Associate Principals Conference

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Conference Cost:

Member Registration:  $259
Non-Member Registration: $409
Pre-Conference Sessions:  $69

Full refund of fees will be made on cancellations received 10 days prior to the start of the convention. Following that date, a 40% administrative fee will be retained. There will be no refund for no-shows or cancellations during the event. 

Hotel Information:
Concourse Hotel
One West Dayton Street, Madison
$169 single/double; $179 triple; $189 quad
Governor’s club $219
cut off: 1/10/23
Ask for: AWSA Associate Principals Conference
Parking for hotel guests: $15/night; valet $20

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

12:00 - 4:30  | Pre-Con Session (additional fee required)

Associate Principals Legal Seminar

Navigating Difficult Student Issues: A Legal Update

Malina Piontek and Bob Butler, AWSA Retained Attorneys

Join Attorneys Bob Butler and Malina Piontek for a session that will help you navigate the complex legal terrain when responding to difficult student issues involving Title IX investigations; the use of seclusion and restraint; and working with your SRO to conduct student searches. Join us for this interactive session, and bring your questions!

Understanding the Parameters of the First Amendment as an Associate Principal

Mike Julka and Brian Goodman, Attorneys, Boardman & Clark

Associate principals are often confronted with challenging First Amendment “Freedom of Expression” issues in the course of their duties.  This presentation will help associate principals navigate the differing legal standards and issues that arise in this context with respect to students, employees, and the general public. Individuals often assert to district administrative staff that they have a right to “freedom of speech” without understanding the nuances and limitations of the First Amendment in a given context.  This presentation will focus on the difference between conduct and speech, verbal and non-verbal speech (such as clothing and symbols), the unique issues posed by social media, and the challenging balancing act that courts perform when an individual’s right to freedom of speech collides with the ability of schools to operate effectively. Attendees will learn how approach these issues thoughtfully and avoid knee-jerk reactions in these sensitive situations that have significant legal implications.

Law and Technology: Challenges and Solutions for Associate Principals

Kirk Strang, Attorney, Strang Law

School administrators confront a number of legal issues related to technology almost every day, some obvious and some less apparent. Staff use of technology can present employment issues and other workplace challenges, and can also be a factor in performance, communications, and school climate.  Students' use of technology also presents challenges for administrators, and can be a factor in pupil discipline, academic integrity, bullying, and any number of other areas.  Technology issues also develop with the technology itself, meaning that new challenges are presented for principals as new devices and software are put to use in our schools, including software monitoring technology that tracks user behavior of students and staff.

This section reviews statutes, cases, and legal principles that define the law in these areas.  We will focus on specific problems that principals confront regularly (whether they know it or not!) and on how principals can address them while protecting themselves and the school district at the same time.  We'll also consider FAQs and live questions from conference attendees regarding their own experiences and concerns.


Thursday, January 26, 2023

8:00  |  New Principals Breakfast 

New associate principals are encouraged to attend this informal breakfast to visit with veteran colleagues and AWSA staff.

8:30  |  Opening Keynote: Human 3.0: Change the Game, Change Your Life:  Quickly Train your Brain to Respond, Adapt and Thrive in a Chaotic World

Dr. Niraj Nijhawan, Founder & CEO, Life Ecology Organization (LEO)

No one has to tell school leaders that it is a time of great stress and anxiety in our communities and country. Some fascinating brain science discoveries can explain why this is happening now, but more importantly, how we can quickly flip switches in our brain to become much more resistant to stress and anxiety, thereby improving sleep, eating habits, and energy. More importantly, we can get our so-called Lower Brain out of the way so that we can become more creatively courageous and fulfilled in our lives whether that means building something, deepening our relationships, being more impactful in service, or being more effective and fulfilled in our careers. These can also be accelerated by activating the Higher Brain.

It is now a fact that you have unlimited potential to become more happy, effective, healthy, and more deeply connected with yourself and others. There is hope, and you can make this happen almost immediately!  Let us introduce you to a cohesive, entertaining, engaging, and quickly actionable collection of tools to increase you and your team’s tolerance for difficult conversations, whether about innovation, change, accountability, or personal wellness.  Life will always be fascinating and productive from this point forward.

Dr. Niraj (Raj) Nijhawan is a practicing physician. He was raised in Milwaukee, WI, graduated from the University of Wisconsin Medical School in 1992, and completed a medical residency in Anesthesiology/Critical Care at the Medical College of Wisconsin. Dr. Nijhawan received a National Institute of Health Scientist Training Grant where he acquired a master’s degree in clinical research as he was trained as a clinical scientist and designed and conducted medical research. Dr. Nijhawan has spent nearly 30 years cataloging, practicing. teaching, and helping people integrate the latest knowledge from the realms of medical, social, and neuroscience into their lives.

10:15 |  Round One Concurrents  

1. Creating and Maintaining a Behavioral Intervention Program

Matthew Raduechel, AP, John Muir Middle School, Wausau

Many schools are looking for creative ways in which to respond to the growing mental health crisis among students.  Our school saw this trend developing and created the BRIDGE program; a behavioral intervention system that helps students refocus in order to return to learning. This presentation will outline the elements that went into creating this program, challenges and missteps along the way and the process of implementing and maintaining this much needed intervention for students. 

