Eric Sheninger is a Senior Fellow and Thought Leader on Digital Leadership with the International Center for Leadership in Education (ICLE). Prior to this he was the award-winning Principal at New Milford High School. Under his leadership his school became a globally recognized model for innovative practices. Eric oversaw the successful implementation of several sustainable change initiatives that radically transformed the learning culture at his school while increasing achievement. His work focuses on leading and learning in the digital age as a model for moving schools and districts forward. This has led to the formation of the Pillars of Digital Leadership, a framework for all educators to initiate sustainable change to transform school cultures. As a result Eric has emerged as an innovative leader, best selling author, and sought after speaker. His main focus is purposeful integration of technology to facilitate student learning, improve communications with stakeholders, enhance public relations, create a positive brand presence, discover opportunity, transform learning spaces, and help educators grow professionally.Eric has received numerous awards and acknowledgments for his work. He is a CDE Top 30 award recipient, Bammy Award winner, NASSP Digital Principal Award winner, PDK Emerging Leader Award recipient, winner of Learning Forward’s Excellence in Professional Practice Award, Google Certified Innovator, Adobe Education Leader, and ASCD 2011 Conference Scholar. He has authored and co-authored the following:
Eric has also contributed on education for the Huffington Post, sits on the advisory board for many innovative companies, and was named to the NSBA “20 to Watch” list in 2010 for technology leadership. TIME Magazine also identified Eric as having one of the 140 Best Twitter Feeds in 2014. He now presents and speaks nationally to assist other school leaders embrace and effectively utilize technology. His blog, A Principal’s Reflections, was selected as Best School Administrator Blog in 2013 and 2011 by Edublogs. It was also recognized with an Editor’s Choice Content Award in 2014 by Smartbrief Education.Eric began his career in education as a Science Teacher at Watchung Hills Regional High School where he taught a variety of subjects (Biology, Chemistry, Marine Biology, Ecology) and coached several sports (ice hockey, football, lacrosse). He then transitioned into the field of educational administration as an Athletic Director/Supervisor of Physical Education & Health and Vice Principal in the New Milford School District. During his administrative career he has served as District Affirmative Action Officer and was the president of the New Milford Administrator’s Association. During his tenure as high school principal he successfully implemented numerous initiatives including a new teacher evaluation system (McREL), Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), oversaw Common Core implementation, and initiated a new grading philosophy. Eric received his M.Ed. in Educational Administration from East Stroudsburg University, B.S. in Biology from Salisbury University, and his B.S. in Marine/Environmental Science from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore.
Digital Leadership: Changing Paradigms for Changing Times (Keynote, Workshop, or Breakout Session)
The educational landscape is changing as a result of continuous advances in technology and a changing learner. As a result, educators must recognize this shift, anticipate needed changes, and lead by example in order to meet the diverse needs of key stakeholders in the 21st Century. Attendees will learn how to harness the power of digital tools and social media accessible today to improve communications, enhance public relations, establish a brand presence, increase student engagement, transform learning spaces, discover opportunity, and grow professionally like never before.
Creating Schools That Work For Kids (Keynote, Workshop, or Breakout Session)
Schools have traditionally been designed to work well for adults, but the conventional school design hasn’t always served our learners. Students today need to be empowered to take ownership of their learning in relevant and meaningful ways to prepare them for a constantly evolving world. This session will explore how to cultivate shared ownership, respect, and trust, creating a school learning culture that students value and to which they want to belong in the digital age. Attendees will be exposed to a variety of successful strategies and initiatives implemented at schools with a focus on the purposeful integration of technology, a redefinition of learning spaces, personalized learning, and the whole child.
Inspiring Students: Bringing Awe Back to Learning (Keynote, extended breakout)
Awe is a huge component of life—it’s hardwired into our brains. When we experience the sensation of awe, we are consumed by wonder, relevancy, emotion, engagement, inspiration, and real-world connections. Awe is a driving force for learning that will not just benefit our students now, but also well into their future. However, traditional views and functions of school deprive many students of experiencing the joy and power of awe as a catalyst for meaningful learning. During this keynote, Eric will share innovative, research-based practices that you can implement to bring back a sense of awe to learning.
Learning Transformed: 8 Keys to Designing Tomorrow’s Schools, Today (Keynote, extended breakout)
The current speed of technological breakthroughs has led to the coming age of workplace automation, dramatically altering the world of work that our students will enter. With all that is known about how students learn and the predictions regarding the world that our students will face tomorrow, a one‑size‑fits‑all approach to teaching and learning is educational malpractice. Built on the foundation of leadership and school culture, a redesigned learning experience fundamentally shifts the teaching and learning paradigm to one that’s personal. It alters the use of authentic assessments, how technology is leveraged, the spaces in which the learning occurs, the way educators grow professionally, how schools collaborate with the community, and the sustainability of the system as a whole. Eric will dissect this approach to unlocking tomorrow’s schools so that today’s modern learners leave ready to create new industries, find new cures, and solve world problems.
