The Principalship

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…)

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…)

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…)

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…)