Digital Expert of the Week

Six Steps to Jump-Start Personalized Learning

As education continues to change, so does the way we teach and how our students learn. Instead of the teachers being the holder of all information, our students now have the resources to drive their own learning. Personalizing learning for students allows students greater opportunities to control their learning and search for what suits them, and my Virtual Tour event focuses on what personalized learning looks like at Mason High School. (more…)

Four Questions to Ask Teachers on Creativity

How do you lead and model creativity? That’s a question many school leaders ask themselves. Many of us can get our arms around collaboration, communication, and critical thinking, but why is it that creativity is one area where we frequently struggle and sputter? I think it’s because we fear creativity—it doesn’t fall into a nice box that is neatly packaged with structure and details. You see, creativity is often messy, frequently busting the seams of our comfort zones and almost always requiring us to stretch and grow. (more…)

Character Champions: Teacher Leadership to Address Social and Emotional Needs

Over the past couple of years, our school has been challenged by the social and emotional needs of our students. The impact of increased behavioral incidents has put a strain on our previously steady school climate, and while we are learning a lot, we have also found that we are not very well prepared to handle some of these needs. In an attempt to foster real teacher leadership in addressing these challenges, I had to step aside and allow the energies and passions of our staff to take shape. (more…)

Making Difficult Decisions In Students’ Best Interest

Like my colleagues across the globe, my daily battle revolves around how to make decisions through the lens of what is in the best interests of my students. This seems particularly trying in my current nontraditional school situation that is focused on dropout prevention, content mastery, and personalized learning—all still within the confines and with remnants of our traditional mindset. I often feel my opinion on what is in the “best interests” for our students can change several times within the same day. (more…)

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…)