Principal Difference

Taking a Critical Lens to Instructional Design

No one can deny the fact that we are seeing some pretty exciting changes in teaching, learning, and leadership. Advances in research, brain science, and technology are opening up new and better pathways to reach learners like never before. This excitement, in some cases, effects real change and has supporting evidence of improvement. In other cases, money is being dumped on the latest tool, program, idea, or professional development without ensuring that instructional design is up to par in the first place. Pedagogy trumps technology. It also goes without saying that a solid pedagogical foundation should be in place prior to implementing any innovative idea. (more…)

Four Ways to Fine-Tune Your Leadership Skills

After 18 years of being an assistant principal in various schools, I still love my job. But whether you are a new administrator or a seasoned veteran, it is always a challenge to stay current in the ever-changing educational landscape. How do you master the varied roles you are expected to fulfill?  Here are four ways that I have honed my leadership skills in my time as a school administrator: (more…)

Eating Your Mistakes

It was the Fourth of July, and I was doing what I love to do in summertime: using my barbeque smoker to make pulled pork sliders for dinner. I woke up at 4:15 a.m. to get it started so that it would be ready in time; after all, you’ve got to get up early in the morning if you’re going to make great food (I went back to sleep for a couple of hours once I got it going). (more…)

Are You the “Connector in Chief” at Your School?

When I was awarded the honor of being named the Assistant Principal of the Year in the state of Illinois, my local newspaper did a story on me. When they asked my principal about what made me a worthy recipient of this award, he responded, “[Tim] has a great ability to make connections with people, to relate to people.” His words caused me to reflect.  Making connections with others always seemed natural to me, and I never really gave it much thought.  But then the teacher in me kicked in and I started to wonder, can people learn to be better at making connections? How would we teach it? (more…)

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:

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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…)