The Principalship

Four Questions to Ask Teachers on Creativity

How do you lead and model creativity? That’s a question many school leaders ask themselves. Many of us can get our arms around collaboration, communication, and critical thinking, but why is it that creativity is one area where we frequently struggle and sputter? I think it’s because we fear creativity—it doesn’t fall into a nice box that is neatly packaged with structure and details. You see, creativity is often messy, frequently busting the seams of our comfort zones and almost always requiring us to stretch and grow. (more…)

Make Your Voice Heard This National Principals Month

National Principals Month (NPM), celebrated annually throughout the month of October, highlights the hard work of principals across the country and all they do to support their educational communities. This year, the American Federation of School Administrators (AFSA), the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP), and the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) are taking that initiative a step further—calling attention to pressing issues facing the principalship and what policymakers can do to support principals and educators. (more…)

Leading Through the Struggle

We spend a great deal of time as school leaders talking about building culture. We often consider the day-to-day elements of this work: eating lunch with the kids, visiting classrooms, being visible at all kinds of school events, and having meaningful conversations with teachers and students. The work of leading a school and building a culture is much like leading a family, full of joy and, inevitably, pain. (more…)

Learning From My Daughter: Unfiltered Feedback

Over the past three years, I have had an amazing opportunity to view my school in a different way as the principal to my daughter, Sidney. As you might expect, I think that she is a pretty amazing young lady, and I eagerly anticipated her sixth-grade year at Messalonskee Middle School (MMS). Before she started, Chuck Pullen, the tech education teacher at our school, told me that I would never look at MMS in the same way after she attended. How right he was! I have had hundreds of conversations about school with Sidney, and through those discussions, I have come to see MMS through her lens. (more…)

Character Champions: Teacher Leadership to Address Social and Emotional Needs

Over the past couple of years, our school has been challenged by the social and emotional needs of our students. The impact of increased behavioral incidents has put a strain on our previously steady school climate, and while we are learning a lot, we have also found that we are not very well prepared to handle some of these needs. In an attempt to foster real teacher leadership in addressing these challenges, I had to step aside and allow the energies and passions of our staff to take shape. (more…)

Get Involved During National Principals Month!

For years, National Principals Month has been dedicated to celebrating our principals who tirelessly devote themselves to their educational communities every day. This year, in light of the growing shortage of principals across the country, we’re going a step further—we’re aiming to make a real difference by fighting for and with principals. They need continued support from the communities they serve. (more…)

Making Student Connections: Will You Check on Me?

When a former colleague of mine, Joe Turner, was named teacher of the year, a reporter asked him for his advice to new teachers. He responded, “Teach every child like you’re their lifeline—like you’re their last chance to succeed.” (more…)

The Principal’s Greatest Asset: Public Trust

Good news, principals. It might not always feel like it, but you actually enjoy quite a bit of trust from the American public. A recent report from the Pew Research Center, in fact, identified principals as the most trusted leaders in our country’s most prominent institutions—more than elected officials, religious leaders, military leaders, tech leaders, journalists, and police. (more…)

Making Difficult Decisions In Students’ Best Interest

Like my colleagues across the globe, my daily battle revolves around how to make decisions through the lens of what is in the best interests of my students. This seems particularly trying in my current nontraditional school situation that is focused on dropout prevention, content mastery, and personalized learning—all still within the confines and with remnants of our traditional mindset. I often feel my opinion on what is in the “best interests” for our students can change several times within the same day. (more…)

Advocate for Principals This October

School leaders across the nation work tirelessly day in and day out to ensure the success and well-being of each student and adult in their learning communities. The entire month of October—designated each year as National Principals Month—is designed to honor them for all they do. (more…)