Day One of Leaders To Learn From 2019 — An Education Week Annual Event
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Day One of Leaders To Learn From 2019 — An Education Week Annual Event

– [Matthew] Please, we’re about to begin. (attendees chattering) If I may, please rise for the singing of the National Anthem. Judy LoBianco, member of the class of 2018 Leaders to Learn From
and the Pre-K Supervisor of Livingston public schools,
in Livingston, New Jersey, will kick off your leadership
experience this year. ♪ Oh, say can you see ♪ ♪ By the dawn’s early light ♪ ♪ What so proudly we hailed ♪ ♪ At the twilight’s last gleaming ♪ ♪ Whose broad stripes and bright stars ♪ ♪ Through the perilous fight ♪ ♪ O’er the ramparts we watched ♪ ♪ Were so gallantly streaming ♪ ♪ And the rocket’s red glare ♪ ♪ The bombs bursting in air ♪ ♪ Gave proof through the night ♪ ♪ That our flag was still there. ♪ ♪ Oh, say does that
star-spangled banner yet wave ♪ ♪ For the land of the free ♪ ♪ And the home of the brave ♪ ♪ (audience applause) ♪ – (chuckles) Mic drop. That was beautiful, thank you Judy. Ladies and Judy, (laughs)
ladies and gentlemen, Judy LoBianco, let’s give her
another round of applause. (all applauding) I would kill to be able
to sing like that, my god. So a big resounding thank
you, Judy, thank you so much. You’ll get a chance to learn so much more about the incredible work that she’s doing to support student wellness later today. But before we kick off, what we believe is gonna be a unique and an immersive experience for you and one we hope is already begun, if I can refer back to this morning’s Thought Leadership Exchange, I’d love to give a quick round of applause to all of our Thought
Leadership Exchange speakers. That’s Dr. Doug Reeves.
(all applauding) Dr. Lucy Caulkins,
(all applauding) our team of relationship builders, that’s Kelly Spivey, Julie, pardon me, Nancy Wagner and Julie Ramos,
and, of course Mike Miley, thank you so much for
your work this morning on today’s Thought Leadership Exchange. I’ll be your cruise director for the rest of the next two days. My name is Matthew
Cibellis, I’m the Director of Live and Virtual Events
here at Education Week. And before we get started, I’ve got a little few housekeeping notes that you may find useful. The first one is your Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi is at Hyatt_meeting. So I want everyone to do this,
if anyone’s have any trouble, just let me know we were having
a little trouble getting on, so you just talk to me or
the folks at the ridge desk and we can help you. Your pass code will be Leader2019, that’s capital L, and then
singular, not plural, 2019. Throughout the day, you’ll
have the opportunity to improve your live event experience here and the quality of this event
by giving us your feedback. Please do so by going to the URL you see on this screen here, which is,
2019Eval. We also wanna encourage
you to use the hashtag, you see that at the
bottom of the screen here, it’ll be at the top of the screen in most of the presentations today. We hope that you’ll go to your phones, tell everybody what you’re doing and tell everybody the great lessons that these leaders are bringing. At the Instagram page,
we have a Ed Week events, we’ll be doing a series of photos where you’ll see some of our
stories and highlights there. Some of them, well, most of
them will have you guys in them so I wanna encourage you guys
to follow that along as well. We have an exciting agenda today, as you’ll see on the screen,
that is full of learning and networking that will be
here both in this ballroom and at the Potomac rooms across the hall. It’ll also be at your networking events that will happen throughout, including upstairs this evening, during your all-attendee
reception today at 5:15, in the Chesapeake View Room, which has a great view, be sure to go. For audience members that are watching on the
live stream, thank you. For the live stream, I hope
you enjoy your day as well, you’ll be taking an interesting sessions and other speaking engagements
that we’ve queued up for you when we’re not here in the ballroom. As you’ve already seen, there
is a digital networking guide, that is at, you’ll see the headshots
and the by, pardon me, headshots and titles of those
who are here in attendance. Some of the people who are there, you will see our former Leaders
to Learn From themselves, they’re are leader alumni. Some of those folks
are here with us today. If you are an ED Week leader,
Leaders to Learn From Alumni, would you please stand so we can recognize your contributions? If everyone would join me, please, (all applauding)
in welcoming back our alumni. So during our networking breaks, you’re gonna have the opportunity to connect with some of these folks. And later today at 4:30, where
you’re gonna have the chance to hear from one of our
alumni on his latest project, which is bringing equity to
New York City public schools. But before we dive deeply into the content of this day with you, I’d like to now take a
moment to thank our sponsors. Without the support of
these organizations, this event, and so many
other Ed Week events that hopefully you’ve participated in, whether they’ve been
our live online summits, or our webinars, we hope that you’ve been
able to experience those. It’s because of sponsors like these that we’re excited to bring
their industry perspectives to you guys here over the next two days. When I call it your organization’s name, if you could just stand so we know where you are in
the room, that’d be great. Today’s leaders sponsor is Scholastic. (audience applause)
Today’s diamond sponsors, over there, today’s
diamond sponsors include Houghton Mifflin
Harcourt, and Renaissance. (audience applause) We’d also like to offer a special thanks to Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, which is our first ever
scholarship sponsor. We’re really excited about this. At this year’s event, some
of you in this room today are the recipients of that generosity. Today’s gold sponsors, actually today and
tomorrow’s gold sponsors, are American Reading Company.
(audience applause) Canvas. Thanks, Canvas. Committee for Children.
(audience applause) Heinemann, behind me folks
here, thank you very much. (audience applause) And the New York City Leadership Academy. (audience applause) Today and tomorrow’s live
stream sponsor is Solution Tree. Everyone on the livestream,
please applaud, nicely done. Our Alumni Breakfast sponsor
today was Benchmark Education. (audience applause)
Thank you Benchmark. Our event sponsors for the
next two days are Avid, (audience applause) First,
(audience applause) and Rosetta Stone Education.
