AASA's conference aims to help school leaders excel.

The American Association of School Administrators (AASA) kicks off its 2011 National Conference on Education on Feb. 17 in Denver, Colo. This year’s conference will focus on the “Great Education Conversation,” and will highlight how groups outside the public school system have supported and criticized the traditional education framework.

Speakers and sessions will aim to move past criticism and blame to examine the accomplishments and successes of teachers and students. Debates will focus on methods to identify innovative concepts to improve schools.

Alan November, senior partner in November Learning, will lead a session titled “Transforming Schools: From Technology to Information and Global Communications Planning.”

In this presentation, November will describe how to leverage investments in technology to rethink the design of homework, make use of real time student feedback, build collegiality and create more rigorous and motivating assignments.

Doug Reeves, founder of the Leadership and Learning Center, will address lessons from accountability gone wrong; restoring credibility to educational accountability; five steps school leaders and policymakers can take now to improve accountability; engaging stakeholders for new accountability systems; and practical effects of improved accountability.

The conference features four “focus zones” designed to help attendees identify sessions of interest.

Board and/or Superintendent Issues will feature panels discussing board/superintendent issues and ways for leaders to deal with the myriad of issues that come across their desks every day. These sessions help school leaders learn how to build a great relationship, communicate effectively, and deal with problems so there is a win-win solution for everyone.

Executive Leadership sessions recognize that the leaders of the future require extensive background knowledge and professional development in all aspects of executive leadership. Whether a principal, cabinet member, or head of a school system, effective leadership skills are necessary to transform public education. Attendees will learn how to build effective teams, use a systems-thinking approach for change, and understand what succession planning really means and how school-level organization increases student achievement.

Management sessions offer cost-effective solutions for surviving turbulent economic times. Attendees will hear about hot topics such as national standards, effective leadership techniques, using technology for data-driven results, social networking, and current technologies that can improve student achievement.

Student Achievement sessions focus on the fact that students of today must be prepared for a global society through innovative instructional practices, curriculum, and technology. Sessions will include the hot topics of today coupled with practical application strategies to help school system leaders deal with unions and pay-for-performance issues, observations, and evaluations as they strive to improve student achievement.