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San Diego, Calif.
October 30 - November 1, 2015
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Conference on Educational Leadership

Conference on Educational Leadership

Connect with the top leaders, develop your leadership skills, and leave empowered with new ideas to put into practice in your school or district

Learn more and register.



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Publish in ASCD Express

ASCD Express is the association's free e-newsletter. Published twice a month, this resource seeks to give educators practical, actionable strategies and information from the most reputable sourcesthe colleagues and experts working in the education field. ASCD Express content is developed and curated for brevity and relevance to the real experiences of working educators.

ASCD Express seeks brief, practical content. Article submissions typically range from 600 to 1,000 words, and multimedia submissions should be no longer than 10 minutes.

We welcome research-based submissions as well as your own examples from the classroom and advice about how to adapt successful strategies or overcome challenges, whether as a teacher, administrator, or specialist.

Read our list of upcoming themes, and consider publishing in ASCD Express. When submitting articles, please write the issue theme in the subject line of your e-mail.


2015 Themes 

 denotes a theme that corresponds to an issue of Educational Leadership.

April 9: Communication Skills for Leaders 

From teachers to principals, formal and informal leaders must communicate well to forge a strong school climate and enhance learning. This issue will examine how school leaders can keep communication transparent and supportive. How can teachers, coaches, resource specialists, and other professionals communicate with one another constructively? How can leaders build strong connections with students, families, and business partners; use social media effectively; talk with teachers in ways that promote their professional growth; hold the inevitable tough conversations; communicate clearly in school crises; and shape their school's image?

Submissions Closed

April 23: Minds-On Learning

How do you design learning that strengthens connections in the brain, accounts for processing time and working memory capacity, engages multiple sense for deep inquiry, and otherwise capitalizes on how the brain learns? How do you develop students' metacognition and teach them about their own brains? What myths about the brain and learning persist? What new discoveries are most promising (and relevant) to educators? What would a brain-friendly school look like?

Submissions due: Closed

May 14: Teaching with Mobile Tech 

The digital generation expects to be able to access learning anytime, anywhere. As mobile technologies emerge at breathtaking speed and become a ubiquitous part of students' lives, how are schools evolving? How are teachers using tablets, smartphones, netbooks, and e-readers to engage students as active learners? This issue will explore innovative ways to create more relevant and challenging learning experiences. We welcome articles about educators' experiences with 1:1 tablet and BYOD (bring-your-own-device) programs and about how schools are meeting such challenges as equity issues, security concerns, professional development needs, and school infrastructure supports.

Submissions due: Closed

May 28: Rethinking Time

Time corresponds to student learning not in the amount of time in school, but rather, how effectively that time is used (CPE, 2006). With that in mind, how are schools examining how they use time, and what changes are they making to ensure school time is well-spent? Potential topics in this issue include: What impact do school start times have on learning? How can teachers maximize instructional time? Which scheduling configurations make the best use of existing time in the school? Do students have enough time to meet the learning goals set by standards? How are competency-based and personalized approaches to learning shifting how students progress through curriculum? What is the case for extending school days and/or years, and how is time used in schools that have opted to add time? What are some strategies for setting aside more time for teacher collaboration and professional development?

Submissions due: Closed

June 11: Feedback for Impact

John Hattie wrote, "When teachers listen to their students' learning, they know what worked, what didn't, and what they need to change to foster student growth" (2012). Feedback is the bridge between these teacher observations and student action. How do you structure feedback so that it helps students improve? What role do formative assessments play? How do you align feedback to visible learning targets? What's key to managing ongoing feedback? Do you apply different approaches to feedback for group work? Can students give each other meaningful feedback? How can we train students to listen to their own learning and adjust as needed? How do you create time for feedback and what do you do when feedback flounders? How does the feedback you give inform your next steps for instruction?

Submissions due: Closed

June 25: Improving Schools from Within 

Has your school gone from low-performing to high-performing? Has your school overcome obstacles to change for the better? If you have participated in a reform effort or turnaround model that worked (or did not work), share your knowledge and experience with other educators. With this issue, which accompanies Educational Leadership’s summer all-digital issue, we’re looking to expand on the February 2015 theme, "Improving Schools: What Works?" to look at some up-close examples of schools that worked with their communities, sharpened their focus, took risks to innovate, or built trust within their schools or districts. What are your recommendations for others who want to apply the lessons you've learned?

