AP Expert of the Week

Making Everyone Happy: The Unreal Mindset of a School Leader

Being a leader means that you have to make decisions, and in my five years as an assistant principal, I have gradually come to accept the fact that not everyone is going to like the decisions that I have to make. Here is my story in a nutshell along with three key criteria I have developed that help me make sound decisions for my school, while dealing better with the inevitable complaints. (more…)

Kindness in Motion: Providing Students Opportunities to Serve Others

Empowering students to serve others through acts of kindness is something we at Regional School District No. 7 in Connecticut strive to do through a program called Kindness in Motion. The inspiration for this program came four years ago when our superintendent, Judy Palmer, saw a program on CBS Sunday Morning about Chris Rosati, a great man who—despite having ALS—dedicated the rest of his life to spreading kindness before he passed away in 2017. (more…)

Setting Collaborative Teaching Expectations for Student Success

Like many schools, Sparks High School wanted to implement collaborative, co-taught classes with the goal of providing a supportive learning environment for all students to achieve. Each of our collaborative classes in language arts, social studies, math, and science was designed to include a content-area teacher and an intervention specialist or English Learner teacher who would work in tandem to lead course instruction and student learning. (more…)

How Transition Meetings Can Help Schools Understand the Whole Student

Have you ever wondered what the new students in your school will be like? Will they be good at math? Will they be able to navigate technology effectively? Do they have proper parental support and guidance at home? If these questions cross your mind, then you may want to conduct meaningful transition meetings for your incoming students. (more…)

Using Student Feedback to Lead Professional Development

Guest post by Kristopher Brown

When colleagues describe why they became educators, they usually describe a teacher who inspired or motivated them. My path toward education also centers around a former teacher; one who used relentless sarcasm and lacked the cultural competency necessary to engage me, an African American male student in a predominantly white suburban school. I got a B in class, but I dreaded going to that room. That class would often ruin my day. This teacher served as my inspiration to become an educator because I did not want another student to have an experience as poor as I had. (more…)

Four Ways That Student Leaders Can Improve School-Wide Attendance

Each year, our student leaders at Westwood Middle School focus on one goal within the area of school culture and climate to improve. During the 2017–18 school year, they chose to address improving school-wide attendance. So how does a group of eight middle-level student leaders take on chronic absenteeism within their school and within the families in their community? (more…)

Promoting an Inclusive School Environment

For students with disabilities or unique challenges, finding a source of understanding at the school level makes a profound difference. For Aubrey Bridges, a student with an intellectual and developmental disability, having a teacher who saw her ability made all the difference for her; however, the impact she had on me forever changed my capacity as an educator. Aubrey grew up with multiple disabilities that include autism, verbal apraxia, auditory processing disorder, and a Vein of Galen Malformation that required surgery at age three. Because it was difficult for her to talk, she learned sign language and uses communication devices. (more…)

Facing Professional Disappointments and Finding Peace in the “No”

“Rejection doesn’t mean you aren’t good enough; it means the other person failed to notice what you have to offer.” —Mark Amend

How do you handle “no”?

You’re getting ready for dismissal. You have just survived yet another final interview for a principalship. You feel you have highlighted some of the qualities a principal should have and your plan to help the students and teachers move forward at the school. You have a clear vision, and you clearly outlined how to continue the mission already in place. When the phone call comes, you get a lump in your throat and chills. Once again, you hear not only that they have chosen another candidate who was a “better fit,” but you are being moved to another school. (more…)

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…)