(audience applause) I’d also like to take a moment to thank several of our returning leaders and diamond sponsors. We wanna give special thanks
to Scholastic Education, Houghton Mifflin
Harcourt, and Renaissance, who have supported this
important work for many years. Today’s event is simply not
possible without these sponsors so thank you so much. I’d also like to bring your attention to this year’s bookstore and book signing. Dr. Lucy Caulkins, who some of you had the opportunity to meet at today’s Thought Leadership Exchange, will be signing her books at this afternoon’s networking reception, which will be at three o’clock
located outside these doors, outside these ballroom doors. If you have the chance during lunch, you may have seen their tables set up and they’ll be selling books throughout. And now I have the distinct opportunity, I’m super stoked about this, to reintroduce you to a very special guest who will welcome all of the
2019 leaders to you today. This 20-year education veteran served as Superintendent of
Indianapolis Public Schools, beginning in 2013, where he employed transformational efforts to drive turnaround for
low-performing schools and raise the district’s
graduation rate in the process, by 15 percentage points. During his tenure graduation rates for black and Hispanic students surpassed the district
average and black students also surpassed the state average. He’s also responsible for designing a student-based
budgeting process enabling schools to innovate
in order to meet the needs for their students while
improving transparency and equity around the distribution
of resources system-wide. Before his time in Indiana, he worked at the district
level in Durham Public Schools. And at the building level
in Guilford County Schools, in North Carolina. And in 2016, Education Week,
named him one of our honorees for Leaders to Learn From for his district charter partnerships. If everyone would please
join me in welcoming back to the Leaders to Learn From stage, the new Chancellor of
Washington DC’s public schools, Dr. Lewis Ferebee.
(audience applause) (upbeat electronic music) – Good afternoon.
– Good afternoon. – I have the distinct honor
of welcoming you today to the Washington area. I am the proud Chancellor for the District of
Columbia Public Schools and very pleased that
I have the opportunity to serve a community that
has invested tremendously in early childhood education, investments in mental health supports, and we’re working to ensure that all of our students
are prepared for college and career when they graduate. As I think about that work, and
as I think about being alum, as you come before this group, you wanna say that your
class is the best class. But I’m not here to share that with you, in fact, the class continue to get better. And if you haven’t, they get some of the best headshot photos, so hold on to your headshots
as much as you can. (audience laughs) But in seriousness, this
is a great opportunity and has been for me, as you think about the bowl innovative work that’s happening across
our country in education, this experience represents the best, it represents this notion
that you can either win, or learn when you’re leading
in transformational ways, or you can do both. And this is an opportunity, I think, to lift up what’s happening
across our nation, and also recognize the work but also this is a learning experience. And so the takeaway I would encourage all of our honorees
today, the Class of 2019, is to soak this up, to build a
relationship with your class, and to ensure that this is not just an opportunity recognition, but also a opportunity to learn as well. It’s my pleasure, again, to congratulate and welcome to the Washington
area Class of 2019. We wish you the best
and without further ado, I am going to introduce to
you our honorees, thank you. (audience applause)
(mellow music) – My primary goal for doing
this work is to ensure that 12,000 scholars have real options. – I really believe that
changing kids’ opportunity to become autonomous, engaged, caring thinkers, could change everything. – It’s gotta come from the heart, it’s gotta be something
where you really feel that this is your calling. – I believe that all of
our students can learn, no matter what they’ve come
with, they can all win. – That was for me.
(kids laughing) – Good morning everybody, and welcome to the 2019 live edition of Education Week’s Leaders to Learn From. My name is Lesli Maxwell, I’m an Assistant Managing
Editor at Education Week, and I’m the Executive Project Editor of Leaders to Learn From, and we’re so happy to
have all of you here. This is our seventh year of
showcasing some of the best and brightest K-12
leadership in the country. When we started Leaders
to Learn From in 2012, I then was a reporter, and I wrote some of the
first leader profiles. And now I’m standing here in my fifth year as the Project Editor of this
work, and we are so proud of our ability to elevate the
great stories in education, the things that are working, and the well-deserved recognition that you and your
colleagues are entitled to. In this short span of years, we have profiled nearly
100 district leaders from an incredibly diverse
array of schools, and districts, and communities, around the country. We’ve seen many of these folks, some of them here in the room with us, you just met Dr. Ferebee who’ve moved on to even higher
profile jobs and positions, and they have found some
well-deserved recognition for their work in the public eye. But what has been a constant
and consistent thread across the dozens of leaders
whose work we have elevated, is their uncompromising
commitment to the students, the parents, the educators
and communities they serve. And this year’s class of leaders lives up to that tradition, and then some. As our newsroom began
our work of identifying and vetting the leaders who eventually became our 2019 class, a potent theme emerged, equity. Every single one of these leaders is actively working to knock down barriers that get in the way of all
kids in their communities from having rich opportunities to learn. And by now, I hope you’ve
read their stories, right, you’ve consumed those riveting profiles. So you know a little bit
about what drives them, you know about some of the real
headway that they’re making on behalf of students
in their communities, but now they are here
for the next two days. They are here with us to meet all of you, to converse and debate with
you, to share their lessons, their insights, their
strategies and solutions that you can take back to
your schools and districts. And we encourage all of you to engage in discussions with the leaders and with your colleagues who are here and to take full advantage
of this intimate setting that we have and the
sessions that we’ve created, that give you opportunities
to talk and discuss and get your questions answered. The next two days are
all about celebrating and learning from the extraordinary work that these educators are doing every day. And now, to help us all get in a mindset for tackling some big critical questions over the next two days,
I’m gonna share something that Superintendent Roberto Padilla, our leader from Newburgh, New York, told Education Week
reporter Darrelle Burnett, in one of their interviews. He said, “I’m convinced “that you can’t change what
you’re willing to tolerate. “No one here was really
surprised about the inequities “that exists in our school
district, they know. “So it begs the question, what
are we going to do about it?” Wow, that is a powerful
challenge to all of us. And so now I invite you to
settle in and soak in the wisdom, the lessons, maybe some
vulnerable moments about failure, from these remarkable educators. But first, to tell us
