School of Thought

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…)

Giving Students a Voice and Empowering Them to Take Action

Schools benefit when students share their voices, but how often do we take the time to truly listen to what they have to say? The Quaglia Institute suggests that students are seven times more academically motivated when they believe their voices are heard as compared to students who do not. How might we integrate student voice into the way schools work while also honoring what students have to say? (more…)

Lessons Learned from a Decade of RTI/MTSS Implementation

At Centennial Middle School (CtMS), incoming students arrive typically two to three levels behind on academic standards. Every year, 60 percent of the population in math and 55 percent of the population in English/language arts (ELA) need additional academic support. In a building of 600 students, with a 50 percent free and reduced rate, it’s a clear focus of ours to provide that extra support in math and ELA in an effort to help close that gap without taking away from core instruction. (more…)

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…)

Presenting the first Principal Advocate Champion of 2019

Every quarter, the NASSP Policy & Advocacy Center recognizes outstanding volunteer advocates who dedicate their time toward advancing the policy and civic priorities of school leaders, public education, and students across America. The Principal Advocate Champion is someone who has made a powerful impact on the direction of public education policy through their personal engagement with state and federal policymakers and their ability to organize grassroots support behind NASSP advocacy initiatives.

The NASSP Policy & Advocacy Center is proud to announce that Vicki Puckett has been named the first quarterly Principal Advocate Champion of 2019. (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…)