Articles in the Conferences and Events category

Daniel Pink relates his motivation research to education

This month’s issue of American School Board Journal includes an interesting interview with author Daniel Pink.  Pink is renowned for his books detailing what motivates people in  business – and this interview relates his research and recommendations directly to the education world.

BoardBuzz was especially interested in his advice for school board members: spend as much time as possible with students, teachers, and administrators to understand the “real” truth, be as transparent as possible in all dealings, and don’t get overwhelmed by trying to change everything — instead just try to make a lot of small changes.

Pink will be the General Session speaker at NSBA‘s 2011 Annual Conference in San Francisco, on Sunday, April 10.

Barbara Moody|February 15th, 2011|Categories: Conferences and Events, NSBA Opinions and Analysis, NSBA Publications, School Boards, Student Achievement|

Focus on education leadership

We all hear a lot about leadership these days and there has been an increased focus on the special skills needed to lead in the challenging 21st century world. 

BoardBuzz was interested to see that renowned education author and speaker Douglas B. Reeves has a new book out that focuses on education leadership, Finding Your Leadership Focus: What Matters Most for Student Results.

According to the synopsis by Teachers College Press, this book takes a close look at one of the major challenges facing public schools today: the overload of programs and initiatives being implemented in districts across the country.  

According to Reeves, this overload taxes resources and hurts student performance. He identifies a very specific set of leadership practices that can lead the way to improved student achievement. With analysis of years of research data and the presentation of practical methods for implementing new strategies, this book seems like a timely addition to education reform discussion.

Reeves will be one of the featured speakers at the 2011 NSBA Annual Conference in San Francisco in the “Focus on Education” series.  In his topic, “Focus On…The Innovative Board: How Policymakers Nurture Learning, Teaching, and Leadership”, Reeves will share his insights on student achievement, teaching practices and leadership decisions with conference attendees on Monday, April 11.

Barbara Moody|December 15th, 2010|Categories: Conferences and Events, NSBA Opinions and Analysis, Student Achievement, Teachers|

Education headlines: NCLB student transfers overwhelm high-performing schools

Students transferring from failing schools are overwhelming successful schools in their areas, an unintended byproduct of the No Child Left Behind law, the Washington Post reports… At NSBA’s recent 2010 T+L Conference in Phoenix, Executive Director Anne L. Bryant discusses with eSchool News the annual survey on how technology improves student learning as well as her views on “Waiting for Superman” and other issues… The Miami school board is debating whether to rescind some breaks for developers who provide low-income housing, the Miami Herald reports… New Jersey’s lawmakers pass one of the toughest anti-bullying measures , requiring schools to develop anti-harassment programs, but some have concerns over whether its provisions infringe on constitutional rights, according to the Associated Press…. Also in the Washington Post, the Education Trust has released a new report on graduation rates at the nation’s fast-growing sector of for-profit higher education institutions, likening many to sub-prime lenders …

Joetta Sack-Min|November 24th, 2010|Categories: Announcements, Conferences and Events, Elementary and Secondary Education Act, School Board News|

Raising awareness of global child abuse

This Friday, November 19 is the 10th annual World Day for the Prevention of Child Abuse, a recognition initiated in 2000 by the Women’s World Summit Foundation.  Many activities will take place around the world to increase awareness and educate people about this ongoing, global problem.

BoardBuzz recently read an inspirational memoir dealing with this difficult subject – and surprisingly, the book was not written by a woman, but by actor and former professional athlete Victor Rivas Rivers. In A Private Family Matter, the Cuban-born Rivers outlines his struggles to overcome his abusive childhood with the help of teachers, coaches and other families within his community. Rivers talks about his journey in this video from a speech given at the City Club of Cleveland:


Victor Rivas Rivers will be the National Hispanic Caucus Luncheon speaker on Monday, April 11 at the 2011 NSBA Annual Conference.

