Principal Expert of the Week

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…)

Keep Your Eyes on the Prize—But Give the Rest to the Players

Guest post by Robert Nolting

 

Great coaches have a notebook, clipboard, or corkboard in their office with the big picture written down. Then, they let the players, assistant coaches, and others run with great ideas to make it happen. Principals should take cue. It is our job to create a vision for our school, but it is our teachers, students, and parents who develop the details and make our vision a reality.  (more…)

Leverage the Three Ts: Talent, Transparency, and Timeline

Guest post by Robert Nolting

When I was hired as principal of Victor J. Andrew High School in Tinley Park, IL, in 2009, it was expected that I would bring needed changes to the school. Most of us in school leadership are hired under this same expectation, but principals succeed or fail based on one simple concept: Do they bring positive change to the school? If the changes we make are negative—or none at all—we tend to leave, either on our own or through the influence of others. So how can administrators be an agent for positive change in their schools? My advice for all school leaders is to leverage the Three Ts: talent, transparency, and timeline.  (more…)

A Recipe for Success: Embracing Schoolwide Strategies to Promote an Academic Culture

Guest post by Susan Harrison-Rollins

I’m often asked for the recipe to a high-performing school. It’s a question that’s hard to answer. Of course, the recipe begins with a dedicated staff ready to embrace the many changes that come with education. And it helps to have a motivated group of students who have accepted a culture of learning. A school becomes a high-performing school when it has, through a clear and shared focus, high standards and expectations for all students, effective school leadership, high levels of collaboration and communication, frequent monitoring (of both learning and teaching), focused professional development, and a supportive learning environment with high levels of family and community involvement. Beyond these things, and maybe most important, it is paramount to devise a set of schoolwide strategies that become embedded and essential to the academic culture.  (more…)

Changing Paradigms from Adult-Centered to Student-Centered Learning in Schools: A Powerful Shift and Catalyst for Change

Guest post by Autumn Pino

I will be the first to admit that what I am about to say might be a little controversial, and maybe even a bit daunting for some.  (more…)

The End is Near—But the Beginning is Right Around the Corner!

 

We’ve all heard folks grumble that time flies faster and faster as we age. With schedules governed by school calendars each year, that sentiment seems to be most aptly applied to principals! Each year seems to go more quickly than the last, and I’m likely not the only one wondering where all the time has gone. (more…)

Focus on the “BE” before the “DO”

Guest post by Jay R. Dostal

Last year, my leadership team held a two-day retreat to focus on moving from our current school building into the new one we were building at the time. As you might imagine, moving a 230,000 square foot building, in addition to implementing a new educational model centered on college, career, and life readiness, can be quite stressful and taxing. Many details needed to be coordinated, including developing a communication plan, updating multiple forms with the new address, purchasing new furniture, and much more. My team and I worked diligently to put together a list of things that we needed to get done during our two-day hiatus away from the building, and we had every intention of getting them completed before the second semester started. Then the retreat happened. (more…)

A “Pineapple Program” for Principals

Guest post by Donald Gately

Teacher peer observation is a powerful tool for professional growth and school improvement. Whether done formally or informally, peer observations help teachers enhance their knowledge base, improve classroom practices, gain new ideas for instruction, and much more. For a principal, however, it’s rare to see another principal’s work or spend time observing other schools. How can principals get feedback from their leadership peers, like teachers do, to improve their schools and grow professionally? (more…)

Finishing Strong

Guest post by Duane Kline

I’m writing on a cross-country flight from Kentucky to San Francisco with my wife and daughter. It turns out that my 22 years of parenting have brought us to the point where (a) my daughter has her own interests and a career and (b) she feels the need to “see the world.” So, she’s preparing to move to Northern California.  (more…)