The 2024 Annual Conference is scheduled for Aug. 7 & 8, with Pre-Conference on Aug. 6.

Community Choice Convention Center, Des Moines - download conference brochure

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Tuesday, August 1

9 a.m. - 3 p.m. - Pre-Conference - Creating a Culture of Connection with John Norlin
This session is designed for leaders who are interested in improving their ability to accomplish tasks while building relationships. What is the difference between culture and climate? How do we effectively handle the constant changes we face each year? This session will cover a model of leadership focused on building influence while putting in place systems that increase student outcomes and staff retention rates. You will leave with practical tools you can immediately implement to develop a stronger culture within your building and district. Bring your administrative teams and teachers and take advantage of this opportunity to foster a quality learning culture!

Wednesday, August 2

8 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. - Exhibits, including Techknowledgy Bar learning!

8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. - Bookstore Open 

9 - 10:30 a.m. - First General SessionUnleashing Passion, Purpose, and Performance in Younger Generations with Mark Perna

Join dynamic performance expert Mark C. Perna as he unveils groundbreaking innovations for working with today’s younger generations. Benefit from these proven strategies to bridge the generational divide, engage and retain young people, and equip them with a powerful competitive advantage.

Purposeful education is the heartbeat of this inspiring call to action. Students who experience education with purpose can then pursue passion-driven employment at all levels of learning and experience. Though they’re often painted in a negative light, they have incredible potential to change the world. We just have to unleash it. As the skills gap widens, we must tap into the vast creativity, intelligence, and potential of the next generation.

A father to two successful young people, Mark delivers key insights into how they think, what makes them tick, and how they make decisions. Mark will show you how to connect, engage, and answer why to inspire their greatest effort. With clear action steps you can implement immediately, Mark’s message will help you move young people from static purpose to active purpose so they can achieve at a higher level. Recharge your passion for making a difference and start motivating young people like never before!

10:45 a.m. - Noon - Thought Leaders 

  1. the conditions that come up in your life that invite you to go Below the Line,
  2. indicators telling you when you are Below the Line,
  3. how to handle Below the Line experiences with more grace and dignity and
  4. how to trampoline back Above the Line.

Noon - 1:30 p.m. - Optional on-site lunch. Ticketed event, new this year. Must purchase ticket in advance.
Enjoy a barbecue buffet complete with two salads, shredded pork and pulled chicken, corn, baked beans, rolls, cornbread, Rice Krispie treats and iced tea. 

Noon - 2 p.m. - Visit the Exhibits! 

1 - 2:55 p.m. - Techknowledgy Bar in the Exhibit Hall

1-1:15 - Up Your Gmail Game
Email is a part of our life and every tip and trick will save time and energy! Join us as we share several of Gmail’s hidden gems that will up your communication game! 

1:20-1:35 - Your Calendar is Your BFF 
Most of us live & breathe by our calendars. Join us for a few tips & tricks for how to be even more efficient with your time & streamline your work!

1:40-1:55 - AI for Admins
Learn some ways that administrators can leverage AI to support productivity and communication. 

2-2:15 - Dominating Your Google Drive
Are you dominating your Drive, or is your Drive dominating you? Learn how to better organize, hack the hierarchy, utilize searches and stars, and master shortcuts to boost productivity.

2:20-2:35 - Perfecting Project Productivity
Discover new features within Docs, Sheets and Spaces to manage project timelines, organize resources and support collaboration.

2:40-2:55 - AEA OneClick & Additional Complimentary Resources, Oh My! 

2 - 3:15 p.m. - Thought Leaders (morning sessions repeat except for Gen Z Revealed)

3:30 - 4:30 p.m. - Second General Session - No Ego: The Reality of Peace, Happiness and Great Results at Work with Cy Wakeman

Every day we are presented with challenges at work that can feel insurmountable at times. Some days, we aren’t even sure what priority is top of mind or whose direction we should follow. Expectations continue to rise, and we’re asked to do more with less. This is simply the reality of the work we do as leaders today.

As humans, we tend to respond to these difficulties by stepping down, making excuses, arguing with reality, and letting our egos take charge creating “drama,” or emotional waste. In fact, recent research conducted by Reality-Based Leadership in partnership with the Futures Company shows that we spend approximately 2.5 hours per day (per person) exhibiting these emotionally expensive behaviors. We end up wasting our precious time and energy making things harder for ourselves by focusing on all reasons why “we can’t.” But not everyone is suffering. What if we could go to work every day and have fun, be productive, and return home at peace, with energy left over for family and friends? It’s absolutely possible!

In this keynote, participants will also learn counterintuitive strategies and insights into a revolutionary, more enlightened and strategic way of viewing the true value of their talents. They’ll learn to understand their ego, how it gets in the way, and tools to help bypass the ego opening up a new capacity to redirect energy away from why “we can’t,” and towards “how we could.” Using a few good mental processes to eliminate emotional waste is the key to tapping into the creativity, innovation, and happiness that is already your natural state, once the drama is gone.

Thursday, August 3 

7:30 - 8 a.m. - Wellness Wakeup
Inhale arms overhead, exhale reach for a venti coffee! Stressful days call for meditation and stretching... but who has the time? Come experience quick and practical tools to manage stress throughout the day. Learn how to reset and reboot in the moment with elements of meditation, sassy affirmations and basic yoga stretches — no yoga mat or workout wear needed!

8 a.m. - 12:15 p.m. - Bookstore Open 

8 - 8:20 a.m.  - Meet DE Director Snow
Hear from the newly appointed director of the Iowa Department of Education McKenzie Snow.

