Another NASSP Conference in the books. Attendance was a little lighter than I expected, but budgets are tight. Overall, I thought the presentations were of exceptional quality and of course, any time you get a group of school leaders together, the conversations were lively. Here are some of my reflections and observations, in no particular order.

1. Downtown Phoenix is clean and easy to get around.

2. The sunrises in Phoenix are breathtaking.

3. I’m disappointed with the on-going hatred for NCLB. It’s not perfect, but holding ourselves accountable for educating our students is good for our profession and good for our students. What I like to ask the opponents of NCLB is this, “Have you already pre-selected the children who you are going to leave behind?”

4. I think that one of the central messages of NASSP’s executive leadership is misguided. If you listen to Tirozzi, you would think that this is the absolute worst time to be a principal. I vehemently disagree. This is the best time ever to be a principal. The tools, practices and research that are available to us now are opening up undiscovered areas of teaching and learning on a daily basis. The fact that we now know when we aren’t effectively reaching our students actually speeds up our innovation curves. If that doesn’t excite you, quit griping and just retire.

5. Next time you are in Phoenix, make a special trip to Donavan’s Steaks and Chops. It is ranked in the top ten steak houses in the U.S. and the ranking is deserved.

6. The shortest conversation Don and I had with a principal was probably the most honest. She came looking for us because she had heard we had a great “program” for her students. She quickly pointed out and she and her teachers were all top notch and were doing a good job. It was her students that weren’t performing. We told her that we work under the philosophical premise that adult practice drives student performance. We then told her we don’t have a “program,” we coach adults in more effective practices. She looked at the two of us for a second and said, “I don’t want to work that hard.” Then she turned on her heels and left.

7. The LYS “Talk Like a Genius” cards are a huge hit.

8. My favorite conversation was with a teacher who was attending the conference for the first time. She said, “What I find most shocking is that all these principals actually go to the sessions. At the teacher conferences there are more people in the hallways than in the rooms.”

9. A quick shout out to our friends in Splendora ISD, Pflugerville ISD, and Cypress-Fairbanks ISD who found us at the conference. And a quick hello to all the new subscribers to the LYS Blog. Give it three weeks and it will all start to make sense.

Finally, if you didn’t attend the conference this year, start making plans for next year, now. The conference will be held in San Francisco next February and LYS will be on the front row.

Think. Work. Achieve.

Your turn…