AP Expert of the Week

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…)

Reaching the Masses: Communicating With All Stakeholders

Why do you think companies like Apple and Nike have such a cult following? If you compare their products to their competitors, they are very similar—but these two companies are getting consumers to pay more for their product than their competitors are. Why? I believe the No. 1 reason is communication. These companies know how to communicate the “greatness” of their products. From iPhones to Air Jordans, we have been told we can “Think Different” and “Be like Mike” just by powering on their devices and lacing up their sneakers. In the world of education, we can learn a thing or two from these companies on how we communicate with our stakeholders. (more…)

Moving Your School Toward Restorative and Multitiered Systems of Support

One of the most difficult things to navigate as a school administrator is discipline. How do you help students understand that their behavior is not appropriate? How do you respond so that the teacher who refers a student feels supported? (more…)

Use the 2019 National Principals Conference to Push Your School Forward

During the 2013–14 school year, I was in my third year as assistant principal/registrar at Dubuque Senior High School. Our principal, Dr. Dan Johnson, was in his first year as principal after serving many years as a counselor and assistant principal at the school. Good things were happening at Dubuque Senior, and school culture was positive. However, we needed a push forward to help make everything come together. The 2014 NASSP Ignite Conference provided that push. (more…)

Assistant Principals: The Difference Makers

I was an assistant principal for 10 years. Those were some of the hardest but most rewarding years of my career. It seems fitting that April is the month that has been designated to recognize assistant principals. It can often be the craziest month with standardized testing, extracurricular activities, and elevated energy levels in the school building that often accompany the arrival of warmer weather. And assistant principals are invaluable at helping schools navigate the most challenging times. (more…)

Collaborative Practices to Hire for Excellence

A few weeks ago, at Montana’s State Administrator conference, I had the opportunity to listen to Jimmy Casas, author of Start. Right. Now.and Culturize. He asked a question that I haven’t been able to get out of my mind. In talking about the importance of hiring quality teachers, he asked, “How do we train people on hiring committees to hire people for excellence?” (more…)

Three Self-Care Practices That Promote Work-Life Balance for School Leaders

As a school leader, I wear many hats. I am the instructional leader, a teacher of children and adults, a marriage counselor, a mediator, a social worker, a miracle worker, and an out-of-the-box thinker. I’m an email writer, a schedule master, a reminder, talent developer, disciplinarian, therapist, negotiator, mediator, and perpetual cheerleader. No two days are the same and a day is never dull, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. (more…)

Creating a Culture of Nourishing Relationships

So much of the principalship is rooted in ever-evolving data, never-ending checklists, and meeting the needs of stakeholders. However, most know that true growth and success come from the ability to not only manage the aforementioned items, but also to create a culture that invites and nourishes relationships. During the infancy of my principalship, I have been pleasantly surprised at the growth of our school family. In reflection, sharing my why, inviting others to share theirs, and creating meaningful opportunities to grow relationships has made a profound difference. (more…)

Five School Technology Hacks to Improve Communication With Stakeholders

We lead busy lives as administrators, with items getting added daily to our already busy to-do lists. How do we keep up? Why not use the power of technology to communicate with all stakeholders in an efficient, consistent manner? That is not to say that phone or face-to-face conversation should be replaced, nor should the letter home or the programs that give students a tangible certificate. However, immediate feedback is something that we teach our staff at Governor Livingston High School to employ in their classrooms, so let’s develop ways for school leaders to do the same in our buildings. (more…)