School Leadership

Prove It: Ensuring Efficacy in Digital Learning, Part One

Guest post by Eric Sheninger

I’ll never forget the day I presented my digital transformation plan to our superintendent at the time. I had spent days preparing and rehearsing all of my points, explaining the rationale for each new tool and making a strong budget case to secure the necessary resources. At the end of my presentation, the superintendent asked me point blank, “Can you prove it? What evidence do you have to demonstrate that all of this works?” These were fair questions that I had not fully anticipated. But at that moment in time, they provided the grounding that my school and I really needed.  (more…)

How Can We Best Engage Families?

Guest post by Brad Currie

Transforming the way in which we engage families in our classrooms, schools, and districts is paramount if educators are going to exhaust all options to promote the success of students. A multi-faceted approach must be implemented. Families live busy lives and have unique circumstances pertaining to their availability on a given day. Educators must never discount the opportunities that technology provides to a parent or guardian on an internet enabled device. Grades, learning experiences, event information, feedback, praise, constructive criticism, highlights, and a plethora of other insights can be transmitted to families from educators through a variety of technological methods.  (more…)

7 Strategies to Enhance School Safety

Guest post by Bill Ziegler

Without a doubt, the most pressing issue in schools today is safety. It seems like a week can’t go by without hearing about a school shooting or someone talking about school safety fears. The Washington Post recently reported a startling statistic that indicated more students have died in school shootings in 2018 than U.S. military members killed during deployment this year. Hardly a day goes by in school when I’m not thinking, “What would I do if shots went off here?” How can principals take action to protect our school community? Here are seven strategies to help keep your school safer.  (more…)

Good Leadership Starts With Strong Recruiting

Guest post by Cameron Soester

Principals and assistant principals have a host of responsibilities. We deal with school safety, the learning environment, staffing needs, student discipline, and even lunch duty. In the midst of everything, there is one vital piece that I believe is often overlooked: recruiting the next wave of school leadership. We have a responsibility that extends beyond our own buildings, and that responsibility is to make sure that our entire educational system has strong leaders in the pipeline. How do we make this happen? We need to turn our attention to recruiting and developing individuals to take on leadership roles so that our work to improve schools and student learning continues long after we leave our positions. (more…)

The Poor Man’s Guide to Family Engagement in Our Schools

Guest post by Patrick Arguelles

Doing more with less

Virtually every school district in the nation is dealing with budget reductions. For most school leaders, there is little unjustified spending to cut, no easy targets, no low-hanging fruit. At the Early College Academy and Career Enrichment Center in Albuquerque, NM, we have examined our vision and mission and aligned budget expenditures to them. Challenged with sustaining the core function of our school—college and career readiness—yet also making budget reductions that could affect the educational experience necessary for student success, we stepped outside the box to scrutinize our options. Initial conversations were filled with lots of “less”—less materials and supplies, less technology, less PD, less electives, even less pay. What could we have more of that would not cost us any money? (more…)

Everyone Has a Story

Guest post by Brandon Mowinkel

The role of a principal is complex, tiring, and stressful, to say the least. Balancing the needs of your staff, students, school, and community can wear on you, especially as the school year winds down. Tensions seem to run high as patience wanes.

It is vital for principals to keep the focus where it needs to be—on the students. The demands of the job can pull us in various directions and our need to keep students at the forefront of what we do becomes muddled in the minutia of school life. Every principal must find a way to remember his “why” and continuously keep the focus on students and their learning. In my practice, I use three constant reminders to keep me focused on what matters most. (more…)

Playing to Our Strengths: Helping Teachers Hone Their Practice

Guest post by Jethro Jones

I had someone ask me the other day, “What does effective teaching look like to you? What do you look for when you walk into a classroom?” I thought this was a really interesting question that I have not had to answer in awhile, but I think it is important to share how my thoughts about this have changed over time. (more…)

Canines in the Classroom: How Gem Transformed Our School

Guest post by Laurie Wade

When I first proposed introducing a therapy dog to my district in 2011, I was met with a lot of raised eyebrows and skepticism. There was the expected chorus of objections: What about kids who are afraid of dogs or don’t like them? What about allergies? What if the dog hurts someone? Like most problems, all of these had solutions, and once that reassurance took hold the possibilities came forward. Research has shown that therapy dogs in schools bring a host of physical and mental benefits for the community. (more…)

AVID: A Transformative Pathway for School Improvement

Guest post by Nick Nelson

During the 2015–16 school year, The Dalles High School in Oregon was awarded a state grant for AVID training. We didn’t know much about AVID at the time, just that it was a philosophy centered on writing, inquiry, collaboration, organization, and reading, and that its goal was to close the achievement gap.

The grant allowed a team of five teaching staff, me, and one additional administrator to attend the initial summer AVID-training session. After that session, our team began to grasp more concretely the significance of what we were involved in and the potential impact AVID could have on our instructional practice with targeted students and schoolwide. What we didn’t know was how instrumental AVID would be in creating a powerful cultural transformation for our high school. (more…)

National Principals Conference 2018: A Forum for National Problem-Solving

Guest post by Amber Schroering

After the recent Parkland shooting in Florida, I found myself sitting in church and couldn’t bring myself to sing. I just stood there, almost feeling numb, wondering how I could make a difference. I began to feel the same feelings creep in as I read and saw the extent to which our country is still divided over race and gender inequality. My hopelessness continued when a seventh-grade student came into my office because her dad had been arrested the night before after his inebriated girlfriend called the police and claimed domestic violence. The student said her father was punched in the nose, handcuffed, and arrested. And my feelings of despair hit rock bottom when Deputy Jake Pickett was shot and killed in the line of duty. His wife teaches at one of our elementary schools and he was a 2002 graduate of Brownsburg High School.  (more…)