Digital Expert of the Week

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…)

Human Capital Management: Sowing the Seeds of Potential

While attending last summer’s National Principals Conference, rock star principal Jason Markey gently guided us through the dimensions of NASSP’s new Building Ranks framework. As the day unfolded, my eye was drawn to one dimension: Human Capital Management. I had never heard of this concept, and to be frank, it seemed sort of archaic and of another century. Managing people as capital? It didn’t sound at all like something I wanted to be involved in. (more…)

The Principal Advocate: 5 Ways School Leaders Can Support Students, Teachers, and Communities

Americans trust principals to care about others, provide fair and accurate information, and handle resources responsibility. A Pew Research Center survey shows that Americans have an even higher trust for school leaders than police, military leaders, and less surprisingly, journalists and members of Congress. This trust brings tremendous credibility when advocating for students, teachers, learning, and your school. (more…)

Dirty Hands, Engaged Minds: Passion-Forward Project-Based Learning With ‘Intensives’

At the Young Women’s Leadership School of Astoria, we have made innovation a part of our model. As a grade 6–12 all-girls public school in New York City, we pride ourselves on leading the way for the next generation of leaders with real-world learning, in real time, with real experts. For two weeks, our regular courses stop, and we “Intensify.” My virtual tour provides a look at our “Intensives,” which strive to integrate 21st-century skills in a 1:1 tech environment that offers students multiple ways to display mastery. (more…)

Leveraging Technology to Foster Gratitude

November is the month we most associate with gratitude. Giving thanks, spending time with families, and giving to others coupled with the natural opportunity to associate with a gratitude practice—it is woven into our personal and professional culture. It’s the time of year we hear the question “What are you thankful for?” more than ever. We ask it, and we share with one another our appreciation for their time, love, actions, and more. (more…)

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…)