School of Thought

Mission Accomplished: Using Systematic Thinking to Support a School’s Vision

Since 2013, I’ve served as the assistant principal at Milford Junior/Senior High School and have grown as an educational leader through graduate studies and countless professional development opportunities. Each time I think about school leadership, I find myself going back to the seven principles of outstanding leadership that Pat Williams, the senior vice president of the Orlando Magic, shared in his book, Leadership Excellence. Those principles arevision, communication, people skills, character, competence, boldness, and a servant’s heart. What strikes me is that the very first topic he addresses is “vision.” (more…)

Build Relationships with Students in 3 Seconds

Every day in schools, educators have quick breaks during instruction, between class changes, and in hallways where the focus isn’t on learning. I believe that these three-second moments are important opportunities to build relationships between students and staff that contribute to a school’s positive culture. What are you doing with the three-second moments you have with each student you encounter? (more…)

Reclaiming the Narrative of Public Education

June is a time of year when educators naturally tend to reflect on their practice and plan for their future. As school leaders, we take a deep breath as we contemplate the successes and challenges of the previous year, and then we begin formulating goals and plans for next year’s work. I would like to challenge you to add one more layer to your reflection and planning: How did you tell the story of your school’s successes last year, and how can you play an active role in reclaiming the narrative around public education? (more…)

Leveraging Technology to Bring Homebound Students into Classrooms

Two teachers at our school both have Kevin, a sixth grader, as a student in their class. Kevin went to one of the elementary schools that many of our kids attended. They know him. He’s registered and has a student ID number. His particulars, even his photo, are in the student management system. He’s been assigned to a sixth-grade middle school team of two teachers, Lauren and Bess. But Kevin has an illness that prevents him from coming to school for the present time. He’s going to get better, but he has yet to step foot in our school building. Consider how difficult that must be for this boy. (more…)

Digital Resources to Use for Immediate Growth

Whether you’re an experienced educator or just getting started, you will always have moments of self-doubt that may leave you confused or unable to make the important decisions we as educational leaders must make. I will admit, when I first started out in administration, self-doubt happened more often than I desired. As I began to expand my Personal Learning Network (PLN), my doubts as a leader began to diminish. One of the ways my PLN helped me was by sharing a wealth of digital resources that guided me through a variety of daily situations that principals encounter. (more…)

Is Your Campus Professional Development Effective?

We have barely completed one school year before we are planning for the next. Like other schools across the country, Midway High School in Waco, TX, is planning for back-to-school professional development in August and deciding on the goals and initiatives that will drive the next school year. Our focus tends to be on whatwill be delivered to teachers to enhance our school culture, curriculum, and instructional practices. But, what about howwe train our teachers? What elements make professional development effective and impactful? (more…)

Look to the Future and Break From Tradition for Student Success

This month I oversee my 13th graduation ceremony as a New Hampshire high school principal. Between the tones of the bagpipers that usher my graduates to the stage to the tears of joy from family and friends, I see nothing but hope, drive, and optimism in my students’ eyes as they wait for the moment their teachers have been talking about for many years. My students, like so many across the nation, are about to enter a brave new world. It is one in which their ability to engage in soft skills such as creativity, persuasion, collaboration, adaptability, and time management will determine the extent of their success. These skills, according to the World Economic Forum, are the most in-demand skills companies are looking for today. (more…)

Understanding and Addressing Principal Turnover

More than 1 in 6 principals leave their school each year. This kind of disruption in school leadership impedes school improvement, leads to an increase in teacher turnover, and has a negative effect on student achievement. The problem is worse in high-poverty schools, where 1 in 5 principals leave each year. This inequity exacerbates racial and socioeconomic disparities in education. (more…)

From Evaluator to Coach: A Needed Change to Teacher Evaluations

If there is one thing many of us can agree upon, it is that being evaluated is a stressful and anxiety-filled experience. Knowing the person observing you is watching your every move, listening to your every word, and seeing how the students respond to your teaching can make even the most distinguished teacher tense up with nervousness. It is hard not to respond with anxiety and stress when the process for teacher evaluations is set up in a way that makes teachers feel like they are being judged more than supported. (more…)

Congratulations to the 2019 DPOY Winners

In today’s connected world, the importance of leveraging technology in education cannot be underestimated. Through the Digital Principals of the Year (DPOY) program, NASSP honors principals who exhibit bold, creative leadership in their drive to harness the potential of new technologies to further learning goals. (more…)