Strand Descriptions

Wednesday Morning Presentation (8:15 to 9:30)

How Our Metaphors and Implicit Messages Transform Trauma, with Dave Melnick, NFI Vermont

Pressed to meet the increasing social-emotional challenges in our schools, leaders are often inundated with ideas, initiatives and interventions from a variety of sources and perspectives.  While there are many excellent program options, our metaphors and implicit messages can literally shape the relationships we forge with one another, and with our students and families. These metaphors and implied messages emerge in our work with students and are intimately related to what we believe, what we see, and how we interact.  They can either facilitate or block our ability to transform the painful effects of trauma.

Wednesday Educational Strands (9:45 am to 4:30 pm)

1. Transforming Trauma: How Schools Become Healing Places with Dave Melnick, NFI Vermont

Educators throughout Vermont are on the vanguard of changing, challenging, and creating school communities based on innovation, self-reflection, compassionate practices, and relational leadership.  This transformation of trauma—from helplessness to self-agency, from alienation to connection, and from fearfulness to courage—happens through deliberate and caring educational practices accessible to all schools.  In this workshop, we will examine the science behind trauma, trauma-transformation, resilience, and efforts towards student, workforce, and organizational change.  Since stress is a primary factor related to performance, we will also examine the critical role it plays in schools and how to assess, prevent and reduce it. 

Transforming Trauma requires the coordinated efforts of many people from diverse perspectives, all of whom have a critical role in facilitating change.  This workshop is appropriate for educators interested in improving both individual and school/district-wide practices. Workshop participants will learn:

  • The science of trauma impact.
  • Core strategies for preventing, assessing and reducing traumatic stress.
  • Core components of organizational change that enhance improved educational outcomes.
  • NFI’s Trauma-informed Schools Program Components (e.g. Safety and Security, Psychoeducation, Collaboration, Relational Health, Fostering Resilience and Hope, Reparative and Restorative Practices, and Deconstructing Power and Privilege).

2. Harnessing The Power of Social Media to Tell Your School Story & Own Your Professional Learning with Tony Sinanis, Hacking Leadership

When is the last time something amazing happened in your school or district? How many people knew about it? The work done in schools all across the globe is spectacular. Kids gather…learn…leave…and make the world we live in a better place. So…amazing things happen all the time. The idea of branding schools isn’t about selling kids or making false promises…it’s about promoting the amazing things happening for their entire community as you build relational trust and social capital. Telling the story of schools helps create a narrative that builds culture and gives everyone in your community an identity. Utilizing social media also eradicates all barriers, breaks you out of your silo and allows you the opportunity to connect with other educators from around the world to learn, grow and enhance your craft! At the end of this experience, participants will understand how to self-direct their professional learning using social media while also being the chief storyteller in their school/district to celebrate the success of students with parents and the community. FIND YOUR AUDIENCE…BUILD YOUR BRAND…CELEBRATE KIDS… & DRIVE YOUR OWN LEARNING!

3. Leaders Disrupting Poverty: Five Powerful School and Classroom Practices with Kathleen Budge, Boise State University

Any leader who has been “in the business” more than a handful of years has witnessed the sobering increase in the number of students living in poverty and knows his or her job has become far more challenging as a result. Kathleen will share insight and strategies from her co-authored best-selling ASCD books Disrupting Poverty: Five Powerful Classroom Practices and Turning High Poverty Schools into High Performing Schools. Participants will explore the Framework for Action which stemmed from studying high poverty, high performing schools and also delve into the five key aspects of school and classroom culture found to contribute to both student and school success. Leaders will emerge inspired and equipped with structures, strategies, and tools for disrupting poverty’s adverse influence of lives and learning.

4. A Restorative Approach to Building School Community and Responding to Harm with Annie O’Shaughnessy & Jon Kidde, Green Omega

While restorative practices originally came to schools as an alternative to punitive and exclusionary “zero tolerance” disciplinary policies, the approach has evolved and is being used effectively to transform learning communities by increasing connectedness, respect,  voice, and safety.

Over the last few years there has been a surge of interest around the use of restorative approaches nationally and in Vermont schools. Use of  the restorative approach in schools has been linked to “improved school climate, a greater sense of belonging, increased student attendance, improved test scores, increased graduation rates, reduced discipline referrals, reductions in violent and serious incidents, and decreases in punitive and exclusionary discipline responses .”(Kidde, 14)

In this seminar, participants will explore the what, why, and how of the restorative approach while examining and reflecting on their own relationship to restorative principles.  In addition, they will experience the restorative circle process themselves and begin to form an action plan on how to advance this work in their own schools.

Kidde, J., “Whole-School Restorative Approach Resource Guide.” 8 Dec. 2017, Accessed 12 Feb. 2019.

