AP Expert of the Week

Three “Secret” Ingredients for Building Strong Classrooms

Guest post by Amber Schroering

Brownsburg East Middle School (BEMS) is a community that takes great pride in the achievements of its students and staff. For many years, BEMS has topped the rankings for academic excellence in all of the areas of the Indiana Statewide Testing for Educational Progress (ISTEP). In fact, many visit our school and district to learn about our “secret sauce,” or how we consistently get high achievement from our students. One of our “secret ingredients” involves a commitment from our faculty to incorporate three classroom management techniques that ensure a strong culture conducive to high levels of learning.  (more…)

Cranium Crunch at Lunch: A Book Club to Increase Reading Levels

Guest post by Derek Fialkiewicz

I teach math as my father did before me, so I have always considered myself to be a “math nerd.” I find math fun and am proud of my students’ achievement, but when I became an assistant principal, I was forced to consider student achievement and learning outside of my math bubble. I came to better understand that while my students achieved in math, many were struggling as readers. This was a perfect opportunity to step out of my comfort zone and entice students to read. (more…)

Let the Games Begin: Using Competition to Motivate the Students and Staff

Guest post by Chris Chitwood

As a coach, I believe that motivation is everything, and everyone is motivated by something. When our administrative team at Wilbanks Middle School in Demorest, GA, wanted to transform our culture to one of excellence in attendance, behavior, and academics, we decided to utilize competition as a way to motivate students and shift everyone’s focus to these three key areas.  (more…)

10 Tips for Growing Your PLN—It’s Not Just Books and Conferences

Guest post by Heather Daubert

Several years ago, a colleague asked what professional book I was reading. I rattled off the name of a popular educational author and then shared that my greatest professional growth came through my professional learning network (PLN). The response from my colleague left me with feelings of inadequacy. Was I viewed as an ill-informed administrator because I sought professional growth from non-traditional avenues? Even though I could articulate the thinking of highly respected peers, because it did not come from a book, was it not valued?  (more…)

Creating Time for Teacher Collaboration 

Guest post by Scott Long

It is the sixth and final period, and I am in the midst of my third pep assembly of the day. Two-hundred seventh graders are shouting and raising their hands, hoping I will call their name for a 7-on-7 football-bowling competition. Beyond the high-octane atmosphere of the gym, there are eight seventh-grade teachers engaging in content-area-specific data protocol to help drive future instructional decisions. Although not nearly as fast-paced as football-bowling, these PLC meetings have a similar level of enthusiasm. As I facilitate the final assembly of the day, I take great comfort in knowing that we are supporting our teachers with the gift of time. (more…)

The Importance of Staff “Floor Time” and Immersive School Leadership

Guest post by Chris Koch

As a parent of three young girls, I was introduced long ago to the concept of “floor time,” or getting down on the floor and playing with your kids. Through the years, I have been a student in my daughters’ classrooms, a customer at their homemade arts and crafts store, and a judge in a spontaneous dance off. Quality floor time is fun and helps me build deeper relationships with my daughters. It means so much more to my kids than just sitting on the couch and casually watching them play. (more…)

Designing an After-School Program to Maximize Student Achievement

Guest post by Abbey Duggins

Saluda High School (SHS) works hard to ensure that all of our 600 students in rural South Carolina receive a high-quality education and possess the world-class knowledge and skills described in the Profile of the South Carolina Graduate. To accomplish this goal, we’ve expanded our academic programing so that all of our students—from the academically motivated to our most at risk—can access appropriate learning experiences that will help them realize their full potential.  (more…)

Ten Tips to Build Stronger Relationships and Start the School Year Off Right 

Guest post by Amber Rudolph

It’s that time of year again when parents count down the days until school begins, while their children sleep until noon, fight with their siblings, and abuse their screen time. Kids might not tell you, but they too are ready for the school year to begin. They miss their friends and school life.  (more…)

Making Sense of the Data Madness

Guest post Ryan Rismiller

 

As I make plans for the upcoming school year, I review our school data. Though we’ve made considerable progress, the data says we’re not where we need to be. Despite our school team’s tireless efforts, we need to do more to narrow the achievement gap, raise graduation rates, improve math and English proficiency, and more. Frustrated, I ask myself, what more can we do to move the needle when it comes to our data?  (more…)

Systematic Intervention Placement for Incoming Ninth Graders

Guest post by Beth Middendorf

What else could I have done to support that freshman academically in the first six weeks of school? I found myself asking this question each time I transitioned a freshman class to Parkway West High School. By the time we had sufficient in-progress data to review, too many freshmen were already struggling academically. Repeatedly, I observed students’ confidence and effort levels decrease when I needed them to be open-minded to academic interventions. Because of our reactive approach to intervention placement, some freshmen were not able to recover and experience success. (more…)