Dissemination Fair draws educators from across Mass.

Submitted to The Champion

DEVENS — More than 200 educators from across the state attended the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s first Dissemination Fair at the Devens Conference Center on Nov. 18.

The event, created by DESE with help from nearly 50 schools and districts, was designed to help educators working in areas of school redesign share promising practices with their peers at other schools.

Forty-six panelists from Massachusetts charter schools, expanded learning time schools and innovation schools addressed topics such as problem-based learning, recruiting and retaining teachers, evaluating curriculum, reducing chronic absenteeism, designing teacher and student schedules, fostering social and emotional learning in elementary schools, serving English language learners, and serving students with disabilities.

The fair was an outgrowth of dissemination efforts that were previously more focused on specific sectors. Charter schools, for instance, are required by state law to share best practices with other schools, and DESE is responsible for disseminating strong ideas from innovation schools. The Dissemination Fair saw charter school leaders sit alongside peers from traditional public schools and speak together about areas of common concern. A panel on chronic absenteeism, for instance, included representatives from Bridge Boston Charter, Salemwood School in Malden and Letourneau Elementary in Fall River discussing how they found new ways to motivate students and engage parents around the importance of consistent attendance.

Many Dissemination Fair participants completed a survey after the event, and the overwhelming majority of those said that they had learned something that they could implement at their school.

Panelists at the event included representatives from the Leominster Center for Excellence in Leominster.

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