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NSBA 2016 Highlights: 3 Sessions Not to Miss

Champion student achievement. Declare excellence in public education. Revolutionize board leadership. These might sound like political slogans (it’s that time of year). But they’re also vital goals for K12 school leaders and board members.

This weekend, more than 5,000 school board members, school administrators, and educators will descend on Boston for the 2016 National School Boards Association (NSBA) Annual Conference.

Billed as the conference for public education leaders, this year’s event features keynotes by news anchors and celebrities from Dan Rather to Robin Roberts. Plus, dozens of sessions with some of the nation’s top educators. School leaders and board members will compare ideas and best practices with a singular purpose: To use what they learn to make a difference in their districts back home.

The power of engagement
A point of emphasis at this year’s event is strengthening community engagement.

As school leaders and board members work to improve parent and family satisfaction in their communities, it’s increasingly obvious how difficult it is to make smart decisions in a vacuum. Parents and teachers and students want input into the choices that the nation’s school leaders make. They want and expect a say in how the school system conducts its business.

Mounting evidence suggests that giving community members a voice promotes support, uncovers critical areas of need, and improves overall parent and student satisfaction.

Given this thinking, here’s 3 sessions you simply don’t want to miss this weekend.

Don’t Be a School District of Choice—Be the Only Choice
When: Saturday, April 9 at 12 p.m.
Where: Study Hall 1

Every time a student bolts your district for a competitor, schools and teachers lose precious resources. Veteran education researcher Dr. Stephan Knobloch (formerly of Loudoun County Public Schools in Virginia), now director of research and advisory services at K12 Insight, demonstrates how school districts are using community engagement as a tool to win over families, students, and teachers. Are your enrollments declining because of school choice? Find out how a more responsive culture, with a focus on quality customer service, can help your district emerge as the only choice worth making.

How to Stop a School Crisis Before it Starts
When: Saturday, April 9 at 3 p.m.
Where: Study Hall 1

When parents send their children to school, the expectation is that they’ll be cared for, that they’ll be safe. But there is no surefire way to eliminate risk or the possibility of a crisis in your school community. What you need is to prepare. Imagine having an early-warning system to sniff out potential threats or crises before they’re able to spiral out of control. Former school district superintendent Dr. Gerald Dawkins explains how schools can lead the conversation, as opposed to reacting to the headlines.

Why Most School Surveys Suck–And Yours Don’t Have To
When: Sunday April 10 at 12 p.m.
Where: Study Hall 1

Every school district surveys its school community, but not all school surveys are created equal. Brass tacks: Most school surveys suck. Your schools can’t afford to collect data for data’s sake. Especially not now—with the Every Student Succeeds Act. You have to engage your community on issues outside the classroom, be it school climate or grit. In this session, Dr. Knobloch returns to the stage with veteran education researcher David Blaiklock to outline the perfect school survey. Make your next school survey a bona-fide difference-maker for your district, and learn the difference between asking questions, and engaging your community to drive reform.

These aren’t the only sessions you should attend at NSBA. Check back tomorrow for part two of our NSBA preview.

Want to get in the spirit ahead of time? Check out the video below with highlights from last year’s show.