all a little bit more about why Education Week started this singular
special report and event, it’s my honor to introduce our President and CEO, Michelle Givens. (audience applause) – Good morning, again. So I can tell you in one word, why we created this special
report and this event, and that word is people, its people. K-12 education is a
people-centered expedition. Educators like you are teaching almost 60
million young people. If you’re a teacher, you’ve got more than 3.5
million teacher colleagues. And the last time I checked, about 85% of that school district budget is devoted to people. The ways that we identify and develop our most
important asset, our people, is strongly connected to our ability to improve student learning
and instructional practice. At Education Week, our job is
to inspire and empower you. We believe an equitable and an excellent education
is possible for all students, and we help you make it a reality. How do we do that? We do that by bringing together
our independent reporting, our high-impact research
and diverse perspectives and voices, from all across the country. We explore the successes and
the struggles in schools, all while connecting you to others working to improve the field, which brings me to this
year’s nine leaders, who you are, I promise you, about to meet. We are here to celebrate, and to take lessons from some of the best and the brightest school district leaders in these United States. These leaders, and their work, are not only an impressive
testament to their capacity for supporting students,
families and community, but also a powerful counter to the sometimes negative narrative about our nation’s public schools. These nine people will definitely
inspire and empower you. Added together with our
exciting keynote speakers, our interactive sessions
and networking breaks, you are, get ready, about
to drink in 13 hours of real world PD, real world PD. We will take you beyond
your areas of expertise, we will challenge your thinking
and yes, the status quo, and we will be honest with you about what worked and didn’t, and why. Gathering people together
in one place like this is so important. This, this is the glue that creates and keeps our people networks together. And unexpected things tend to happen when you’re live and in person. Right, Matthew? (laughs) But here’s what I mean by that,
you never know who knows who and who might be just the
resource you are looking for, or maybe you didn’t know you
needed to be looking for. These two days are really
special opportunity for you to recharge your
network, find solutions, uncover opportunities, get
energized, get energized. Before I introduce our first
2019 leader to learn from, I have a quote, and I will
attribute it to all Oliver well, excuse me, Oliver Wendell Holmes. And he said, “A mind that is
stretched by a new experience “can never go back to its old dimensions.” Are you ready to meet this year’s 2019 Leaders to Learn From? (audience applause)
Let’s do it, let’s do it. Enough of the blah,
blah, let’s get into it. It’s fitting, it’s fitting
that we’re starting the day by meeting a leader who has a
profound respect for teachers and their work with
students in the classroom. We’ll see how close
collaborations among teachers with the supportive guidance
of an experienced coach, is leading to creative math instruction, engaged students and
strong math performance. As this leader puts it, giving her rural students
access to excellent and engaging math instruction
is a social justice issue. (uplifting music) – Pocahontas County is one
of the most rural counties east of the Mississippi. It’s over 70% State and National Forest. There are huge pipeline
problems in West Virginia. Right now, around 40% of the classes in grade seven through 11 are taught by uncertified
or under-certified people. – [Woman] Oh, look at the
bells over those houses. – So you have to wonder in that setting, are you really providing free and equal education to
everybody (chuckles) if some people are expected
to learn mathematics, from someone else who doesn’t
necessarily know mathematics? From the first, maybe two years, I had two years into teaching math, I really started watching
kind of the horizon of how schools do or don’t
support teachers to get better and how odd it is that
teaching and learning is such a community exercise, but there really isn’t community among educators in secondary math. So I’ve been kind of building
my own change theory for, eight years or so.
– You think yes? I mean, we’re just
developing this right now, so don’t you guys think yes? – It seems cruel, otherwise.
– That’d be super weird, yeah. The two main things that
I’m up to are either working with individual teachers
in their classrooms. So I really believe in embedded
professional development. So either I’m modeling a lesson that we’re trying to work on
together, or the teacher is, and either way, we’re
giving each other feedback on the same set of questions, or, I’m organizing and orchestrating
teachers to work together. Architect’s direction
here, the pre-number two. – Like feel good about this problem, you better claim it as the architect, like, I’m gonna be the architect. – So maybe this actually
goes along, like– – You think everything is
fine and you’re on your way to be a teacher now and you’re in charge for the rest of your
career in your classroom. And it wasn’t so much that
I’m not in charge any more, but it’s so nice to have someone to emulate and to look up to. Even as a teacher, I still
want to be a learner. – Pretty traditional in a coaching model that a coach observes, we try to ensure that at least as often
teachers are observing. Even if what I’m asking you to
do feel super awkward today, I want you to just roll with it, okay? And then at the end, we’ll
talk about what worked, what didn’t and what kind of changes you guys think we should make before we kind of finalize
this, that sound okay? (students chattering) – Great, ’cause it’s hard to keep track of all that algebra in your head. – So compared to kind
of working as a group with no structure at all, what was better about
using these role cards, and what was worse? – The math program before Joanna started implementing some of
the ideas that she has, we were in rows, we ran
rows, here’s the math book, we start at chapter one, a
teacher would get up in front, they would lecture, this
is how you do the problems, and then the kids would sit and work on problems or
have them for homework. – See, when you’re in rows, you’re kind of in your own bubble. If you do get stuck on a
problem, you’re kind of scared ’cause you don’t wanna ask your teacher. Each of you is going to
have a problem eventually, and it’s slowing down the process. – Okay, so go ahead and start navigating– – You think of whatever number and you’d have to divide
it by 250-something. – I truly don’t know if I’d
still be a teacher today if it wasn’t because of Joanna,
it’s really nice to know that you have someone working so hard, and who truly cares about
you, and your classroom, cares about your kids, but also
cares about you as a person and make sure that
you’re okay in your job. It’s important that teachers
are happy in their jobs so that they continue and want to spread the love of
learning to their kids, I think that’s super important, and she certainly spreads
the love of learning to all of us as teachers. – That’s what you say,
you be real, that’s fine, we’re not judging each other today, okay? I miss teaching on a daily basis myself. And it would be really cool to think of a new version of teachers that isn’t just a teacher, but is this hybrid teacher-leader, doing the work in their own classroom, and then letting us be