Barbara Moody|November 17th, 2010|Categories: Conferences and Events, Multimedia and Webinars, NSBA Opinions and Analysis, Student Achievement, Wellness|

Wes Moore shares his commitment to mentoring

Wes Moore is a youth advocate, Army combat veteran, business leader, and author. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa from The Johns Hopkins University and became a Rhodes Scholar and later a White House Fellow and Special Assistant to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

In his recently published book, The Other Wes Moore, he tells how he overcame a troubled childhood to achieve success, while comparing his life to another person in his community with the same name, who ended up in a federal prison, serving a life sentence for murder.  Moore got to know the “other” Wes Moore through letters and prison visits, and found that they had much in common. BoardBuzz was struck by the parallel in these two men’s lives, and by the passion Moore shows in examining the roles education, mentoring and public service can play in the lives of American youth.

Take a look at this video, where Moore talks about his life, and the circumstances that put him on a positive path:

Wes Moore will share the inspirational story of his life and his passion for mentoring young people at the 2011 NSBA Annual Conference, where he will be the Fellowship Speaker on Sunday, April 10.

Barbara Moody|October 28th, 2010|Categories: Conferences and Events, Multimedia and Webinars, NSBA Opinions and Analysis|

T+L keynoter: Great ideas start slow

We love to tell stories about the “eureka” moments, the single instances when great idea occur. But most of those moments don’t really happen, according to author Stephen Berlin Johnson. Instead, most great discoveries are the result of what he called “the slow hunch.”

“Almost all great ideas have a longer prehistory,” said Johnson. “They come into the world as a half of an idea, an intimation, not a fully realized breakthrough.”

Johnson, author of six books, including the recently published Where Good Ideas Come From, was the speaker at the final general session of the T+L Conference on Oct. 21 in Phoenix.

Slow hunches can and should be nurtured, said Johnson. Google, for example, allows its engineers to spend 20 percent of their time on non-work-related interests. The company estimates that 50 percent of its new products come from this practice, called “innovation time off.”

Another misconception that we have about great ideas is that they occur in isolation with one individual. In fact, many people who have made great discoveries or scientific breakthroughs have collaborators. Those collaborators often are people from other disciplines or backgrounds.

“One implication of this is that you want to surround yourself with people from diverse backgrounds,” he said. “By exposing our own minds to other perspectives, we don’t just get more tolerant, we get more creative.”

Schools and the workplace need to make time for employees to connect across departments to form what Johnson called a “liquid network,” where different perspectives come together in “surprising ways.”

In his book, Everything Bad is Good for You, Johnson talked about how video games actually help children learn in ways that they wouldn’t otherwise. He told the story about introducing his 7-year-old nephew to Sim City, an online game where you create your own city.

When Johnson showed him an area of rundown factories and told him that he wasn’t happy with this region, the boy said, “I think you may need to lower your industrial tax rates.” Johnson said he was amazed, realizing that the game had taught complex ideas about tax incentives and industrial development without the boy realizing it.

“Games allow us to think in this truly connective way,” said Johnson. “We are not learning in isolation. We are seeing results as we are experiencing them. The best way to teach is through the immersive environment of games.”

NSBA’s Secretary/Treasurer, Ed Massey introduced Johnson. He appeared on stage with a Superman hat, making reference to the recent documentary, “Waiting for Superman.”

“You are the Supermen and Superwomen of public education,” he told the audience. “Thanks you for all that you do.”

Kathleen Vail|October 22nd, 2010|Categories: Conferences and Events, School Board News|

Students want a say in school technology decisions, survey finds

When considering your next moves in education technology, Julie Evans recommends you ask your vast, untapped resource – your students. “You have a valuable asset in your students,” said Evans, chief executive officer of Project Tomorrow.

Evans spoke at T+L session on what Project Tomorrow’s years of research in the Speak Up surveys reveals about what student attitudes and habits regarding technology, in and out of schools.

