Principal Difference

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…)

How My Cellphone Reduces Stress

Has this happened to you? It’s Friday afternoon and, remarkably, the day has been unusually quiet. There are no extracurricular activities to support that afternoon or evening, and you can leave school by 4:00 p.m. guilt-free. Shortly after getting home, it happens—your phone chimes and an email comes through, which you casually look at and notice is from a parent. Do you read it right away? Do you wait until Sunday night? Monday morning? (more…)

How We Can Make School Special

Last Halloween, I took my 8-year-old daughter, Juliet, to a Brooklyn Nets game. She had just started playing basketball and was so excited to go to her first professional game that she gave up trick-or-treating to do it. That’s dedication! (more…)

Teacher Evaluation to Create a Culture of Learning

The teacher evaluation process has been at the forefront of many policy conversations over the past decade, and the underlying assumption resonates just as much today as it did ten years ago: the quality of the classroom teacher is the most important school-level factor that impacts student achievement. As school leaders, we must bring this assumption to life by creating a culture of teacher learning in our schools. Below are two important ways school leaders can help the teacher evaluation process become a robust and meaningful conversation that promotes professional growth and continuous improvement of professional practices. (more…)

Pipelines to Stem Principal Turnover

While much attention has been paid to teacher turnover over the past few decades, the amount of principals leaving their schools—or the profession altogether—is equally staggering. (more…)

Better Together: The Power of the Professional Learning Network

One of the biggest shifts I struggled with when transitioning from the classroom to the principalship was moving from the support of a team of teachers to the solitude of a building leader. As leaders, we are entrusted to so much confidential, stressful, and often heart-wrenching information. In my early years in the principal position, I struggled to process it all mentally and emotionally. I hit a wall in the summer of 2014, and I considered leaving the profession. The punitive shift that education had taken, coupled with the loneliness of leadership, had me in a very bad place. Luckily, a co-worker and good friend of mine convinced me to go to a summer leadership conference, and it was just what I needed. (more…)

5 Ways to Jump-Start A New Year

A new year is a time of reflection, goal setting, and new habits and practices. As the new school year begins to take shape, it’s time to get re-energized. Maybe you’re a new school leader who is looking for ideas to start the year off right, or perhaps you are a seasoned administrator who wants to keep the fire alive. Here are five leadership ideas to jump-start your year and lead to your best one yet. (more…)

Supporting Staff is Built With Intention

I recently read a tweet by Dr. Bryan Pearlman detailing eight bad leadership traits. The accompanying graphic spoke to poor communicators and leaders who lack integrity, trust, and other important traits. But what tugged at me the most was the idea that poor leaders were “unsupportive.” How could any leader be unsupportive of their staff or their students? (more…)

Encouraging Student Involvement in Activities

Growing up, I didn’t have a role model to guide me in identifying what it was to excel as a student until I was involved in after-school activities and had a coach lead me on the path to grow—both academically and personally. My coach guided me, cared, and held me accountable. He showed me that through hard work, I could achieve my goals. My involvement in activities was a springboard to believing in myself and my abilities. In the end, it helped me earn a scholarship that provided me with an opportunity to further my education and become a mentor for others. (more…)

‘Kaliopeku’: Cultural Project-Based Learning

Engaging students and making learning relevant is an issue all educators reflect upon. As one of the higher performing high schools in Hawaii, we could have easily rested on our laurels. Over the last five years, the Roosevelt Rough Riders have consistently ranked in the top five public high schools in Hawaii for reading and math achievement scores. This ranking could suggest that all of our students were performing well academically. (more…)