2020 Annual Conference
Aug. 5 & 6
Pre-Conference, Aug. 4

Community Choice Credit Union Convention Center 
833 5th Ave., Des Moines


July 31 and Aug. 1, 2019 

Community Choice Credit Union Convention Center 
833 5th Ave., Des Moines

Download the conference brochure


July 31 - Engagement, Well-being, and Your Greatest Contribution

Tom Rath, author of six international bestsellers, will share his latest research about how small choices profoundly affect our daily well-being and effectiveness at work.  Drawing on the latest research from business, psychology, and economics, Tom's talk will focus on the most practical changes we can make to create better days for ourselves and others. He will address the importance of meaningful work, the influence of relationships and interactions, and discuss how we can create the physical energy we need in order to be our best every day.



July 31 - The Future Begins Now

Erica Orange will discuss several emerging trends for 2019 and beyond that are shaping and impacting the future. Using macro sociocultural, economic and technological trends as a catalyst, she will talk about how today’s major growth areas will uncover both the short- and long-term opportunities of tomorrow, and how all will disrupt the current educational landscape.


Pre-Conference - Tues., July 30 - Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most

9 a.m. - 3 p.m.    Sheila Heen

Whether dealing with an underperforming student, negotiating with a supervisor, or disagreeing with a colleague, we attempt or avoid difficult conversations every day. This day-long workshop, led by Harvard faculty member and co-author of the NY Times bestseller Difficult Conversations, will provide key insights to managing the tough conversations you face as an educator with less stress and more success. You'll learn how to:

  • decipher the underlying structure of every difficult conversation,
  • manage defensiveness (yours and theirs),
  • listen for the meaning of what is not said, and
  • move from emotional reactions to productive problem-solving.

Thought Leaders - July 31

Jaime Casap - The Speed of Learning

We are living in extraordinary times. As the world gets more digitalized, it also gets more complicated. Learning can happen faster today than at any time in history, and this is both exciting and critically important to get right. The idea of “lifelong learning” has been around for a generation, but we haven’t ever really put in practices to make this idea a reality. Today, not only do we have the tools and technology to bring this idea to life, our students will not survive the future with the ability to learn new skills continually. In this session, we'll explore these ideas and the presenter will make a case for the ability to learn as the most important skill students need to master.

Peg Dawson10 Things School Administrators Can Do to Support Executive Skill Development

Executive skills have become a “buzzword” in education and perhaps a source of frustration to school administrators who feel that they aren’t “up to speed” on this important topic. This session will describe 10 steps school administrators can take to familiarize themselves with these skills and the critical role they play in academic success. Dr. Dawson will also suggest ways that school administrators can support efforts to embed executive skills into classroom lessons and activities to help children become more independent and self-regulated learners.

Nancy DomeGetting Explicit About Implicit Bias Using Compassionate Dialogue

No matter how good our intentions to be free of prejudice, we all have implicit biases that can have a serious impact on our work in schools. We will explore the concept of implicit bias and the nuanced behaviors that are a product of our unconscious beliefs. Participants will have opportunities to reflect on how their implicit biases may impact their professional and personal interactions. They will also engage in activities to practice “interrupting” both personal thought processes and social interactions fueled by bias. Finally, they will create an action plan around the essential question: What am I willing to do to not only become aware of, but interrupt actions that reflect implicit bias? Through this questioning, they will develop the skills necessary to engage in compassionate dialogue in order to address the needs of their diverse schools and communities and model honest and compassionate dialogue with youth.

Sheila HeenThanks for the Feedback (Even When It's Off-Base, Unfair, Poorly Delivered, and Frankly, You're Not in the Mood)

As school leaders and educators, you offer feedback regularly.  This session will be a deeper dive into why it is hard for all of us to be on the receiving end of feedback - direct or indirect, spoken or unspoken, helpful or unhelpful.  Gain insight into the triggered reactions we all have to the feedback we get, and the skills needed to find value even in feedback that is off-base, unfair, or poorly delivered. Sheila is a Harvard faculty member and co-author of two New York Times bestsellers.


  • Understand our own conflicted feelings about feedback,
  • Insight into the three triggered reactions we have to the feedback we get, and three sets of challenges we must master to find value in feedback,
  • Practical skills for having richer feedback conversations to see what the giver is trying to tell us, and for seeing ourselves accurately.

(see video under Pre-Conference heading)

Anthony Kim - Personalized Learning: Are we there yet? And what to do now!

I’m frequently asked what personalized learning looks like. After visiting hundreds of schools, I’ve come to believe that personalized learning is best described as an educational belief and philosophy. This session is about shaping big-picture strategies and rooting them in day-to-day tactics. You will have an opportunity to think about 1) how your school or district can become a better learning organization, 2) elements of school model design which produce the most gains and how to get there, and 3) as administrators what are some daily practices which can keep the momentum going around personalized learning.

Ron MirrHow can we partner with families to improve student learning?

For schools and districts across the U.S., family engagement is rapidly shifting from a low-priority recommendation to an integral part of education reform. As schools consider how to build trusting partnerships with families, they often struggle to understand what will actually have an impact on student success. During this session, participants will learn which family engagement activities make a difference to student learning and which ones don't. Participants will also learn about the steps they can take to move family engagement from a focus solely on "events" to a more complete process that builds the capacity of both educators and families to support student success at all grade levels.

Jonathan SupovitzMeaningful and Sustainable School Improvement with Distributed Leadership

This session will introduce participants to the distributed perspective of school leadership and discuss the individual skills and school conditions that foster distributed leadership. Using interactive techniques and a small discussion format, the session will engage participants in a process of how distributed leadership can be used as a companion to continuous improvement efforts. The presenter will point out the advantages of using distributed leadership as a way of engaging school members in the improvement process, as well as how to manage some of the associated challenges and risks.