The teaching and learning association, ASCD, gathered in Chicago this week–nearly 11,000 strong but the conference seemed swallowed by the giant McCormick Convention Center.  It’s not the crazy crush of SXSWedu or the ASU Summit.

Like other education conferences, there was more #EdTech and #BlendedLearning than last year.  Compared to other conferences I attend, #ASCD13 ws much more teacher-centric and whole child focused.

Launched in 2007, ASCD’s Whole Child Initiative seeks to define student success not just based on a test score but a broad set of measures.   The inarguable tagline is:

“Each child deserves to be healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged.”

I attended a session titled “Advocating for Whole Child Policy in Your State” to learn more about the specific policy agenda and the proposed recommendation was a Whole Child Resolution simply to raise visibility.  I was hoping for a more specific advocacy agenda but was glad that it wasn’t simply anti-measurement.

After a couple days at ASCD I was wandering the halls contemplating this kinder gentler gatherings thinking, it’s not the kind of conference for the ‘no excuses’ crowd. But when the Henry Ford Institute (mentioned in my Detroit blog today) session was full I stumbled next door for an overview of “Schools That Can Milwaukee” by William Hughes, Director of Leadership Development.

“Leaders remind people what is important,” said Hughes.  “Leadership is a learned skill.”  In Wisconsin, it must be learned in a masters degree program so Hughes created a partnership with Alverno.  (More on productive partnerships and great schools in Milwaukee next Monday).

Speaking of leaders, it was great to see Josh Garcia, Deputy Superintendent from Tacoma, Washington (and my daughter’s high school principal) named National 2013 Outstanding Young Educator at #ASCD13.

Compared to last year, there were a few more startups in the Exhibition Hall.  Amplify was showing off its new tablet bundle.  Pearson and Scholastic had predictably large displays.  There was less food and furniture than an NSBA conference, less edtech than FETC, but more literacy products and services than any conference you’ll attend.

ASCD runs a good conference.  It’s well organized.  The app is great.  I’m glad they are trying to stake out the whole child agenda.  See you at #ASCD14 in LA next year!

For more, see Students Talk about Blended Learning at #ASCD13.

Disclosure: Pearson is a Getting Smart Advocacy Partner

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