow or build from.

Session
Teaching + Learning
Contact

Michael Martin, mikem@mpsvt.org

From Passive to Active: Self-Directed Learning in Science

Proctor Jr./Sr. High School, VT

Teachers and students from Proctor Junior/Senior High School will highlight their efforts to change their school model from one that was teacher-centered to a student-centered, proficiency-based learning environment. They will focus particularly on strategies for transitioning to an asynchronous classroom in science courses, where students work at their own pace through a collaborative, inquiry-based approach to labs.

Presenters will share several key efforts that have been part of this transition to a learner-centered paradigm, including the separation of habits of work from academic expectations, capacity-building for students to track their own progress against content proficiencies and drive their own learning through formative and summative assessments, and the role that Proctor’s ‘earned honors credit’ policy plays in a larger proficiency-based approach to teaching and learning.

Participants will leave with some concrete strategies for cultivating self-direction in their students, including managing self-paced environments, creating self-directed resources for students, and enabling students to track their own progress against clear proficiencies and identify their own areas of need.

Session
Teaching + Learning
Contact

Adam Rosenberg, adam.rosenberg@rcsu.org

Preparing Students for What’s Next with Project-Based Learning

Randolph Union High School, VT

In this session, participants will get a glimpse into Randolph Union High School’s project-based learning program and learn how it prepares students for their required senior capstone project, which encapsulates the transferable skills that will prepare students for the next stage of their lives. Presenters will share student outcomes of project-based learning to illuminate how students are benefiting from their exposure to this work.

Participants in this session will hear about the strategies and resources Randolph Union High School has used to move the program forward, including their Project-Based Learning Handbook and Senior Project Manual, and they will also have the opportunity to hear from teacher and student presenters about their experiences in the program.

Session
Teaching + Learning
Contact

Students as Change Agents for Personalization: Infusing Purpose, Meaning, and Hope in School Redesign

UP for Learning, VT

Vermont has an unprecedented opportunity to help students believe in themselves as learners and reach their full potential through personalized learning and proficiency-based assessment, yet research conducted with 2,490 Vermont high school students and 378 faculty members suggests that existing mental models of key stakeholder groups stand in the way of this happening. Data collected by UP for Learning’s Communicating School Redesign schools surfaces some of the basic challenges that arise in shifting mental models as a new student-teacher paradigm is introduced.

Participants will learn about how the data have informed the efforts of 12 Vermont high schools committed to positioning students at the center of implementing personalized learning through team-generated communications campaigns. Presenters will share compelling tools and effective dialogue strategies that highlight the capacity and power of students as change agents in the school redesign process.

Participants will learn how students, working in youth-adult teams, are taking a lead role in encouraging personalized learning throughout Vermont in a variety of creative mediums. Participants will also take away a new student peer-to-peer advisory teaching model, “M3: Mindset, Metacognition and Motivation,” to help build students’ independent learning skills in readiness for personalized learning opportunities.

Session
Teaching + Learning | Student, Family, and Community Engagement
Contact

Helen Beattie, helen@upforlearning.com

The Path Continues: High School Students on Personal Learning

Williamstown High School, VT

In this session, Williamstown High School students, who have both experienced a traditional school program and had the inspiration and opportunity to design their own personal learning experiences, will present about exploring their passions, and discovering that one of those passions is learning itself. They will explain how interest and participation in their Pathways program has grown organically but continues to evolve into a school-wide opportunity for all students. The student presenters will share examples of their learning pathways and how they are supported and assessed to meet academic and personal competencies.

Participants will be invited to informally assess the rigor of student learning by evaluating key competencies identified in their assessment templates, and they will also examine state and local data that support positive outcomes. Participants will leave with Williamstown High School’s planning and assessment templates and will recognize that personalized learning can be a welcomed and challenging adventure rather than an additional course requirement.

Session
Teaching + Learning
Contact

Alicia Rominger, arominger@onsu.org

Beyond NESSC

Opening Doors: How Home Visits Can Strengthen School-Family Relationships in the Upper Grades

1647, MA

How can school leaders and teachers design and conduct home visits, particularly when teachers might have more than 100 students on their rosters? How can schools connect home visits with college, career, and life planning? How can home visits spark stronger and more supportive partnerships between parents and teachers? And do teenagers even want their teachers to come to their homes? Based in Boston, 1647 is a nonprofit organization that helps school systems and educators design and implement effective home-visit programs using the core principles of the Relationship-Building Home Visit Model developed by the Parent-Teacher Home Visit Project. An abundance of research studies have shown that a family’s involvement in their child’s education can accelerate educational progress and achievement, and home visits provide unique opportunities for teachers and families to build meaningful relationships and shared goals for supporting a child’s school success.

