Assistant Principal

Four Ways That Student Leaders Can Improve Schoolwide 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…)

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…)

Good Leadership Starts With Strong Recruiting

Guest post by Cameron Soester

Principals and assistant principals have a host of responsibilities. We deal with school safety, the learning environment, staffing needs, student discipline, and even lunch duty. In the midst of everything, there is one vital piece that I believe is often overlooked: recruiting the next wave of school leadership. We have a responsibility that extends beyond our own buildings, and that responsibility is to make sure that our entire educational system has strong leaders in the pipeline. How do we make this happen? We need to turn our attention to recruiting and developing individuals to take on leadership roles so that our work to improve schools and student learning continues long after we leave our positions. (more…)

Canines in the Classroom: How Gem Transformed Our School

Guest post by Laurie Wade

When I first proposed introducing a therapy dog to my district in 2011, I was met with a lot of raised eyebrows and skepticism. There was the expected chorus of objections: What about kids who are afraid of dogs or don’t like them? What about allergies? What if the dog hurts someone? Like most problems, all of these had solutions, and once that reassurance took hold the possibilities came forward. Research has shown that therapy dogs in schools bring a host of physical and mental benefits for the community. (more…)

National Principals Conference 2018: A Forum for National Problem-Solving

Guest post by Amber Schroering

After the recent Parkland shooting in Florida, I found myself sitting in church and couldn’t bring myself to sing. I just stood there, almost feeling numb, wondering how I could make a difference. I began to feel the same feelings creep in as I read and saw the extent to which our country is still divided over race and gender inequality. My hopelessness continued when a seventh-grade student came into my office because her dad had been arrested the night before after his inebriated girlfriend called the police and claimed domestic violence. The student said her father was punched in the nose, handcuffed, and arrested. And my feelings of despair hit rock bottom when Deputy Jake Pickett was shot and killed in the line of duty. His wife teaches at one of our elementary schools and he was a 2002 graduate of Brownsburg High School.  (more…)

iCARE, Part Three: Helping Troubled Students Care

Guest post by Thomas Kachadurian

Two weeks ago, I introduced you to iCARE, and last week, I shared how this initiative has helped to unite our school community. In this final post, I will explore how iCARE has changed the way we work with our most difficult students.

In 2014, I inherited a unique sophomore class. Within the class there was a particular group of sophomores who were regarded as a notable challenge and needed a lot of TLC. As I got to know them, I realized that only a few of them were truly challenging and the rest were just looking to carve new titles for themselves among their peers. I hadn’t realized it yet, but iCARE was to become a saving factor for many of them and their sophomore academic and social careers. (more…)

iCARE, Part Two: Uniting Our Community

Guest post by Thomas Kachadurian

In last week’s post, I discussed the beginnings of the iCARE program at Colonie Central High School and how it has given students an opportunity to make a difference in our school. This week, I will share how iCARE has grown and united our entire community around a variety of events that aim to serve others and build a positive culture. (more…)