Principal Difference

Strategies to Curb Teacher Burnout

We have had a higher turnover rate of teachers the past few years, even as fewer individuals are entering the profession. It is no secret—we hire teachers, they become familiar with our staff, students, and procedures, and then some leave, creating a hole in the continuity of our schools. We then have to scramble to replace and retrain them, ask staff to spend hours to support the new teachers (which they always do without hesitation), only for it to happen again. (more…)

Leading Through Crisis

This fall, the Science Leadership Academy faced its biggest challenge in the 13-year history of the school. After leasing our charming but limited space for many years, we were scheduled to move into a refurbished co-located facility. This was a watershed moment for the district, as it marked the first time in recent memory that two existing schools—one citywide magnet and one neighborhood school—would be co-located in the same facility. The district was committing $23 million to the renovation, and it was seen as a potential roadmap for a district with many severely underutilized facilities. We’d spent the better part of two years preparing—designing the facility, getting to know each other’s faculty, and prepping for the students from both schools to get to know their new neighbors in a way that was powerful and positive. (more…)

Building a Positive School Culture, The Sundevil Way

There are several components to building a positive school culture and multiple ways to go about it. Building culture never stops and is always in development—here’s how our school got started on our journey to create a cohesive, positive, kind, and caring culture. (more…)

Five Reasons to Encourage Extracurricular Activities

Our world emphasizes teamwork, doing a job well, and being able to lead and follow—all skills students can learn and develop through extracurricular activities. Students who participate in extracurricular activities at my school in Montana have significantly higher GPAs and graduation rates than students who do not. Here are five reasons I encourage students at my school to participate in extracurricular activities: (more…)

Using Google to Promote Teacher Collaboration

While various Google applications such as Google Drive and Google Docs are great tools to use with students, they also can dramatically increase teacher collaboration in schools. Administrators can play an important role in encouraging collaboration by introducing these tools and encouraging their use, as we did at our middle level school. (more…)

Human Capital Management: Sowing the Seeds of Potential

While attending last summer’s National Principals Conference, rock star principal Jason Markey gently guided us through the dimensions of NASSP’s new Building Ranks framework. As the day unfolded, my eye was drawn to one dimension: Human Capital Management. I had never heard of this concept, and to be frank, it seemed sort of archaic and of another century. Managing people as capital? It didn’t sound at all like something I wanted to be involved in. (more…)

Three Keys to Principals’ Changing Roles

When I first got into teaching, my principal’s role was very clearly to manage a building. Making sure staff showed up for work, the building was kept clean, and school rules were followed were the things he seemed to focus on—not what was being taught or how it was being taught. How students felt and getting parent support also did not play into the daily activities of my principal. (more…)

Hindsight is 20/20: Using Personal Reflection to Shape Your Focus

Hindsight is 20/20, or so the saying goes. I’m not sure if it was a clever optometrist who originally coined the phrase, but I’m certain every school principal can relate. Personally, I’ve had many moments in my 10 years as principal I’d like to redo. And with the blank canvas of a new year ahead, I can’t help but wonder what the next year has in store. (more…)

A Team Approach to Master Scheduling

Most of us are a couple of months away from the daunting task of master schedule construction. Although this task is highly time-consuming, it can set the following year up for success. With this in mind, there are a few things I have learned over the years to help in schedule construction. (more…)

The Principal Advocate: 5 Ways School Leaders Can Support Students, Teachers, and Communities

Americans trust principals to care about others, provide fair and accurate information, and handle resources responsibility. A Pew Research Center survey shows that Americans have an even higher trust for school leaders than police, military leaders, and less surprisingly, journalists and members of Congress. This trust brings tremendous credibility when advocating for students, teachers, learning, and your school. (more…)