In this workshop, participants will learn evidence-based home-visit strategies from coaches, teachers, and parents who will share their experiences with successful home visits and family engagement in Lawrence, Massachusetts. Participants will hear stories, receive data, and learn nuts-and-bolts techniques for implementing high-impact home visits at middle school and high school levels.

Session
Student, Family, and Community Engagement
Presenters

Elizabeth Canada (Director of Coaching, 1647), Kimberly Rodriguez (High School Teacher, Lawrence High School Learning Center), Boris and Iris Pena (parents)

Contact

Beyond Points and Percentages: Assessing for Proficiency in Mathematics

Francis W. Parker Charter Essential School, Devens, MA

The way educators assess can drive the way they teach. Moving toward proficiency-based assessment means changing the way students’ work is scored, how teachers give students feedback, and what students are expected to do with that feedback once it’s received. In mathematics classes, this means changing the way teachers design and score more traditional assessments, such as tests and quizzes. It also means incorporating new and different assessments to give students to demonstrate their proficiency.

In this session, participants will see sample assessments, rubrics, and student work samples from mathematics classes in a school that uses portfolio-based promotion. They will analyze two tests—one traditional assessment and one more authentic, open-ended performance task. Participants will explore a continuum of assessment options to determine which assessment type is the right tool for the job, and examine model rubrics for use with tests and open-ended performance tasks.

Presenters will discuss ways to incorporate meaningful revision into mathematics learning, helping students to use feedback from their assessments as opportunities for rethinking, new learning, and re-assessment. Participants will leave with a better understanding of how to set clear criteria for proficiency in mathematics.

Session
Teaching + Learning
Contact

From Closed to Open: Rethinking the Math Problems We Pose to Students

Francis W. Parker Charter Essential School, Devens, MA

For many students, math has been understood and taught as a subject of “correct answers”, but math is really a subject of patterns and creativity. In this workshop, participants explore the power of open-ended problems in mathematics: those with multiple entry and exit points and more than one solution. Presenters will encourage an understanding of how problems empower student exploration, creativity, and involvement in the work.

Participants will look at the traditional closed-ended problems posed in math class and rewrite them to allow for more freedom, flexibility, and creativity in the work that students create, allowing for multiple entry and exit points.

Session
Teaching + Learning
Contact

Dawn Crane, dawn@theparkerschool.org 

Hitting the Mark: Learning Targets for a Competency-Based Learning Environment

Henry County Schools, GA

This interactive session will focus on the creation and use of high-quality learning targets to facilitate student agency and rigorous instruction in a competency-based learning environment. Participants will deconstruct social studies and science performance indicators to identify key vocabulary and concepts, consider the depth of knowledge needed for instruction and assessment, and pinpoint what a student must know and be able to do to demonstrate mastery. They will then have the opportunity to create their own student-friendly learning targets.

Participants will leave with K-12 sample learning targets for social studies and science, as well as the skills and resources needed to duplicate the process in their own school or system.

Session
Teaching + Learning
Contact

Heather MacKenzie, hmackenzie@henry.k12.ga.us

Authentic School-Family Partnerships: What Works and Why It Matters

Lawrence CommunityWorks, MA

How do school-family partnerships work and why do they matter? What are the most effective ways that schools, families, and local organizations can work together to support the success of all children and youth in a community? And how can schools get historically disengaged and marginalized groups to the table and ensure that their voices are both heard and honored? At Lawrence CommunityWorks, a nonprofit community-development corporation based in Lawrence, Massachusetts, a team of community organizers has been working closely with the administrators, educators, students, and families of Lawrence Public Schools for the past three years on a variety of engagement activities, including two primary strategies: Community Education Circles, a series of relationship-building events and conversations between teachers and families, and The Marketplace, a regularly held school-wide networking night designed to build trust and mutual support between families and school staff.

In this workshop, participants will learn about effective community-organizing strategies, school structures that tend to facilitate or impede authentic school-family partnerships, and several practical dialogue and networking techniques that will work in any school system or community. The presenters will also model a capacity-building training activity and provide participants with a practical, step-by-step toolkit of best practices developed for educators, students, and families. 

