Massachusetts Workshops

Massachusetts Workshops

Our workshops combine expert insights with peer learning in Building Blocks virtual workshops. Workshops are aligned with the research-based Building Blocks framework and are highly interactive to promote collaboration, idea sharing, and encourage productive discussion.

All workshops are free to Massachusetts district and school leaders and educators through a generous grant from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Massachusetts Department of Education

Upcoming Individual Workshops

Series: Strategic Communication for K-12 Schools and Districts

In this two-part series, school and district leaders will deepen their knowledge and enhance their skills in communicating consistently and effectively with stakeholders, particularly during times of change, uncertainty, and controversy. The sessions are designed to help participants move beyond “transactional” communication – simply conveying information to constituents – toward more sustained, strategic messaging and engagement across a variety of channels. 

Participants are encouraged to attend one, both, or either session.

Facilitated by Christopher Horan of Horan Communications, a former Chief Communications Officer for the Boston Public Schools. Christopher is a veteran K-12 public relations consultant who has worked with dozens of districts in Massachusetts and across the country. Chris provides coaching, training, and support to educational leaders in crisis communication, message development, media relations, digital strategy, and other aspects of strategic communication.

Part One: Effective Communication in Uncertain Times

In K-12 schools, it can seem like the only constant is change. School and district leaders are often navigating shifts in educational policy, fluctuating budgets, political upheaval, even global pandemics. When nothing seems certain, how can educational leaders communicate in ways that keep students, parents, staff, and the broader community focused on the bigger picture and moving forward, despite distractions and obstacles?


Come ready to participate by working alongside other educators to:

  • Understand how improved communication can build trust, credibility, and confidence among your stakeholders;
  • Gain practical advice for communicating during challenging times;
  • Learn actionable strategies to hone and disseminate your core messages; and
  • Work with and learn from your peers.

            Part Two: Designing and Executing a Strategic Communications Plan

            How can schools and districts map out a plan to communicate consistently and effectively with various audiences, across multiple channels? In this session, educational leaders will learn about the key elements of a strategic communications plan, in order to be more intentional about reinforcing your core messaging throughout the year.


            Come ready to participate by working alongside other educators to:

            • Learn about the key elements of a strategic communications plan;
            • Make more strategic decisions about aligning content, audiences, and platforms; 
            • Discover effective communications strategies from other schools and districts; and
            • Work with and learn from your peers.

                      September Theme: Relationships

                      Relationships are integral to student and adult well-being. These three workshops will guide district and school leaders through a strategic and pragmatic understanding of how to build and sustain relationships across different stakeholders. These engaging, informative, interactive, and fast-paced set of workshops developed with a COVID-19 pandemic lens are open to all Massachusetts leaders and educators. Leaders will walk away with practical tools and tips for immediate use and additional resources for long-term shifts in practice. Participants are welcome to attend any one or all three of the workshops.

                      Engaging Families of English Learners

                      This 90-minute highly interactive workshop will support district and school leaders in their efforts in Engaging Families of English Learners. This workshop will give leaders practical approaches to assessing those barriers and leveraging the schools’ resources and community assets to meet the needs of the families/communities of ELs.




                      While the importance of students’ families is well understood, significant barriers often exist to engaging families, and, in particular, families of English Learners. Come ready to participate by working alongside other educators to:

                      • Understand strategies to make connections with linguistically and culturally diverse families;
                      • Assess barriers to engaging families/communities of ELs and consider how to leverage community assets, cultural wealth and resources;
                      • Work with and learn from peers; and
                      • Create actionable goals for your specific context.

                                Facilitated by Farah Assiraj

                                With over 20 years of experience in education, leadership, research, data, writing curriculum, and consulting, Farah Assiraj has served as K-12 reading, ELA, ESL, SLIFE teacher; adult ESOL teacher; RETELL teacher; as District Senior Director for ELs; and as a School Director at a Boston Charter School with a large population of ELs. Farah has led national projects on English Learners curriculum design and materials reviews that has led to greater impact in programming, raising rigor in instruction and quality materials for ELs. Additionally, she is a contributing author for the Benchmark education K-6 ELA materials and leveled readers, which has been adopted in several districts and states across the country with high EL populations. As an African immigrant who arrived in Chelsea, Mass. at the age of 10 and and later graduated high school as an undocumented student, she is deeply invested in the outcomes of schooling for immigrant students while uplifting their identities, families and communities.

                                Relationship Mapping to Cultivate a Sense of Belonging

                                This 90-minute highly interactive workshop will guide district and school leaders through the process of Relationship Mapping to Cultivate a Sense of Belonging

                                Whether a teacher, administrator, coach, or staff member, a positive stable relationship with a caring adult has proven benefits for students’ social-emotional, personal, and academic well-being. 




                                 Come ready to participate by working alongside other educators to:

                                • Understand the benefits of using a relationship map to cultivate a sense of belonging in your school community; 
                                • Explore the necessary considerations ensure a successful relationship mapping process within your school community;
                                  • Hear from a district leader who in spring 2021 used relationship mapping to ensure all students had at least one trusted adult
                                    • Analyze relationship mapping templates and use them to create actionable next steps for your specific context;
                                    • Work with and learn from peers.

                                              Facilitated by Shai Fuxman, Ed.D

                                              Shai Fuxman, a behavioral health expert and senior research scientist, leads initiatives promoting the positive development of youth. He has extensive experience in social and emotional learning (SEL), school-based trauma-informed care, and substance misuse prevention. Shai leads EDC’s SEL & Mental Health Academy, an initiative that provides training and coaching to help Massachusetts schools and districts promote students’ SEL and mental health well-being using a multi-tiered system of supports (MTSS) approach.