Principal Expert of the Week

Standards-Based Grading in High School: Where Grades Matter the Most

How can you assure that all students in your building have met a minimum proficiency on all of your priority standards, regardless of the teacher? As Lander Valley High School began to answer this question, it became apparent that we needed to have a different grading system to ensure that when I sign a diploma, I can verify that the student has met the standards. (more…)

Character Education: It’s Not Something Added to The Plate. It Is the Plate

It was my first year teaching, and I was tidying up my classroom. I picked up trash under a desk and threw it away. The next day I noticed more trash under a desk. I watched for several days as the culprit would place trash under his desk and then leave it.  The next day, when my classroom offender got up to leave, once again leaving trash on the floor, I stopped him and asked him why he would leave his trash, he stated, “Oh, that’s the janitor’s job.” (more…)

The Learning Commons: A 21st Century Research and Technology Center

I can admit it now; I was probably the wrong man for the job.

As building principal, I knew that we needed to redesign and reinvent the space we called our library media center. We had a pretty obvious problem in there—students and teachers were not really using it. This large space situated in the center of our school had been remodeled several times—it used to be the library and before that it was actually the cafeteria. I added some fresh paint, new carpeting, new furniture, and bought some new books—popular young adult fiction and non-fiction. There were a handful of desktop computers and a SMART Board. Despite these superficial upgrades to the learning environment, it was still essentially a warehouse for a mostly-dated print collection and still largely unused. (more…)

Principals, you are not alone! There is strength in numbers.

E pluribus unum.Out of many, one.

It sounds cliché, I understand. Yet, as I reflect on the past few months after being recognized as the Michigan Association of Secondary School Principals 2018 Principal of the Year, and after participating in the NASSP Principals Institute in Washington, D.C., I find this to be a remarkably simple and accurate summary of principals around our state and nation. (more…)

What Are You Grateful for this Thanksgiving?

One of my teachers sent the following email to our staff. The subject line was: “A Thanksgiving Thought.” With his permission, I am posting it below in its entirety: (more…)

Building Positive School Culture Through Senior Interviews

Guest post by Chuck Rinkes

When I became principal of River View High School (RVHS) in 2007, our building met the academic excellence standards, and our community was pleased by our high ranking. But despite these achievements, neither our superintendent nor I were happy with the overall building culture. We witnessed unhealthy interactions between our stakeholders, students expressed negative feelings about our school, and there was an overall sense of stress and anxiety amongst the staff. In order to rise to the next level and become a great school, we needed to improve our overall culture. (more…)

What’s the Forecast in Your School?

I am agnostic when it comes to weather. I acknowledge that it exists. But I don’t favor any one season. Some people like winter, some like summer. Each season offers unique rewards. I experience weather, but I have no great affinity for one climate over another. (more…)

Lessons Learned From a Decade of Competency-Based Learning Implementation

Any principal who has engaged in the process of change will tell you that the ultimate goal is when the change becomes ingrained in school culture, and is no longer considered “new” but rather just thought of as “what we do.” (more…)

What is the Title of Your Book?

After leaving a fulfilling job as principal of Pocomoke High School after six amazing years, I began to reminisce on the work that my team had accomplished together. I thought, what if we were to write a book on the work we had done? What would we entitle the book? What would be the theme of the book? And what would the focus of each chapter be? (more…)

Three Ways to Find Work/Life Balance as a Principal

Of all the jobs in the world, there is no greater honor than to be a secondary school principal! The uniqueness of each day and the flurry of activity make it action-packed, and there never seems to be a dull moment. Whether it’s athletic events, concerts, homecoming, prom, classroom observations, lunch duty; the list of responsibilities is endless. It is important that we celebrate the work we do during National Principals Month and take time to reach out to our fellow colleagues from across the country and thank them for the jobs they do, day in, day out. (more…)