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Live from Sunriver: It's the Principals Conference Print E-mail

by Craig Hawkins, Communications Director

8:49 p.m.

I'll be writing periodically over the next two days from the OASSA/OESPA Principals Conference at Sunriver.  If you have questions or comments, submit them via the comment form below and we'll add them to this blog.

We have about 300 people here at Sunriver today -- about twice as many as last year.  It's full and vibrant here in the Great Hall.

As I write, keynote speakers Bob Eaker and Janel Keating are speaking on the topic, "Professional Learning Communities: What Would It Look Like If We Really Meant It?"  Eaker has co-authored PLC books with Richard and Rebecca DuFour.  He is a professor in the Department of Educational Leadership at Middle Tennesee State University.  Keating is deputy superintendent in the White River, Wash., School District, and a veteran of successful PLC implementation.

bob eaker 2.jpg

janel keating 2.jpg


10:15 a.m.

Conference attendees are on a break, half-way through the opening Eaker-Keating keynote.  The group seems energized by what they are learning.  Comments like, "This helps us to put common sense into practice," and "This reinforces that we're on the right track," mix with comments like "This is really good," and "I'm reading one of Dr. Eaker's books right now, so this is perfect."

In addition to the great keynote, attendees are enthused about the weather -- especially compared to last year's conference, when we had about four inches of rain.  So far, it's been sunny and seasonably warm.

12:15 p.m.

Elementary principals are flowing in to the Homestead Hall, where the OESPA luncheon is being held today. I'm hearing a lot of positives about the morning's keynote speakers, with comments like "very pragmatic" and "information we can really use."

anita-harris-2.jpgOne of the great things about this conference is the opportunity for elementary and secondary principals to meet together, and separately, according to their interests and/or the topic.  Hogan Cedars Elementary Principal Anita Harris is the luncheon speaker for OESPA.  She is Oregon's reigning National Distinguished Principal. 

john-oneill.jpgForest Grove High School Principal John O'Neill is the luncheon speaker for OASSA.  He is the Oregon High School Principal of the Year.



  2:07 p.m.

The first round of breakout sessions is underway.  Sessions include:

  • "360-degree Feedback for Extraordinary Leaders" with Heather Knight of the Powerful Teachers and Learning Group
  • "What does RTI/PBS Look Like in Tigard-Tualatin K-5 Elementary Schools?" with Dan Goldman, Sally Helton and Rachell Katz
  • "Update on Oregon Diploma Implementation" with Michelle Hooper and Theresa Levy of ODE
  • "Keep the Main Thing, the Main Thing, through Priority Leadership" with Rob Hess of Springfield
  • "Providing Powerful Instructional Leadership through Effective School and Classroom Walk-thorugh Visits (K-5)" with Stan Paine of the University of Oregon
  • "Math Standards and Assessment 6-12" with Shannon McCaw and Sarah Schuhl of SMc Curriculum
  • "A Roadmap to Vista, Historical Sites and Hotspots on Your Journey to Becoming a PLC" with Janel Keating

I poked my head into several of the sessions.  They appear to be well attended, with participants really engaged in the discussions.

 3:31 p.m.

Between breakout sessions, I visited again with a number of attendees.  They continue to rave about the Eaker-Keating breakout this morning, and say they are looking forward to seeing Todd Whitaker tomorrow.  They also had lots of positive things to say about the first round of breakout sessions, agreeing that learning from their peers is one of the most powerful aspects of COSA conferences.

The second round of breakout sessions is underway.  Sessions include:

  • "Mentoring Training" with Heather Knight of the Powerful Teachers and Learning Group
  • "RTI/PBS K-5: Student Behavior" with Dan Goldman, Sally Helton, Rachell Katz and Carla Randall of Tigard Tualatin
  • "Enhancing Student Success and Achievement at the High Schoo Level" with Forest Grove Principal John O'Neill
  • "Motivating K-12 Students and Increasing STEM Comprehension through Robotics" with Deb Mumm-Hill of First Pacific NW and Roger Collier of Oregon City School District
  • "Providing Powerful Instructional Leadership through Effective School and Classroom Walk-through Visits (6-12)" with Stan Paine of the University of Oregon
  • "Math Standards and Assessment K-8" with Shannon McCaw and Sarah Schuhl of SMc Curriculum
  • "Bumps Along the Way:  The Journey to Becoming a Professional Learning Community" with Janel Keating

Lots of good stuff.

TUESDAY, October 21

7:51 a.m.

It's 22 degrees this morning and sunny, with frost covering just about everything outside.  It's a perfect morning to be inside the spectacular Great Hall here at Sunriver, and everyone says they are looking forward to Todd Whitaker's keynote address this morning.

todd whitaker.jpgWhitaker is a Professor of Educational Leadership at Indiana State University, and one of the hottest education leadership speakers around.  He has written several books, including "What Great Principals Do Differently."  In addition to his keynote here at the Principals Conference, Whitaker will work with COSA in providing a "Best Practices" workshop in Portland in May, and also speak at the 35th annual COSA Seaside Conference in June.


8:19 a.m.

toddwandbruceb.jpgCoos Bay administrator Bruce Bryant may be the one conference attendee who is most looking forward to Whitaker's remarks this morning.  COSA Professional Development Director Colin Cameron and I were in Coos Bay earlier this month visiting with administrators, and Bruce called himself a "Todd Whitaker groupie."

"I saw Todd last year at the NASSP Convention in San Antonio and, as a first year administrator, he was very inspirational to me," Bryant says.  "His sharing of practices and traits has inspired me to make a difference in our school and our district."

Bruce got the chance to meet Todd this morning (photo).

9:50 a.m.

Whitaker has the full-to-overflowing Great Hall in the palm of his hand as he shares what great teachers and great principals do differently.  Among his comments: "Shift the 'monkey' by treating difficult people as though the were good" ... "It's people not programs -- there are only two ways to improve schools: 1) Hire better teachers and, 2) Improve the ones you've got" ... "Students will become who we are, not who we want them to be."

11:50 a.m.

Whitaker kept the Great Hall audience in the palm of his hand for three hours with lots of great, practical advice about what great principals do, including a cool, new dance step -- the "Sidle Up" -- plus such goodies as, "Never argue, never yell, never use sarcasm" ... "10 Days Out of 10" ... "I'm just telling you this because I'd want you to know."

Whitaker will be back in May and June ... I'd strongly recommend making plans to experience his workshops and addresses.  Like Bruce Bryant, this morning session turned me into a Todd Whitaker groupie.

12:01 p.m.

We have a great afternoon ahead.  COSA Executive Director Kent Hunsaker is the lunchtime speaker.  His topic?  School funding and the upcoming legislative session.  Nobody understands that topic better than Kent.

After lunch, there is another round of top-quality breakouts, including:

  • "Using Student Leaders to Build a Positve School Culture" with Redmond High School Principal Jon Bullock
  • "Books! Books! Books!" with Grandhaven Elementary Principal Sara Johnson
  • "Oregon Diploma Implementation" with Michelle Hooper and Theresa Levy of ODE
  • "Schools to Watch" with Meadow Park Middle School Principal Jill O'Neill
  • "Math Standards and More" with Cathy Brown and Paul Hibbard of ODE

As well, COSA's New Principals Academy participants will meet this afternoon in a special session with Todd Whitaker.

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This page was last updated on Tuesday, October 21, 2008 .