a little bit creative about how to get them
outside that classroom and better network to other people. In so doing, I think we can
retain way more really motivated and driven people in the
profession of teaching, and also allow them to grow
one another as they learn. (audience applause) – Hi, my name is Sarah Schwartz, and I’m a reporter with Education Week. And I’m here with Joanna Burt-Kinderman, the math instructional coach in Pocahontas County
Schools in West Virginia. So Joanna and I only
have about six minutes to share with you some of the highlights of her work here today, but don’t worry, because you’ll have some
time to speak with her later, during her Follow the
Leader breakout session. So Joanna, as an instructional coach, a lot of your work is focused
on working with teachers to improve classroom instruction. But teachers can sometimes
be wary of coaches or of anything where it seems like there are people
coming into their classroom and telling them what to do. And I know that you have really tried to avoid those kind of prescriptive
solutions in your work, so can you tell us a little
bit about how you’ve developed that teacher buy-in and why it’s important to have teachers leading
this kind of change? – Absolutely. And I’d just start with, it’s been said better
than I earlier today, that buy-in is, in and of itself, a myth. If we think about what, as leaders, we want learning to look like, the first adjectives that
come to mind are not fidelity, uniformity, regularity. And so, when we think about
our teachers as learners, these folks who we want to continue to improve in their own
practice, we need to make sure that that’s not what we’re asking of them, we need to be asking of them
to wonder, to hypothesize, to test their theories. And so, I didn’t start this
work coming in and saying, “Let me show you how I teach,” even though I’m a pretty
good teacher, right? I started this work by
coming in smoothie in hand, and saying what really bugs you? If we want all students college-and-career ready in mathematics, why aren’t we achieving that yet, and why, to each of those sub reasons, are each of those things happening? Until we have such a
picture of the problems of our own workflow, that
were able to pick one that we feel really hungry to solve. And that doesn’t look the
same for every learner, even though those learners are teachers. And we have to respect that, follow that and join that community. So while I love this recognition,
I’m so humbled by it, this project and this
work is ours, not mine. – So you talked about
finding a problem first and sort of starting there. And I know that the process
that you’ve developed for actually improving
classroom instruction is really iterative in that way. Can you tell us a little
bit about why it’s important to be doing that work as a community, and why it’s sometimes a good
idea to just let go of things that teachers say, this
just isn’t working for me? – Absolutely. So I think first and foremost, that teachers have an
aptitude, and I’m a teacher I would agree with this, to
be pretty sure themselves. They care deeply about what they’re doing and so they can get themselves in a position of sort of
righteous defensiveness, that’s not a learning position, it’s not a community position. And so instead of like,
what idea do you love, how do you like to run your
class, what are your solutions, if we instead start with our problems, and define what outcome we want, and then sort of test these
ideas and treat them as tests, and come back and report
on those things together, the ideas generated from one another, also become the mechanism for sharing. And so one teacher’s idea gets better in partnership with another teacher. And that’s also the mechanism
for sharing that idea or that way of practicing their art. – And so given what you know about the importance of teacher voice, how can school and district leaders think really systematically about including teachers
in decision-making, even in the classroom or in other places, across schools and districts? – I think that’s such an
important question, and it’s work that I’m just kind of
branching into right now. And I would say that first and foremost, teachers have to be invited into defining the problem itself. And if we don’t give them that invitation, if we then say, the problem is your students aren’t talking one another. While that may be true,
you don’t have an immediacy of something that that
teacher wants to work on. And so, from the very ground
level, it’s really important that teachers are deeply engaged in their own wondering in
their own hypothesizing. And I would believe that
particular to secondary math, which is where most of this work lives, we do have wonderful administrators across the state of West
Virginia and across this country, but most of them are not
secondary math experts. And so as administrators, as leaders, you really need those very best teachers to be invited into the room to understand those problems of practice, and to understand what solutions teachers have the most appetite to adopt. There are tons and tons of ways to make teaching and learning better. And that doesn’t really matter,
we often see these rankings, what matters is what is a
teacher willing to try on, try out and improve? – You talked about getting
those groups of teachers into the room and sort of sharing what they think the problem is. So I know that you’ve
recently been working with West Virginia University
on an NSF-funded project, so you sort of lay the foundation for a statewide master teacher network. Can you tell us just a
little bit about that work and why it’s so important in
West Virginia, specifically? – Absolutely. So I certainly wanna give
a shout out here to WVU and to Dr. Matt Campbell. Usually research enters practice
with a prescribed solution, and that’s not a posture that’s best for our most creative engaged teachers. I work with awesome teachers,
they’re not very interested in someone else coming in and saying, “This is how you ought to do things,” but when we invite someone into say, “Why is what we’re doing working? “We know it is, we see our
test scores on the rise, “we see that we’re retaining teachers, “we see teachers engage
together in this process.” But that’s a different
role for research to have, and an interesting one. And so we’re working with just a capacity-building
proposal right now and getting interest from around the state to kind of define what would it look like if we could identify math
teachers who are the best, according to their peers, teach them some improvement science, about how to do improvement
work themselves, and then network those ideas that get generated through that process, and through that sharing, so that we can actually
have this new resource that’s embedded in our state,
connected between our state so that our best are getting better, and as they’re getting better, they’re lifting up
everyone else behind them. – Well, thank you so much. Unfortunately, that’s all the
time that we have up here. But I just wanna ask everyone to join me in giving a big
round of applause for Joanna, thank you so much for sharing with us. (audience applause) – “How do you improve instruction? “How do you help teachers
reach their fullest potential “in the art of teaching? “If you’re trying to come in and say, “‘I have a better way
to teach than you do,’ “you’re going to fail,” says math instructional
coach, Joanna Burt-Kinderman. From her perspective, teaching
math should empower teachers and students alike. Joanna, please join me here at the podium. (audience applause) It’s now my pleasure
to welcome to the stage Staff Writer Evie Blad, and Angela Ward. (mic static buzzes) A little dramatic flair there.
