Principal Difference

Student Voice: The Most Important School Leadership Tool

A powerful tool exists that principals can access as a knowledge stream to improve school culture: student voice. Students are our prime customers and having their input on the important decisions on academics and programming should be standard operating procedure for school leaders. How can school leaders gain this critical student perspective? (more…)

Use Social Media to Improve Engagement in Professional Book Clubs

Reading professionally has so much value for educators. But, how can professional reading not become “one more thing” for teachers and administrators? Last year, I wanted to engage our staff with positive professional literature. I picked a good book that was easy to read, engaging, and not overwhelming. Although our small group read independently, our culminating activity was a Twitter chat to discuss the high points from the book. The purpose of the Twitter chat was twofold: 1) create a forum in which we could discuss the themes of the book and how they applied to our school and professional lives; and 2) introduce our staff to professional learning on Twitter. (more…)

Cultivating Leadership in Teachers

Schools often have very defined leadership structures, most likely a principal and assistant principal, that make decisions and ensure the good order of the school. But each teacher is also a leader within their own classroom, and many teachers often display leadership qualities that can and should extend outside of the classroom. How can school leaders cultivate leadership and inspire others to use those qualities to push the whole school toward continual improvement? (more…)

8 Ways to Make the Most of Parent-Teacher Conferences

At the high school level, many schools see a decrease in attendance for parent-teacher conferences. Parents are busy, and with the many digital ways that parents can connect with teachers and schools, fewer parents feel the need for a face-to-face conversation with their child’s teacher. But parent-teacher conferences are important. While any family involvement in education can lead to positive benefits for students and teachers alike, sitting down for a personal conversation has other benefits that cannot be replicated in our digital communications. (more…)

Reaching the Masses: Communicating With All Stakeholders

Why do you think companies like Apple and Nike have such a cult following? If you compare their products to their competitors, they are very similar—but these two companies are getting consumers to pay more for their product than their competitors are. Why? I believe the No. 1 reason is communication. These companies know how to communicate the “greatness” of their products. From iPhones to Air Jordans, we have been told we can “Think Different” and “Be like Mike” just by powering on their devices and lacing up their sneakers. In the world of education, we can learn a thing or two from these companies on how we communicate with our stakeholders. (more…)

Creating an Environment Where Teachers are Appreciated and Celebrated

When I transitioned from the classroom to administration in January of 2000, I realized that one of the things I was giving up was the direct daily impact on students that I had as a teacher. Sure, I would still have a large impact on students, but not in the same manner that a teacher does. This helped influence how I wanted to treat the teachers who did have that daily direct influence on students. Basically, I was determined to provide my teachers with the support and materials they needed to go out and do their jobs to the best of their ability. That also included making sure that they knew I appreciated their efforts. (more…)

Three Creative Uses of the Principal’s Blog

Many principals these days use blogging to reflect, share, and highlight the great things going on in their schools. Blogging is an innovative way to give families and the community even greater insight into a principal’s mindset, priorities, and personality. It helps build even deeper connections. (more…)

Improving Staff Morale: One Simple Note at a Time

After 34 years in the education profession and 15 years at the same junior high school, I continue to be amazed at the fact the staff members still enjoy getting positive notes in their mailboxes about what they do at our school and for the students. Over the course of several years, I have altered or changed the process I have used for this positive messaging and modified how I did these messages to fit the personality or needs of each staff member. When you walk around our school you will see these notes attached or posted in each staff member’s room, by their desk, on the side of their computer monitor, or posted on a board behind their desk. (more…)

Moving Your School Toward Restorative and Multitiered Systems of Support

One of the most difficult things to navigate as a school administrator is discipline. How do you help students understand that their behavior is not appropriate? How do you respond so that the teacher who refers a student feels supported? (more…)

Does Time Management for the Principal Exist?

In my six years as principal of Martinsburg High School, I have realized that it does not matter what my plan is when I walk in the door at 7:00 a.m., it is always going to change based on the myriad situations I am faced with throughout the day.  If you ever find a professional development session for administrators that starts out with a heading like “time management for administrators in order to get everything done,” you should be very skeptical as to whether this leader has ever worked in a school as an administrator. What normally happens is I spend 80 percent of my day putting out fires and prioritizing which of those fires need my attention and which of those fires can I delegate to an assistant. Which bring me to my question for all of you: How should school leaders manage their time to make the most of their day? (more…)