Guest Blogs

An Equation for Educational Change

What is the equation for American education?

At the dawn of the 20th century the equation for American education was 1 x 1 = 1.

The first factor—“1”—represents teaching and learning. The role of the teacher was the keeper and disseminator of all knowledge. The teacher would stand at the front of the room, largely lecturing or talking at the students. The students were mainly passive, seen as vessels to be filled by the expert teacher. Students sitting in rows listened, took notes, and focused on memorizing the information the teacher told them so that they could take the test to determine their letter grade (A, B, C, D, F). (more…)

After the Hire: Steps to Onboard New Teachers

It’s now the middle of July, and most principals have completed the hiring process—the most important job for administrators. However, I contend the hiring process extends beyond interviews and job offers. In fact, the steps we take after assembling our team are critical to teacher retention. With most schools feeling the impact of a nationwide teacher shortage, supporting newly hired teachers through effective onboarding is the best way to ensure a successful transition and to increase the likelihood your new hires will remain in your building throughout their career. (more…)

How to Beat Decision Fatigue

You have to make 10 decisions before lunch, then after lunch you have 15 more to make before dinner.

Have you been there?

Educators frequently experience decision fatigue. There are literally hundreds of decisions that are made during a week, and decision fatigue is a real thing. (more…)

A Sweet Way to Infuse Career Education

Every principal wants to make career readiness a priority. The problem many schools face is that there aren’t easy ways to fit it into an already packed array of required courses and subjects. I have seen schools push career programming into classes such as family and consumer science, technology, or even health. Unfortunately, each of those courses have other standards and objectives that lead to difficult curriculum decisions to fit it all in. (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…)

Casting a Wide Net: The Evolution of Virtual Learning

For many years, high schools in West Virginia followed a traditional path to graduation. Basic core classes and electives were offered in a face-to-face setting, with the students sitting in rows of chairs facing the teacher at the front of the room. However, it became clear that new ideas and innovative tools were needed to embrace the future of education. Over time, we cast a wide net by dramatically expanding virtual learning opportunities for students at our small high school. (more…)

Reflections on Exceptional Teachers

When I think back on my teachers who were most effective, there is something they all had in common: They seemed excited to be teaching us. Teachers should always be aware of the attitude and energy they bring into class. I promise you—the students are aware of it. (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…)

Mission Accomplished: Using Systematic Thinking to Support a School’s Vision

Since 2013, I’ve served as the assistant principal at Milford Junior/Senior High School and have grown as an educational leader through graduate studies and countless professional development opportunities. Each time I think about school leadership, I find myself going back to the seven principles of outstanding leadership that Pat Williams, the senior vice president of the Orlando Magic, shared in his book, Leadership Excellence. Those principles are vision, communication, people skills, character, competence, boldness, and a servant’s heart. What strikes me is that the very first topic he addresses is “vision.” (more…)

Build Relationships with Students in 3 Seconds

Every day in schools, educators have quick breaks during instruction, between class changes, and in hallways where the focus isn’t on learning. I believe that these three-second moments are important opportunities to build relationships between students and staff that contribute to a school’s positive culture. What are you doing with the three-second moments you have with each student you encounter? (more…)