Principal Expert of the Week

Take Time Out to Learn from Your Peers—and Help Your School in the Process

Guest post by Lenore M. Kingsmore

When I received the call that I was the New Jersey Principal of the Year, I was elated. Receiving my award in the nation’s capital would be a highlight of my career—and it was —but what was more important were the rich professional development opportunities I received that I had not imagined were possible. The NASSP Principals Institute breathed new life into me as a school leader, expanded my vision of leadership, and catapulted me into the 21st century of professional learning.  (more…)

Cooling Down and Perking Up: Restorative Practices for Student Success

Guest post by John Bartlett

It was a normal morning during my second year as a teacher. I got to school early and went to the office to get my second cup of coffee before school started. On the way back to class, it happened—a girl fight. As an educator, you know what I am talking about. You also know that generally girl fights are much more difficult to separate than boy fights. As I stepped in between the two female combatants as their hands clutched at each other’s hair, one of the duelists knocked my coffee cup out of my hand to meet its ultimate demise on the tile floor. Coffee went everywhere including on the two girls. Long story short, their parents were not happy. They reported to the principal that I had poured coffee all over their “innocent” young ladies.  (more…)

Being Wrong Isn’t Always Bad—Sometimes It’s the Right Thing to Do

Guest post by Donald Gately

There is an event that every principal anticipates with varying degrees of trepidation. It is something students are excited and nervous about as well: the year-opening school letter telling kids who their teachers are going to be.  (more…)

Building School Culture by Starting Small

Guest post by Duane Kline

I have an admission to make. It turns out that after 31 years as a public school educator, I think school culture is the most important part of schooling. More important than curriculum, more important than assessment. Additionally, its importance is not solely for the benefit of students, but for the teachers and staff members who make the school what it is for the students. (more…)

School Leadership Starts at Home

Guest post by Steve Carlson

This year, the Carlson family finally all takes the same path in the morning. Now that my youngest is in kindergarten, my wife, three children, and I spend our days in the Sandusky Community School District. I know that many others have enjoyed this experience, but having it happen in our family has given me a new perspective. For starters, it is nice to know that the long hours I put in as Sandusky Junior/Senior High School principal have a direct impact on my family. More than this, having my entire family under the same “school roof” has motivated me to lead our school to benefit all families and taught me some valuable lessons. (more…)

Why Getting Mugged by a Blockhead is a Good Thing for Teacher Retention

Guest post by Melissa D. Hensley

Central High School, an 800-student school in rural Woodstock, VA, has felt the effects of the national teacher shortage this year. We replaced a third of our staff as teachers left for higher paying jobs or relocated to take positions closer to their family. This high turnover rate alarmed us and caused our staff to discuss the impact of teacher turnover and develop a teacher-led strategic plan to increase retention. These efforts have led to a renewed commitment from our teachers to support each other and strengthen our school community.  (more…)

What an NFL Coach Can Teach High School Administrators

Guest post by Jay R. Townsend

What do NFL coaches and high school administrators have in common? Certainly not the pay or the publicity. But they both build people and teams. And you can learn a lot about how to build a winning school team from former NFL head coach Tony Dungy. I have been a huge fan of Dungy’s leadership style, and the lessons that I have learned from his book The Mentor Leader have helped me design a strong playbook for my students and staff. (more…)

Strong Leaders Find Time to Take Care of Themselves

Guest post by Annette Wallace

Thirteen days into my principalship, at the age of 30, I suddenly and violently lost my father. He struggled with mental health issues and alcohol addiction for years  and tragically succumbed to suicide.

(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…)

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…)