AP Expert of the Week

Building a Positive School Culture, The Sundevil Way

There are several components to building a positive school culture and multiple ways to go about it. Building culture never stops and is always in development—here’s how our school got started on our journey to create a cohesive, positive, kind, and caring culture. (more…)

Using Google to Promote Teacher Collaboration

While various Google applications such as Google Drive and Google Docs are great tools to use with students, they also can dramatically increase teacher collaboration in schools. Administrators can play an important role in encouraging collaboration by introducing these tools and encouraging their use, as we did at our middle level school. (more…)

Three Keys to Principals’ Changing Roles

When I first got into teaching, my principal’s role was very clearly to manage a building. Making sure staff showed up for work, the building was kept clean, and school rules were followed were the things he seemed to focus on—not what was being taught or how it was being taught. How students felt and getting parent support also did not play into the daily activities of my principal. (more…)

Incorporating Social-Emotional Learning Into a Freshmen Seminar

To better support our students during their critical transition year for ninth grade, I developed a character education class that incorporates a mentoring program. The class was developed to assist academically at-risk freshmen intellectually, socially, and emotionally during their transition into high school. (more…)

Building Relationships Between Students and Administrators

Many articles have been written about the importance of building relationships with students in the classroom, but what about us? How do we, as administrators, build relationships with students when we do not have them in class every day? It can be a little more challenging, but with some creativity, we can forge positive relationships just by having fun! (more…)

Lessons Learned About Tolerance From a Walk in the Woods

There we were, crouched down on the side of a mountain, mesmerized by the view of a bull elk through the trees. My husband and I were about two feet apart, neither of us moving and both of us holding our breath in fear of alerting the majestic beast to our presence. And then, as only a married couple could, we started to argue.

“That’s a big bull,” I whispered. “It’s okay,” my husband replied, shrugging.

“It’s looking right at us,” I said. “No, it’s not,” he replied. “Its head is down, and he’s eating grass.”

“No, he’s looking right at me,” I asserted. (more…)

Building Momentum, the Jack Way

With the Lumberjacks as our mascot, the pride of R.A. Long High School dates back to 1927. Ninety-two years later, we have lifted the minds and spirits of our lumber town’s community with a true 97 percent graduation rate, with many students the first high school graduates in their family and the first to go on to college. We built that momentum, with little in the way of additional resources, through a coordinated series of programs and activities we call the Jack Way.  Here’s how: (more…)

The Intentional Principal

The best advice I ever received about working as a school administrator came from a great friend and colleague in Idaho’s Treasure Valley. My friend had attended a retirement reception for a gentleman that had been in education for over 40 years, 30 of which as a building administrator. My friend asked him, “How were you able to keep this fire and passion day in and day out in a job that can be so negative and draining?” The answer changed how I thought about my role and what faces me every day at school. The outgoing administrator said, “Discover what gives you energy in your work and do it every day. Be intentional about what you do.” (more…)

Making SMARTer Professional Development Plans

As building administrators, we observe staff and work with them to define clear goals for professional development, but how much time do we take to complete our own professional development plans? As building leaders, it can be easy to think of professional development plans as just another piece of check-the-box compliance. But I urge you to take the steps to create a proactive and engaging professional development plan that will be rewarding for you and your staff and students in turn. (more…)

Closing the Opportunity Gap in Rural Alaska

Chief Ivan Blunka School is a preK­–12 school located in the Alaska bush community of New Stuyahok. In New Stuyahok, hunting, fishing, and subsisting off the land aren’t hobbies but a necessity for survival due to the lack of traditional economic opportunities. Our community is only accessible by air or boat, and even then only when the weather cooperates. Everything we need to run our school, from toilet paper to textbooks, is flown in via single-engine aircraft. (more…)