Principal Expert of the Week

Creativity and Innovation in Secondary Education

Guest post by Brian Pickering

What can secondary schools do to build a learning environment that fosters creativity and innovation?

Seven years ago, the leadership team at Contoocook Valley Regional High School, or ConVal, set off on a mission to answer this question. The goal was to guarantee all students the opportunity for academic and social support, as well as learning extensions and enrichment. (more…)

Transforming Business Engagement at School, Part Two

Guest post by Tommy T. Welch

In last week’s post, I described how Meadowcreek High School (MHS) has partnered with local and national businesses to develop a robust program of paid internships that are enhancing student learning and long-term curriculum development. Of course, this did not happen overnight. It took years of effort from hundreds of people all working toward a common goal. But I am absolutely confident that other communities can replicate our success. (more…)

Transforming Business Engagement at School, Part One

Guest post by Tommy T. Welch

One of the main functions we perform in education is preparing our students for entering the workforce. But how do we know if we are succeeding? Traditional assessments tend to focus on achievement up to high school graduation but not after. There are numerous articles and studies out there that explore how curricula need to change to equip students with the skills necessary for 21st-century jobs. At Meadowcreek High School, we have taken a slightly different approach by partnering directly with local and national businesses to give students hands-on experience through paid internships. By approaching businesses as authentic knowledge partners rather than just taxpayers, donors, or sponsors, we have enlisted their expertise and experience in the process of preparing our students for productive careers and lifelong learning. (more…)

Colony Time: Building Strong Student Advocate Groups

Guest post by Chris Fleming, Spence Rodman, and Regina Ross

In January of 2014, tragedy struck Lewisburg High School (LHS) when one of our students committed suicide. This event caused our school to take a deep look at how we, as students and staff, were connected to each other, and how we could build stronger relationships to guard against this ever occurring again. What our administrative team and staff developed is Colony Time, a school-wide initiative that helps individual students find their place in school and provides at least one adult advocate on whom they could lean in times of crisis and concern. (more…)

5 Ways to Create a Supportive School Community

Guest post by Nathan Boyd

One of the most important lessons I have learned as a school principal is that children need to be in a relaxed state of mind in order to perform at their full potential. If students’ physical and emotional needs are not being met, their minds will not be ready to engage. Sounds obvious, right? Actually, creating the right conditions for students to learn is one of the biggest challenges for us as educators, because so many factors are beyond our immediate control. (more…)

Answering the Call: A Journey in Advocacy

Guest post by Brandon Mowinkel

In a day and age where public schools seem to be under constant scrutiny, it is vital that principals become advocates for our schools and the students we serve, sharing our stories of success and the challenges we face. When I became an administrator, I would have never imagined that I would be in regular contact with my state and federal representatives to ensure a high-quality education for all students. Stories matter, and it is our responsibility to be sure they are being told. (more…)

When School Is a Game, Nobody Wins

Guest post by Brian M. Stack

As school principals, most of us are measured by how many of our students “meet the standard” for getting to the next level, and therefore, we often focus first on making sure that failing students don’t fall too far behind. But what if this is the wrong metric and the wrong mentality? The fact is, the way we measure educational achievement today puts too much emphasis on staying above the bare minimum, rather than aiming as high as possible. And I’m not just talking about helping the most gifted students do even better. Too many of our students at all levels have figured out how to be “successful” without mastering all of the skills they actually need. If we are to truly advance learning in our schools, something needs to change, and it needs to change fast. (more…)

Student Success Starts with Strong Teacher Support 

Guest post by Ryan Maxwell 

Teachers these days are constantly being told that they must “take ownership” for all of their students to meet the standards and succeed. But at the same time, teachers often receive mixed messages from their own school leadership that raise doubts about whether the leaders above them really believe in these goals. At Sunnyside High School (SHS) in Sunnyside, WA , our school leadership focuses on supporting teachers so that they can fully support their students. When teachers’ efficacy is high, they are much more likely to support their own students. The manner in which SHS leadership builds teacher efficacy is through a unified message of teacher ownership. It begins with administrative leadership believing and internalizing the following quote from the distinguished educator and author Carl D. Glickman: (more…)

Raising Student Voices to Strengthen School Communities

Guest post by Robert Nolting

For many students, school seems to be done to them, not with them. At Victor J. Andrew High School (VJA) in Tinley Park, IL, we make it a point to raise a student’s voice not only as a spotlight, but a headlight—leading the way, we carry on throughout the year. At VJA, this starts with our Senior Leaders and Principal’s Advisory groups.  (more…)

Building Your School Leader Tribe

Guest post by Annette Wallace

My professional learning network—or as I like to call them, my tribe—is a group of people whose ideas, opinions, and research inform and motivate me as a school leader. I found most of these people online, but I also have used my online presence to develop more educationally meaningful relationships with educators in my district who I often don’t have time to work with face-to-face. I’ve come to appreciate that professional development is my responsibility and taking charge of my own learning has helped me improve as a leader in my own school and district, as well as the wider education community.  (more…)