(audience applause) And Angela Ward, who comes to us from the Austin, Texas,
Independent School District. – Hi, everyone. We just wanted you to know we’re here, this how we’re gonna come into every room. I had the privilege of profiling Angela and talking to a lot of
people who work with her. And something that every
teacher I spoke with, and every person I spoke with said, was that Angela has read every book about equity that has ever been written, and that anytime they ask her a question she cites someone’s thoughts on the issue. Another thing, I asked people I said, “Well, what do you wanna
know about Angela’s work? “What should I say?” And they said, “Well, I just
wanna know what else she does “because I couldn’t
even write it all down.” This woman is doing so much in so many areas of the district. And one thing that Angela did is she became Dr. Angela Ward this week, and I think we should give
her a round of applause. (audience applause)
(Angela laughs) I think it’s pretty awesome that while you’re helping
other people learn that you’ve been growing
and doing that hard work. – Yes, thank you. – We’ve got a real equity theme here, and something that I really
wanna talk to Angela about is culturally-responsive teaching, which is something that
a lot of teachers said, one teacher even cried, teared up a little in our phone call, she said, “I came to Angela “and felt like I didn’t understand this. “And instead of making me feel
defensive, she gave me help.” And I think that’s pretty awesome. I also think
culturally-responsive teaching is something we talk about, and everyone thinks they
get it, maybe they don’t. So you wanna just talk
about what you mean by that, and why that’s important. – So for me,
culturally-responsive teaching starts first with who the teacher is. A teacher can’t become a
culturally-responsive teacher until they actually know who they are, what their values are,
what their biases are, what their beliefs are, and ultimately how that
impacts their worldview, and how that impacts the way that they support the students
in our school district. And it’s important that
a teacher understands that inside there’s a certain person, and then outward that
reflects what they do. And so we really focus on
cultural proficiency first, in order to get someone to be prepared to be culturally-responsive. And so once I know that I’m a teacher who comes from a particular background, where I’ve been raised in a bubble, and that bubble looks one way, and the students that I’m working with look completely different from me, I might be a white teacher
from a very white neighborhood, middle class, and many of our
students are black and brown, and they’re not necessarily from the same socio-economic backgrounds, as many of our teachers. And so we give teachers the space to have those conversations,
and to dig into who they are, in the context of our district-provided
professional learning. So we do it on the job, and
that’s very important to me, that we don’t require our staff to do Saturday professional learning, that we don’t require
them to stay after school, but can we provide substitutes, so they can have this conversation in the actual context
of their work every day. And so a culturally-responsive
teacher really leans into, I might not know everything I need to know about this student, but it’s
my responsibility as a teacher to get to know as much as
I can about the student, so that when it comes to math,
when it comes to science, I know a little bit about
them and their interests, and I can pique their interest
to learn a little bit more about something they may
not be as interested in. – And teachers might not always recognize the assumptions they make
coming into a classroom based on the background, right? – Absolutely, I find that when
we have these conversations, we’ll start with an image
and we’ll bring a concept to the professional learning session and we’ll hear people say, “I never thought about it that way, “I never really understood the plight “of a black woman raising a black child,” because I often use myself as an example. I talk about my children, I
talk about the perspective of being a black woman raising black boys in a predominantly white area, which is a very different thing that we don’t really talk about, we talk a lot about our lower
socio-economic students, but we don’t talk about this
students that are also black, and they’re not being raised
in lower socio-economic areas. Race does not matter when
it comes to economics, we receive the same impacts no matter how much money our parents make. And our black children are marginalized in many spaces across
socio-economic statuses, as well as our brown students. And then when you layer
another identity like LGBTQ on some of our students, and race, the outcomes are even more
detrimental to the students. And so we find ways to
use ourselves as examples, and invite staff to find their
stories and their narratives, and tell their narratives and think about how their worldview and their ways of engaging
in the world impact the ways that they support our children,
or not support our children. – And like many others districts, Austin has an achievement gap that breaks along racial lines. And I’m wondering if you
could talk a little bit about how your work connects to that, and how this work will help tackle that. – So there are many different ways that my work attacks the achievement gap. A few things, Austin’s D was looking
at, a couple of years ago, I think it was 2016, we looked at the high rate
of suspensions in pre-K. And overwhelmingly we were suspending a lot of black boys in pre-K. So we’re saying all the
black boys are bad, right? Well, no, that’s not the
case, they’re not all bad. And so one of the things that I did was lead a group of staff and teachers, teachers, staff, parents,
community members, and we had a dialogue over the course of that first semester, and made recommendations to our board, and we ended suspensions
for pre-K through two, and the state of Texas followed suit, and ended pre-K through three
suspensions for the state. So that’s one way that my work addresses the achievement gap because if we’re suspending
students in pre-K, we’re not even giving them an
opportunity to begin learning, let alone be in the classroom and learn. And so I also work very closely
with the Race Equity Council that is made up of some of
the same types of roles, parents, teachers,
principals, community members, and we tackle these issues, we have conversations around
discipline disparities, and we create areas of
focus, they really support the work that we’re doing
around restorative practices, and they give us input
as to how these things are impacting our students
in their different schools. We bring very critical
issues around gender identity and gender expression to the conversation and we create the safe space where we can have
critical dialogue around, and how do we address these
things when they show up and they impact our students negatively? – Right. And so I think it’s,
sorry, we’re out of time, but I think it’s really interesting, because what you’ve talked about in a couple of questions, really, is that you’re working on
both the personal level and the systemic level.
– Yes. – And it sounds like you can’t do one without the other, right?
– You can’t. – You can’t.
– Very important. – You have to both put students in the position where equity can happen, but also give teachers the tools they need to be a part of that.
