Live From NSDC, St. Louis-- So there's an impressive vendor hall here, with six long rows of booths (many decked out with impressive technology) from which education organizations of various stripes are working hard to promote their staff-development or instructional products and services. But here's the kind of amusing thing: The vendor who's getting by far the most traffic is--you guessed it--the "Scarf King," a guy who's selling cashmere scarves for $10. His stall is seriously mobbed; you can't even see the display table unless you maneuver your way in. There has to be lesson in this somewhere....


Live From NSDC, St. Louis-- Don't want to get on my high horse here, but bringing student groups in to entertain large education conference audiences is a mixed-message concept. At best. On the one hand, there is the nice idea of celebrating "what we're all about:" student learning and excellence. In introductions for the very fine middle school band that played at breakfast this morning and the St. Louis Children's Chorus at lunch, there was warm applause and nice language about "this is why we're in education" and compliments for the student performers. I spent 30 years teaching middle school ...


Live From NSDC, St. Louis-- When it comes to the professional literature on educational leadership, I'm pretty much an unrepentant Fullanite. Not that Michael Fullan is a particularly eloquent writer or inspirational speaker. He's neither--and his luncheon keynote today was classic Fullan: turgid, chock-full of video clips, way too much text and information, delivered at machine-gun speed, interesting but borderline incoherent. But here's the thing about Michael Fullan--his ideas are powerful and they square with the messy, uncontrolled nature of human learning and change. I fell in love with Michael Fullan when I plowed through "Change Forces," and read his ...


Live From NSDC, St. Louis-- I attended an interesting session this morning on "How Professional Development Fits Into Federal Policy," led by NSDC Executive Director Stephanie Hirsh and NSDC Federal Policy Advisor Rene Islas. The upshot was that NSDC is putting a lot of effort--through congressional lobbying, grassroots support, and field outreach--into getting a new definition of professional development into the reauthorization of NCLB. Islas noted that the PD definition itself--Sec. 9109 (34), if you're keeping score at home--is a little noticed part of NCLB but has a huge impact on other parts of law (e.g., Title I, teacher ...


Live From NSDC, St. Louis-- I laughed when I read Nancy's comment on taking "twenty minutes to understand the twists and turns of registration" here. It took me at least that long--and even longer to figure out where I was supposed to go for my first session this morning. It is a logistically complex conference--there's a sense of beehive-like activity. And it doesn't make matters any easier that's not easy to get a conference program--in the event that, like me, you forgot yours. I had to borrow one from the registration desk. Really, borrow: I was told I had to ...


Live From NSDC, St. Louis-- Tony Wagner opened his keynote this morning by declaring that the formulation of the problem is more important than the solution. We're not asking the right questions, he says--we're more focused on the answers. Well, yeah. Some of Wagner's key points and the questions they raise for me: Wagner on the current discourse in Ed World: We are making policy based on buzzwords and half-formed ideas about what students "need." It's a familiar refrain; in my head, I hear stock answers from traditionalists, the humanists, the innovators, the economists. What is the real problem in ...


Live from NSDC, St. Louis-I'm a newbie to the NSDC "big" conference, although I've been hearing about it for years--its size, scope and innovative practice in professional learning for educators. It takes a good twenty minutes to even understand the twists and turns of registration--NSDC puts its standards into practice by offering extended learning sessions, eschewing drive-by learning snacks in favor of reflection, conversation and substance. One of my personal questions about this conference is: Do conference participants, trained through decades of 6-period days and 55-minute content dumps, really embrace slow and deep learning? The opener keynoter is Tony Wagner, ...


Live From NSDC, St. Louis--I just caught a small part of a session on Response to Intervention given by a pair of educators with the Excelsior Springs (Mo.) school district. Here's something I never realized (and that seems incredible to me): The screening used to determine which intervention "tier" a student falls into--known as the curriculum-based measurement process--takes only one to three minutes to complete. From the results of that lightening-fast assessment, presenter Christina Compton said, she can tell right away which students are on a path to do poorly on the state tests. She added that there is some ...


Live From NSDC, St. Louis— Sometimes on a flight out of D.C., you'll notice that a good number of passengers are reading the latest Bob Woodward tome or (much more depressingly) that week's Federal Register. But on my flight today, several of the passengers--including the very nice woman next to me--were reading Work Hard. Be Nice.: How Two Inspired Teachers Created the Most Promising Schools in America, Jay Mathews' book about the co-founders of the KIPP schools. Upon inquiry, I learned that they were all teachers from Stafford Co., Va.--also headed to the NSDC conference. My seatmate, a 1st...


Quick note to readers: Over the next couple of days, we will be blogging in this space from the National Staff Development Council's annual conference in St. Louis. Joining me as special guest bloggers will be renowned teacher-writer Nancy Flanagan and learning-tech expert Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach. (The three of us will also be presenting a session on online professional development at the conference on Tuesday morning.) We hope to have a lot of great, up-to-the-minute information for you on the latest trends in professional development and other instructional issues. So stay tuned. Should be fun...


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