Guest Blogs

College Application Essays: What a Principal Should Know

Guest post by Patrick O’Connor

One of the most interesting parts of being a school administrator is how many people expect you to know everything, and know it off the top of your head. This happened all the time when I was an assistant principal. In one quick walk down the front hallway, a parent would ask me what time the ninth grade volleyball game was next Thursday (6:00), a teacher would ask me when supply orders were due (last week), and a student would ask me what English teacher they should take next year (nice try). (more…)

Making Sense of the Data Madness

Guest post Ryan Rismiller

 

As I make plans for the upcoming school year, I review our school data. Though we’ve made considerable progress, the data says we’re not where we need to be. Despite our school team’s tireless efforts, we need to do more to narrow the achievement gap, raise graduation rates, improve math and English proficiency, and more. Frustrated, I ask myself, what more can we do to move the needle when it comes to our data?  (more…)

Collateral Culture: The School You Didn’t Know You Were Building

Guest post by Danny Steele

We all know the culture of our school is important, and you understand that building a strong one is how school leaders can impact student achievement. You intuitively understand that schools need to be safe; they need to foster collaboration; and they need to stay focused on the needs of the students. But don’t ever underestimate the small things you do on a daily basis that contribute to the strength of your school culture. (more…)

Systematic Intervention Placement for Incoming Ninth Graders

Guest post by Beth Middendorf

What else could I have done to support that freshman academically in the first six weeks of school? I found myself asking this question each time I transitioned a freshman class to Parkway West High School. By the time we had sufficient in-progress data to review, too many freshmen were already struggling academically. Repeatedly, I observed students’ confidence and effort levels decrease when I needed them to be open-minded to academic interventions. Because of our reactive approach to intervention placement, some freshmen were not able to recover and experience success. (more…)

Quarter Deposits and Dollar Withdrawals

Guest post by Jay R. Dostal

I am wrapping up what has been the most difficult year of my professional life. It was filled with a myriad of emotions, events, and circumstances that most people never get to experience in a lifetime, let alone in a single year. Between opening a new high school, having a staff member pass away as the school year started, and losing multiple students to suicide and other unfortunate accidents, I can honestly say that this year has been like no other. As principal, it is difficult to lead in circumstances like these because it ravages your school culture. Walking the halls and seeing students and staff struggling is painful. You want to put your arm around everyone and tell them that it is going to be OK, but at the same time, you are struggling too and questioning if things can return to normal. You are left wondering if your school culture can ever rebound. (more…)

Hey, High School Principal: Take a Hint from Your Students

Guest post by Annette Wallace

Like many high school principals, I find myself always thinking about how I can be a better leader. I read books, stalk amazing principals’ social media accounts, and pick the brains of great principals about ways to be a more effective leader. I am obsessed with being the best principal I can be! As I was walking down the hallway today, the thought occurred to me: What if I stopped, looked, and listened to the hints and lessons my students were giving me on how to be better principal? (more…)

Decriminalize Misbehavior and End the Pipeline to Prison

Guest post by Amber Schroering

A teacher friend of mine recently wrote that a former student is under investigation for severely beating his girlfriend’s seven-month-old son, who is not expected to live. Upset and angry, my friend struggled to reconcile this terrible news with the memory of his student:  (more…)

Words Matter

Guest post by Jay R. Dostal

A friend and colleague of mine recently shared a project that another school did and I was overcome with emotions after watching it. I challenge you to view it and not feel the heartstrings being pulled as you see the looks on the faces of each of these kids. It inspired me to do the project at my own school and the results, in my opinion, were even more powerful because they were my kids. (more…)

Ten Tips for Public Education Advocacy

Guest post by Mark Whitaker

Politics and public education have an interesting relationship. Various political groups use the public schools as a battleground to sort out legal and social issues, politicians champion or decry public education as part of a larger political platform, and state and federal legislatures pass laws and allocate funds based on their perceptions and opinions of public education. (more…)

Promoting Positive Behavior through the PARRT Program

Guest post by Jeff Schneekloth

One of the best ways school leaders can encourage positive behavior is by recognizing it when we see it. Too often, we spend so much time documenting student misbehaviors that we forget to acknowledge students when they are doing something right. Since 2011, I have had the privilege of leading Taft Middle School’s PARRT Program, which works to identify all of the positive acts and accomplishments our students do.  (more…)