Principal Expert of the Week

Building Strong Relationships Within the School Community

It is my privilege to be one of the educational leaders in our rural community with a student enrollment of 400 fabulous kids! There is a magical atmosphere in our school, and though I cannot take all of the credit for our pizazz, I know that my role as a leader contributes to it. To me, the heart and soul of a school district is relationships. How can school leaders cultivate a culture that puts relationships at its center? Here are some of the ways that Timber Lake School promotes strong relationships among our students, staff, families, and the community. (more…)

The Makerspace: A Catalyst for Change

At Mackenzie Middle School in Lubbock, TX, makerspace has transformed learning through innovative, self-directed, and meaningful experiences for all of our students. What exactly is a makerspace, and what value can it bring into schools?  (more…)

Building Leaders: One School’s Approach

As administrators, we are tasked with building the capacity of teacher leaders. But what exactly does teacher leadership look like? In The What, Why, and How of Teachers as Leaders, teacher leaders are described as “skilled classroom educators (who) hone their craft, mentor others, and grow professionally—while keeping one foot firmly inside the classroom.” So what can we do to build leaders while keeping them in our classrooms? The answer lies in the way we look at professional learning. (more…)

Designing and Implementing a Flexible Modular High School Schedule

Before opening in 2013, River Bluff High School (RBHS) was architecturally designed and academically planned for a flexible modular schedule. Instead of a traditional bell schedule, we wanted a new approach that provided space for students to develop skills such as time management, collaboration, and independent decision making. We wanted RBHS to be a place that empowered students and placed the leadership of learning into their hands. We wanted to create a true learning environment where time benefited both students and teachers. (more…)

What FOMO looks like at Glenpool High School

After attending the 2018 National Principals Conference, I had a renewed vision of what kind of school I wanted to give my students. As principal of Glenpool High School (GHS), I had always focused on building positive relationships with students, but I wanted to take it a step further. (more…)

It’s Not About You! Keeping Perspective During Difficult Conversations

A day in the life of a principal can be fraught with difficult discussions that require a careful approach. You have likely found yourself in a conversation which caused you to feel anxious, stressed, or even angry. Although these emotions are natural, they can limit your ability to see problems clearly and prevent your openness to different solutions. After experiencing numerous challenging interactions, I have realized that I need to find ways to focus on these conversations and remove any emotional response so that problems can be solved effectively. (more…)

Become the School’s Head Coach by Fostering Teacher Leadership

As a former coach, the value of team and usage of each person’s strengths has always been etched in the forefront of my thinking and planning. Now as a school leader, this same concept has been a driving force in my thought process. My field is my school, and my team is my teachers. Instead of winning a game or a title, our victories are measured by student success. Though my title says principal, to me I am nothing more than the school’s head coach. (more…)

Creating a School for All Students: Our Story of Inclusion

There are no restaurants, banks, grocery stores, or other everyday establishments or public places specifically for people with special needs, different education levels, or specific skin tones. Thankfully those places are there for everyone’s use. Shouldn’t students be educated the same way, with all their peers, as much as possible? That would be a great start to teaching and learning acceptance, care, empathy, and respect for others while creating a foundation to help students navigate life. (more…)

Lessons Learned from a Decade of RTI/MTSS Implementation

At Centennial Middle School (CtMS), incoming students arrive typically two to three levels behind on academic standards. Every year, 60 percent of the population in math and 55 percent of the population in English/language arts (ELA) need additional academic support. In a building of 600 students, with a 50 percent free and reduced rate, it’s a clear focus of ours to provide that extra support in math and ELA in an effort to help close that gap without taking away from core instruction. (more…)

Supporting Students through PBIS: A School Community Endeavor

Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports, or PBIS, is a system with long-standing results. PBIS aims to teach core skills as they pertain to behavioral expectations, similar to how schools teach core curriculum expectations. Whaley School, a separate day school for students with acute behavior needs, has been using the PBIS model for five years in the Anchorage School District. We believe that much of our PBIS success is due to the work we have done in four key groups: students, staff, families, and community.  (more…)