2018 Conference Breakout Sessions

The NJCSA Annual Conference offers carefully curated breakout sessions designed to provide valuable and enjoyable learning experiences for teachers, leaders, school business administrators, trustees, and other charter school stakeholders. 
You can review our full list of offerings by scrolling down the page, or just skip to the strand you find most interesting. Please keep in mind that many of our sessions appeal to mulitiple audiences. 

REGISTER: Early Bird Registration is open to all!
Instructional Practice
Advocacy and Policy

Instructional Practice

Music Across the Disciplines
Christine Nick, Senior Manage of Policy & Outreach, The Rock and Roll Forever Foundation
TeachRock is a free, standards-aligned curriculum which uses popular music as a tool for student engagement. Featuring artists as wide-ranging as The Beatles, Whiz Khalifa, and many in-between. the materials allow all students to interact with the arts every day, free of cost.
English Language Learning through Cooperative Learning
Andrea Vallejo, Bilingual Teacher, Maria L. Varisoc-Rogers Charter School
Come explore tips and strategies for implementing cooperative learning for English Language Learners. Cooperative learning groups make each member a stronger individual. Having students engaged in-group activities allows them to develop higher-order thinking, oral skills, and build their self-esteem. Learn how collaborative teaching has been built and sustained with practical tips and tools to support your practice and your program. Through hands-on practice, you will experience how the English language units develop with specific language goals. A brief discussion how the Bilingual/ESL team collaborates by planning, teaching and assessing their English Language Learners.
Using Grammar to Improve Writing: Recipes for Action
Sarah Tantillo, Consultant, Sarah Tantillo, Ed.D., LLC
This workshop explains how to connect writing and grammar instruction systematically and provides practical tools to support teachers in doing this. Topics include: 1) Why students struggle with grammar, 2) What to STOP doing, 3) Seven Principles for Effective Grammar/Writing Instruction, 4) How to help students who are not on grade level, 5) Other factors that affect how well we write, and 6) How to meet the Common Core Standards for Language and Writing SYSTEMATICALLY.
Bridging the Divide & Building Community Pride by Offering Elementary School Students an Entry Point Into the Realities of Bias and Race in America
Victoria Clinton, Teacher, KIPP Seek Academy
KIPP elementary school teacher Victoria Clinton felt strongly that it was particularly important her students to have discussions about bias and discrimination at a young age because of what they're likely to face outside of her classroom walls so she created a curriculum to support that. Last school year students in select KIPP elementary schools in Newark tackled issues like DACA, H&M "Coolest Monkey" ad, and more through a weekly social justice class. Clinton's goal is for students to become critical thinkers with a deep sense of pride in their community and race and committed to social change.
Using High-Impact Instructional Practices to Accelerate Learning
Tracey Severns, Educational Consultant, Teach4Results
Students who come to us below grade level require instructional practices that help them achieve more than one year's growth in one year's time. During this interactive session, participants will learn how to examine the impact of factors that influence student outcomes, identify practices with a high effect size, and increase their use of instructional strategies that accelerate learning. The goal is to turn research into results. This workshop will provide practical techniques and resources to improve the use of five high-impact practices that optimize student outcomes: student talk, thinking tasks, teacher clarity, assessment and feedback.
Quality Partnerships though the University-School Connection: Developing Highly Effective Teachers through the Teacher Training Program.
Michelle Rosen, Assistant Professor, New Jersey City University