8:30 - 9:20 a.m. - Promising Practices 

  • A Framework for Social and Emotional Learning - Maria Lantz
    Are you overwhelmed at how to sustain strong social and emotional learning practices in your school or district? Are you tired of feeling like you start an initiative and then it stops or gets lost in the day-to-day of school? Join us to learn about how to truly propel social and emotional work forward in your school or district in a way that has a positive impact on both students and staff. (Bonus: The framework we will introduce has application for any change initiative!)
  • Building Your Pipeline of Educators: Developing and Growing a Teacher-Education Program from High School Recruitment to Employment in Your District - Ethan Wiechmann & Megan Droste
    Join us as we discuss our journey to building a successful teacher education program pathway. Learn how we recruit high school students and develop partnerships with local schools and community organizations. We will share how key components including onboarding, field experiences, and mentorship shape students’ experience, and how our program serves to retain and support teacher candidates throughout their program and into their first years of teaching. Explore strategies for connecting graduates of your program with employment opportunities in your district, building a pipeline of educators who are committed to your community and its schools. Leave this session with practical strategies to develop, enrich, or enhance a successful teacher education program in your own context.
  • Developing a New Teacher Network - A Systematic Approach to Support and Retain New Teachers - Bernie Brustkern
    With the teacher shortage upon us, we are all looking for the best strategies to support and retain new teachers in the profession or experienced teachers who are new to our buildings or districts. Whether you’re looking to tweak or enrich your current system or develop a new approach, in this session we share our story for developing stronger supports and extended networks for new teachers. Walk away with new ideas and tools to apply to your teacher induction and mentoring programs, and keep your new teachers!
  • Empowering Your Building Leadership Team To Change Kids’ Lives - Nigel Horton
    Learn how a rural district of 450 students, with nearly 50% of students from low-income families and 20% of students receiving specialized services leveraged their elementary leadership team to transform and build foundations to be rated “commendable/high performing” for 5+ years on the state report card and decrease behavior referrals by 83% while experiencing a staff retention rate over 87%. Leave with tools to add to your toolbox.
  • Ted Lasso's Leadership Playbook for Success - Dan Butler
    Positive culture shaped by school personnel has never been more important and lays the foundation for optimal performance. Participants will learn high-leverage routines from Ted Lasso, such as leading with empathy and empowering others while navigating uncertainty post-pandemic.

8:30 - 9:20 a.m. - Special Interest Sessions

  • Unlocking Insights: Visualize Your Student Data
    Join the Iowa Department of Education to learn about a new student growth visualization tool called EVAAS. All district and school data from public schools that administered the Iowa Assessments from 2018 forward are included in the EVAAS system, which is available to the Department and schools as a result of a contract with SAS to complete a learning loss study. During this session, Department leaders will show you how to use the EVAAS system and access your district and school-level data.
  • IPERS Update 2023
    Whether you're nearing retirement or have employees who are, this session will provide important information about the IPERS plan, including its history and mission, investment program, retirement eligibility and returning to work guidelines, and considerations for the future.

9:30 - 10:20 a.m. - Promising Practices 

  • Essential Leadership Skills to Create Psychologically Safe Teams - Al Neppl
    As leaders, we have likely experienced teams or PLCs that are challenging, dysfunctional, and sometimes disrespectful towards each other or maybe even you. How have you handled this? Do you cringe when it’s time to meet again? Do you avoid the team altogether? You are not alone, but what is a leader to do?
  • Feedback Teams: Creating a Culture of Feedback in Your Organization - Mark Timmerman
    This session will focus on becoming a more self-aware leader by modeling vulnerability and willingness to learn and be the best leader for your organization. Feedback from your employees' perspective is most important because they are doing the work. Effective feedback guides the leader in a way that meaningfully shapes both engagement and results.
  • Free Agency: Why Employee Engagement Rules Today’s Schools - Jared Smith
    Working in schools can be challenging, and options abound for employees! So, why do we make it more difficult than it needs to be? In this upbeat and engaging session, learn practical ideas for creating an environment where school employees feel valued and respected. From beginning assistant principals to experienced superintendents ... this session will have takeaways for everyone!
  • Meeting the Needs of Each and Every Student: Implementing a PK-6 Intervention System Framework - Cory Johnson
    Establishing and supporting a district-wide intervention systems framework is a critical component of ensuring a multi-tiered system of supports for students. We will share our journey in using the Iowa Intervention System Facilitation Guide to develop a contextualized district model that includes data protocols, meeting agendas, intervention libraries, and fidelity tools.
  • Radical Leadership Reset: Get Serious about Getting Results (The 4 Disciplines of Execution) - Greg Dufoe
    To put it simply, our former way of school improvement was broken and leading to stagnation. We threw it all out and embraced "The 4 Disciplines of Execution" a process designed at FranklinCovey to create breakthrough results. Come and learn about how we have leveraged these disciplines to achieve real progress on our "wildly important” student learning goals.
  • Restorative Justice in a Secondary Setting - Kristen Souza
    Restorative Justice helps strengthen relationships and build community while resolving problems that have caused harm or damaged those relationships. RJ focuses on accountability and healing over punishment. Come hear about a rural high school’s journey in implementing RJ and the reasons why it was started. Resources, student stories, effectiveness, and data will be shared.

9:30 - 10:20 a.m. - Special Interest Session

  • Updates from the Board of Educational Examiners
    Recent updates from the Board of Educational Examiners. Updates will include changes enacted due to new legislation, education licensure, agency changes, and ethical violations/sanctions.

10:30 - 11:30 a.m. - Closing General Session Legal Briefs with the SAI Legal Guy - Matt Carver
SAI Legal Services Director Matt Carver will highlight some of the recent court decisions and legislative actions impacting Iowa schools during the coming year, as well as recommend everyday common-sense approaches to the law and leadership that should serve you well. Count on Matt for both legalities and levity with these updates for 2023-24.