The Principalship

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…)

Using Hashtags to Carry Out Your Vision, Values, and Goals

As social media emerged as a mainstream communication device for school leaders years ago, so evolved the use of the hashtag. Back in 2012 when I first was dabbling with Twitter, Patrick Larkin, one of our first digital principals, used the simple hashtag #bhschat to keep a running dialogue with his high school students, staff, and families. His example prompted me to start my own weekly hashtag chat at Timberview Middle School. We called it #TMSHawkChat, and we made great connections as a community through those weekly conversations. Now only six years later, school/community hashtag chats are commonplace all over the world, and we have learned many more uses for the hashtag on social media. (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…)

Make the Most of Your Next Staff Meeting

Do you dread staff meetings as the principal? Does your staff audibly groan when you discuss policy changes or district minutia? Do you see your teachers watching the clock and counting down the minutes until they can leave? A few years ago, staff meetings at Harrisburg South Middle School were just this way, tedious gatherings that both the staff and I wished would just end as soon as possible. (more…)

That’s a Wrap: National Principals Month Comes to a Close

This October, NASSP, the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP), and the American Federation of School Administrators (AFSA) continued the annual tradition of highlighting principals across the nation during National Principals Month. All month long, students, parents, teachers, fellow school leaders, and even entire states—with 29 of them submitting congressional resolutions, along with the House and Senate—celebrated the impact that principals have on their students and school communities and thanked them for their unrelenting commitment and hard work. (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…)

Three Qualities to Look for in a Mentor

In a recent Q&A I host weekly with Danny Bauer, we talked about the importance of having a coach, or mentor, to help you become a better leader. (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…)

3 More Days of National Principals Month

With October winding down and November just around the corner, we prepare for the end of the 2018 National Principals Month. However, that doesn’t mean the month will end quietly! We still have some very exciting events left before November 1.

October 30, 3:00–4:00 p.m. (ET): Avoiding School Leadership Burnout (more…)