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Posted by on in Conferences

Model Schools Conference Orlando 2016 Math Solutions

Currently I’m sitting at the Orlando International Airport, about three hours away from boarding one of my two flights home from the Model Schools Conference. Originally I had planned to instead attend ISTE in Denver, but this past February I was presented with the opportunity to go to and present at Model Schools. So, I decided to make the switch and I couldn’t be happier with my decision.

Here’s a look at some of the presentations/keynotes I attended, as well as overall conference highlights.

Eric Sheninger, keynote: Eric’s keynote was based on the importance of bringing awe into our schools and classrooms (as opposed to operating traditionally while excitement, authentic learning experiences, meaningful technology integration, etc. only take place outside the school day). As usual, Eric expressed himself with a great deal of intensity. As someone who has seem him speak a few times prior, I appreciate the manner in which his style continues to evolve, as he incorporated impactful images, videos, jokes, and sentimental moments to “tug at the heart strings” and make his narrative that much more impactful. My main takeway was the idea that we shouldn’t hesitate to leverage the interests of our students to make learning relevant…For more, make sure to take a look at Eric’s latest book, Uncommon Learning.

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Posted by on in Conferences

map of orlando fl

On June 25 I’ll be headed down to Orlando, Florida for the Model Schools Conference, which is the brainchild of Bill Daggett and the International Center for Leadership in Education (ICLE). Last October I was thoroughly impressed by a Daggett presentation, and now I’m even more excited to experience what is one of the most highly regarded conferences of the year.

Here are five specific reasons why June 25 can’t come soon enough:

1. Concurrent Sessions

The conference features over 100 concurrent sessions (plus a whole lot more) over three days. And, the focal point of these sessions isn’t “the stuff” (technology), but rather what “works” and what “doesn’t work” to undeniably move schools forward for the benefit of our students. As the brochure says, “At this year’s MSC [Model Schools Conference], we aim to encourage you to seize this opportunity and, with lessons learned from the nation’s most rapidly improving and trailblazing schools and districts…”

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Posted by on in Conferences


Last Sunday, I attended the Tony Sinanis (@TonySinanis) pre-conference keynote for my state’s annual educational technology conference, PETE & C (Pennsylvania Educational Technology Expo & Conference). The topic/title of the presentation was “Telling Your School Story.” In general, the focus was school/district branding, communicating with stakeholders, and a look at how social media is changing education.

Anyone who is a part of my Personal Learning Network (PLN) knows Tony, the principal of Cantiague Elementary School in Long Island, is a good friend of mine. However, prior to Sunday I had yet to see him deliver a formal conference presentation…To say I was blown away would be an understatement.

If you would like to dive deeper into the content related to the keynote, I encourage you to take a look at the book written by Tony and Joe Sanfelippo (@Joesanfelippofc), The Power of Branding

For the purpose of this post, let’s focus on five soft skills that made the session memorable. (And, for the record, soft skills can be defined as “the cluster of personality traits, social graces, communication, language, personal habits, interpersonal skills, managing people, leadership, etc. that characterize relationships with other people.”)

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Posted by on in Conferences


An LIRR commute. A subway ride uptown during rush hour and the quiet auditorium of Columbia University awaits expectantly with the almost hum of high school journalists.

The Columbia Scholastic Press Association

(CSPA) as well as other scholastic press associations

hold their annual spring conventions around this time of year offering a wealthy opportunity for learning and networking across county and state lines.

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Posted by on in Conferences


Most teachers (at least good ones) want to hear from parents, and we encourage their involvement. Without question, parents play the most pivotal role in the intellectual and behavioral development of their kids, and I’m always grateful when parents show interest in how they can help their children succeed as students.

But whether you’re the parent of a student in a private, charter or public school, there’s a common list of not-often-publicized parental do’s and don’ts. I want to focus on the “don’ts.”

  1. Don’t get angry or argue with the teacher about your son’s or daughter’s receiving only a B+ or an A-. This smacks of entitlement and snobbery, while also reflecting poorly on your communication skills. Not everything your child does is flawless, and that’s not only okay, it’s also entirely human. There’s nothing wrong with striving for perfection, but you’re much better off politely inquiring what you child can do to improve next time.
  2. Similarly, don’t tell a teacher that as a history major yourself, you feel your daughter should have received a higher grade on an essay. There’s a lot more to teaching than sheer content knowledge, and your obvious bias aside, you don’t know how your daughter’s paper stacks-up against 9th-,10th-, 11th-, or 12th-grade standards.
  3. Don’t get angry over your child’s not being recommended for honors or Advanced Placement courses. Teachers work hard to place students where they are most likely to achieve the greatest success. By forcing your student to bite off more than she can chew, you show that you care more about how a transcript looks than your child’s intellectual growth. Few things make teachers more upset.
  4. On back-to-school night, don’t corner teachers to ask about your son or daughter’s progress. For many teachers, that evening is already fraught with enough tension and nerves. Expect to learn about what your child will be learning, and feel free to ask questions related to the curriculum. But it’s too early in the year to expect any authentic assessment on an individual’s performance.
  5. Don’t offer excuses as to why your son or daughter didn’t do the homework. This is all the more true if your student is an upper-classman, about to go to college. Except in rare or especially delicate situations, students should be encouraged not only to advocate for themselves, but also to deal with the consequences of their actions—or inactions, as the case may be.
  6. Nothing smells more like a “bribe” than a fancy gift. Even if this isn’t the intent, as in most cases I’m sure it’s not, perception is reality. Over the holidays or on special occasions throughout the year, a simple “thank-you” card more than suffices. On the whole, teachers are much more comfortable with receiving larger gifts from graduating students, after final grades have been entered.
  7. Wait until after graduation to invite teachers over for dinner. Most teachers feel honored by such an offer, but it’s important to remain friendly, not friends, with students and their families. Certainly, this can change after graduation. I’ve become friends with several of my former students and their families, but only after commencement.
  8. Don’t tell teachers that an assignment is “stupid” or “childish.” Rarely, this may be the case, but it’s important to use tact and politeness when communicating your feelings. Otherwise, you risk burning bridges and otherwise inflaming the situation. Teachers are professionals, and they deserve to be treated as such—even if they make a mistake now and again.
  9. Don’t approach teachers as if they are servants, at your beck and call. If you wish to speak with a teacher, please, take the time to email or call for an appointment. Don’t just show-up.
  10. Don’t go over a teacher’s head. If you a have question or concern, as a first step, reach out to the teacher first. Afterward, if you are still unsatisfied, contact the department chair. If after doing that you are still unsatisfied, as a last resort, contact an upper-level administrator.

If you’re a teacher, do you have any other advice for how parents should or shouldn’t communicate with teachers?


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