Principal Expert of the Week

Building School Culture by Starting Small

Guest post by Duane Kline

I have an admission to make. It turns out that after 31 years as a public school educator, I think school culture is the most important part of schooling. More important than curriculum, more important than assessment. Additionally, its importance is not solely for the benefit of students, but for the teachers and staff members who make the school what it is for the students. (more…)

School Leadership Starts at Home

Guest post by Steve Carlson

This year, the Carlson family finally all takes the same path in the morning. Now that my youngest is in kindergarten, my wife, three children, and I spend our days in the Sandusky Community School District. I know that many others have enjoyed this experience, but having it happen in our family has given me a new perspective. For starters, it is nice to know that the long hours I put in as Sandusky Junior/Senior High School principal have a direct impact on my family. More than this, having my entire family under the same “school roof” has motivated me to lead our school to benefit all families and taught me some valuable lessons. (more…)

Why Getting Mugged by a Blockhead is a Good Thing for Teacher Retention

Guest post by Melissa D. Hensley

Central High School, an 800-student school in rural Woodstock, VA, has felt the effects of the national teacher shortage this year. We replaced a third of our staff as teachers left for higher paying jobs or relocated to take positions closer to their family. This high turnover rate alarmed us and caused our staff to discuss the impact of teacher turnover and develop a teacher-led strategic plan to increase retention. These efforts have led to a renewed commitment from our teachers to support each other and strengthen our school community.  (more…)

What an NFL Coach Can Teach High School Administrators

Guest post by Jay R. Townsend

What do NFL coaches and high school administrators have in common? Certainly not the pay or the publicity. But they both build people and teams. And you can learn a lot about how to build a winning school team from former NFL head coach Tony Dungy. I have been a huge fan of Dungy’s leadership style, and the lessons that I have learned from his book The Mentor Leader have helped me design a strong playbook for my students and staff. (more…)

Strong Leaders Find Time to Take Care of Themselves

Guest post by Annette Wallace

Thirteen days into my principalship, at the age of 30, I suddenly and violently lost my father. He struggled with mental health issues and alcohol addiction for years  and tragically succumbed to suicide.

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Collateral Culture: The School You Didn’t Know You Were Building

Guest post by Danny Steele

We all know the culture of our school is important, and you understand that building a strong one is how school leaders can impact student achievement. You intuitively understand that schools need to be safe; they need to foster collaboration; and they need to stay focused on the needs of the students. But don’t ever underestimate the small things you do on a daily basis that contribute to the strength of your school culture. (more…)

Quarter Deposits and Dollar Withdrawals

Guest post by Jay R. Dostal

I am wrapping up what has been the most difficult year of my professional life. It was filled with a myriad of emotions, events, and circumstances that most people never get to experience in a lifetime, let alone in a single year. Between opening a new high school, having a staff member pass away as the school year started, and losing multiple students to suicide and other unfortunate accidents, I can honestly say that this year has been like no other. As principal, it is difficult to lead in circumstances like these because it ravages your school culture. Walking the halls and seeing students and staff struggling is painful. You want to put your arm around everyone and tell them that it is going to be OK, but at the same time, you are struggling too and questioning if things can return to normal. You are left wondering if your school culture can ever rebound. (more…)

Hey, High School Principal: Take a Hint from Your Students

Guest post by Annette Wallace

Like many high school principals, I find myself always thinking about how I can be a better leader. I read books, stalk amazing principals’ social media accounts, and pick the brains of great principals about ways to be a more effective leader. I am obsessed with being the best principal I can be! As I was walking down the hallway today, the thought occurred to me: What if I stopped, looked, and listened to the hints and lessons my students were giving me on how to be better principal? (more…)

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…)