Digital Expert of the Week

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…)

Building Positive School Culture Through Service Activities

Middle level students are at a crucial age, consciously developing their identities while trying to understand how they fit in with their peers. Teachers, administrators, and staff have the opportunity to provide a compass for students navigating these difficult times. As middle level students develop their sense of self, they often begin looking for ways to make an impact in their community. This materializes in a desire to pursue a cause, do fundraising, and participate in charities. (more…)

Define a Collective Purpose to Guide Your School’s Culture

As school leaders, it is never too early to plan how you want to begin the next school year. In what manner can you galvanize your staff to start a new year? Many schools have a mission or a vision statement, but I want to challenge that notion. Why change or divert from this philosophy? Many of us in leadership could not recite our specific mission statements by memory. Many of us will have to dust off the document and read it again to refresh our memory. (more…)

Tell Your School’s Story on One Platform With Wakelet

At the start of the 2017–18 school year, I challenged our staff at Cedar Crest Middle School (CCMS) to tell the story of our school—to showcase the learning that was happening, the community that we were building, and the positive aspects of our school that were occurring every day—through social media. Our staff quickly took to Twitter and started to tweet regularly. It was awesome, and I was proud of our staff for embracing this challenge. (more…)

4 Tips About Innovation From #PrinLeaderChat

Do you want to grow professionally, discover ideas and insights from innovative leaders, and maximize your time? Tune in and participate in #PrinLeaderChat, NASSP’s Twitter #edchat held on Sundays at 9:00 p.m. (ET) and 6:00 p.m. (PT). This #edchat is an awesome way to connect with some of the nation’s best school leaders and share thoughts and ideas. Chats are guest moderated by Digital Principals, State Principals of the Year, and other thought leaders in education. Perhaps you haven’t participated because of login issues or your schedule doesn’t allow you to join. To help you see what you’ve been missing, I’ve curated the top four ideas from our recent conversations about innovation in schools: (more…)