According to the project’s research, 82 percent of students would like to be more involved in school decision-making and share their ideas. Some of the ways they’d like to be more involved include:

  • Have classroom discussions.
  • Share ideas online with other students.
  • Be part of a club that researches, discusses, and presents ideas.
  • Be part of an advisory group for their principal.
  • Set up a blog or wiki to share ideas.
  • Make a presentation to the school board.

To see the results of Project Tomorrow’s annual Speak Up surveys of students, parents, and educators, go to

Kathleen Vail|October 21st, 2010|Categories: Conferences and Events, School Board News|

T+L keynoter: Take risks and learn from your mistakes

Everyone has had a student like Clint — a boy who seems to live on his own planet and who rarely follows directions. Richard Gerver, Wednesday’s keynote speaker at NSBA’s T+L Conference, met this boy when he was principal of a troubled U.K. elementary school.

Gerver was observing the boy’s class write a poem imagining what it was like to be a turtle — the completion of a lesson on empathy. The teacher was excellent, said Gerver, but she was frustrated with Clint because his poem instead voiced concern about war and ecological disaster in the future that would affect turtles and also the rest of the world.

Clint had clearly understood the concept of empathy, said Gerver, but his teacher was “under pressure to produce outcomes.” Much of Clint’s understanding of the world came from outside school — through the Internet and social media. “But in school, he was being called a failure because he couldn’t concentrate on one set outcome.”

Gerver, co-founder of the International Curriculum Foundation and former education adviser to Tony Blair, told the general session audience that many educators he’s encountered are passionate and committed to their jobs, but they’ve been trained to deliver systems.

“People had grown to resent the system, because they felt no real sense of empowerment,” Gerver said of the teachers at his former elementary school. “They knew what their students needed, but when they felt they had space to do something, it was taken away by another top down initiative.”

Governments and societies see education as a conveyer belt system, he said. Everyone joins the journey at the same stage. All are expected to be at the same stage, regardless of background, and have to come out at the same stage. Meanwhile, the government is telling you to be more creative.

“It’s like working in a factory that makes lemon meringue pie,” Gerver said. “The pie has to be the same — the ingredients are different, like children are different, but you must produce the same lemon meringue pie.”

Educators face challenges with using digital media, he said, which is designed around the essence of empowerment, because the education system works against empowerment. “We are working so hard to keep up — new technologies just get added to what we do.”

Digital technology can be a tool to boost the creativity of both adults and students, said Gerver, because it allows people to take risks.

How educators perceive risk is important, he said. “The greatest inhibitor is the perception of risk and how we avoid it as we get older. We close down our own possibilities. As we get older, we teach our children that’s the realm they have to live in, too.”

But in a digital world, students are taking risks all the time. When they die in a video game, they just start over, having learned something about the game, too. “You learn nothing new from getting something right,” he said. “You learn from mistakes — realization that you don’t know something.”

Gerver asked the audience: “How can we use technology to turn our children and educators into risk takers?”

NSBA’s Executive Director Anne L. Bryant, who introduced Gerver, welcomed the early morning crowd in Phoenix: “It’s great to see so many school leaders who are interested in learning how technology can help their districts do more with less.”

She continued: “Over the past year, I’ve spoken with many of your colleagues across the country and they have shared their challenges with me. Today’s public educators are expected to raise student achievement, reduce the achievement gap, prepare students for the global economy, and engage their students and communities, all with smaller budgets.”

The conference continues through today.

Kathleen Vail|October 21st, 2010|Categories: Conferences and Events, School Board News|

Online BuyBoard program helps districts save money on purchases

Looking to buy a MUX box? How about several tubas for your music program or perhaps even a couple of buses in your fleet?

BuyBoard can help.

BuyBoard is a Web-based cooperative purchasing program developed and sponsored by NSBA and state school board associations.

Joe Villani, deputy executive director of NSBA, led T+L session attendees through the features of the online program for school districts. Advantages to joining the national purchasing cooperative, said Villani, include saving money through discounts and saving the time and efforts of district procurement staff. “You can redeploy your procurement staff to do other things,” he said.

