Every year, NIET’s National Conference brings together educators from across the country to experience hands-on, interactive training with the goal of strengthening instructional practices and student learning outcomes. On March 23-24, approximately 1,300 educators traveled to Indianapolis to attend the 22nd annual NIET National Conference and engage in professional learning around elevating educators to support student success. During the two-day conference, educators collaborated with and learned alongside NIET specialists and peers through a variety of professional learning sessions and walked away with actionable strategies that can be implemented in their schools immediately.
"The presenters were spot on and gave such a wealth of valuable tools and information,” said a conference attendee. "I’m ready to get started with practical strategies and resources I can bring back to my school."
The conference offered 36 different professional learning sessions, including round table and panel discussions, and “bubble” sessions for educators to observe collaborative meetings in action. Each session connected to one of five different strands of learning:
- Unleashing teacher leadership
- Transforming School Leadership
- Ensuring Success Through Robust Instructional Practices
- Establishing Positive Environments
- Building the Educator Pipeline
Learning Highlights from Some of Our Most Popular Sessions
At the conference, NIET facilitators led breakout sessions focused on the problems of practice identified by partners this year. Over the next few weeks, NIET is excited to release several new materials from the conference for all educators to access. The materials will be available in the Resources section of the NIET website as they are released.
Here’s a peek inside some of the learning that took place at the 2023 NIET National Conference:
Leader as Coach: Embracing Your Role as the Instructional Leader
What can a leader do when instructional support is not transferring into the classroom and making an impact on student learning? During this session, leaders at all levels explored a process for identifying why instructional support is not transferring to practice and how to get it back on track. "I walked away with a clear idea of how to apply my learning back on my campus,” said a conference attendee.
Participants in this session learned a clear process for identifying why instructional coaching is not transferring back to classroom practice, and strategies to make coaching more actionable and effective in changing practice.
Investing in Teacher Leaders to Support the Implementation of High-Quality Instructional Materials
This panel discussion explored the ways that teacher leaders can support teachers and enhance the student learning experience with a high-quality curriculum. This session was particularly valuable for leaders in the process of selecting or implementing a new curriculum. Panelists shared strategies for working with a high-quality curriculum and creating the necessary support structures for teachers. "Experienced, authentic, honest and relatable,” said a conference attendee.
During the session, participants learned to identify specific leadership practices that support high-quality curriculum implementation and how to identify what individual teachers need to support their successful use of HQIM. Partners left this session equipped with a specific framework and set of actions that teacher leaders can take to support teachers with curriculum implementation.
Thriving School Communities that Achieve Learner-Centered Excellence
This session focused on how leaders can ensure all teachers have a sense of belonging and feel empowered in their work. Participants learned how to apply principles of learner-centered excellence to address specific challenges on their campus. "Your team did a nice job of facilitating step outs for thinking,” said a conference attendee. “Lots to take away from this session!”
During the training, participants developed an understanding of strategies to build a positive school and classroom environment and its impact on leadership teams, teachers, and students. Participants also reflected on and identified the conditions and mindsets that leaders need to support continuous learner-centered improvement. During the session, partners created a plan to accelerate adult learning by intentionally leveraging the strengths of the leaders on their team.
Honoring Excellence in Teaching
During the conference, NIET recognized multiple schools and one district for their efforts to accelerate educator impact and improve student achievement.
Desert Thunder School in Avondale Elementary School District, Phoenix, Arizona, was named the 2023 NIET Founder's Award winner and received the $50,000 grand prize. The school received the Founder’s Award because it exemplifies NIET’s work with schools to develop teacher leaders, collaborate on successful instructional practices, and provide feedback and support to address teacher and student needs. The other four finalist schools were also honored for their achievements with $10,000: Dr. Lonnie Green Elementary (San Felipe Del Rio CISD, Texas); Forest Acres Elementary School (School District of Pickens County, South Carolina); Slaughter Elementary School (East Feliciana Public Schools, Louisiana); and William Henry Burkhart Elementary (Perry Township Schools, Indiana).
In a surprise award ceremony, Goshen Community Schools was presented with the 2023 NIET District Award of Excellence in Educator Effectiveness and $50,000 for its focus on educator excellence and student progress. Goshen Community Schools initially partnered with NIET in 2010 and expanded their partnership to all schools in the district. Goshen has integrated NIET structures that accelerate educator impact and scaled those systems across the district to elevate every school to ensure every child is taught by a highly effective teacher.
A Lasting Educator Impact
NIET’s National Conference is the culmination of its mission – working with leaders from every corner of the country to build educator excellence to advance student success. Partners are already implementing strategies learned at the conference in their districts, schools, and classrooms that will have a long-lasting impact on the achievement of their students. NIET is honored to have the opportunity to support these leaders in strengthening their impact and looks forward to building upon this work throughout the remainder of this school year and into 2023-24.