Principal Expert of the Week

Instructional Collaborators: Guiding Teachers to Continuous Improvement

Guest post by Melissa D. Hensley

Throughout my tenure as a middle and high school principal, the consistent request from teachers has been for ongoing, non-evaluative feedback about their pedagogical practices. Early in my career, this meant completing classroom walkthroughs, collecting data about instructional strategies, and offering recommendations. Providing this general feedback took a lot of time and often failed to improve instruction. I wondered, how could I help teachers get the ongoing feedback they wanted in a more efficient and effective way? (more…)

100%: Fantasy or Reality?

Guest post by Margaret Calvert

As school leaders, we define success in numerous ways. Higher attendance rates. Improved reading and math proficiency. Increased achievement on assessments. But the ultimate measure in high school is graduation. In this measure, we strive to earn a 100 percent, like any good student. However, most of us believe that this exemplary standard exists only in the realm of our imagination and is impossibly beyond our reach. But what if we change our thinking? What if we make our goal to reach 100 percent and expect that all of our students find success? (more…)

Less is More: Shifting to a Trimester Schedule

Guest post by Britton Hart

We had a problem at Emporia High School—failure rates were going up but the time and money available to address student needs stayed the same. For several years, there had been a steady increase in economically disadvantaged and ELL populations. Our leadership team needed to find a solution using existing resources that helped us address the educational challenges of our evolving student population. (more…)

Keeping Our Eye on the Ball

Guest post by Danny Steele 

Dear Principal: I suspect you’re tired. It is easy to get discouraged. Some principals may even be disillusioned. As Tim Messick noted, “Job descriptions are written in such a way that a principal needs to be a superhero. A principal needs to have the power and strength of Superman, the intelligence of Albert Einstein, the popularity of Princess Diana, the political savvy of a presidential candidate, and the care and compassion of Mother Teresa.” (more…)

Graduation: How Do We Get Students There?

Guest post by Ginni McDonald

Graduation is something every student should have the opportunity to experience. Aside from the indisputable benefits of a high school diploma, the preparations for graduation—the career action plans, the individualized academic plans, and the conferences—assist students in making choices that are right for them and their future. How do we connect with students to ensure they are on the road to graduation? There is no single answer to this question simply because each student is unique. (more…)

Changing Grading and Reporting Practices to Enhance Student Learning

Guest post by Tom Dodd

Three years ago, our teachers began changing the way they assess student progress at Lesher Middle School in Fort Collins, CO. Standard/criterion/competency-based grading and reporting, as it’s commonly known, allows teachers to authentically evaluate student learning progress based on state academic standards, the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), or in our case, the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Program (IBMYP) Aims and Objectives to better communicate levels of academic performance and work habits. (more…)

This New Year, Resolve to Develop a Growth Mindset and Build an Instructional Identity

Guest post by Justin Cameron

Resolutions. Most of us make them. Personal resolutions and professional resolutions are too often prey to self-fulfilling prophecy resulting from a mindset that the resolution will be broken. Carol Dweck and Angela Duckworth, architects of growth mindset and grit, can help shift that thinking. Their extensive work is worth exploring.

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The Principal and Political Influence

Guest post by Jay R. Masterson

The saying “all politics is local” has special relevance when it comes to K–12 education policy. Communities care deeply about how their children are educated. Everyone wants great outcomes but there are always differences of opinion about how to get there. Too often decisions are made without input from the individuals best positioned to inform these choices—principals.

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Every Student Matters

Guest post by John C. Bartlett

When I woke up the morning after Election Day, my to-do list had a new priority: a visit to my English language learner classroom and a conversation with our 50 students who were getting their first taste of American democracy at work. What did these students want and need from me and their teachers? These students wanted to know that they matter, that someone cared about them, and that they were safe. Essentially, they wanted to know what every student needs to know when they walk through the front door of our schools every day. (more…)

How to Engage Parents as Partners

Guest post by Lenore M. Kingsmore

When I became the principal of Henry Hudson Regional School seven years ago, there was little to no communication between the home and school. Parental involvement was no more than a booster club that raised money. Research shows time and again that students are more successful in school when they have parents who are engaged in their education. I knew that in order to get the best out of my students and make changes in school culture, I needed to engage parents as decision-making partners. (more…)