2. Microaggressions: Diminish Sense of Safety, Belonging, and Community in Schools

Yaribel Rodriguez, Director of Urban Leadership

Fostering a sense of belonging for our students is essential for their success, and we should be alert to incidents that put their belongingness at risk. Microaggressions are the most common way that discrimination is expressed daily, and counteracting this act is important for ensuring that our students are supported in our academic community. Microaggressions are the everyday verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights, snubs, or insults, whether
intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target persons based solely upon their marginalized group membership (from Diversity in the Classroom, UCLA Diversity & Faculty Development, 2014). In this session participants will learn what is a microaggression, identify microaggressions, and discover techniques and responses to minimize the occurrence of microaggressions in their community.

3. Improving Learning in Every Classroom:  Getting Implementation "Unstuck" Across the School

Joe Schroeder, Associate Executive Directors, AWSA

Time and again, our work with school leaders and teams across Wisconsin show that most concerns in student learning are deeply rooted within the school's adult culture. An especially common and thorny problem is how a thoughtful leader might ensure implementation of improved teaching practices across the entire faculty, particularly with staff who seem regularly opposed to changing the status quo. This session will leverage the work of Anthony Muhammad and Luis Cruz with findings from our AWSA experiences to provide answers. By the end of this session, participants will leave with a progression of skills and approaches for effectively moving change forward across the school.

4. High Expectations Messages

Tammy Gibbons, Director of Professional Learning, AWSA

Who receives High Expectations Messages in your school? Do all students hear and believe that they are capable of more?  That challenges are opportunities? Does your school have the collective efficacy to help all kids engage and achieve at high levels? The Opportunity Myth, 2018, suggests that “The system doesn’t send the message that teacher mindset matters nearly as much as the material they teach or the practices they employ in their classrooms. Yet teacher expectations had a stronger effect on student achievement growth than any other factor we studied.” In this session we’ll explore the differences between high expectations and high standards and how we support and coach educators to see the difference.  Participants will also practice how this feedback may sound in order to generate teacher reflection.

11:30 |  Lunch & Associate Principal of the Year Recognition

12:45 |  Round Two Concurrents  

1. Truancy Reduction

Julie Incitti & Margaret Resan, Consultants, DPI

The most effective truancy reduction strategies include activities implemented across a continuum of supports within an equitable Multi-Level System of Support (MLSS). In this session we will review important information from Wisconsin Statutes, and dive into best practice considerations. We will consider attendance improvement for students with specialized services. Additionally, we will explore examples from school districts in Wisconsin who have engaged in cross-system collaborations to improve their truancy reduction efforts. After this session, participants will be familiar with Wisconsin statutes and legal implications, will have strategies to infuse into their district’s processes, and will have planned a few next steps towards a more collaborative approach to truancy reduction.

2. Impactful Coaching

Tammy Gibbons, Director of Professional Learning, AWSA

“Practice isn’t the thing you do when you’re good, It’s the thing you do that makes you good.” Malcolm Gladwell Scenario practice is a proven strategy to hone a school leader's impact. The way in which we deliver feedback significantly impacts school culture and the conditions for improvement.  In this session, participants will be practicing coaching conversations that generate an action orientation in schools.

3. In the Arena, Daring to Lead with a Whole Heart

Joe Schroeder, Associate Executive Director, AWSA

Leading a school has always been very hard and very meaningful work. But in recent years, the context where we conduct such challenging and noble effort has gotten much more divisive, scornful, and uncivil, which makes developing resilience in leaders more important than ever. This session will mesh helpful concepts from Brene Brown and others with thoughtful applications from Wisconsin administrators who are bravely, humbly, persistently meeting the challenges of this unique time and demonstrating the leadership resilience required. The session's overall goal is to influence how intentionally and consistently you bring forward a resilient leadership mindset and stance to your own leadership arena, so that you can regularly show up daring to lead, "unarmored and wholehearted."

4. Hiring for the Right Fit

Yaribel Rodriguez, Director of Urban Leadership, AWSA

As the teacher candidate pool shrinks, the more attuned our interview process must be. Creating a teacher selection process that mitigates biases to attract diverse candidates with the necessary dispositions is essential to ensuring a positive student experience and strong school culture. Participants will leave understanding the benefits of using a competency-based hiring process, interview question bank, activities, and rubrics for interviewing and selecting teacher candidates.

2:00 |  Break

2:15 |  Round Three Concurrents

1. Enhancing Your District's Safety Efforts Through Student Voice

Chad Whalley, Associate Principal, Sun Prairie High School 

We devote hours of work and thousands of dollars into keeping students safe, but often miss the most important voice at the table...our students. Associate principal Chad Whalley and Sun Prairie high school's Student Safety Ambassador's will share the model they have developed to include students in the creation and revision of safety policy and procedure, planning and execution of drills, and student-initiated campaigns to address social and emotional safety.  