This panel session will describe a successful University-School partnership between an urban institution of secondary education and charter schools. The partnership, which pairs pre-service teachers with experienced teachers, provides an effective model for authentic learning experiences. In-service teachers provide exemplary pedagogical models for pre-service teachers while they are exposed to real-life best practices, all of which will be shared with session participants. This mentor-mentee model allows teachers, trainees, and students to benefit academically, socially, and emotionally. Other aspects of the program will be discussed such as professional development provided for the pre-service teachers, mentoring, and after school tutoring programs.
"Getting’ Messi": How Mistakes Make Mathematicians and Scientists
Keith Robinson, Executive Director, People's Prep Charter School
Imagine the stress and anxiety you'd feel if every wrong answer is seen as a judgment of your ability. What if, instead, every wrong answer is seen as an opportunity to grow and develop? In this session, Keith Robinson, winner of TNTP's Fishman Prize for Superlative Classroom Practice, will describe how to forge a classroom culture that values hard work over natural ability and celebrates the brilliant mistakes that are the hallmark of true learning.
Developing Grit: Building Student Success through Personalized Learning Strategies in Reading, Writing, and Math
Dawn Payne, 5th grade teacher; teacher mentor, Compass Academy Charter School
Participants will discover practical ways to help students develop grit, i.e., persistence and increased confidence when facing three PARCC challenges that typically leave students turned off, shutdown, and unsuccessful. Each presenter will demonstrate learning strategies that have made a difference with their students including 1) identifying the theme of required reading passages; 2) developing evidence-based written responses on-demand; and 3) performing the skill of adding and subtracting mixed fractions. Participants will come away with specific lesson plans that demonstrate how insights into self-awareness as a learner and reflective practices can empower students to soldier through difficult tasks and succeed.
Starting STEM Early: Embedding Matter, Energy, and Engineering into the Early Childhood Curriculum
Kengo Yamada, Manager, Early Childhood Education Programs, Liberty Science Center
Looking to incorporate STEM and the NGSS in your early childhood environment? During this inquiry-based workshop, we will discover some hands-on activities to appropriately introduce topics of matter, energy, and engineering into an early childhood classroom. Teachers will walk away with a list of activities and an understanding on how to navigate the NGSS website in search of appropriate standard connections.
Introducing SEL by Way of Restorative Practices
Hansol Choi, SEL and Restorative Practices Specialist, Center for Educational Innovation
Is there a "best" way to implement a SEL culture in our schools? Where does Restorative Practice fit into the big picture? In this session, educators will explore the significant ways in which social emotional learning and restorative practices work in tandem to support the foundations for a safe, healthy, and restorative school culture across our diverse student populations. Participants can expect an interactive learning experience with resources to take away that will better inform their own practice in their classrooms and schools.
RIGOR is not a Four-Letter Word: Shifting from Teaching to Learning
Mary Jo McKinley, Professional Development Provider, JLK Education Consulting
There has been much talk about rigor - "If it is rigorous, they will learn". However when implementing curricula in real-life, how do we plan for student engagement? If the students do not engage with the rigorous curricula they will not learn. How do teachers build lessons that move students from ritual engagement to authentic "brain sweat"? In this session you will become familiar with the work of the Schlechty Center of Engagement and learn how to lesson plan using Schlechty qualities to improve learning.
Meeting the Diverse Needs of Diverse Learners
David Ginsburg, Instructional Coach and Consultant, GECC, LLC
Differentiated instruction has been a focus in education for years. But to truly engage and empower all students as learners, we need to not only differentiate based on students' academic needs but their social-emotional needs too. Participants will acquire practical strategies that enable us as educators to assess and address students' diverse needs--academic, social, and emotional--in a timely and effective manner. Come learn how to meet students where they are so that they can learn and grow to their potential.

