Assistant Principal

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…)

Principal, Parent, and Partner: The Balancing Act of a School Leader

When I was child, I always wanted to juggle like the showstoppers in the circus and on television. I mastered juggling two balls (not that impressive, I know) but when the third ball entered the mix, I couldn’t control it, and I looked like a clown in the worst sense of the word. As school leaders, we have to juggle all the time. We have our professional and personal roles, and sometimes we sacrifice one for the other, and that’s when everything starts crashing down. (more…)

Encouraging Student Involvement in Activities

Growing up, I didn’t have a role model to guide me in identifying what it was to excel as a student until I was involved in after-school activities and had a coach lead me on the path to grow—both academically and personally. My coach guided me, cared, and held me accountable. He showed me that through hard work, I could achieve my goals. My involvement in activities was a springboard to believing in myself and my abilities. In the end, it helped me earn a scholarship that provided me with an opportunity to further my education and become a mentor for others. (more…)

5 Reasons Great Teachers Are Leaving—And What We Can Do About It

This summer, I read many articles from and about teachers leaving education for myriad reasons. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, teacher turnover is about 16 percent, compared to about 12 percent a quarter-century ago. In one specific post that resonated with me, a much-loved and well-respected teacher articulated five reasons why she was leaving the classroom. As I reflected on each of these reasons, I couldn’t help but think about what our leadership team is doing well and what all of us as school leaders can do better. (more…)

Searching for Wisdom in All the Right Places: Growing as a School Leader

Growing up, some of my favorite movies were part of the “Indiana Jones” series. I loved how Indy lived a normal life as a professor, lecturing college students on the history of the world. Little did they know their professor lived a secret life full of adventure, excitement, close calls, and possible doom. When Indiana Jones took off his glasses and tie, he evolved from passionate teacher into an adventurous seeker of wisdom. Jones knew he would never grow in the wisdom department by sitting inside the four walls of his stuffy office looking at the curriculum he was paid to teach. He knew wisdom came through experiences and sometimes unrealistic adventures. (more…)

Questions for Summer Reflection

Whether your last day of school was before Memorial Day or not until the end of June, by now every educator has finally shifted into summer mode. Whether relaxing by the beach, hitting the trails, or just spending time in the garden, the final weeks of summer are a perfect time to reflect on the past year and plan with anticipation for the year ahead. (more…)

That Zero Changed My Life (Said No Student Ever)

I recently reflected on an article I kept seeing on social media about a teacher getting fired for supposedly not abiding by the school’s grading policy. As a student, did I ever get a zero? Sure. Was it right? I guess. As a teacher, did some of my students receive zeros? Probably. Was it right? Probably not. (more…)

An Equation for Educational Change

What is the equation for American education?

At the dawn of the 20th century the equation for American education was 1 x 1 = 1.

The first factor—“1”—represents teaching and learning. The role of the teacher was the keeper and disseminator of all knowledge. The teacher would stand at the front of the room, largely lecturing or talking at the students. The students were mainly passive, seen as vessels to be filled by the expert teacher. Students sitting in rows listened, took notes, and focused on memorizing the information the teacher told them so that they could take the test to determine their letter grade (A, B, C, D, F). (more…)