Building Culture

Maximizing Space and Talent in Your School

I think one of the best parts of being a principal is when a fleeting comment becomes an idea, an idea becomes a conversation, and that idea then becomes an integral part of your school’s DNA. These ideas and conversations might answer the question, “How do we make this better?” or, “What’s the next big thing?”For us, the next big thing involved taking advantage of our space through partnerships that expand learning opportunities for students in our school and others in the district. (more…)

Taking Time for You

Wellness (noun): The state of being in good health, especially as an actively pursued goal.

In a field of serving others, how often do we take time to take care of ourselves? Not just a spa trip, random yoga class, or a nice meal out with a friend, but intentional, continual self-wellness? (more…)

Finding Unexpected Community Resources for Your Student Support Network

When a headline broke in USA Today several years back calling Farmington, NM, “the worst place to raise a child,” my school took it personally. Having raised two daughters in the town, my wife and I had often commented to each other what a great community it was, and the great quality schools were part of that discussion. But the article went solely off of data, and I’m sure the authors had never set foot in our town. (more…)

Student Voice in School Communication

In a world where young people are familiar with opportunities to express themselves online and in person, it is important that we present our students with excellent models of interpersonal communication. Our students come to us with great ideas that they want to express. Why not channel that communicative energy and put it to work to promote your school? (more…)

Tell Your School’s Story Before Someone Else Does

I know just enough about social media to be dangerous. I grew up in a childhood without cell phones. Your story was told by how you carried yourself and what you accomplished at school, on the playing field, or in your job. Your thoughts and rants were kept to yourself or in your inner circle. As such, I was strongly against a professional social media page and a school page. I felt that it would put our school out in the public eye and leave it open for negative comments that are hard to police. It is difficult enough keeping a handle on the daily and evening activities of a school without tracking social media as well. (more…)

Four Ways to Support Student Well-Being

We seem to be at a place in time where achievement and growth scores continue to dominate the educational landscape, even though these metrics run the risk of overshadowing the students. Fortunately, there are examples of administrations, schools, and districts taking innovative steps to support students beyond academics. Here are four new ways schools and their leaders are supporting student well-being. (more…)

Leading Through Crisis

This fall, the Science Leadership Academy faced its biggest challenge in the 13-year history of the school. After leasing our charming but limited space for many years, we were scheduled to move into a refurbished co-located facility. This was a watershed moment for the district, as it marked the first time in recent memory that two existing schools—one citywide magnet and one neighborhood school—would be co-located in the same facility. The district was committing $23 million to the renovation, and it was seen as a potential roadmap for a district with many severely underutilized facilities. We’d spent the better part of two years preparing—designing the facility, getting to know each other’s faculty, and prepping for the students from both schools to get to know their new neighbors in a way that was powerful and positive. (more…)

Building a Positive School Culture, The Sundevil Way

There are several components to building a positive school culture and multiple ways to go about it. Building culture never stops and is always in development—here’s how our school got started on our journey to create a cohesive, positive, kind, and caring culture. (more…)

Five Reasons to Encourage Extracurricular Activities

Our world emphasizes teamwork, doing a job well, and being able to lead and follow—all skills students can learn and develop through extracurricular activities. Students who participate in extracurricular activities at my school in Montana have significantly higher GPAs and graduation rates than students who do not. Here are five reasons I encourage students at my school to participate in extracurricular activities: (more…)

Three Keys to Principals’ Changing Roles

When I first got into teaching, my principal’s role was very clearly to manage a building. Making sure staff showed up for work, the building was kept clean, and school rules were followed were the things he seemed to focus on—not what was being taught or how it was being taught. How students felt and getting parent support also did not play into the daily activities of my principal. (more…)