School Security; The Most Important Work of Our Time
Thomas Gambino, Education Program Specialist, NJ Department of Education
In this session, the presenters will share best practices for school security, school safety, and procedures to adhere to during an active shooter drill.
Charter School Facilities and Financing
Joseph Palazzolo, Lending Team Leader, Education & Early Care, New Jersey Community Capital
The session will include a brief facility and financing discussion followed by individual breakout discussions and scenario evolution through worksheet completion at tables located throughout the room. Topics to be covered include financing for start-up charter schools, lines of credit, pros and cons of different financing structures, federal guaranty programs, the turnkey development model, and case studies. Attendees will also be able to speak directly with the presenters and other charter school facility and finance leaders at breakout tables. Presenters include leading charter school lenders in New Jersey, the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions, and a national charter school developer.

Recruitment Best Practices: What are the Best teams doing to find the Best Talent?
Malcolm Davis, SelectED
Hear about the latest successful approaches to efficient teacher recruitment from the innovators at getselected.com.
 School Leadership

Protecting Your School Against Cybersecurity Threats
William Hughes, Jr., Principal (Former Assistant US Attorney and Trial Attorney, US Dept of Justice), Porzio, Bromberg & Newman, P.C.
School leaders must be prepared to protect their school from data privacy and cybersecurity threats to provide every child with a safe and secure learning environment. These threats are constantly changing and evolving, so you cannot base preparations for future challenges on past experiences. This session will demonstrate data breaches that schools can expect to face in the days ahead and provide practical, straightforward strategies for preventing and reacting to them.
Building Blocks of a Healthy Special Education Department
Lauren Krempecki, Program Coordinator Special Populations, New Jersey Special Education Collaborative
New Jersey charter schools are tasked with fulfilling all legal special education obligations, often with fewer and newer staff members. This session will focus on the Special Education Program Review framework developed by the National Center for Special Education in Charter Schools. Presented by the New Jersey Special Education Collaborative (NJSEC), the framework is used throughout NJ as a model for building robust special education programs.
Giving Feedback that Leads to Instructional Change
Gwen Stephens, Executive Director, Mid-Atlantic Region, Achievement Network
The primary purpose of observation should not be to judge the quality of teachers, but to find the most effective way to coach them to improve student learning. This session will help participants understand the characteristics of effective feedback by grounding teacher actions the Common Core shifts. Leaders will have the opportunity to practice giving feedback using classroom video of instruction and leverage the strengths of their colleagues by role playing feedback conversations with other participants. Participants will have the chance to take a copy of the Student Achievement Partner's Core Actions Instructional Practice Guide back to their buildings.
Charter School Boards & School Leaders: Achieving Authentic, Functional Partnerships
Paul O'Neill, Attorney, Tugboat Education
Charter school boards and school leaders have the same goal: a fantastic, successful school. But challenging circumstances and disfunction often get in the way. A poor relationship between the leader and the board can keep a school from realizing its full potential and can deteriorate into deeper layers of disfunction and become a crisis, This session will be led by experts on charter leadership and governance, focusing on building and maintaining strong, collaborative, mutually respectful relationships between board and leader. Two experts will lead a robust discussion, providing tools for avoiding problems and for remedying them and highlighting best practices.

The Future Ready Schools - New Jersey Certification Program
Jeremy Reich, Executive Director, (Future Ready Schools - New Jersey
FRS-NJ is a partnership between the NJDOE, the New Jersey School Boards Association (NJSBA), and NJIT. FRS-NJ is designed to organize school and district efforts to best prepare their students for success in college, career, and citizenship in the digital age, foster inclusive collaboration, support these efforts, and connect New Jersey's educators and leaders to resources. We invite New Jersey's charter schools to join our inclusive community and to benefit from FRS-NJ process and collaborative network. Join Project Coordinator Jeremy Reich to learn how your school can be certified #FutureReady!

Advocacy and Policy

Not School Law -- Charter School Law
Thomas Johnston, Principal, Johnston Law Firm LLC
This session will discuss key legal issues unique to New Jersey charter school operations, including engaging management organizations, facility transactions with affiliated entities, avoiding and managing disputes with resident districts over private school placements and defending against allegations of segregative practices.

Strategies to Combat Segregation Claims in Charter Schools: Weighted Lotteries and More
Harry Lee, Director of Strategy and Special Projects (NJCSA), Brenda Liss , Partner, Riker Danzig; others TBD
In this session, a panel of experts will discuss the statutory requirement that charter schools serve a "cross-section" of their school's "community-age population". The panel will provide a list of strategies that schools in NJ and across the country have used to recruit more low-income, special education, and ELL students including weighted lotteries to increase chances for educationally disadvantaged students to attend a charter school.

The Politics of Engagement
Rena Youngblood, Director of Charter School Services, Association of American Educators; Shelley Skinner, Executive Director, Better Education for Kids, Inc.; Altorice Frazier, Co-Founder, Parents Engaging Parents;  Danielle West, Chief Academic Officer/Director, Queen City Academy Charter School
It is always critical for everyone involved in the charter school community to be engaged in advocacy. Charter schools are often misrepresented in the media, at public hearings and by anti-charter propaganda. All too often we hear myths from those who are threatened by charter schools and we don't know how to respond or if we should. A panel of advocacy experts will share their stories about how they became advocates and why it's critical for everyone to do the same. You will hear  how each of these advocates have weathered opposition propaganda, negative op-eds, heated meetings and lack of support from elected officials.