Session
Student, Family, and Community Engagement
Presenters

Sebastian Brown (Community Organizer, Lawrence CommunityWorks), Carmen Hernandez (Community Organizer, Lawrence CommunityWorks), Spencer Buccholz (Director of Network Organizing, Lawrence CommunityWorks)

Contact

Going Deeper: The Power of Integrating Proficiency-Based and Project-Based Learning

New Tech Network, CA and Great Schools Partnership, ME

To ensure that students meet cross-curricular standards, we must provide them with opportunities to develop the necessary 21st century skills. If we don’t provide meaningful ways for students to demonstrate proficiency in those skills or design truly meaningful ways to assess them, we run the risk of paying lip service to those standards.

In this session, participants will learn how project-based learning can help students experience deeper learning (i.e., master core academic content, think critically, work collaboratively, communicate effectively, and develop self-direction). Presenters will share the project-based learning approach developed and implemented by the New Tech Network in their 200+ schools across the country, and will discuss how the integration of project-based learning and proficiency-based learning can accelerate a school’s implementation of Global Best Practices. Finally, presenters will discuss how the New Tech Network’s technology can be used to assess and verify cross-curricular Standards.

Session
Teaching + Learning
Contact

Building a Positive School Culture and Community Using Restorative Practices

Prospect Hill Academy Charter School, MA

Every school that is committed to educational equity needs to put in place systems and practices that ensure positive outcomes for ALL students, including those who are historically underserved. At Prospect Hill Academy Charter School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the entire school community—administrators, teachers, and staff—believes that equity, high expectations, and a positive culture of support and encouragement built on systems-wide restorative practice drive educational success and aspirations. It’s one of the reasons that 95% of school’s students, including a significant of first-generation youth, choose to attend college after graduation.

In this workshop, participants will learn how to use restorative practices and three-tiered interventions to build a positive school culture and educational community through active learning, including a role-playing activity based on restorative circles. In addition, participants will explore the four frames of the restorative window using behavioral vignettes to develop a shared understanding of the context, rationale for, and impact of restorative practices in schools. Presenters will also share practical insights about the essential structures and systems that school leaders and educators can use to initiate restorative practices at their own school.  

Session
Student, Family, and Community Engagement
Presenters

Angela Allen (Head of School), Chad Burnett (Upper School Principal), Chris Douglas (Collegiate Institute Principal), JD Fergus (Restorative Justice Coordinator), Emma Stellman (Chief Academic Officer)

Contact

Angela Allen, aallen@phacs.org

Where Equity and Engagement Meet: From Funding to Implementation of Community-School Partnerships that Close Opportunity Gaps

Puget Sound Educational Service District, WA

While our national dialogue on public education in the United States has long been focused on achievement gaps, educational leaders are beginning to pay more attention to opportunity gaps—or the lack of access to resources and opportunities that create further disparities across race, socioeconomic status, English proficiency, and other factors. This more systemic view puts the responsibility on our institutions rather than on our students and families. Partnerships that bridge in-school and out-of-school time become a key strategy to create more access and opportunity for students in the gap. Funding, creating, and implementing community-school partnerships while using practices that promote equity, authentic engagement, and relationship-building takes time, patience, a commitment to continuous improvement, and the ability to persist through essential (but often difficult) conversations. The Puget Sound Educational Service District, one of nine regional educational agencies serving school districts in Washington State, has made a commitment to becoming an anti-racist multicultural organization—a critical lens when doing authentic engagement and partnership work.

In this workshop, participants will explore promising practices and lessons learned through authentic community-school partnerships in Washington State, including strategies for overcoming common institutional practices that can perpetuate inequities in family and community engagement. The presenters will focus on projects, funded through a regional Race to the Top Grant, designed to improve outcomes for students by integrating student and family engagement strategies and by extending learning time beyond the school day.

Session
Student, Family, and Community Engagement
Presenters

Matthew Gulbranson (Community Partnerships and Systems Director, Puget Sound Educational Service District), Hamdi Abdulle (Executive Director, Somali Youth and Family Club, King County Washington)

Contact

Matthew Gulbranson, mgulbranson@psesd.org

Performance Based Assessment: Learning for Life

Revere High School, MA

In this session, presenters will outline a framework for planning and assessing units of study that engages students in the dynamic integration of content with real-world literacies, such as reading, writing, and numeracy.

Participants will learn how to plan an authentic performance task that will provide acceptable evidence of student learning, and will consider how performance-based assessments contribute to a student-centered learning environment, enabling students to explore future roles in a safe rehearsal space while demonstrating proficiency on learning standards.