– Yeah, absolutely. – Great. Well, I hope that you
all will take the time to speak with Dr. Ward later
in our Follow the Leader time. And thank you so much
for joining us on stage. (audience applause) – Don’t leave yet. Building a school environment, where all students and
staff feel better valued and supported, takes a
commitment to challenging work, even in a city like Austin, Texas, which sees itself as a
beacon of inclusivity. In a district where the
majority of students are black and Latino, the teaching core is overwhelmingly white. Angela’s core work involves
working closely with teachers and administrators to provide
professional development that helps them understand
how their own identities and experiences affect how they teach, interact with students, and lead schools. She’s an expert in fostering
difficult conversations, challenging norms, and
giving educators tools to be more culturally proficient in their classrooms and schools. When one of her fourth grade
teachers needs a reminder to give her students opportunities to address their differences, and to counter the negative messages they hear in broader society, she turns to the sticky
note on her classroom wall. And it’s a quote from Angela, which reads, “Every classroom is
culturally-responsive, but to whom?” Angela, please join me here at the podium. (audience applause) It’s now my pleasure
to welcome to the stage Education Week’s Associate
Editor Christina Samuels, and Superintendent Suzanne Lacey from Talladega County Schools
in Talladega, Alabama. (audience applause) – Good afternoon, my name
is Christina Samuels, and I’m an Associate
Editor with Education Week. And it’s such a pleasure to be here today with Dr. Suzanne Lacey, the Superintendent of Talladega schools to talk about the work that her district has
been doing in technology. Dr. Lacey, your district
emphasizes project-based learning with technology with your students. Could you talk a little
bit about what that means and why that’s been a good fit for you? – Yes, thank you. For the past 11 years, we
have been on a steady journey, an aggressive journey, to
integrate project-based learning powered by technology for all students in Talladega County Schools. We’ve talked a lot about equity today, and technology has really
evened the playing field for all of our kids. We have kids that live
in very remote areas that do not have access to technology, but we are working on universal access for technology in our county this year, we have a project called the
Rolling Study Hall Project, which has added Wi-Fi to school buses so that students have that
little extra bit of time to use their devices on the way to school and on their way home from school. – Wow, that is amazing. Again, especially for a group of students who may not already have that opportunity. Now, a lot of people may read what you’re doing with
technology and think, can we do this, do we have
the funding to do this, they have something, some special
sauce going on down there. But tell me what your strategies have been for making these big changes for your district cost-effective? – Well, when we set forth on
this journey 11 years ago, it was really a non-negotiable. We knew that we wanted
to equip our students with the technology
skills that they needed to be college-and-career ready. It was a very interesting
topic for our communities. It took a lot of partnerships,
a lot of input from others in order to make this happen. I laugh and say that we have washed walls instead of painted walls in
order to purchase the technology that we needed for our kids, but we couldn’t wait any longer. We were not receiving
a whole lot of funding from our state level so we had to invest, our board had to invest this,
at a local school level. We have spent 10s of
millions of dollars currently to invest in technology to
support student learning, and it was just the power of technology that energized the
curriculum for our kids. And when we got the taste of
it, there was no turning back. We have done everything in our power to continue this trajectory for learning and to enhance instruction
through the use of technology. – Talk with me a little bit, because I think what
you’re talking about there, is obviously an urgency
at your district level, and probably throughout the
district, to making this happen. For people who might not be aware, maybe they’re in more
suburban or urban areas, tell us a little bit about
what the urgency is there in the rural community that you serve. – Yes, the majority of our students never leave Talladega County during the time that they’re growing up. We wanted to be able to connect
our kids with the world, we wanted them to have the opportunity to see Washington DC virtually, or to see another country virtually. So we knew we couldn’t take field trips in order to do that, so through
the power of technology, we’re able to do projects and
connect with other students and other schools across
the world and the nation. And that was very important for us to be able to educate our
kids on a global perspective so that when they did
graduate from college, or high school rather,
and go on to college, they had a sense of what was out there beyond Talladega County. – And obviously, with the
work that you’re doing, this is something that requires
partnerships at all levels. Obviously, your school board has really been on board with that. Do you have any advice for others who might be wanting
to get that kind of buy-in from their boards to support
these kinds of initiatives? – Yes, at Talladega County Schools, we do love to take field trips. So one of our favorite activities is to load up on a bus or a plane, and go see what others are
doing across the nation as far as great instructional practices. Early on in our learning, we
visited states across the U.S. to see what others were doing
with the power of technology. I’m a firm believer in
seeing is believing, if I can see it, and I know we can do it, our board members are much the same way. They were very excited
about the opportunity that technology brought to our students, and it has been a wise investment and a very needed investment, one that we have no regrets in
doing over the last 11 years. – Your ties to the community are so deep, I wonder if you might be
able to talk a little bit about your experience in the district and maybe what that has
been able to do for you when you talk about some
of these initiatives, the fact that you have such
deep ties in the community. – I’ve worked in Talladega
county for 34 years. I started as a classroom
teacher a long time ago. And from that point, I’ve
done just about every job and now every job is Superintendent
in the school district. So I have taught our kids, I
have hired kids that I taught, and now parents that were my
students when I was teaching and a principal, are now the parents of children in our school district. So I think the credibility and the trust that has been built over time
through these relationships has really sustained an effort of change throughout Talladega County Schools. Change is a big word and a
big hairy process sometimes, but I will say that our change has been systemic and sustained, and because of those two factors, we’ve really been able to be forward with exceptional learning
opportunities for kids. And the relationships and the trust that has been built over
time in our communities has been a definite plus.
– Sure. Well, thank you so much. I wish that we had more time to talk here, but you will have more time to speak with your leaders
later in the event. Thank you, and a round of
applause for Dr. Lacey. (all applauding) – With creativity and persistence, Suzanne has turned her
rural Alabama districts into a haven of student
learning that’s enriched by robust educational technology
and project-based learning. She does this by doing some
key things effectively: leveraging limited resources,
empowering her teachers, involving students, and delivering an engaging
hands-on schooling experience that has helped improve achievement and school climate across the district. Suzanne, please join me at the podium. (audience applause) There’s my peeps. Okay, it’s now my pleasure to welcome Education Week
Staff Writer, Corey Mitchell, and Shomari Jones. Shomari is with the
Bellevue Public Schools in Bellevue, Washington.
(audience applause) – [Corey] Shomari, thanks for joining us all the way from across the country. How was the trip here?
