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From School Safety to Trauma, Principals Tackle Tough Subjects at Conference

Leading schools during and after a major crisis. Developing leaders within school buildings. Student activism. And creating a positive school climate.

These are some of the topics that middle and secondary school principals will dive into, beginning Wednesday, in Chicago as they gather for the annual conference of the National Association of Secondary School Principals.

The gathering of hundreds of school leaders is packed with professional development sessions to help principals, assistant principals and others improve. But the sessions also take on topics that dominated headlines this year, including school safety and trauma. School leaders from Aztec, N.M., for example, will discuss how they collaborated before and in the aftermath of a December 2017 shooting at Aztec High School that left two students dead.

The National Association of Elementary School Principals has been meeting this week in Orlando, Fla., with sessions on instructional leadership, positive school climate, and leading pre-k-3 schools.

The sessions at the middle and secondary school conference this year are organized around the Professional Standards for Educational Leaders, which were released in 2015 and lay out what principals, assistant principals, and other school leaders need to know and do to lead schools in the 21st century.

In addition to learning techniques to improve low-performing schools, mentoring new principals, hiring the best staff, and the legal challenges involved in running schools, principals will also have hands-on opportunities to beef up their digital and social media skills.

Multiple sessions will help principals learn how to use—or become more proficient in—platforms such as Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube Live to communicate with their students, staff, and community and as professional learning tools. They'll also have a chance to learn about blogging and podcasting.

The conference's last day, Friday, will feature a panel discussion on the state of American education with Lillian M. Lowery, the vice president for pre-K-12 policy, research, and practice at The Education Trust, and Michael Petrilli, the president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. Former PBS NewsHour correspondent John Merrow will moderate.

You can follow the activities on Twitter with the hashtags #NASSP18 and #NPC18.

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