Principal Expert of the Week

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…)

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…)

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…)

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…)

Leveraging Technology to Bring Homebound Students into Classrooms

Two teachers at our school both have Kevin, a sixth grader, as a student in their class. Kevin went to one of the elementary schools that many of our kids attended. They know him. He’s registered and has a student ID number. His particulars, even his photo, are in the student management system. He’s been assigned to a sixth-grade middle school team of two teachers, Lauren and Bess. But Kevin has an illness that prevents him from coming to school for the present time. He’s going to get better, but he has yet to step foot in our school building. Consider how difficult that must be for this boy. (more…)

Look to the Future and Break From Tradition for Student Success

This month I oversee my 13th graduation ceremony as a New Hampshire high school principal. Between the tones of the bagpipers that usher my graduates to the stage to the tears of joy from family and friends, I see nothing but hope, drive, and optimism in my students’ eyes as they wait for the moment their teachers have been talking about for many years. My students, like so many across the nation, are about to enter a brave new world. It is one in which their ability to engage in soft skills such as creativity, persuasion, collaboration, adaptability, and time management will determine the extent of their success. These skills, according to the World Economic Forum, are the most in-demand skills companies are looking for today. (more…)

Building a Successful Teacher Advocate Program

While serving as principal at a middle school with over 1,200 students, I lead a team of dedicated staff members who embraced a simple vision. We believed, at our core, that all students could achieve and that failure was not an option. (more…)

Student Voice: The Most Important School Leadership Tool

A powerful tool exists that principals can access as a knowledge stream to improve school culture: student voice. Students are our prime customers and having their input on the important decisions on academics and programming should be standard operating procedure for school leaders. How can school leaders gain this critical student perspective? (more…)

8 Ways to Make the Most of Parent-Teacher Conferences

At the high school level, many schools see a decrease in attendance for parent-teacher conferences. Parents are busy, and with the many digital ways that parents can connect with teachers and schools, fewer parents feel the need for a face-to-face conversation with their child’s teacher. But parent-teacher conferences are important. While any family involvement in education can lead to positive benefits for students and teachers alike, sitting down for a personal conversation has other benefits that cannot be replicated in our digital communications. (more…)

Creating an Environment Where Teachers are Appreciated and Celebrated

When I transitioned from the classroom to administration in January of 2000, I realized that one of the things I was giving up was the direct daily impact on students that I had as a teacher. Sure, I would still have a large impact on students, but not in the same manner that a teacher does. This helped influence how I wanted to treat the teachers who did have that daily direct influence on students. Basically, I was determined to provide my teachers with the support and materials they needed to go out and do their jobs to the best of their ability. That also included making sure that they knew I appreciated their efforts. (more…)