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VITAL Collaboration: Visibly Improving Teaching and Learning through Professional Collaboration

Many factors influence student learning, but teaching matters arguably more than any other variable (Darling-Hammond, 2000; Teachers Matter, 2012). In fact, improving collective teacher efficacy has greater potential for improving student learning than any other variable that has been researched to date (Donohoo, 2017; Hattie, 2012). Therefore, a collaborative approach to professional learning that emphasizes improving teaching practice at the school-wide level, should be an essential component of any strategic plan for improving student outcomes.
The VITAL Collaboration Process is a four-part process that stands for visibly improving teaching and learning through collaborative work in teacher teams. The VITAL Collaboration Process encourages teacher teams to use a four-phase continuous improvement approach when striving to collectively improve teaching and learning. The heart the VITAL Collaboration Process is the Teaching and Learning Cycle (TLC). A TLC consists of three steps: planning a lesson, teaching and observing it, and analyzing the teaching and learning that took place during it. In short, the VITAL Collaboration Process provides the necessary structure to allow teacher teams to routinely engage in TLCs to collectively improve their teaching.
The proposed three-hour workshop will begin by stating the intended outcomes and asking participants to reflect on what key words stand out to them. The facilitators of this session want to ensure purpose is set and participants start the session with a clear vision for the learning.
The first activity will ground participants in the theory and research used to build the foundational approach to VITAL collaboration, an approach to making teaching and learning visible through professional learning communities (PLCs). Participants will engage in an inquiry-based activity that requires reflection of educational practices from John Hattie’s Visible Learning research through by ranking educational practices according to their significance and impact on student learning. They will then compare their reflections to the research results.
Following the above activity participants will learn how the research connects to the 4-phase approach of VITAL through visuals, concrete examples, and resources guided through purposeful discussion techniques and hands-on review of resources. They will also hear from one charter school who has implemented VITAL successfully at their school.
They will then be guided through using a lesson tuning protocol in small groups. This protocol is just one example from a suite of protocols VITAL utilizes as part it’s collaborative approach.
The session will conclude with an opportunity to ask questions of the facilitators, self-reflect, review the intended outcome, and identify possible next steps.

Steps to Raising Your Bond Rating and Lowering Your Facilities Costs

Getting bond financing for your school facility may be relatively easy; obtaining it cheaply enough to afford on a tight budget is far harder. School leaders and experts will lay out the top five factors that will get your school to an investment grade bond. The difference can often be in the millions of dollars – millions that should be put into the classroom, not the banks.

From the Courtroom to the Classroom: Understanding the Intersection of Criminal and Family Law and Our Campuses

Charter schools are constantly forced to deal with issues involving students that extend far beyond the classroom. Parents fighting over custody of the child, court orders that split time sharing of a student between parents, restraining orders limiting contact or communication between students/staff/parents; police investigations involving students/staff; DCF investigations involving accusations of child abuse/neglect; subpoenas and records request from outside agencies seeking documents of students or testimony of staff members; these are all extremely common and often troubling situations that schools find themselves forced to deal with. Understanding the basics of these areas of the law and how they can affect our campuses will provide school administration and staff with a solid foundation on how to address these issues as they arise.

Two New SEL Tools to Support Every Student

What new tools exist that align with PBIS and a restorative approach? In this session, educators will explore the significant ways in which social emotional learning and restorative practices work in tandem to support the foundations for a safe, healthy, and positive school culture across diverse student populations. Participants can expect an introduction to two newly introduced SEL tools.
Tool One: The Peace Path. With five easy to implement steps, teach the language of conflict resolution to students K-12. With regular exposure and repeated practice, students begin to resolve conflicts independently whether in the classroom, cafeteria, playground or hallway.
Tool Two: The 20-Minute Workout. Looking for ways to reduce the amount of time it takes to serve our most challenging students? Try this
a strength-based student support protocol. Historically, leaders and teachers spend hundreds of hours working with challenging students and behaviors such that, some question the investment: time spent with a few takes away from the rest. Learn how to overcome this and implement a time- specific strength-based student support protocol so that student support meetings are effective, efficient and are conducted in 20 minutes or less. Invest in students who need the most from us with a tool that is manageable, structured, and supportive.

20 Essential Points: What All School Leaders Should Know About Special Education

School leaders play an important role in meeting the needs of students with disabilities. School leaders who effectively manage special education in their schools have to be one part lawyer, one part counselor – and a little bit fearless. The need for legal expertise is obvious: The federal government, through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, and school districts have created a complex set of rules and policies that govern the education of students with disabilities and carry the force of law. The job also requires school leaders to support parents, students, and teachers, many of whom see the principal as the primary arbiter in cases of disagreement. The importance and the complexity of the handling of special education shouldn’t paralyze school leaders. School leaders are going to make mistakes. It’s how they own up to those mistakes, and try to come up with ways to fix them and improve for the next situation, that matters. Join us in this engaging and interactive session which will provide guidance to school leaders to address 20 current issues and how to implement best practices. Examples include:

1. Why do school leaders need to know about special education?
2. What are the main points of IDEA school leaders need to know as they support students with disabilities in their schools?
3. How can school leaders be the chief advocates for their special education program?
4. What is the difference between IDEA and Section 504?
5. How should school leaders prepare for an IEP meeting?
6. What are key acronyms all school leaders should know in regards to students with disabilities?
7. What questions should school leaders ask about placements for students with disabilities?
8. What do special education teachers want and need from their school leaders?
9. What do school leaders need to know about discipline for SWD?