BrandED: Tell Your Story, Build Relationships, and Empower Learning (Keynote, breakout, or workshop)
If you don’t tell your story someone else will. Regardless of your position or where you work the digital age compels you to define yourself, school, and organization or be defined. Stories that pull on emotions while linking to successful outcomes can drive and sustain change. BrandED is a strategic mindset that harnesses the magic power of storytelling to showcase all the good that happens in our schools while building dynamic relationships. In this presentation, Eric will showcase ways that every educator can become the storyteller-in-chief while illustrating how feeling can be cultivated through image, promise, result, vision, belief, emotion, and value. The time is now to unlock the potential of brandED. Note – Presenter will tailor the message to the specific audience he is addressing.
Disruptive Leadership: The Key to the Future of Education (Keynote)
If we employ the same type of thinking we will get the same old results…or worse. Disruptive change is the answer to this problem that plagues education. A willingness to innovate and a fundamental change to learning by companies such as Netflix, Apple, and Uber has caused the demise of Blockbuster, Blackberry, and in the near future the taxi industry. They upended the status quo by being ahead of the curve with a focus on better ideas, relevance, personalization, and innovative practices. Education is in need of disruptive leadership in order to meet the changing needs of learners in order to avoid preparing them for a world that no longer exists. Eric will share practical strategies that can be implemented immediately to transform current practice while improving outcomes.
Mindsets for a Bold New World (Keynote or breakout)
Malcolm X wisely stated that education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today. Change is not coming, it is already on our doorstep. If we continue to employ the same type of thinking we will get the same old results. As such mindsets – our way of thinking – must evolve and change. Eric will walk attendees through key mindsets critical to transforming teaching, learning, and leadership. By taking a critical lens to our work and embracing innovative ideas we can usher in a bolder vision for education that prepares them for now and the future.
EdTech Tools to Transform Formative Assessment (Teachers) and Community Engagement (Administrators) (Breakout session of ½ day workshop)
This interactive session will focus on free, simple to use edtech tools to take your formative assessment and community engagement practices to the next level. The presenter will introduce and model how to integrate the tool and then give attendees the opportunity to practice on their own. All tools are web-based and can be used on any device. All attendees are asked to bring a device to this session.
Note – the presenter will adapt his focus (formative assessment vs. community engagement) depending on the makeup of the audience.
Return on Instruction (ROI) (Keynote or Breakout Session)
Our country spends billions of dollars on educational technology. How do you know that the money you are spending is actually having an impact on learning and achievement? Most school leaders cannot honestly answer this question. This session will focus on developing evidence to support a Return on Instruction (ROI) when investments are made on technology. Attendees will be exposed to a variety of proven strategies to not only improve pedagogy in the digital age but to also curate various forms of evidence to validate expenditures and garner stakeholder support.
Tell Your Story (Keynote, Breakout session, or Workshop)
Each institution has a unique story. With the power of digital media, that story has never been easier to tell. Learn how social media, simple video, web-based resources and an army of parents, students, teachers and alumni can help you build support and get the word out about what’s working in your schools and classrooms. This session will focus on communicating more effectively, reaching larger audiences, establishing a brand presence and interacting with stakeholders.
Challenges Ahead: Practical Solutions to Drive Change (Breakout Session)
School leaders and educators face many challenges as they attempt to catch up—and keep up—with technology and how today’s students learn best. Innovative change is necessary, but how do you move beyond the bumps in the road? During this interactive forum participants will share their specific obstacles to and challenges around technology integration, such as time, funding, infrastructure, mandates, BYOD/1:1, grading, homework, staff resistance, and more. Eric will facilitate this group discussion and share specific strategies and knowledge gained both firsthand and from other digital pioneers in his extensive personal learning network. Each attendee will leave with practical, tech-focused solutions for transforming teaching, learning, and leadership to implement the change that schools need and the learning experiences students deserve.
Leading the Maker Movement (Keynote or Breakout Session)
The maker movement in schools focuses on the natural learning curiosity of students where they tinker, invent, create, and make to learn. Makerspaces in schools tap into student passions and combine that with open-source learning, contemporary design and powerful personal technology like 3-D printers. This session will walk attendees through the creation of engaging makerspaces in any K-12 school and the foundational elements that can be purchased within any school budget. **During a three-hour workshop attendees will engage in a maker activity.
