AP Expert of the Week

An Equation for Educational Change

What is the equation for American education?

At the dawn of the 20th century the equation for American education was 1 x 1 = 1.

The first factor—“1”—represents teaching and learning. The role of the teacher was the keeper and disseminator of all knowledge. The teacher would stand at the front of the room, largely lecturing or talking at the students. The students were mainly passive, seen as vessels to be filled by the expert teacher. Students sitting in rows listened, took notes, and focused on memorizing the information the teacher told them so that they could take the test to determine their letter grade (A, B, C, D, F). (more…)

How to Beat Decision Fatigue

You have to make 10 decisions before lunch, then after lunch you have 15 more to make before dinner.

Have you been there?

Educators frequently experience decision fatigue. There are literally hundreds of decisions that are made during a week, and decision fatigue is a real thing. (more…)

Casting a Wide Net: The Evolution of Virtual Learning

For many years, high schools in West Virginia followed a traditional path to graduation. Basic core classes and electives were offered in a face-to-face setting, with the students sitting in rows of chairs facing the teacher at the front of the room. However, it became clear that new ideas and innovative tools were needed to embrace the future of education. Over time, we cast a wide net by dramatically expanding virtual learning opportunities for students at our small high school. (more…)

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 are vision, 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…)

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…)

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…)

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…)

Three Ways to Ensure Student Academic Success

Thanks to our incredible staff and administrative team, I am fortunate to work at a school that has very few discipline problems. Because of this, I am able to focus on classroom instruction, assessments, and professional development. I pride myself on being a strong instructional leader, and one of my main goals is to help all students, regardless of their background, experience academic success. How can school leaders ensure academic success for all of their students? At Sixth Ward Middle School in Thibodaux, LA, we have made great strides in reaching this goal through a laser focus on three important factors: (more…)

From Trauma Aware to Trauma Responsive

Each day, millions of students arrive at school carrying the burdens of trauma. The statistics regarding childhood trauma in our country are staggering: data from the 2016 National Survey of Children’s Health indicate that over half of U.S. children between the ages of 12 and 17 have experienced at least one adverse childhood experience (ACE) and nearly 30 percent have experienced two or more. ACEs such as abuse, neglect, loss of a parent, and exposure to violence have been linked to a range of negative outcomes relating to health, behavior, and life potential. (more…)

Cultivating Leadership in Teachers

Schools often have very defined leadership structures, most likely a principal and assistant principal, that make decisions and ensure the good order of the school. But each teacher is also a leader within their own classroom, and many teachers often display leadership qualities that can and should extend outside of the classroom. How can school leaders cultivate leadership and inspire others to use those qualities to push the whole school toward continual improvement? (more…)