AP Expert of the Week

Redefining the High School Experience: A Trauma-Informed Approach

Guest post by Deborah Moya

What makes ABQ Charter Academy (ABQCA) different from any traditional high school or charter school? I believe our mission statement says it all: “The mission of ABQ Charter Academy is to redefine the high school experience.” Many of our scholars have had very negative experiences in traditional high schools. They seek to find a place where they belong, and we offer an environment that is centered on each individual scholar and their unique differences.  (more…)

Using Feedback to Foster a Collaborative Campus Culture

Guest post by Melissa King-Knowles

When I was a teacher, I started using feedback looping processes to survey my high school students about particular units and methods of assessment. I asked what they liked and didn’t like and sought input on my teaching practice. With their brutal (ahem, I mean beautiful) honesty, students brought me to my knees on a couple of occasions. (more…)

Understanding the Hidden Struggles of our Students and How We Can Help Them

Guest post by Amber Rudolph

Robin Williams once stated, “All it takes is a beautiful fake smile to hide an injured soul, and they will never notice how broken you really are.” Sadly, these painful words mirrored Williams’ true feelings, as he succumbed to suicide after a long struggle with addiction and his mental health. Like Williams, many adolescents also mask their painful struggles with abuse, neglect, bullying, and other traumas. How do we as administrators create a supportive environment that addresses the often-hidden emotional lives of our students? (more…)

Know What Matters and Make It Work 

Guest post by Angela K. Doll

A parent request for hourly behavior updates.

A student sent to the office for repeatedly trying to staple himself to his chair.

A community member’s plan to improve the school by eliminating all technology. (more…)

Creating a Culture of Leadership in Schools

Guest post by Doug Crowley

As a principal, an assistant principal, or a director at a district office, leadership is sort of “there” for your taking; you are viewed as a leader by virtue of your title. At DeForest Area High School in Wisconsin, our “titled” leaders work hard to create a culture where staff and students feel comfortable and, dare say, entitled to find ways to lead. How can school leaders create this same culture of leadership and encourage their staff and students to take the lead? (more…)

Career Gears: Preparing Students Today for Tomorrow’s Opportunities

Guest post by Ryan Rismiller

With so much going on in education policy these days, it’s easy sometimes to lose focus of what matters most—students. At Graham High School, we are using a program we call Career Gears to provide relevant opportunities for our students district-wide. Working with stakeholders throughout the community, we create relevant experiences that can help students identify their career interests and build professional skills and relationships for the future.  (more…)

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…)