Digital Expert of the Week

Make the Most of Your Next Staff Meeting

Do you dread staff meetings as the principal? Does your staff audibly groan when you discuss policy changes or district minutia? Do you see your teachers watching the clock and counting down the minutes until they can leave? A few years ago, staff meetings at Harrisburg South Middle School were just this way, tedious gatherings that both the staff and I wished would just end as soon as possible. (more…)

Three Qualities to Look for in a Mentor

In a recent Q&A I host weekly with Danny Bauer, we talked about the importance of having a coach, or mentor, to help you become a better leader. (more…)

Three Ways to Leverage Technology and Build School Happiness

With a career in education spanning over 23 years and 11 children of my own, I have come to respect and recognize that happiness is paramount in education. Unhappy high-achieving students have similar struggles to their unhappy underachieving peers as they navigate through life after high school. Yet happy children (and adults) are more productive, healthy and successful. They earn more money, live longer, get and stay married longer—and yes, achieve more. Educationalist and philosopher Nel Noddings sums up happiness best for me when she says, “Happy people are rarely mean, violent or cruel.” Let’s fill our schools (and homes) with opportunities for our students and adults to be happier and healthier. Here’s how we can use technology to maximize our efforts. (more…)

Four Ways to Expand Your Influence as a Principal

A principal’s influence spreads far and wide—impacting students, faculty, staff, parents, and the entire community. I have been blessed to serve as a school administrator for the past twenty years. As the principal of Pottsgrove High School, I take this responsibility seriously and value the power I have to make a positive impact. I am constantly looking for ways to increase my influence and to expand opportunities for our students. I grow so much as a leader when I learn what other leaders are doing. I encourage you to check out how these leaders are expanding their reach, work, and opportunities for students.

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Taking a Critical Lens to Instructional Design

No one can deny the fact that we are seeing some pretty exciting changes in teaching, learning, and leadership. Advances in research, brain science, and technology are opening up new and better pathways to reach learners like never before. This excitement, in some cases, effects real change and has supporting evidence of improvement. In other cases, money is being dumped on the latest tool, program, idea, or professional development without ensuring that instructional design is up to par in the first place. Pedagogy trumps technology. It also goes without saying that a solid pedagogical foundation should be in place prior to implementing any innovative idea. (more…)

Four Ways to Reenergize Your Next In-Service Opportunity

If your staff didn’t have to attend your next in-service training, would they?

If the training covers the 54-slide overview of ESSA changes or a new literacy initiative, I’m sure we can all guess the answer. There’s never a shortage of initiatives, mandates, or policy changes to review—I used to be the guy who had all my ducks in a row, with my all-important PowerPoints and handouts ready for in-service day. In retrospect, I know my teachers would rather have been somewhere else than “listening” to me give them information that I could have relayed at another time and in another way. (more…)

Leading Schools in Disruptive Times: How to Survive Hyper Change

You would be hard-pressed to talk to a teacher, secretary, or school administrator who would say we are not experiencing some disruptive times in education.

Since 2008, public perception of educators, in general, has been less than favorable. Expectations have increased exponentially, but funding education initiatives has not grown at the same pace. We face one disruption after another, yet we continue to find ways to meet the needs of our students, engage parents, respond to community desires, and do what is best for all stakeholders.

We recently co-authored a book titled, Leading Schools in Disruptive Times: How to Survive Hyper Change. As the political and social climate in our nation has changed, the release of this book could not have come at a better time. (more…)

Recalibrate Your School’s Opening During #1st3days

Guest post by Brian McCann

It’s taken me nearly 15 years to get the opening of school “right.”

And in all of the summer planning I did for more than a decade: the refreshing of the building, the supplies ordering, the school’s master schedule, I forgot the most important stakeholder of all: the children.

It wasn’t until I was engaged in a summer Twitter chat a few summer’s back that Craig Vroom, an Ohio middle school principal, introduced me to the #1st3days.

The philosophy of #1st3days has a laser focus on relationship-building and brands from the opening bell that people are the heart of this high school.

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Prove It: Ensuring Efficacy in Digital Learning, Part Two

Guest post by Eric Sheninger

In my last post, we explored the importance of demonstrating efficacy to build support for, and ensure the success of, your school’s digital transformation. The Rigor/Relevance Framework offers a strong overall framework to reinforce pedagogical foundations while also moving practice from isolated pockets of excellence to systemic elements that are scaled throughout the learning culture. With that context in place, the next challenge is putting in place the right structures and supports to ensure success.

Below are five key areas (essential questions, research, practicality, evidence/accountability, reflection) that can put your classroom, school, district, or organization on a path to digital efficacy.  (more…)

Playing to Our Strengths: Helping Teachers Hone Their Practice

Guest post by Jethro Jones

I had someone ask me the other day, “What does effective teaching look like to you? What do you look for when you walk into a classroom?” I thought this was a really interesting question that I have not had to answer in awhile, but I think it is important to share how my thoughts about this have changed over time. (more…)