– Yeah, it was terrible. (all laughing) I mean, all of my conferences
are in East Coast, and folks don’t understand that at eight o’clock
breakfast is 5:00 am for me, not cool people, like one
more hour would be amazing. – So we’re gonna be brutally honest today, as you can probably tell. So Shomari, tell me how you ensure that students are at
the center of your work? – So I’m one of those unique stories where I’m parachuted into
the education system, I didn’t go through
the traditional pathway of being a teacher. My immediate former job
was at the Urban League, I’ve done social justice
work for my entire career. The Bellevue School District realized that they needed to institute
these type of changes for our young people, they called me to step up to the plate. One thing I notice oftentimes, especially sitting in many
of our adult-led meetings is that we do not keep
students at the center. A lot of our adult
problems get in the away from us being able to make the difference that we need for those young people. And so what I do is we
have these table 10 cards, it’s really formal process when you’re sitting at the cabinet table, and you have to flip the card on its side in order to raise your hand
to say you have a question, where on my card is an image of a student, and one that I did not serve
as well as I could have. And this is inspiration for me. I’ve seen this kid he walked
this trajectory of success, until someone let him go. They did not allow him to
successfully accomplish what his mission was ’cause
they didn’t check in on him, they didn’t love him and
affirm him all the way through. And I think about that kid every day, he was only two classes
away from graduation people, right, and he didn’t come back. And I think about this cat every day, I keep a picture of him
in my wallet all the time. – Yeah. Can you paint a picture of
the Bellevue Schools for us? I mean, what did the students look like and what types of homes
where they come from? – Year, we’re a small,
medium or so district, 20,000 students, 29 school buildings. Presently, we’re sort of a unique flip to what you’d experience
across most of America. Our students are 42% Asian, 37% white, and the numbers go
drastically down from there, 3% black, 12% Hispanic Latino, and we’re a very affluent school district. And I found myself having a hard time engaging in some of the conversations that we’ve been having over the
course of the past two days, because my experience
is so vastly different, it’s upside down, we have wealth, and a substantial amount of it, we’re not closing buildings we’re building and not at a rapid enough
pace for the influx of people who are coming into our district. And because we’re Microsoft,
and Amazon, and Costco, and T-Mobile, and Boeing, where our students land on a
social-economic status ladder is much higher than many of
the students across our nation. – So that must make your work tough, because when you start
talking about equity, there’re perhaps some families who feel that opening up opportunities to others means that you’re going to
take something away from them. How do you connect with those families? – Yeah, I became hood famous and not like for the right reasons, like, yeah, somebody caught that, it might take a little bit
longer for some others, but I’m, like really famous really fast for instituting conversations
around race in my community, which were ones that folks
did not want to have, right, we have a lot of folks
who move into Bellevue, because of us being the
number one school district in the state, they want the
best for their students, they emigrate here, they
come with a lot of wealth, and the simple idea that we’re using race, as a determining factor
for how we spend money, for how we offer
opportunities to students, there are those who feel as though we’re going to take
something away from them. And so it’s a different equity. And it took me a minute, and if you ever have a
chance to read my article, it’s really fascinating, it
took me a minute to understand, truly understand, where some
of our immigrant communities were coming from, as they
were coming from countries that were a little bit more confining, not allowing them to have access
to the things they wanted. So that’s why they came. They came for the freedom that we offer and they feel as though if I
use race as a predictor, right, not use it as a predictor, if I understand that it’s a predictor, and I’m using my knowledge of that to identify how we’re
gonna institute programming and support for students, that we’re inevitably going to realize that we’re giving too much over here, we’re gonna yank it away from ’em. So the argument is really real, and there’s people coming to us from a heartfelt position of
a sense of potential loss. – Has your work allowed you
to identify any blind spots that you brought to the work?
– No, absolutely. I mean, I think that
we’re not really leading if we’re not growing along the way and making mistakes while doing it. We have a lot of blind spots, and one of the biggest blind spots that everyone in this room has, is bias. We come to the table with
this institutionalized bias, many of us it’s unconscious, but we have these perceived understandings of how society is set up,
and what we should be doing in order to service our students. And I’m telling you like, we cannot do this work without
the voice of our students and we cannot do this work without the voice of our families, the often left out of the conversation. Our elementary families are in it. By the time they get to high school, like they’ve been so
underserved themselves, their voices have been so
excluded from the conversation, they don’t feel like they
have agency to get in, right, and so we oftentimes don’t
have them at the table. – And then just the last point, how important is it to engage families? And do you even see, like disparity and inequity
in how we engage families? – Most definitely. I mean, I think the numbers of how we identify how our
students are underserved, are mirrored, if not even deeper, when it gets to our families, and who feels as though
they have agencies. I think about all my families
who moved to our country who speak a different language and where their entry
point is, or lack thereof, and what they look like. Oftentimes, those who have
the least amount of agency are black and brown students, and families are Native American families, are Pacific Islander families, we leave them out all the time, because they’re not showing up. That’s because you’re
not going to get them. Maybe they can’t come to you. – Well, unfortunately, we’re out of time, but I like for us to give a big round of applause to Shomari. (audience applause) – Thank you, sir.
– Thank you. – Shomari’s work elevates and addresses the needs of the small but
growing population of black, Latino, and Native American students in the affluent Bellevue
Washington School District, that, overall, has some
of the highest achievement in the state. His work to ensure that
the district’s low income, non-white students have the
same opportunities to succeed, as their more privileged peers, is done through direct
engagement with teachers, students, and parents. Shomari. – Yes, ma’am. – Come on down.
– All right. (audience applause)
Thank you, I love you, thank you. I appreciate that. We’re talking mess up here, I’m sorry.
– Yeah, we are. – I appreciate it.
(audience applause) (cars engine humming) – Newburgh is 60 miles
north of New York City, right along the beautiful Hudson River. This is a place where people have grit. There’s a part of the community that deals with a lot of poverty, and all the things that we know that come with poverty are true. Yet, we still see children come to school and give their very best
despite those challenges. And so our equity agenda
is very key to this work. As someone who has gone through
the Newburgh school system, when I graduated high school, I left and kind of didn’t turn back. And that was sort of
the thinking back then is that in order to be successful
here, you had to leave. It was always my dream
to be able to come back and lead this school district. My primary goal for doing this work is to ensure that 12,000
scholars have real options, whether they be the 20, or
so, CTE programs that we have, or the new early college
high school opportunity, or our P-TECH Program that allows our students
to go through high school and get their associates. We wanna be a place where every child experiences excellence. In our effort to collaborate
and be inclusive, we’re doubling down on the primary years. – Hi, Mr. (mutters) just
wanted to come to see us learn. – We noticed there were a
number of kids coming to us in kindergarten, who perhaps
weren’t ready for kindergarten. If we were to dramatically
impact that readiness, we had to start before pre-K. – Wow, can we count how
many books are in there? I started coming here to
storytime on the Newburgh Library, and they had a whole display
on the Newburgh Basics. A new mom, I had no idea what I was doing. I knew that my job was to be an educator, I didn’t know where to
start, how to start, so it was really overwhelming
with the influx information, but at the same time, it was kind of cool to have
the roadmap to follow for Sam. – There’s no grand level of education that’s needed on the parents’ end, it’s simply being mindful
about how you interact with your baby during the ages
of birth to three years old. And so if we’re very intentional, and we support our families, then imagine what that would do to a child entering into the school system where we take them and love them up. – That was for me.
