School of Thought

Making Connections: Lighting a Fire in Your Staff and Students

I am not a camper, so I am in no way an expert on building a fire, but I do know (thanks to my high school science classes) that in order for fire to ignite, it needs three elements: heat, fuel and oxygen. On the flip side, being a school leader is something I do know, and culture is something that is talked about all over leadership blogs, articles, books, and tweets. Culture is way more than just a buzzword. Culture is the heart of a school, and the difference-maker between success and failure. (more…)

It’s Not About You! Keeping Perspective During Difficult Conversations

A day in the life of a principal can be fraught with difficult discussions that require a careful approach. You have likely found yourself in a conversation which caused you to feel anxious, stressed, or even angry. Although these emotions are natural, they can limit your ability to see problems clearly and prevent your openness to different solutions. After experiencing numerous challenging interactions, I have realized that I need to find ways to focus on these conversations and remove any emotional response so that problems can be solved effectively. (more…)

Truancy Task Force: Don’t Fight Attendance Problems Alone

At Lakeland Union High School, our absenteeism rates used to be substantially higher than state averages. Year after year, someone—usually an assistant principal or dean of students—was always working hard on addressing our truancy cases. Despite our efforts, nothing we did dramatically affected the number of students habitually missing school. To break this cyclical pattern, our administrative team decided to take a different approach to curb attendance problems. (more…)

Become the School’s Head Coach by Fostering Teacher Leadership

As a former coach, the value of team and usage of each person’s strengths has always been etched in the forefront of my thinking and planning. Now as a school leader, this same concept has been a driving force in my thought process. My field is my school, and my team is my teachers. Instead of winning a game or a title, our victories are measured by student success. Though my title says principal, to me I am nothing more than the school’s head coach. (more…)

A Place to Belong: Why I Became an Adviser

Celebrating scholarship is just as important as any other school club, and NJHS provides that space.

Twenty-one years ago, my principal asked me to advise the current National Junior Honor Society (NJHS) chapter at my middle school. I had never done it before, and it was trial by fire—luckily I was able to attend a workshop and found great resources to get me started. (more…)

“Do You See Me?” The Power of Student Connections

Positive connections between students, teachers, administrators, and school community lead to academic success and a balanced education. To reach their potential, it is integral that children connect to at least one person in their school community. This connection needs to exist within a safe and stable environment, providing opportunities for these relationships to strengthen and grow. The middle level leader plays a key role in fostering these important components of success. (more…)

Bringing Light to a Dark Month

Darkness, cold weather, and a continued lack of daylight can bring the winter blues to many of us. While February is considered the shortest month of the year, for some it seems to be the longest; students and staff are longing for warmer weather, increased daylight, and spring break! (more…)

“We Must Be Advocates”: How the NASSP Advocacy Conference Impacts Education

Education in America is being threatened by reduced funding, teacher shortages, school safety concerns, and more—and it needs your voice now more than ever. The 2019 NASSP Advocacy Conference is your opportunity to gather with peers in the education community and converge on Capitol Hill to meet with policymakers who are making important decisions at the federal level. With the February 11 registration deadline fast approaching, students and learning communities are counting on you to be their advocate.

NASSP spoke with three past conference attendees who shared their experiences as well as why they’ll be attending this year’s event: Steve Baker, principal, Bluffton High School in Bluffton, IN; Erika Burden, principal, Westwood Middle School in Spokane, WA; and Brad Seamer, assistant principal, Harrisburg High School in Harrisburg, SD. (more…)

Creating a School for All Students: Our Story of Inclusion

There are no restaurants, banks, grocery stores, or other everyday establishments or public places specifically for people with special needs, different education levels, or specific skin tones. Thankfully those places are there for everyone’s use. Shouldn’t students be educated the same way, with all their peers, as much as possible? That would be a great start to teaching and learning acceptance, care, empathy, and respect for others while creating a foundation to help students navigate life. (more…)

Crowdfunding the Right Way: NASSP and DonorsChoose.org release Principal Toolkit

DonorsChoose.org is a nonprofit built exclusively to support K–12 public schools and address educational inequities, and DonorsChoose.org has helped teachers in 4 out of 5 U.S. public schools request items for their classroom. Our founder and CEO Charles Best launched the nonprofit 19 years ago out of his Bronx high school history classroom—since then, DonorsChoose.org has generated $775 million from over 3 million donors of all stripes for public school classrooms. We’ve teamed up with NASSP to create a new Principal Toolkit, and show how you too can help teachers get resources for their classroom that line up with your school priorities. (more…)