AP Expert of the Week

How to Keep Staff Motivated Throughout the School Year

I always love the first few of days of each year when the anticipation for school is palpable. The students are eager to get their schedules, see their friends, and make their Friday night game plans. While their excitement for school makes me remember my teenage dreams, it’s the staff who really inspires me. Restored from the summer, the staff is even more eager than the students to get their classrooms organized, collaborate with colleagues on lesson plans, and fulfill the promise of the new school year. (more…)

Four Ways to Fine-Tune Your Leadership Skills

After 18 years of being an assistant principal in various schools, I still love my job. But whether you are a new administrator or a seasoned veteran, it is always a challenge to stay current in the ever-changing educational landscape. How do you master the varied roles you are expected to fulfill?  Here are four ways that I have honed my leadership skills in my time as a school administrator: (more…)

Are You the “Connector in Chief” at Your School?

When I was awarded the honor of being named the Assistant Principal of the Year in the state of Illinois, my local newspaper did a story on me. When they asked my principal about what made me a worthy recipient of this award, he responded, “[Tim] has a great ability to make connections with people, to relate to people.” His words caused me to reflect.  Making connections with others always seemed natural to me, and I never really gave it much thought.  But then the teacher in me kicked in and I started to wonder, can people learn to be better at making connections? How would we teach it? (more…)

How to Help Students Make the “Right” Choices for Their Future

The students at Graham High School in St. Paris, OH, participate in our Career Gears program. As I shared in a previous post, Career Gears aims to create relevant experiences that help students identify career interests and build professional skills and relationships for the future. (more…)

New School Year, New Energy: Setting Realistic Goals

New Beginnings

Once upon a time, I had the greatest summer job ever: working at Seven Ranges Scout Reservation in east central Ohio. We were a bunch of teenagers and 20-somethings who got to exercise almost total creative control for the camp and its programming. Before the campers or full staff arrived on the reservation, leadership would sit down in front of a whiteboard and simply list all the needs, wants, and dreams for the year—and then go make it happen. (more…)

When Going to the Principal’s Office is a Good Thing

As a child of the 1980s, I cheered on Ferris Bueller as he played hooky to hang out with his pals on his day off and rooted for John Bender as he snuck out of detention with the Breakfast Club. In both of these films, the school administrator served as the villain. Both Dean Edward Rooney and Assistant Principal Richard Vernon had the same goal: Take down the problem student and make his life miserable.

While I have to admit that these preposterous characterizations are often hilarious, they perpetuate a damaging stereotype that school administrators are ruthless disciplinarians who are out of touch with students. (more…)

How to Provide Meaningful Teacher Feedback by Observing the “Unobservables”

One of the ways I like to provide meaningful feedback to teachers is by observing the “unobservables” outside of the classroom. A classroom observation is just a glimmer of the real work that teachers do behind the scenes to prepare for each daily lesson. In order to obtain valuable insights into how a teacher approaches lesson planning, evaluates student performance, and collaborates with colleagues, I routinely conduct observations during professional learning team (PLT) meetings. In this environment, I am able to truly understand how a teacher plans a lesson, supports the achievement goals necessary for each student, and contributes to the school’s overall success. (more…)

4 Ways to Support Beginning Teachers

Guest post by Abbey Duggins

During an informal conversation with a veteran teacher who was grappling with a problem of practice in her language arts class, I asked her why she didn’t take her problem to her learning community for support. She responded, “We don’t have time. We pretty much know what we need to do from here on out is help the new teachers understand the standards. The sixth-grade team has been very, Help, we’re clueless. Tell us what to do.(more…)

What Can Summer Vacation Teach Us About School?

Guest post by Paul Hermes

Now that the end of the year is upon us and many of us are taking a well-deserved break from our demanding jobs as school administrators, I find myself thinking about summer vacation and the many lessons all of us have learned from the various excursions we have taken throughout our lives. Traveling helps us gain new perspectives and understandings of people, places, and cultures. My travel has included experiences led by tour guides and those arranged by travel agents that were self-guided. Both ways have offered me exciting experiences that expanded my knowledge and broadened my worldview.

As I think ahead to the coming school year, I imagine what it would be like if teachers led students through a year of travel. But which type of travel leader is best: a tour guide or a travel agent? (more…)

Flipped Staff Meetings: Great Advice to Give and Follow

Guest post by Paul Hermes

“You should try to make your classroom more student-centered and interactive. Don’t talk at your students so much.”
“Do you think you could integrate the concepts of the flipped classroom to optimize student learning time?”
“How much input do you give your students in choosing what, where, and how they learn?” 

As a school administrator, have you ever said something like this to a teacher? My guess would be yes, you have. And if that is true, let me ask you why then do you, as a school leader, not practice what you preach when it comes to your own staff meetings and professional learning? Look at the questions above and replace “student” with “teacher.” If your evaluator asked you these same questions, would they apply to you as the teacher of your teachers? Does the idiom “do as I say, not as I do” fit?  (more…)