Blogging from ASCD

Thoughts on Workshops

In my 25 years is this biz, I have been to scores of workshops of varying quality. Some have made a tremendous impact such as the first time I saw Wiggins and McTigue on their early “tour” describing the marvelous simplicity of Understanding By Design or Heidi Hayes Jacobs espousing the tenets of curriculum mapping. I have also walked out on a few as well, especially workshops sponsored by companies with a pecuniary interest. Fortunately, ASCD now segregates this variety within the Annual Conference Program Book.


Over the course of the last 13 years, I have attended the annual ASCD Conference regularly. No single professional development opportunity has made more of a difference in developing my educational philosophy and sifting for me what is truly important as an educational leader. Yesterday I attended the pre-conference session on The Art of Leadership with Principal and ASCD author Thomas Hoerr. Based on his book of the same title, Tom shared many thoughts on life as a Principal, how it has changed from his early years, and what leadership will look like as we travel through the millennium.

It was a worthwhile day and reminded me that workshops are primarily beneficial not just for new learning but for time to reflect on what we already know. There is so much noise in the Principalship and in fact, most jobs, that the time to reflect on one’s impact on a school is so valuable. Not everything Tom shared was new information, but my interaction among fellow colleagues added to my “toolbox” and allowed me to reflect.

10 comments Add yours
  1. Hey Bill,

    I always tell students and teachers that the learning comes from the reflection. (Creating experience / provoking reflection) So, I’ve been working up “lessons learned” from my attempt at virtual attendance at ASCD. Will post and let you know when.

    I will stay in touch. And you do the same!

  2. Bill-
    I absolutely agree. Conferences are so powerful not only for new knowledge but for consolidating and pushing one to act on what they already believe and know. As Peter said, ASCD was even more powerful this year as social media tools like Twitter and live blogging brought more minds and voices into the conversation. It was like having my network right there in the room to ask What did you think? How does that fit? and What;s next?

    And the most exciting thing is that the conversation continues weeks and months after because of our blogs and twitter- something that I have not experienced after decades of conferences. It is wonderful to be a learner in the 21st Century- isn’t it! I hate that I was not able to connect with you in person at ASCD, but look forward to continued learning here!

    1. Great hearing from you Angela! I have been going to ASCD for a decade or so and it’s the best PD I could hope for. Twitter made it that much more rich this year. We’ll have to meet sometime! Bill

  3. Bill
    Good post. I always enjoy a workshop that supports me reflecting upon my own practice while learning new “stuff”. I’m busy writing a paper on my principal journey for an international conference in Singapore in July and will remember that tip – to include connections to people’s context within the presentation.

    I recently heard Rick Stiggins, a professor from the states, on assessment for learning and he was good on this.

    Thanks again

    Mark Walker

    1. HI Mark-love to read your paper for the Singapore conference. Let us know if it’s online at some point.

      Glad you mentioned Rick Stiggins-he’s a wonderful expert on assessment.



  4. Thanks Bill
    I have just linked my Singapore paper titled “using assessment data and feedback to improve instruction” on my blog on the conference page although I dare say I will have some posts on the conference and my paper in July after its presented.

  5. I like the big rock metaphor–or eyes on the prize is another way to think of what is major and what is minor– in schools it is hard not to feel the pepples pinging!

    1. Yes, Covey’s concept is certainly cogent. It is SO hard to deal with the time issues in public education. Some of the problem lies in educator’s desire to do the right thing! And this takes time.

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