Relationships

Leading Through the Struggle

We spend a great deal of time as school leaders talking about building culture. We often consider the day-to-day elements of this work: eating lunch with the kids, visiting classrooms, being visible at all kinds of school events, and having meaningful conversations with teachers and students. The work of leading a school and building a culture is much like leading a family, full of joy and, inevitably, pain. (more…)

Learning From My Daughter: Unfiltered Feedback

Over the past three years, I have had an amazing opportunity to view my school in a different way as the principal to my daughter, Sidney. As you might expect, I think that she is a pretty amazing young lady, and I eagerly anticipated her sixth-grade year at Messalonskee Middle School (MMS). Before she started, Chuck Pullen, the tech education teacher at our school, told me that I would never look at MMS in the same way after she attended. How right he was! I have had hundreds of conversations about school with Sidney, and through those discussions, I have come to see MMS through her lens. (more…)

Making Student Connections: Will You Check on Me?

When a former colleague of mine, Joe Turner, was named teacher of the year, a reporter asked him for his advice to new teachers. He responded, “Teach every child like you’re their lifeline—like you’re their last chance to succeed.” (more…)

Student Discipline: It Takes More Than a Consequence

I vividly remember my middle level principal and the fear that hit my gut every time he would look at me or even walk by. He was six and a half feet tall, weighed close to 400 pounds, and his last name was Kevorkian. Who wouldn’t be afraid of that principal, especially if he never smiled and looked like he could be in the WWF as Andre the Giant’s tag-team partner? (more…)

How We Can Make School Special

Last Halloween, I took my 8-year-old daughter, Juliet, to a Brooklyn Nets game. She had just started playing basketball and was so excited to go to her first professional game that she gave up trick-or-treating to do it. That’s dedication! (more…)

5 Ways to Jump-Start A New Year

A new year is a time of reflection, goal setting, and new habits and practices. As the new school year begins to take shape, it’s time to get re-energized. Maybe you’re a new school leader who is looking for ideas to start the year off right, or perhaps you are a seasoned administrator who wants to keep the fire alive. Here are five leadership ideas to jump-start your year and lead to your best one yet. (more…)

Supporting Staff is Built With Intention

I recently read a tweet by Dr. Bryan Pearlman detailing eight bad leadership traits. The accompanying graphic spoke to poor communicators and leaders who lack integrity, trust, and other important traits. But what tugged at me the most was the idea that poor leaders were “unsupportive.” How could any leader be unsupportive of their staff or their students? (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…)

Students Live on Instagram—Shouldn’t You?

I love using social media to tell the story of our school. I am passionate about how we employ social media to not just tell our story, but to engage our students, staff, and families. Instagram, in particular, has definitely helped us to not only promote the amazing things that are happening in our school, but also to connect to our students in ways we had not imagined. (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…)