January 17, 2003 — The annual Department of Defense Dependents Schools (DoDDS) Pacific Assistant Principals’ Conference is scheduled for January 27–31, 2003, at the New Sanno Hotel in Tokyo, Japan. This conference will focus on initiatives that will be implemented under the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) Community Strategic Plan. The theme of the conference is Leading Learning: Literacy at the Center, and will provide guidance for administrators on how to lead schools in using research-based best practices to promote literacy in all subject areas. The conference capitalizes on our agency’s theme, “DoDEA Reads,” and the President’s national education agenda to “leave no child behind.”
Administrators will hear an address from Dr. Joseph Tafoya, DoDEA Director, and Dr. Elizabeth Middlemiss, DoDEA Associate Director for Education, and attend sessions such as “Linking English/Language Arts and Social Studies Standards to Literacy.” The end result of DoDDS Pacific emphasis on literacy is to lay the foundation for students to develop into competent, literate adults.
Research tells us that if children don’t learn to read by age 8, or grade 3, they may have a difficult time reading as life-long learners. Sessions are intended to deepen administrators’ understanding of ways to implement best literacy practices across the curriculum. For example, a balanced literacy program supports the strategic plan goals and consists of reading and writing to, by, and with children on a daily basis. In this case, an administrator might observe a high school physics class and see the teacher reading the text aloud to students. This practice provides students access to text that may be difficult to read independently. The result of this practice is more competent, literate learners.
According to the DoDDS Pacific Early Childhood Curriculum and Instructional Support Specialist and session presenter, “school leaders will also hear about connecting what we know to practice.” For example, he stated that “an environment where materials are organized, and there are soft and hard spaces, and the room is filled with print created by teachers and children, is a stimulating environment. If we put into practice what we know about environments, it will result in a more ‘engaged’ student.” The conference will also focus on how standards-based instruction connects to the DoDEA Community Strategic Plan, school improvement, and the curriculum development cycle.
This year, during their classroom visits, administrators will be observing, analyzing, and giving feedback to teachers related to standards-based curriculum and instruction, and the conference is intended to provide them with knowledge and tools for leading learning and instituting research-based best practices within their schools.