AASA Collaborative Summer Conference Underway



International Education Leaders Yong Zhao, Heidi Hayes Jacobs Convene in San Antonio to Address First Full Session

“This is a collaborative. It’s personal. It’s professional,” said Jere Hochman, superintendent of New York’s Bedford Central School District, at the conclusion of the first full day of the AASA Collaborative Summer Conference in San Antonio, Texas.

“There are thousands of superintendents across the country,” added Hochman, a co-chair of the Collaborative. “It brings a group of superintendents together to engage in dialogue, learn together and think through things together. That’s unique in our profession.”

Earlier in the day, the Collaborative, in its second year and comprised of superintendents and educators from across the country, heard from scholars Yong Zhao, presidential chair and director of the Institute for Global and Online Education at the University of Oregon, and Heidi Hayes Jacobs, founder and president of Curriculum Designers.

Zhao presented the school system leaders with a challenge. “How much of a voice do students have in defining the learning environment?” he asked. “Are they driving their own education experience, or are you imposing it upon them? Are you providing opportunities or are you like a foreman in managing their work? Do students have choice or are you like a foreman in managing their work?”

“America has the resources,” Zhao told the group but “we are squandering our resources and opportunities.” He also said the American education system needs to celebrate diversity but “our education system tries to homogenize individuals. We cannot continue to do that.”

Immediately following Zhao’s presentation, Jacobs discussed our country’s need to re-identify the relationship between teacher and student, curriculum and students, and the community. “And that means new pedagogy,” she said.

Her formula consisted of the following:

Defining the pedagogy for a new kind of learner and teacher
Leading the new literacies: digital, media and global
Creating Contemporary Curriculum Quests
Accountability for Innovation

 “This was a collaborative think tank,” said Hochman.

“Today’s session was phenomenal,” said Jill Gildea, superintendent of Fremont School District 79 in Mundelein, Ill. “We heard different aspects of thought leadership and discussion about of transformation, innovation and personalization.”

“What made it so special,” she added, “was that these people that we’ve read and studied about for years were in the room with us. You can see their thought process—how they’re looking at trying to help us as practitioners of leaders of education and showing new paradigms of delivering education programs for students that will help them reach their maximum potential.”

“(Today’s session) really had intimate conversations,” said Stacy Scott, superintendent of Framingham Public Schools in Framingham, Mass. “We asked questions about our own concerns and challenges. It was useful to think about how I might message within my own district—key district leaders, stakeholders, parents and students.”

“The Collaborative is providing something that is quite unique,” said Bena Kallick, the co-founder of The Institute for Habits of Mind. “That’s the opportunity for superintendents to be ‘critical friends’ with one another. Really listen closely to understand what they’re dealing with. It’s bringing together people to discuss national issues and developing a voice for superintendents so their leadership is heard throughout the nation.”

The AASA Collaborative Summer Conference, heading into its third and final day today, is being sponsored by Hobsons. For more information about the Collaborative, visit the AASA website.



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