(kids laughing) – We can’t just look at numbers, and then create a plan of action. There are times when that’s appropriate, but when we’re talking
about impacting students, it’s critical that we enlist their voices. What we did, very intentionally,
was to design a school that was non-traditional,
because the students that we saw struggling in our
school system were disengaged and had expressed not knowing
what success really felt like. – They may that their
priority to make sure I get what I need, it gives you extra step to see what you wanna do in life. ‘Cause without Wes, I wouldn’t
be where I’m at right now. – We’re not an inclusive
school district yet, where every child experiences excellence, but it’s where we wanna be. I wanna believe that there won’t be this mass exodus at
graduation, like it was for me, that people will, in true ways, say, “I can be a leader here,
I can contribute here,” and ultimately launch a renaissance here that it’s never seen.
(audience applause) – I’m Daarel Burnette, I’m a staff writer with Education Week, and I got the privilege to
interview Dr. Padilla here. So Dr. Padilla, in last couple years, when the conversation around
equity, most people talk about eradicating the effects
of poverty in the classroom, you actually kind of flipped
that model on its head and you say that school systems can actually be a cause of poverty. Explain that. – Thank you. First, I just wanna say I’m
extremely honored and humbled to receive this recognition, and thank you, a heartfelt
thank you, to Education Week, and all the sponsors, and the many friends that are here in the room
for recognizing the work that’s taking place in our community. Yeah, I’m a strong believer that school systems are
tremendously powerful, and the people who work in
them are extremely influential. And that intersection
between a teacher and a child cannot be overstated. That interaction is actually very key to a child being able to
graduate from the school system and have true options in life where they can make
decisions for themselves, or that intersection could perpetuate the school-to-prison pipeline. And if we were to just simply
peel the onion for a second, I’d asked you to consider one thing. I think it starts with our
mindset and our belief systems. Every single time you thought someone had potential, I’m convinced the change
happened with you. So give that some thought for a second. You simply believed
someone else had potential, and you actually were
the person most impacted. And the reason why I believe that is, you raised expectations, you were willing to
invest more of yourself, you were more flexible. Sadly, the opposite is true. Every single time an adult sees a child and doesn’t see his or her potential, they lower expectations, they’re
not as willing to invest, and we already know what the results are. – Oh. So what role does superintendents have in trying to create equity
within school districts? – So I think the role of the
superintendent is essential, and I think a strong superintendent leads with an audacious
vision and mission. So I’ll just give you a little insight. When I came on board in 2014, I talked to a lot of community
stakeholders, and families, and most importantly students. And when I tried to understand what the purpose of that
school district was, by way of what their
vision and mission was, I got, I don’t know, or I
got many different responses. And so I knew that was
a good starting place. And I also know that
if we’re going to lead in a way that’s extremely compelling, then we have to come up with
something that is powerful, and that’s what we did. And so in our community,
we have kindergarteners, all the way to the person
who works in the bodega who can speak to our vision and mission. And so in our community
it’s inspiring students to become tomorrow’s leaders
beyond the academy field. It’s very contextualized, right, it doesn’t sound like what you would find in other school systems, academy field is very
specific to Newburgh, it’s where our children graduate. And so notice I said inspiring students to become tomorrow’s leaders
beyond academy field. So when you break that down,
what we’re simply saying is, we need to love our scholars enough, like they were part of our own family, because what we want for our own families, is not simply to just get to graduation, that’s a minimal expectation,
it’s about loving them like they’re your family, and inspiring them to be a leader beyond the point they
leave your school system. – So one of the interesting
things about you is you came back to your
home school district. Describe your first couple years, what are some of the actions you took after you became the Superintendent of the district that you graduated from? – So it’s been a very
interesting roller coaster. – Okay (laughs).
– And I say that only because we’ve been engaged
in some real intensive work, work that has been abandoned
for quite some time. But what I noticed early on was that this community didn’t
wanna look at more data. They knew it, they wanted a leader, and they wanted to know
that they had the support that if we were going to
take a particular direction that we were all gonna do it together. And so we took a look at
how do we define equity? Similar to what I did around
establishing the vision is that we all have to
speak the same language, we all have to be moving
in the same direction. And it’s hard to do that if
you can’t name it the same way. And so that was some of our initial work, is to make sure there was
a common understanding, there was consistent language around what we meant when
we talked about equity. And then we started to draft goals, we established the board policy, we created an Office of Equity with a new senior level cabinet position because we felt it was essential that that voice be at the
table, and we were doing things that reflected what we put into our budget and into our strategic plan. – Well, unfortunately, we’re out of time, but let’s give Dr. Padilla a hand. (audience applause) – Plastered across classroom walls, and throughout the hallways of the administration building in the Newburgh New York School District, are two words, inclusive excellence. It’s a vision statement
and a call to action for a school district that, for too long, had left behind its students most in need. Roberto and his team have pressed ahead with concrete changes to
uproot inequities in schools and to weave equity into the fabric of the district’s daily
operations and decision-making. What that looks like on the ground are, moves to overhaul the budget, an administrative staff
to redirect resources into schools most in need,
and he’s begun the task of moving his most talented teachers to schools and classrooms
with students most in need. Dr. Padilla, come on down.
(audience applause) Thank you for loving your
students, I love that. (all applauding)

About James Carlton

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1 thought on “Day One of Leaders To Learn From 2019 — An Education Week Annual Event

  1. Hello I'm william from Colombia, I need to improve my english and I'd like to know how do I do to get it? Could you help me please?

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