School of Thought

Cooling Down and Perking Up: Restorative Practices for Student Success

Guest post by John Bartlett

It was a normal morning during my second year as a teacher. I got to school early and went to the office to get my second cup of coffee before school started. On the way back to class, it happened—a girl fight. As an educator, you know what I am talking about. You also know that generally girl fights are much more difficult to separate than boy fights. As I stepped in between the two female combatants as their hands clutched at each other’s hair, one of the duelists knocked my coffee cup out of my hand to meet its ultimate demise on the tile floor. Coffee went everywhere including on the two girls. Long story short, their parents were not happy. They reported to the principal that I had poured coffee all over their “innocent” young ladies.  (more…)

Telling a 21st Century Learning Story Through Digital Portfolios

Guest post by Mike King

Last time I posted, I discussed Dodge City Middle School’s (DCMS) student-led conference initiative, which places students at the center of their own learning. This post, I will share how we’ve continued this important work and integrated digital portfolios that help students apply their learning experiences to the real world and foster digital citizenship and 21st-century learning skills. (more…)

Let the Games Begin: Using Competition to Motivate the Students and Staff

Guest post by Chris Chitwood

As a coach, I believe that motivation is everything, and everyone is motivated by something. When our administrative team at Wilbanks Middle School in Demorest, GA, wanted to transform our culture to one of excellence in attendance, behavior, and academics, we decided to utilize competition as a way to motivate students and shift everyone’s focus to these three key areas.  (more…)

Advocacy Update

This Week in National Principals Month

The last full week of National Principals Month (NPM) is loaded with activities and opportunities for school leaders!

October 23 webinar: State Efforts to Elevate Principals

  • Join us for a special webinar hosted by the Council of Chief State School Officers as we examine what the next steps are for states implementing their ESSA plans. The webinar will also offer a unique look into different ways NASSP works to help all principals. You can register for the event here.

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Being Wrong Isn’t Always Bad—Sometimes It’s the Right Thing to Do

Guest post by Donald Gately

There is an event that every principal anticipates with varying degrees of trepidation. It is something students are excited and nervous about as well: the year-opening school letter telling kids who their teachers are going to be.  (more…)

Advocacy Update

This Week in National Principals Month

As October continues, so do the numerous events for National Principals Month (NPM). That is why each remaining Advocacy Update in October will feature a breakdown of the upcoming events of the week so you don’t miss out on these special opportunities:

October 16–20: Shadowing Week (more…)

Swapping Coins and Talking Choice with Betsy DeVos

Guest post by Tom Dodd

It was an honor to help facilitate the 2017 NASSP National Principals Institute, assist with Principal of the Year finalist interviews, and attend the awards ceremony. It brought back great memories of last year’s Institute, the outstanding leaders I was surrounded by, and my own surprise announcement as the 2017 National Principal of the Year.

It also gave me a chance to create new memories. I caught up with U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos as she left the awards ceremony after delivering her comments to the State Principals of the Year. I reintroduced myself and gave her one of my gold challenge coins. The secretary’s confidential assistant offered her coin in return, accompanied by the potential of an audience with the secretary the following morning. (I offered to bring Secretary DeVos a pumpkin spice latte if she could make it happen, my treat!) (more…)

How I’m #MakingGlobalChange

Guest post by Alexis Tisby

The NASSP Student Leadership Advisory Committee launched a global citizenship initiative in November 2016, and Alexis Tisby is one of the initiative’s global change ambassadors. She is from Lakewood, WA, and a senior at Harrison Preparatory School who has completed over 260 hours of volunteering and service in her community. In the future, she plans to major in computer science and minor in theater and art while obtaining her private pilot license.

She encourages others to join in on this global citizenship initiative and make global change. Local efforts count! As she shares, projects don’t have to be done on a global or international scale—the things you do locally can still contribute to making a global impact.

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Building School Culture by Starting Small

Guest post by Duane Kline

I have an admission to make. It turns out that after 31 years as a public school educator, I think school culture is the most important part of schooling. More important than curriculum, more important than assessment. Additionally, its importance is not solely for the benefit of students, but for the teachers and staff members who make the school what it is for the students. (more…)

Promoting Ownership of Learning Through Student-Led Conferences

Guest post by Mike King

Located on the rolling plains of Southwest Kansas, Dodge City is a town with Wild West roots where Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson, and Doc Holliday used to rule the land. Today, Dodge City is less lawman and gunfighters and more meatpackers and manufacturers with Cargill Meat Solutions and National Beef as the community’s top employers. As principal of Dodge City Middle School (DCMS), I am on a constant mission to cultivate opportunities for our students to develop college and career readiness skills and help them take ownership of their learning.  (more…)