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Daggett Re-envisions Learning for the Whole Child in an AASA Keynote Address

At the fastest-improving schools, educators’ mindset changed from fast-forward thinking to future-focused thinking, according to Bill Daggett, the keynote speaker at Friday’s 2nd General Session.

Daggett, founder and chair of the International Center for Leadership in Education, supports this assertion with research findings of three studies that looked at individual school performance, the practices of the most innovative school districts and dropout recovery data.

“Schools are in danger of becoming museums,” Daggett said, while the world around them changes. He urged those attending the AASA national conference in Los Angeles to grasp the urgency of the need to change. Some common best practices came to light in the research.

Most school district leaders prepare their annual budgets with future-forward thinking. They consider their staffing needs, curriculum, professional development and so forth and then update the numbers and add a bit extra to cover new programs.

But at the fastest-improving schools, budget development is a future-focused initiative. “They put a stake in the ground where they want to be and talk about how they will get there,” Daggett said.

Everything is re-thought, including social emotional skill development beginning in the early grades, so that mental health issues requiring intervention and treatment are minimized.

Daggett believes it has now is a core responsibility for superintendents because the fragility of student health is evident in national statistics about depression, self-cutting and suicide. In his pre-conference session before 100 attendees last Tuesday, Daggett said two superintendents received phone calls about a student suicide in their respective districts.

“Superintendents must create tension” to introduce change, Daggett argued, though he advocated for an evolutionary approach. The mindset is to prepare people for middle-class jobs of today. “Let’s love our kids more than we love the schools of the past,” he said.

For a copy of Daggett’s PowerPoint or to learn more about joining the AASA Innovation Network, contact

Read Theresa Alban’s blog post about this event.

(Liz Griffin is senior editor of AASA’s Conference Daily Online.)

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