Digital Expert of the Week

Better Together: The Power of the Professional Learning Network

One of the biggest shifts I struggled with when transitioning from the classroom to the principalship was moving from the support of a team of teachers to the solitude of a building leader. As leaders, we are entrusted to so much confidential, stressful, and often heart-wrenching information. In my early years in the principal position, I struggled to process it all mentally and emotionally. I hit a wall in the summer of 2014, and I considered leaving the profession. The punitive shift that education had taken, coupled with the loneliness of leadership, had me in a very bad place. Luckily, a co-worker and good friend of mine convinced me to go to a summer leadership conference, and it was just what I needed. (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…)

10 Strategies to Improve Instructional Leadership

I still vividly remember my early years as an assistant principal and principal. Instructional leadership was a routine part of the job along with the budget, master schedule, curriculum development, meetings, emails, phone calls, and many other duties. With the evolution of social media, yet another responsibility was added to my plate in the form of digital leadership. The position of school administrator really requires a jack of all trades, master of none. This is why many leaders fail to live up to the most important aspect of the position, which is instructional leadership. (more…)

The First 140 Characters

I was recently a guest on Lead the Way, a podcast for school leaders hosted by Bill Ziegler, and we got to talking about how I challenged my staff at Cedar Crest Middle School (CCMS) to begin telling the story of our school on social media at the start of the 2017–18 school year. But my own path down the road of social media technology isn’t very typical for a Digital Principal of the Year. It actually started with a single tweet. (more…)

Waist High in Sand: Staying Focused on What’s Important

At first, the image of being surrounded by sand might be appealing. Personally, being on any beach with loved ones is one of my favorite places to be. But in the era of high stakes testing and the burden of ultimate accountability for a school’s success or failure resting squarely on the shoulders of the building leadership, not sweating the small stuff can make it difficult to stay out of the sand some days, weeks, or longer. Let this serve as a reminder about staying focused on what is truly important. (more…)

Dive Into Deeper Learning Through Make-A-Thons

A key focus at LaCreole Middle School has been deeper learning, both what it is and what it looks like. We explore deeper learning by finding ways to immerse our entire school community in innovative experiences so that they can engage as a learner again. One of our best experiences is the make-a-thon, which we use in both professional development sessions and special community engagement events. (more…)

Digital Resources to Use for Immediate Growth

Whether you’re an experienced educator or just getting started, you will always have moments of self-doubt that may leave you confused or unable to make the important decisions we as educational leaders must make. I will admit, when I first started out in administration, self-doubt happened more often than I desired. As I began to expand my Personal Learning Network (PLN), my doubts as a leader began to diminish. One of the ways my PLN helped me was by sharing a wealth of digital resources that guided me through a variety of daily situations that principals encounter. (more…)

Most Improved: Our Journey With Student Awards and Recognition

When I became principal at Downingtown Middle School, it surprised me to find a heavy emphasis on end-of-year academic awards. At the end of the year, a student could win eight different awards simply for making honor roll. Over 80 percent of the student body qualified for honor roll. Each of those awards were a large engraved wooden plaque. I stared in amazement as many eighth graders walked out of the auditorium carrying eight heavy plaques. And an overabundance of special education students and economically disadvantaged students fell into the 20 percent that walked away empty-handed. (more…)

Use Social Media to Improve Engagement in Professional Book Clubs

Reading professionally has so much value for educators. But, how can professional reading not become “one more thing” for teachers and administrators? Last year, I wanted to engage our staff with positive professional literature. I picked a good book that was easy to read, engaging, and not overwhelming. Although our small group read independently, our culminating activity was a Twitter chat to discuss the high points from the book. The purpose of the Twitter chat was twofold: 1) create a forum in which we could discuss the themes of the book and how they applied to our school and professional lives; and 2) introduce our staff to professional learning on Twitter. (more…)

Three Creative Uses of the Principal’s Blog

Many principals these days use blogging to reflect, share, and highlight the great things going on in their schools. Blogging is an innovative way to give families and the community even greater insight into a principal’s mindset, priorities, and personality. It helps build even deeper connections. (more…)