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Model Schools Conference

Back in January, my principal approached me with pretty big news. She’d found out that our district was offering to send her, our assistant principal, and one teacher (me!) to the Model Schools Conference at the Swan and Dolphin Resort at Disney World.

What is the Model Schools Conference?

I was thrilled. I’ve been to local, state conferences on a regular basis, but I’ve never been to an international conference. The 2014 MSC is the 22nd annual conference hosted by ICLE (the International Center for Leadership in Education), founded and chaired by Bill Daggett. I’d heard of Mr. Daggett before, as well as Sue Gendron, ICLE President, but I didn’t know much about them. Over the course of the four days that I spent at the conference, I got to know their beliefs and philosophies well, and look forward to incorporating them in my classroom.

The Daggett System for Effective Instruction

The Daggett System for Effective Instruction was one of the frameworks mentioned time and time again.

DSEI model
(Image via Leadered)

Until the conference, I hadn’t thought much about my role as a leader. Obviously, I’m a leader in my classroom. But aside from that, I’ve always been satisfied with holing up my classroom, and letting my administrators do the “leading.” After all, I always assumed that there wasn’t much that I, as a teacher, had to offer to administrators.

However, the Daggett System for Effective Instruction (DSEI) does emphasize the importance of teachers as leaders in the school community. In more traditionally run schools, the administrators set the tone and develop a vision for the school. The DSEI maintains that all stakeholders should have input when it comes to developing the school’s vision. Additionally, the DSEI promotes flexible structures which serve the students and meet their needs, rather than subscribing to rigid structures with no fluidity (the structures that typically serve teachers and their needs).
Read more about the DSEI

The Rigor/Relevance Framework

One of the most helpful and interesting pieces of information that I got from the conference was the idea of teaching according to the Rigor/Relevance Framework (RRF). Ever heard of Quad D learning? This framework is the basis for Quad D.

Rigor Relevance Framework
(Image via Leadered)

The Rigor/Relevance Framework is very simple. It is a tool which allows teachers to analyze lessons, tasks, assessments, and so on, both in terms of Bloom’s Taxonomy (which is along the y-axis above) as well as the “Application Model” developed by Mr. Daggett (as shown along the x-axis above). In brief, teachers should aim for Quad D instruction.

  • Quad A – Acquisition
  • Quad B – Application
  • Quad C – Assimilation
  • Quad D – Adaptation

Here is tons more information on the Rigor/Relevance Framework. It is definitely something I’m planning to incorporate into my teaching as often as possible.

Model Schools

Several “model schools” (as identified by Mr. Daggett and the ICLE) presented at the conference, explaining how they achieve outstanding results year after year. Two schools stuck out in particular.

South Heights Elementary School – South Heights is located in Henderson, KY. The team that presented at the conference included Principal Rob Carroll, Assistant Principal Chris Powers, and several teachers.

Chris Powers presenting

There were so many things I loved during the presentation; I’d be here all day if I tried to list them all. Suffice it to say, this is a school community that truly cares about its students. One of the most striking things about South Heights is that even though it’s an elementary school, the faculty and staff focus on the child’s entire educational experience, from early childhood all the way through college. The teachers and administrators take their students on college visits – even the youngest students. Additionally, the beginning of every school is kicked off with a Home Visitation Blitz. Every student gets a home visit from his or her teacher, allowing the teachers to see where the students come from. If you’re on Twitter, I’d definitely recommend following Rob Carroll. His Twitter is full of inspiration and positivity, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to meet him and his staff.

Keysor Elementary School – Keysor Elementary is located in Kirkwood, MO. The Principal of Keysor is Dr. Brian Painter. Dr. Painter presented alone at the session I attended, because he’d sent his staff to attend other presentations. When he finished speaking, I was full of ideas and inspiration. One of my favorite things Dr. Painter mentioned was the Keysor Cub program, which focuses on 3-5 year olds. Bringing these students into the school at such a young age helps them establish a sense of belonging and a sense of ownership over their educations. Keysor also places significant emphasis on teaching the whole child, something which simply cannot be overlooked. It’s also interesting to me that Keysor purposefully maintains social media profiles, in the interest of staying relevant as well as controlling the messages they send. Their Facebook page is a perfect example of a school interacting with parents and the community via social media, and forging relationships as a result.

A slide from Brian Painter's presentation

This photo may very well sum up the most important thing I took away from Dr. Painter’s presentation. It is so important that we remember that while data and test scores and line graphs are important, we are charged with teaching children, and we have the incredibly important job of helping them develop, not just academically, but emotionally, socially, and creatively as well. Dr. Painter’s presentation was inspiring and informative, and I look forward to learning more from him via his Twitter feed.

Final Thoughts

I’m so lucky to have attended the 22nd Annual Model Schools Conference. It allowed me to grow as a professional and I look forward to implementing the new practices that I picked up while in attendance. I have to add, too… it was very nice to note that my school has lots in common with the model schools that presented. It might not be too long before we’ll be the ones giving the presentations!

*Please note that while the reflections in this blog entry are my own, the information regarding the ICLE, the Daggett System for Effective Instruction, and the Rigor and Relevance Framework is all referenced from Leadered. If you’re interested in any of the above strategies or methods, please visit them.

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