School Leadership

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…)

What American Schools Can Learn from Germany

I recently returned from a trip to Germany sponsored by the Goethe Institute and Germany’s Central Agency for Schools Abroad. The focus of the trip was to learn about Germany’s vocational schools and training programs as well as to learn more about how they teach languages other than German. As with any international trip, especially one focusing on schools, there was much to learn. Here are a few lessons the U.S. school system can learn from Germany. (more…)

You’ve Found Your “Why?” But What’s Your “How?”

If you’re reading this, my guess is that you and your school have crystallized a vision for why you do what you do—student learning outcomes, career pathway discovery, etc. In the case of Elk Grove High School (EGHS), our vision is to solidify America’s middle class by educating a generation of highly ethical, civic-minded, economically successful citizens who create a better future for all of us. (more…)

Streamlining Professional Growth through Micro-Credentialing and Badging

I was a bit fearful at the beginning of this school year. Budget reduction days loomed ahead, which—understandably—would be carved out of our non-student contact days, or our professional development in-service days. I worried that we would not be able to continue to make the great strides we have made in recent years in developing teacher leaders through our PD days. (more…)

Three Strategies to Help Students Earn Their Diplomas

Let’s be honest. In today’s time, education is all about numbers—state tests, national tests, school report cards—the list goes on and on. One number that I always strive to see increase is our graduation rate. Yes, an increasing graduation rate looks good on paper, but more than that is the intrinsic motivation I have when a student who has faced many obstacles receives a diploma.
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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…)

‘Tis the Season for Ed Leadership Renewal

Part of the distinction in being named a 2018 NASSP Digital Principal of the Year is the opportunity to be part of a McKinsey leadership program. This internationally renowned company is “the trusted advisor and counselor to many of the world’s most influential businesses and institutions.” In Part I of the McKinsey Academy, I am part of a cohort that began with 26 educators from around the globe. My subgroup is small: it’s simply Renita from Durham and me. (more…)

High School Academies: Finding a Place for Everyone

As an administrator at Lancaster High School, I am always seeking to help students find their place. In my experience, students perform at higher levels when they feel comfortable and a part of the school community. To provide these opportunities, our school has created academies that are tailored to certain career paths. We offer a variety of experiences so that students can choose an area that best fits the vocation they have in mind. (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 Persistence Movement: Are We Teaching Perfection as The Ultimate Goal?

Think of the perfect student. Early to school, always respectful, never an issue, and top scores in every class. If you are fortunate to know students like this, they are diamonds in the rough. Despite appearances, these students are far from perfect. Perhaps they are neurotic before each test, they have little to no social life, or they cry if they lose a point. If perfection is truly unattainable, why do we teach it as the goal? (more…)