Session
Teaching + Learning
Contact

Charles Willis, cwillis@revere.mec.edu

Supporting Teacher Growth through Personalized Professional Learning Pathways

Thompson School District, CO

In Colorado’s Thompson School District, the learning services department gathered feedback from staff around the professional learning experiences that were being offered. After reviewing the feedback, the department developed a Personalized Professional Learning Pathway model, which provided 29 pathways teachers could access for their professional learning. The pathways shifted professional learning from one-size-fits-all to experiences that were based on the personal passions of teachers, allowing for continued growth and the opportunity to implement the new learning in daily classroom practice.

Presenters will explain how the personalized pathway model for teachers and school administrators was created, implemented, and revised over the course of two years. They will share their modified Ed Camp model, which includes social, emotional, and academic pathway offerings. They will highlight important components of the pathways program, including the expectations for facilitators and teachers.

Participants will learn how to create a plan to engage and empower teachers to design their own professional learning experiences that provide personalized growth opportunities and support teacher leadership.

Session
School + District Leadership
Contact

NESSC

How Committed is Your School to Equity? A Whole-School Collaborative Assessment and Readiness Tool

Great Schools Partnership, ME

What does a school committed to equity look like? How can you help your school community develop understanding of research on effective school practices? What are practical, specific strategies to use to improve student learning? In this session, participants will actively engage with the second edition of Global Best Practices, the New England Secondary School Consortium’s self-assessment tool, to address these questions. Participants will leave with concrete strategies for leading whole-school assessment and action planning, as well as additional tools and resources to dig deeper into equity issues in schools.

Session
TBD
Presenters

Craig Kesselheim (Senior Associate), Ken Templeton (Senior Associate) + Andi Summers (Senior Associate)

Contact

Policy for Practitioners: Bridging the Divide

Great Schools Partnership, ME

The shift to personalized and proficiency-based practices at the classroom, school, district, and system level necessitates changes to local and state policy. Far too often practitioners (i.e, teachers and building-leaders) are left out of policy conversations and end up feeling as though policy-changes are being made to them, not with them. As a practitioner, having an understanding of the policy landscape where you live and work empowers creative, proactive, innovative student-centered practices, elevates your voice in the building, and enables you to facilitate meaningful changes for students. This understanding can help educators distinguish between which practices are truly required, and which are simply perceived to be required among their peers. Participants will learn how policy can be a driver for change at the building and classroom level, and how it can protect practices in the face of district turnover. Participants will have an opportunity to learn about the local policies that may be impacted by a switch to proficiency-based learning, review sample local policies, and discuss state and federal policy contexts.

Session
TBD
Presenters

Erin Dukeshire (Senior Associate), Sarah Linet (Policy Specialist) + Duke Albanese (Senior Policy Advisor)

Student Voice in Learning

Great Schools Partnership, ME

When schools think of student voice, they often think of student representation on student councils, leadership teams, and even school boards. In those models, students learn to interact effectively with adults, represent their peers, and take responsibility for school-wide decisions. But what happens when student leaders take that experience back to classrooms? This session will explore the ways in which a focus on student leadership can shift to a focus on student voice in learning. Participants will identify the links between their own student leadership systems and greater student agency in the classroom.

Session
TBD
Presenters

Don Weafer (Senior Associate) + Moises Nunez (Senior Associate)

Teaching and Assessing Transferable Skills Across the Curriculum

Great Schools Partnership, ME

Communication, self-direction, problem-solving, collaboration, and informed thinking. Whether you call these transferable skills, cross-curricular standards, 21st century skills, or by any other title, they are critical for success in postsecondary education and careers. Many educators wonder how to break down transferable skills into their components; how to teach, assess, and give feedback on components; and how to integrate components with content knowledge and skills in authentic ways. This interactive workshop will give educators a chance to work with a variety of tools and resources designed to help meet these challenges, and participants will explore effective practices for teaching and assessing these skills across content areas.

Session
Teaching + Learning
Presenters

Kate Gardoqui (Senior Associate) + Becky Wilusz (Senior Associate)

Using Inquiry Tasks to Promote Higher Order Thinking

Great Schools Partnership, ME

In this session, participants will examine inquiry tasks as a tool to promote higher order thinking and student engagement. We will look at several models of inquiry tasks, discuss different times and ways to build inquiry into units, and define conditions that support inquiry. Participants will also have an opportunity to apply these concepts to their own planning and to explore additional resources related to promoting inquiry and higher order thinking.

Session
Teaching + Learning
Presenters

Courtney Jacobs (Senior Associate) + Katie Thompson (Senior Associate)

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