Submissions due: Closed

July 9: Words, Words, Words

Vocabulary knowledge is a strong predictor of school success. Yet research shows that huge differences in vocabulary development exist among socioeconomic groups as children enter school. This issue will explore the connection between vocabulary, reading comprehension, and learning. Articles will describe how teachers at a variety of grade levels and in a variety of content areas can provide rich language experiences. How can teachers balance explicit and implicit vocabulary instruction? How can they decide what vocabulary to teach; build students’ independent word-learning skills; assess students’ vocabulary learning; and encourage students to use powerful vocabulary in their writing and speaking? How can we help English language learners develop not only conversational proficiency but also academic vocabulary?

Submissions due: Closed

July 23: Supportive Student Discipline

Students learn best in an environment where they feel safe and supported, but creating such an environment can be a challenge. This issue will consider how schools can address students’ social and emotional needs to ensure that all students, including those who struggle with their behavior, are able to learn. What kinds of programs and policies are schools implementing to guide student behavior, and what can educators do to ensure they’re fairly applied? We welcome articles on how schools have reduced harsh and exclusionary policies, such as suspension; implemented effective classroom management approaches; and promoted positive behavior schoolwide.

Submissions due: Closed

August 13: New Teacher Needs

Linda Darling-Hammond (2012) says new teachers want to work in an environment where they're going to be successful with students, where they're getting help to do that, where they have good colleagues, where they're working as a team. How are schools serving these new teacher needs? This issue seeks practical guidance for first-year teachers, whether just out of college or switching careers. What are some strategies for handling the logistics of teaching, like managing paperwork and establishing structure and routines? Which resources help career-switchers translate content expertise into pedagogy? What are some models for ensuring new teachers have plenty of opportunities to observe and partner with master teachers? How can new teachers avoid burnout, power struggles, trying to be the "cool teacher," and other common pitfalls?

Submissions due: Closed

August 27: In Sync with Families

Research shows that parent involvement helps kids do better in school. But what kind of outreach truly brings families into their children’s education as partners and taps into their strengths and perspectives? This issue will examine how administrators, teachers, and school staff can reach out to families—including nontraditional ones—in ways that not only make families feel welcome, but also enable them to contribute to their child’s academic achievement and to the school’s effectiveness. We welcome articles on communicating with families from diverse cultures and non-English speaking families; dealing positively with oppositional, uninvolved (or over-involved) parents; soliciting parents’ ideas and putting them into action; and respectfully connecting with families.

Submissions due: Closed

September 10: Questioning for Learning 

One of a teacher's most important practices is asking questions—to spark students' interest, evaluate their readiness for instruction, reinforce their learning, develop their critical-thinking skills, and assess their understanding. What kinds of questions help students deepen their thinking rather than merely reach the "right" answers? How can teachers create written and oral assessment questions that reveal student knowledge? How can they engage students in exploring intriguing essential questions and reassure students who are afraid to show they don't know something? How can they teach students to generate their own questions and research topics in depth? We welcome articles about oral and written questioning strategies at all grade levels and in all subject areas.

Submissions due: Closed

September 24: How to Begin and End Lessons

How do you hook students on a topic from the moment they step into your classroom? What are the best ways to communicate lesson expectations? How do you share objectives and a general roadmap for a lesson with students? What are your strategies for activating background knowledge or making connections to previous lessons? When you're winding down a lesson, or pressing pause until the next class meeting, how do you bring students to closure? What tools do you use to check for student understanding? How do you help students organize and evaluate their new knowledge within the context of the lesson objective and the overall goals for a unit?

Submissions due: Closed

October 8: Emotionally Healthy Kids 

Cognitive science tells us that students' emotions affect their motivation, attention span, memory, behavior, and ultimately, their academic achievement. Yet anxiety and stress among students seem to be on the rise. How can educators help all students learn to deal with their emotions to enhance learning? How can teachers best support students who have emotional and mental health problems—and whose behavior may disrupt other students' learning? And how can educators connect with counselors and mental health professionals to reach students who need intensive help? Articles will look at strategies for creating emotionally safe classrooms, building social skills and empathy, and helping kids learn to support one another.

Submissions due: Closed

October 22: Staying Centered

For teachers, October can be the cruelest month. Start-of-the-year idealism fades as day-to-day challenges pile up, and goals and a sense of balance can seem beyond reach. How do you reconnect to your motivation and purpose in one of the most stressful professions? What school-level supports mitigate the stress of teaching? Which collegial partnerships—virtual or face to face—are most sustaining? How do you make time, and a plan, for taking care of yourself? This issue will include tips for managing stress, adopting mindful educational practices, and feeling engaged and productive with your goals.

Submissions due: Closed

November 12: Doing Data Right

Most educators receive mounds of data that they're not sure what to do with-—yet they can't always get the information that they need day-to-day. This issue looks at how educators can extract useful data (both quantitative and qualitative) from the flood of information available, cope efficiently with data they're required to gather, and generate learning-centered information about their students and schools. We seek articles on such topics as expanding our view of data beyond test scores, setting up a school culture in which teachers examine student data and translate data into meaningful action, using qualitative data-collection techniques like peer observation and home visits, harnessing technology to organize data, and sharing data with school stakeholders to help them mobilize support.

