Chicago Summit on the District Role in Birth–3rd Efforts

The Ounce of Prevention Fund is holding a summit on March 25-26, Excellence in the Early Grades: District Leadership SummitSenior district leaders (e.g., superintendents, assistant superintendents, and directors of instruction) are invited to attend. Registration, accommodations, and meals are provided free of charge. Libby Doggett and Steve Tozer will present as keynote speakers. I’ll be leading a session with a excellent roster of panelists on Developing Community Partnerships to Support Alignment. Other breakout sessions will cover, among other topics, Allocating Resources to Achieve Your Vision, Kindergarten as a Critical Link, and Supporting Effective Teaching through Instructional Leadership.

Check out the agenda at the link above and share with district leaders in your area!

Aligning for Success

To sustain student gains from high-quality early childhood programs, research shows that we must invest in aligning children’s educational experiences through 3rd grade to truly close the achievement gap before it starts.

Hosted in partnership with the Urban Education Institute, Excellence in the Early Grades will highlight innovative alignment models and district-level policy and practice designed to achieve better student outcomes. With in-depth seminars and opportunities to network with other committed local leaders, attendees will leave with inspiring new ideas for approaching this critical work in their own district. The Summit will bring together district education leaders, including superintendents, assistant superintendents and school board members.

The District Leadership Summit is an outgrowth of the Birth-to-College Collaborative funded by the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Lefkofsky Family Foundation, and the Foundation for Child Development.

Announcing: New Early Educators Leadership Institute in Massachusetts

The Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) is sponsoring Getting It Right for Children: Early Educators Leadership Institute, a series of four full-day workshops that begins in late February. The EEC has contracted with Early Childhood Associates to offer the Institute. The Institute will feature prominent national and state early learning leaders, including:

  • Albert Wat (National Governors Association)
  • Valora Washington (The CAYL Institute)
  • Amy O’Leary (Strategies for Children)
  • Saeyun Lee (Massachusetts Department of Higher Education)
  • Kristie Kauerz (University of Washington)
  • Gail Joseph (University of Washington)

I’m working with ECA’s planning team and will be presenting at the Institute as well. The Institute will convene over 100 educational leaders for workshops that include presentations, case studies, interactive discussions, and small group work. Participants are asked to attend all four workshops:

  • February 27 at Clark University
  • March 20 at Clark University
  • April 10 at the Southbridge Hotel and Conference Center
  • May 1 at the Southbridge Hotel and Conference Center

See the Early Educators Leadership Brochure 2015 for additional information. Use this link to submit your online application.

Hope you and leaders from your community can make it. The Institute promises to be an excellent opportunity for learning and exchange.

Not To Be Missed: Chris Martes in Commonwealth Magazine

Don’t miss the recent article in Commonwealth Magazine by Chris Martes, president and CEO of Strategies for Children: “A Chance to Lead on Early Education.” As Martes says,

From the White House to business boardrooms to the offices of scores of Republican and Democratic mayors, governors, and members of Congress, we’re seeing historic momentum on expanding and improving preschool programs.

As the country moves forward, Massachusetts has a chance to lead. Standing on the shoulders of Eliot and other pioneers, the Commonwealth is poised to build a preschool system whose graduates will grow up to transform our families, workplaces, and communities.

Why Some Teams Are Smarter Than Others?

Are some teams “smarter” than others? Researchers at MIT and Carnegie Mellon say yes. They have found three characteristics that distinguish smarter teams. You may be surprised by the results, which make a strong case for well-structured, interactive meetings guided by discussion protocols that create a level playing field for rich conversations.

Executive Function & 21st Century Skills

Lisa Kuh, Somerville’s Director of Early Education, has started the Somerville Early Education blog. For a good introduction and number of helpful links, see two posts Lisa wrote on Executive Function & 21st Century Skills:

Executive Function & 21st Century Skills – Part 1: Making Choices and Environmental Design 

Executive Function Part 2: Tools to Support Choice Making & Self-Regulation

In Lisa’s words:

This post is the first in a series about how children move through environments and the role of self-directed activity, classroom schedules and room arrangement, and what “counts” as choice time in school and at home. 

A young child moves across the room to put away her supply box.  For some of us a simple task. For the young child, a potential obstacle course where many things can happen along the way – an accidental bump of a peer turns into a conflict; a joyful conversation with a friend ensues; difficulty figuring out how to get from one side of the room to another during a high traffic time.  We take for granted what goes into getting from one place to the next.  But young children need time and modeling to make these excursions successful and also develop important cognitive and motor abilities while doing so.

Executive function skills support planning, completing and evaluating tasks, and oversee communication exchanges (Cognitive Connections – Sarah Ward, FAQ). Executive function is like the air traffic control system for the body and mind (The Art of Control). It helps us to understand a series of steps such as: come into the classroom, put my things away, wash hands, go to the rug – and to make choices about how to approach tasks.  Many children need previewing and practice for their executive function systems to work efficiently and for some children, this must be an important part of their day – and not just with arrival and clean up routines.

Education Week and the New America Foundation On the Primary Years Agenda

For external perspectives on “The Primary Years Agenda: Strategies to Guide District Action,” see:

Happy Holidays!