It was my first year teaching,andI was tidying up my classroom. I picked up trash under a desk and threw it away. The next day I noticed moretrash under a desk.Iwatched for several days as the culpritwould place trash under his desk and then leave it. The next day, when my classroom offender got up to leave, once again leaving trash on the floor, I stopped him and asked him why he would leave his trash, he stated, “Oh, that’s the janitor’s job.” (more…)
Think of the perfect student. Early to school, always respectful, never an issue, and top scores in every class. If you are fortunate to know students like this, they are diamonds in the rough. Despite appearances, these students are far from perfect. Perhaps they are neurotic before each test, they have little to no social life, or they cry if they lose a point. If perfection is truly unattainable, why do we teach it as the goal? (more…)
I can admit it now; I was probably the wrong man for the job.
As building principal, I knew that we needed to redesign and reinvent the space we called our library media center. We had a pretty obvious problem in there—students and teachers were not really using it. This large space situated in the center of our school had been remodeled several times—it used to be the library and before that it was actually the cafeteria. I added some fresh paint, new carpeting, new furniture, and bought some new books—popular young adult fiction and non-fiction. There were a handful of desktop computers and a SMART Board. Despite these superficial upgrades to the learning environment, it was still essentially a warehouse for a mostly-dated print collection and still largely unused. (more…)
As social media emerged as a mainstream communication device for school leaders years ago, so evolved the use of the hashtag. Back in 2012 when I first was dabbling with Twitter, Patrick Larkin, one of our first digital principals, used the simple hashtag #bhschat to keep a running dialogue with his high school students, staff, and families. His example prompted me to start my own weekly hashtag chat at Timberview Middle School. We called it #TMSHawkChat, and we made great connections as a community through those weekly conversations. Now only six years later, school/community hashtag chats are commonplace all over the world, and we have learned many more uses for the hashtag on social media. (more…)
December can be a hard month for educators. The excitement of the new school year has faded, the end of the semester looms ahead, the holidays add extra stress, and the busy pace of school can get in the way of taking care of oneself. Education is a profession that demands putting others first, often to the detriment of an educator’s health and well-being. We know that we must model what we want to see in others, so it’s important that school leaders model healthy habits and personal wellness for their staff members. (more…)
No one could have foreseen our frightening circumstances, but having an NHS chapter made all the difference.
I have been a National Honor Society (NHS) adviser for three years. Actually, it’s more accurate to say that I have been the sole adviser for that long—I had previously been co-advising our chapter with my wife for some time after the former advisers stepped down. In that time, we have grown to a 160-member group out of 2,100 students; we are one of the largest high schools in our semi-rural area. When disaster struck on April 20, 2018, we needed the support of all 160 members. (more…)
E pluribus unum.Out of many, one.
It sounds cliché, I understand. Yet, as I reflect on the past few months after being recognized as the Michigan Association of Secondary School Principals 2018 Principal of the Year, and after participating in the NASSP Principals Institute in Washington, D.C., I find this to be a remarkably simple and accurate summary of principals around our state and nation. (more…)
Being a leader means that you have to make decisions, and in my five years as an assistant principal, I have gradually come to accept the fact that not everyone is going to like the decisions that I have to make. Here is my story in a nutshell along with three key criteria I have developed that help me make sound decisions for my school, while dealing better with the inevitable complaints. (more…)
Empowering students to serve others through acts of kindness is something we at Regional School District No. 7 in Connecticut strive to do through a program called Kindness in Motion. The inspiration for this program came four years ago when our superintendent, Judy Palmer, saw a program on CBS Sunday Morning about Chris Rosati, a great man who—despite having ALS—dedicated the rest of his life to spreading kindness before he passed away in 2017. (more…)
One of my teachers sent the following email to our staff. The subject line was: “A Thanksgiving Thought.” With his permission, I am posting it below in its entirety: (more…)