Submissions due: Closed

November 25: Managing Personalization

At its root, personalized learning is about giving students choice and agency to pursue learning that is individually meaningful and resource rich, at their own pace. This can be challenging (and some say, impossible) to accomplish with every student, in a class of thirty or more. Some argue technology can fulfill the promise of differentiation, but tech solutions to personalized learning are criticized for being standardized and modular, and counter to an authentic, whole child approach. So what are some practical suggestions for how teachers can diagnose different learning needs, help students tap into interests, and set parameters on choice? With or without technology, what's realistic for differentiating how students will learn something and how they will demonstrate mastery? How do you create a rubric that allows for a variety of approaches to a topic or skill, without sacrificing rigor? How do you stay open to the unknown directions a lesson or unit might go, based on student questions and reflections? How do you prepare units with these multiple paths in mind, making sure resources are at the ready to support student inquiry?

Submissions due: Closed

December 10: Teaching in Tandem

Today, many educators are finding innovative ways to teach together. But do teachers have the skills and supports they need to make such collaborations work? This issue will explore the benefits and challenges of two or more professionals working together to plan and deliver instruction. Articles will address how teachers can develop relationship-building skills, how regular classroom teachers and special education teachers can coordinate instruction to serve learners with special needs, and how instructional specialists (such as reading or math specialists, English as a second language teachers, and school library media specialists) can best work with classroom teachers, including assisting remotely through technology. We welcome articles on teaching integrated content-area units at the secondary level and on the role of the school leader in supporting teacher collaboration.

Submissions due: Closed

December 24: Feeding Student Entrepreneurship

On the popular show, Shark Tank, contestants vie for investors (or "sharks") to take a stake in their invention, and help bring it to a broader market. That same entrepreneurial spirit is alive in a fourth grade classroom, where students participating in their own shark tank exuberantly present a tool for testing the freshness of watermelons, a password protected backpack, and a jacket that features both warming and massaging components ("Because sometimes, people get too stressed."). In lessons like these, kids are encouraged to be creative while designing solutions to real world problems. To succeed in classroom shark tanks, sounding cool isn't enough – students must be able to explain how their design works, its rationale, and its impact on society. Where do entrepreneurialism and academics intersect, in your classroom? What makes this type of learning meaningful and rigorous? How do you set objectives and assess outcomes? How have your students applied entrepreneurial skills for social good? Comedian Lily Tomlin said, "I always wondered why somebody doesn't do something about that. Then I realized I was somebody." In this issue, teachers ask students, Are you that somebody?

Submissions due: October 30

January 14: Tech Your Teaching: When, Why, How

Teachers are inundated with apps; but knowing when, why, and how to integrate technology in the classroom is more important than any particular tech tool. This issue will discuss how to use the SAMR model for tech integration, check for superficial uses of technology, amplify engagement, work around logistical constraints, and transform learning with technology. Special attention will be given to what technology integration actually looks like in practice. So, if you find yourself at the buffet of ed. tech. options, but can't find a fork—this one's for you.

Submissions due: November 1

January 28: Better Relationships with Students

Relationships are the heart of a school; they impact everything that happens there. And yet, it can be hard to isolate and replicate how positive relationships in the classroom are formed, maintained, and given room to grow. In this issue, educators will identify scalable strategies for building better relationships with students. How do you balance empathy with high expectations? Can feedback be both constructive and caring? How do you cultivate compassion for oppositional students? Are there hidden messages in how you lead your classroom? And if so, how can you align them with your goal of a joyful, high achieving community. James Baldwin wrote, “Love takes off masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within.” This issue seeks to remove the barriers to connectedness and demystify the steps toward better relationships with students.

Submissions due: November 15

February 11: Helping ELLs Excel

As the U.S. population becomes increasingly diverse, schools are serving more English language learners (ELLs). These students come to school with many gifts, as well as challenges. This issue will address how schools can set high but achievable expectations for ELLs to ensure that they can not only survive academically, but also excel. For example, how are schools recognizing English language learners' strengths and integrating their cultural experiences, background knowledge, and home language skills into the learning environment? Supporting academic learning with active, hands-on activities that transcend language barriers? Providing differentiated opportunities for ELLs to demonstrate learning? Helping ELLs develop the academic vocabulary they need to learn in subjects like math, social studies, and science? Grouping students so that native English speakers and ELLs can interact with and learn from one another?

Submissions due: December 1