2. Leadership GPS:  Five Tools for Finding Your Pathway Forward

Joe Schroeder, Associate Executive Director, AWSA

COVID was an unprecedented series of gut punches, with leaders often struggling just to keep the lid on the place.  So how do we now help our schools and communities emerge to a better future? In short, how do we reclaim and deepen our identities as leaders of transformation through all the trials and complexity? This session will highlight five tools that you and your teams can use as a sort of Leadership GPS to promote reflection, find focus, build coherence, identify leverage points, and grow commitment to a better pathway forward. You will have the opportunity to try out multiple tools and leave with at least one or two in hand that can help you better engage others and lead the change needed.

3. Whose Responsibility, is it? Minimizing Barriers to Achieve Excellence       

Tammy Gibbons, Director of Professional Learning, AWSA

What is the primary role of a PLC? The primary role of a PLC is job-embedded learning for the adults.  How do we support teams to move beyond creating units and analyzing assessment data and focus on what matters most… instruction. What does it look like when a team has assumed full responsibility for the learning and engagement of their students? This session will provide clarity about what high-impact teams do in each phase of the collaborative process? What do PLC’s who don’t teach the same course focus on?  We’ll explore that too!

4. Where Are They?  Understanding Our Teacher Shortage

Yaribel Rodriguez, Director of Urban Leadership, AWSA

The reasons for teacher shortages are complex and predate the pandemic. In this session, leaders will gain a deeper understanding of the teacher shortage in our state and what leaders can do to attract and retain talent.

4:30 |  Reception Sponsored by Jostens 

Friday, January 27, 2023

7:00  |  Optional Fellowship Breakfast

School administrators support the boundless needs of those they lead and serve.  But who supports them -- especially in ways tending to the heart and spirit?  Join AWSA’s Associate Executive Director, Joe Schroeder, and administrative colleagues from across the state in this Christian fellowship breakfast option that, now in its third year, is proving for many to be an annual highlight of encouragement and support for the next leg of the leadership and life journey.

8:00  |  Breakfast Buffet

8:30  |  Round Four Concurrents

1. Transforming Leadership: More BAM and Less Blah!

Beth Houf, 2022 National Principal of the Year

Join Beth to bring out the T in PIRATE: Transformation! How might we analyze our current practices to become makers of moments for our students and staff? From staff meetings to back to school to professional development to Monday mornings, let's bring the BAM to replace the blah!  

2. Leaders Shaping Cultures That Deeply Impact Student Learning

Joe Schroeder, Associate Executive Director, AWSA

John Hattie cites collective efficacy as the variable with the highest effect size on student achievement. This makes sense because, in such a case, we have a whole faculty feeling effective -- able to accomplish better student achievement and equitable conditions for all. But collective efficacy does not happen on its own. It is the product of a certain sort of school culture that is cultivated over time through specific leadership qualities. This session will break down what our field is learning about impactful leadership and culture in simple and accessible terms so that participants are equipped with specific approaches they can implement back home to lead their organizations to the next level. 

3. Leading Professional Learning Communities: Building and Sustaining Improvement

Tammy Gibbons, Director of Professional Learning, AWSA

Looking for a way to further build, advance or sustain collaborative learning teams in your school? Are you a new leader or frustrated with the rate of improvement in your school? This two-hour session will provide examples of the collaborative team process and examine protocols and structures that guide and support the implementation of professional learning communities. Also included in this workshop are ways to leverage your leadership team/guiding coalition to monitor the impact of the collaborative process and an improved culture in which educators engage in vital and crucial conversations with one another. Facilitative examples will be provided by three elementary principals currently living the mission of leveraging collaborative teams for their school improvement efforts.

10:00  |  Closing Keynote: From Surviving to Thriving as a School Leader

Beth Houf, 2022 National Principal of the Year

In a field of serving others, how often do we take time to take care of ourselves? Join Beth as she shares productivity and wellness practices to help us not only survive, but to thrive as school leaders. 

Beth Houf is the proud principal of Fulton Middle School in central Missouri. She is the Co-Author of Lead Like a PIRATE: Make School Amazing for Your Students and Staff. Beth also serves as a facilitator for the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Leadership Academy, providing monthly training to state educational leaders. Beth is an international presenter and consultant. She is also active in her local, state and national principal associations. Beth is an adjunct professor at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri. Fulton Middle School was recognized as a Missouri Exemplary Professional Learning Community and Solution Tree Model Professional Learning Community in 2019.

Beth was named a Missouri Exemplary New Principal in 2011, the Missouri National Distinguished Principal for 2016 the 2019 National Association of Secondary School Principals Digital Principal of the Year, the Education Dive 2019 Principal of the Year and the 2021-2022 Missouri Secondary School Principal of the Year. Beth also serves as a principal advisor for Future Ready Schools and is a Solution Tree PLC at Work Associate. Beth's proudest accomplishments are her two sons, Paul and Dawson. She has been honored to help lead schools that both have attended.

11:30 |  Adjourn