School of Thought

Orange Barrels and Leadership

This summer, we took a family road trip to Toronto and Niagara Falls. During our 12-hour drive to and through Canada, we got stuck in a traffic jam just outside of Hamilton, Ontario, due to road construction. While we were sitting there, all yearning to be done driving and out of our vehicle, I began to think about construction, specifically the orange barrels (fun fact—the barrels in Canada were orange and black, not orange and white). (more…)

Finding Unexpected Community Resources for Your Student Support Network

When a headline broke in USA Today several years back calling Farmington, NM, “the worst place to raise a child,” my school took it personally. Having raised two daughters in the town, my wife and I had often commented to each other what a great community it was, and the great quality schools were part of that discussion. But the article went solely off of data, and I’m sure the authors had never set foot in our town. (more…)

State Summit Follow-Up

State Summits offer National Honor Society (NHS) and National Junior Honor Society (NJHS) members hands-on experiential leadership development. They are designed to unlock the potential of participating students by providing a shared space to learn, grow, and explore ideas together. Back in October 2019, we asked students to provide their own report of the September 12 Arizona State Summit. Now, those students provide a follow-up account of how they applied those lessons from the State Summit. Read the first blog from this author here. (more…)

Cultivating a Culture of Risk-Takers Among Teachers

The focus of any school must be on the student, but emphasizing teacher success pays dividends throughout a school’s culture. Specifically, by encouraging teachers to take risks, we model this positive behavior for students who will need it throughout their academic careers and beyond. Here are five ways we cultivate this at Bernard Middle School. (more…)

Visionary Leadership—Applied

State Summits offer National Honor Society (NHS) and National Junior Honor Society (NJHS) members hands-on experiential leadership development. They are designed to unlock the potential of participating students by providing a shared space to learn, grow, and explore ideas together. Back in October 2019, we asked students to provide their own report of the September 12 Arizona State Summit. Now, those students provide a follow-up account of how they applied the lessons they learned. Read the first blog from this author here
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The Nonnegotiable Role of School Librarians

What principals know and think about school libraries we have learned largely from our own past experiences and school librarians. I have had the distinct honor and privilege to work with and learn from some amazing librarians over the course of my career. These innovative educators have shaped my belief in the indispensable value of robust school libraries. They also have transformed how I think about learning and how I make decisions as an instructional leader. (more…)

2020 State of the Union Response

“Once again, President Trump squanders a State of the Union opportunity to bolster the success of public schools by proposing only to enrich private schools at public expense. With a fresh infusion of funds siphoned from public services, private entities would enjoy expanded ‘education freedom’ to admit the students they find desirable. But for the 90-plus percent of U.S. students who attend public schools, including students with the greatest educational needs, the administration’s sole education effort would exacerbate an already severe funding crisis. Let’s remember that public education bears the label because it serves the public good and accepts public accountability. Bureaucratic schemes to privatize education—whether as overt as vouchers or as insidious as tax credit scholarships—compromise our public investment in those schools and the education of our nation’s youth.”

—JoAnn Bartoletti, NASSP Executive Director

Student Voice in School Communication

In a world where young people are familiar with opportunities to express themselves online and in person, it is important that we present our students with excellent models of interpersonal communication. Our students come to us with great ideas that they want to express. Why not channel that communicative energy and put it to work to promote your school? (more…)

The Census Is Coming—Are You Ready?

The U.S. Census Bureau will begin its count on April 1, 2020, and principals are vital to its success. Conducted every 10 years, the census seeks to accurately record the population throughout the country, and more than 1 million young children were missed in 2010. More than a typical tally, the results help determine how billions of dollars in federal funding flow into states and communities each year, as well as how many seats in Congress each state and your local school board boundaries are awarded. Of course, some of that federal funding is funneled directly into schools—and principals can be highly effective influencers when it comes to census participation. (more…)

Choose Your Three Words

Reflection is such an important part of the learning process. There was a time in my life when I was all about speed and moving forward—getting to the next thing, checking it off, completing the next task. As I’ve gotten older and wiser, I’ve learned to focus on the balance of slowing down to go faster. I prioritize making time to reflect on what’s been learned or how a skill was executed. I think about what needs to be learned so that I can be and do better. (more…)