Villani used an example from his days as an administrator at a large district. The district wanted schools to link in with a county optic fiber network. This could be done, he found out, but the district needed to purchase devices called MUX boxes to translate the fiber optic signal.

“It took us another four months to make those connections,” he said.”We had to learn about them, write the specs, evaluate the choices, and defend the bid. If I had had BuyBoard, I would have gone online, see what it costs, order it, and have it three days later.”

Districts that become members of the cooperative can buy products without having to put out the products for bid. The cooperative analyzes and makes award recommendations for products and services that have been submitted for competitive procurement. All awarded items or catalogs are posted on the secure BuyBoard website so that BuyBoard members can search for and select items and order.

BuyBoard has a request for quotes (RFQ) function, as well. Districts can ask for price quotes on certain products and vendors will respond in a set amount of time. School staff can compare prices and also see volume discounts for purchases. “You can award it to however you want, and all of these prices are legal,” said Villani. “All have been bid and awarded to the vendors in the cooperative already.”

Purchases can be made 24 hours a day and seven days a week – it works like other e-commerce sites like Amazon.

It does not cost money join the cooperative, but districts must be members in good standard with their state school boards associations. School board members also should find out from their district lawyer if state law allows them to purchase in a cooperative.

For more information, go to

Kathleen Vail|October 21st, 2010|Categories: Conferences and Events, School Board News|

Sexting, cyberbullying present thorny issues for educators, NSBA attorney says

Sexting, social media, and cyberbullying were the hottest of the hot education legal topics discussed by Sonja Trainor, an NSBA senior staff attorney, at a preconference session of the T+L conference Tuesday in Phoenix.

Several years ago, school leaders and educators asked why they needed to be concerned with cyberbullying, especially if it occurs off-campus, Trainor said. These days, no one asks that question. Cyberbullying lawsuits have resulted in school districts paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to plaintiffs and in legal fees.

Schools forming cyberbullying policies should look to their states’ anti-bullying laws. Forty-five states have such laws on the books, although many don’t have separate cyberbullying laws.

Cyberbullying is defined as bullying plus technology, said Trainor. It must be intentional, repeated, aggressive, or unwanted behavior with a power imbalance.”Your definition should start with state bullying policy, but your district policy must define bullying, taking in the state and federal laws and community input,” she said.

Many federal laws apply to bullying and cyberbullying as well, she said, including the Safe Schools Act, the Electronics Communication Privacy Act, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, and the First and Fourth Amendment — all of which need to be taken into account when considering policies.

Schools are in a particularly hard place legally with regard to cyberbullying: “You could be sued by the perpetrator or the victim,” said Trainor. “You can get it from either side.”

Sixteen states are considering some form of sexting laws. Sexting, which means to forward sexually explicit images of oneself or peers via text messaging, is considered normal among preteens and teens, said Trainor.

To prevent texting and the legal problems that come with it, it’s important to reach out to the community to get members involved with the procedures the district has in place to deal with such behavior. It’s also important to document prevention efforts, said Trainor.

“Make it clear to students that [inappropriate images] should be deleted immediately. Don’t hold it on your phone,” said Trainor. That also goes for the adults, too. She cited a recent case where an administrator was prosecuted because he was found with phone images that he had saved in a student case.

In social media cases, Trainor recommended that districts have staff members who are fluent in the different varieties of social media: Facebook, Myspace, Xanga, Twitter, etc.

Acceptable use policies can be the key to being on solid legal footing with technology use and the law. A good acceptable use policy, said Trainor:

• Provides notice of the extent the district will monitor technology and network use.
• Establishes a clear expectation of proper use.
• Makes clear that district will conduct and cooperate with investigations.
• Makes it understood that the district is not liable for improper use.
• Requires students and parents to sign the policy.

“You are on much better footing” with such a policy, said Trainor.

Trainor’s presentation, along with a list of resources and sample policies, is available at

Kathleen Vail|October 20th, 2010|Categories: Conferences and Events, School Board News|
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