Digital Pedagogy for Deeper Learning (Keynote, Workshop, or Breakout Session)
Learning today should unleash the creativity of our students and prepare them with essential skills sets for success in a digital world. Attendees will discover how to seize the opportunity inherent in ubiquitous connectivity, an evolving real-time Web, open-source technology, mobile devices, and personalization to integrate digital learning across the curriculum. The presenter will address how to create a teaching and learning culture that integrates social media, OpenCourseWare, student-owned devices, the flipped instructional model, and other digital learning pathways to create schools that students want to be a part of.
Mobilize Learning (Keynote and/or breakout session)
The digital divide has begun to rapidly decrease as student access to technology has increased. With drastic reductions to operating budgets, schools have been forced to do more with less. This session will discuss why schools should embrace and create policies that support the use of 1:1 or student-owned devices as mobile learning devices to increase equitable access to technology, enhance the learning experience, and teach digital responsibility. Specific learning strategies for using student-owned devices in schools will be presented and modeled. Sample policies will also be presented. Participants will leave this session with the tools to successfully implement a BYOD and/or 1:1 initiative in their schools.
Turn the Battleship on a Dime: Keys to Initiating Sustainable Change (Keynote, and/or Breakout Session)
Educational change is often perceived as a difficult process fraught with competing ideas that rarely take hold. This session will tackle the issue of initiating cultural school change that is embraced, sustained, and celebrated. The presenter will address common obstacles to the change process and highlight strategies to overcome them. Examples will be shared that emphasize how one school has moved beyond change to transform the teaching and learning culture in a way that lasts.
Culture Shock – Transitioning to a Better School Culture (Keynote, breakout, and/or workshop)
School culture describes the environment that impacts the behavior of students, teachers, and parents. This environment is created through a combination of changes, which ultimately influences student success. This session will address specific initiatives, programs, and strategies that can be implemented to improve school culture in ways that better meet the academic, social, and emotional well being of students. The presenter will share successful steps taken to improve a school culture that sets students and staff on a path to success. Examples such as Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), creating a makerspace, grading reform, AP program overhaul, social media integration, an embedded model of professional growth, and others will be shared and analyzed for impact.
The Power of Personal Learning Networks (PLN’s) (Workshop and/or Breakout session)
Personal Learning Networks (PLN’s) have been around for centuries and can be defined as relationships that individuals leverage for learning. Attendees will learn how 21st Century educators can utilize the Internet and Web 2.0 tools (microblogging services, social networking websites, social bookmarking tools, RSS feed readers, tablet apps, and digital discussion forums) to create their PLN’s and customize their “always-on” learning networks to better prepare and understand the Common Core Standards, college & career readiness, technology integration, engaging learners, and effective leadership strategies.
Educational Options for a Changing World (Breakout session)
One of the many challenges that school leaders face is ensuring that all students are college and career ready. The key to overcoming this challenge is to make learning relevant and meaningful to our students. This session will focus on New Milford High School’s journey to radically transform the learning culture through the formation of our own Academies. They represent a bold new direction for education, one that considers student interest, national need and global demand for highly qualified graduates capable of competing at the most challenging levels. Participants will learn first hand how we have created and sustained our own Academy structure and be provided with the tools to create their own in a cost-effective manner.
Becoming a Twitterific Educator (workshop and/or Breakout session)
Many educators have heard of Twitter, but brush it off as a meaningless social networking site notorious for wasting time in 140 characters or less. This is anything but the truth! Participants will learn and see firsthand how Twitter has quickly become an indispensable tool for educators at all levels from every corner of the globe. The session will begin with an overview of how to set up an educator page, sending a message called a tweet, and the specific language associated with Twitter. Participants will then be exposed to the various educational uses of Twitter including communication, sharing/acquiring resources, global collaboration, knowledge acquisition, tracking conferences, eliciting feedback, virtual mentoring, and professional growth.
Creating a Culture Through Communication Strategies (Keynote, Breakout session, or Workshop)
Digital leadership focuses on meeting stakeholders where they are and engaging them in two-way communications. This session explores how social media, various web-based tools, and apps can be used by teachers and leaders to support and enhance the communication between schools and the surrounding community. Leadership teams will leave with tangible communication strategies and ideas on how to create a transparent environment.
Community Engagement Through Social Media (Workshop and/or Breakout session)
This session explores how social media, various web-based tools, and apps can be used by teachers and leaders to support and enhance the communication between schools and the surrounding community. Participants will leave with tangible strategies and ideas on how to create a transparent environment and give every stakeholder and family an entry point.
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