We just returned from the EdWeek Market Brief Summit in Dallas which was on all counts remarkably rewarding. Remarkable, first and foremost, because it was in person. The “adjacent possible” that comes from chatting in the buffet line is not one that we take for granted post-Pandemic.
Here are our key takeaways from the Summit:
#1. Safety is keeping everyone up at night and for profound reasons. In fact, we don’t know how District Superintendents sleep at all. Cybersecurity, school safety, gun violence, mental health issues, and the list goes on. By an informal poll, the most valued event of the Summit was a panel of Superintendents laying out how they’re rebuilding after “two- plus years of crisis.” In short, they’re preparing for two+ more years of crisis. Managing risk in schools is an extreme exercise. The leadership of Superintendent Dr. Diana L. Greene in Florida is particularly motivating. “Every day is about winning, not just making it through.” Check out her bio to see the impact of her words in action.
#2. District technology is undergoing yet another sea-change. The second favorite panel concerned how districts were dealing with technology “post-Pandemic.” After the Houston ISD CIO, Scott Gilhousen, announced that the district was awarded $1.1 Billion in federal funds, the center of the room’s gravity shifted. This district phased out print textbooks and has gone to digital only. Regarding screen time, Gilhousen also pointed out that while student Zoom fatigue is real, they don’t have the same complaints about Fortnite. How do these points impact the “funding cliff” playbook? The answers vary. A lot.
#3. Roundtables. Thought leaders (and doers) in the field want more of them. EdWeek hosted four different breakout sessions where self-selecting participants shared perspectives, strategies, and, best of all, tactics. The topics were communication, executive up-all-night issues (see takeaway #1), PD, and long-term strategy (see takeaway #2). Many of the participants had lived a wide range of professional lives before landing at the conference. Speaking from our own experience, there was an intersectional quality to the sessions—again, “adjacent possible”—that produced layered insights that are hard to reach online. From that standpoint alone, the EdWeek Market Brief Summit is good value. Full disclosure, Westchester was proud to be an event sponsor. Even so, the focus, intimacy, and quality of the conversations far exceeded our expectations. Just our opinion, but don’t take our word for it: follow EdWeek Market Brief and see if it isn’t helpful.
At the end of the day, there is no substitute for connecting in person around a shared purpose. It felt great to learn alongside old colleagues and new friends. We’ll carry that learning forward into the projects we work on with education publishers and ed tech companies, in support of schools and students.
Westchester and our partners will be attending the following conferences (in-person!):
Philadelphia, December 2-4, 2002
FETCNew Orleans, January 23-26, 2023.
Westchester, EdGate, and EvoText will be hosting a webinar in January 2023. Complete the form below to be notified when registration for this free event opens.
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