The Principalship

10 Things Great Principals Do Well

As we get ready to welcome students back to school, it seems like there is never enough time to get everything done. When I’m running around nonstop, sometimes it helps to have a quick checklist to help guide me through the day. Here are some of the key things I always try to remember as I strive to be the best principal I can be:

(more…)

Four Ways to Reenergize Your Next In-Service Opportunity

If your staff didn’t have to attend your next in-service training, would they?

If the training covers the 54-slide overview of ESSA changes or a new literacy initiative, I’m sure we can all guess the answer. There’s never a shortage of initiatives, mandates, or policy changes to review—I used to be the guy who had all my ducks in a row, with my all-important PowerPoints and handouts ready for in-service day. In retrospect, I know my teachers would rather have been somewhere else than “listening” to me give them information that I could have relayed at another time and in another way. (more…)

How to Help Students Make the “Right” Choices for Their Future

The students at Graham High School in St. Paris, OH, participate in our Career Gears program. As I shared in a previous post, Career Gears aims to create relevant experiences that help students identify career interests and build professional skills and relationships for the future. (more…)

New School Year, New Energy: Setting Realistic Goals

New Beginnings

Once upon a time, I had the greatest summer job ever: working at Seven Ranges Scout Reservation in east central Ohio. We were a bunch of teenagers and 20-somethings who got to exercise almost total creative control for the camp and its programming. Before the campers or full staff arrived on the reservation, leadership would sit down in front of a whiteboard and simply list all the needs, wants, and dreams for the year—and then go make it happen. (more…)

Transforming School Culture: Know It, Feel It, Live It

When I first arrived, Lake Shore Middle School (LSMS) was on the verge of a state takeover. With an F grade for two straight years on the state report card, LSMS was plagued with a host of problems including discipline issues, an unclear academic focus, a discouraged staff, and students who had embraced a failing attitude. Where was I to begin, and how was I going to turn this school around? (more…)

Leading Schools in Disruptive Times: How to Survive Hyper Change

You would be hard-pressed to talk to a teacher, secretary, or school administrator who would say we are not experiencing some disruptive times in education.

Since 2008, public perception of educators, in general, has been less than favorable. Expectations have increased exponentially, but funding education initiatives has not grown at the same pace. We face one disruption after another, yet we continue to find ways to meet the needs of our students, engage parents, respond to community desires, and do what is best for all stakeholders.

We recently co-authored a book titled, Leading Schools in Disruptive Times: How to Survive Hyper Change. As the political and social climate in our nation has changed, the release of this book could not have come at a better time. (more…)

When Going to the Principal’s Office is a Good Thing

As a child of the 1980s, I cheered on Ferris Bueller as he played hooky to hang out with his pals on his day off and rooted for John Bender as he snuck out of detention with the Breakfast Club. In both of these films, the school administrator served as the villain. Both Dean Edward Rooney and Assistant Principal Richard Vernon had the same goal: Take down the problem student and make his life miserable.

While I have to admit that these preposterous characterizations are often hilarious, they perpetuate a damaging stereotype that school administrators are ruthless disciplinarians who are out of touch with students. (more…)

Student Voice and Choice Through Personalized Learning Time

Each year I invite our teachers at Montour High School to participate in the Shadow a Student Challenge. For one week, a group of teachers spends time following students around the building, attending their classes, and joining them in lunch, activities, and more. Afterward, the teachers and I get together and talk about their shadowing experiences. It was during one of these afternoon conversations that changed the direction of our school community for the better.

(more…)

How to Provide Meaningful Teacher Feedback by Observing the “Unobservables”

One of the ways I like to provide meaningful feedback to teachers is by observing the “unobservables” outside of the classroom. A classroom observation is just a glimmer of the real work that teachers do behind the scenes to prepare for each daily lesson. In order to obtain valuable insights into how a teacher approaches lesson planning, evaluates student performance, and collaborates with colleagues, I routinely conduct observations during professional learning team (PLT) meetings. In this environment, I am able to truly understand how a teacher plans a lesson, supports the achievement goals necessary for each student, and contributes to the school’s overall success. (more…)

Five Simple Ways to Boost Social Capital in Schools

Guest post by Nathan Boyd, director, African American Student and Parent Services for South Bend Community School Corporation

Whether it’s Snapchat, WhatsApp, Instagram, or the app du jour, our kids are digitally connected to one another in more ways than I can count. Despite their virtual connectedness, kids seem to be more isolated and alone these days. Their sense of belonging and esteem is lacking, which has detrimental effects on their personal and academic success. How can school leaders help students connect to one another in the real world? (more…)