Principal Difference

Maintaining Digital Balance

Much more often than I would like to admit, a little voice can be heard chastising me from the back seat of our minivan while sitting at a traffic light: “Better left unread than dead, Mom.”

In those moments I reflect and recognize I must do better—I am not modeling or practicing what I preach. I need more digital balance, and whatever text or email I am replying to can wait until I get to my destination. The phone goes into the glove box until I get home, with a firm digital boundary set. (more…)

Master Schedule: A Climate and Culture Initiative

For school leaders, January brings the unofficial start to master schedule season. A master schedule includes decisions about course offerings, teacher plan periods, teacher course recommendations, utilization of Full-Time Equivalency (FTE), instructional interventions, and even lunch times. January is often the time of year that principals and assistant principals begin to formulate a plan to best utilize their resources to meet student needs through an efficient and effective master schedule. (more…)

Supporting Students through PBIS: A School Community Endeavor

Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports, or PBIS, is a system with long-standing results. PBIS aims to teach core skills as they pertain to behavioral expectations, similar to how schools teach core curriculum expectations. Whaley School, a separate day school for students with acute behavior needs, has been using the PBIS model for five years in the Anchorage School District. We believe that much of our PBIS success is due to the work we have done in four key groups: students, staff, families, and community.  (more…)

What American Schools Can Learn from Germany

I recently returned from a trip to Germany sponsored by the Goethe Institute and Germany’s Central Agency for Schools Abroad. The focus of the trip was to learn about Germany’s vocational schools and training programs as well as to learn more about how they teach languages other than German. As with any international trip, especially one focusing on schools, there was much to learn. Here are a few lessons the U.S. school system can learn from Germany. (more…)

You’ve Found Your “Why?” But What’s Your “How?”

If you’re reading this, my guess is that you and your school have crystallized a vision for why you do what you do—student learning outcomes, career pathway discovery, etc. In the case of Elk Grove High School (EGHS), our vision is to solidify America’s middle class by educating a generation of highly ethical, civic-minded, economically successful citizens who create a better future for all of us. (more…)

Streamlining Professional Growth through Micro-Credentialing and Badging

I was a bit fearful at the beginning of this school year. Budget reduction days loomed ahead, which—understandably—would be carved out of our non-student contact days, or our professional development in-service days. I worried that we would not be able to continue to make the great strides we have made in recent years in developing teacher leaders through our PD days. (more…)

Three Strategies to Help Students Earn Their Diplomas

Let’s be honest. In today’s time, education is all about numbers—state tests, national tests, school report cards—the list goes on and on. One number that I always strive to see increase is our graduation rate. Yes, an increasing graduation rate looks good on paper, but more than that is the intrinsic motivation I have when a student who has faced many obstacles receives a diploma.
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Standards-Based Grading in High School: Where Grades Matter the Most

How can you assure that all students in your building have met a minimum proficiency on all of your priority standards, regardless of the teacher? As Lander Valley High School began to answer this question, it became apparent that we needed to have a different grading system to ensure that when I sign a diploma, I can verify that the student has met the standards. (more…)

‘Tis the Season for Ed Leadership Renewal

Part of the distinction in being named a 2018 NASSP Digital Principal of the Year is the opportunity to be part of a McKinsey leadership program. This internationally renowned company is “the trusted advisor and counselor to many of the world’s most influential businesses and institutions.” In Part I of the McKinsey Academy, I am part of a cohort that began with 26 educators from around the globe. My subgroup is small: it’s simply Renita from Durham and me. (more…)

High School Academies: Finding a Place for Everyone

As an administrator at Lancaster High School, I am always seeking to help students find their place. In my experience, students perform at higher levels when they feel comfortable and a part of the school community. To provide these opportunities, our school has created academies that are tailored to certain career paths. We offer a variety of experiences so that students can choose an area that best fits the vocation they have in mind. (more…)