5. “One Size Fits All” Fits No One with Tara Trainor, Novak Educational Consulting

For centuries, schools worked well for those students who arrived ready to learn. When students struggled, they were often labeled as disabled – yet research is now clear that it’s not students who are disabled. Our systems are disabled. Universal Design for Learning (UDL) challenges education systems of the past by embracing student variability and eliminating barriers to learning. Creating systems of support for teachers is imperative to successful implementation of Universal Design for Learning (UDL). In this universally designed presentation, participants will have numerous options and choices to dive into the why, the what, and most importantly, the how of UDL, so all districts can eliminate systemic barriers and support and challenge all students academically, behaviorally, and social-emotionally. Participants will leave both inspired and prepared to execute next steps to implementing UDL in their schools, districts and classrooms.

6. Understanding Whiteness In & For a Multicultural World with Jonathan Miller-Lane, Middlebury College (limited to 14)

The challenge: In the United States, schools are places where the complex issues of race and identity are central to the ideas, people and events that are addressed throughout an academic year. Yet, White educators, who make up the majority of educators in Vermont, a state in which, with a few exceptions, the overwhelming majority of students are White, rarely feel that they have the training to effectively facilitate the complex discussions that include race as a central feature.  What has been missing is an open discussion among White educators about the impact of Whiteness on their work as teachers and community leaders. For White educators, the role and impact of Whiteness on their lives is, generally, a vast unexplored territory.

Focus Question that directs our work: “How do White educators, in schools and classrooms that are filled with an overwhelming majority of White students, facilitate effective discussions about race in a manner that enables the White students themselves to more deeply, humanely, and effectively engage the multicultural society that is the United States?”

In this session, in order to build a common vocabulary, we will examine the meaning of specific terms such as Whiteness, White Fragility, racial stamina and explore the distinctions between race, racism, bigotry and prejudice. A clear understanding of the distinctions among these words is essential. Then, we will engage in a shared inquiry around this prompt: “When did I first know that I was White?  What did being White mean to me then and what does it mean to me now? How does my understanding of myself as a White person show up in my work?”  We will engage the work of Robin D’Angelo, James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, Debby Irving, Bayo Akomolafe, Carol Anderson and others.

NOTE: To be clear, “Diversity Training” and “Implicit Bias” trainings are essential, important, necessary and insufficient. The intent of this work on Whiteness for White people is to suggest that an effort by White educators to explore the meaning and role of Whiteness in their lives is central to our efforts to ensure that our schools are dynamically inclusive spaces in which every student is welcome and in which every student can thrive.

7. 5 Choices® for Extraordinary Productivity with Michael Swenson, Franklin Covey/Leader in Me

The 5 Choices® to Extraordinary Productivity process measurably increases productivity of individuals, teams, and organizations. Participants make more selective, high-impact choices about where to invest their valuable time, attention, and energy.  The 5 Choices to Extraordinary Productivity combines timeless principles with current neuroscience research to help better manage decisions, attention, and energy to consistently make choices that give the greatest return on time.  Find deeper fulfillment and learn to apply a process that will dramatically increase your ability to achieve their highest priorities in the midst of unprecedented distractions.

8. A Systemic Approach for Improved Student Outcomes with Emma Louie & Nancy Hellen, AOE

Vermont Multi-tiered System of Supports (VTmtss) can help school leaders shift their thinking from “What is it about the student that is causing a performance issue or problem?” to include “What is it about school leaders’ interaction with students and the learning environment that should be altered so that all students succeed?” In this strand we will explore how school leaders can support the academic, behavioral and social/emotional needs of all students while integrating multiple initiatives. We will look at ways VTmtss promotes a culture of continuous improvement with effective decision making for excellence and equity. With a focus on systemic approach, participants will gain a better understanding of VTmtss for improved student outcomes.

9. We, the People? Reclaiming Schools as Workshops of Democracy with Ruha Benjamin, Princeton University

Schools are a microcosm of society. They are places where the next generation either comes alive with possibility or gets crushed by the weight of discouragement and discrimination. In many places, these two processes coexist: children living in parallel realities where some are nurtured and others are crushed. In this session, Ruha Benjamin will pair insights about social and emotional learning with data on inequity and justice which, taken together, provide educators with tools to create learning environments that can potentially transform our world.

Thursday Morning Workshop (8:00 to 10:00 am)

Hacking Leadership: 10 Ways Great Leaders Inspire Learning that Teachers, Students and Parents Love with Tony Sinanis (8:00 to 10:00 am)

In this session, we will identify 10 problems with school leadership and provide right-now solutions for building a rich community while bringing fun back to school. Learn how to amplify individual staff needs while maintaining a collaborative vision; break down the walls between home and school; empower students and staff to own their space; create a culture where “Yes” and “Trust” are default; eliminate initiative overload; sustain momentum and inspire all stakeholders.