School of Thought

Three Keys to Principals’ Changing Roles

When I first got into teaching, my principal’s role was very clearly to manage a building. Making sure staff showed up for work, the building was kept clean, and school rules were followed were the things he seemed to focus on—not what was being taught or how it was being taught. How students felt and getting parent support also did not play into the daily activities of my principal. (more…)

Hindsight is 20/20: Using Personal Reflection to Shape Your Focus

Hindsight is 20/20, or so the saying goes. I’m not sure if it was a clever optometrist who originally coined the phrase, but I’m certain every school principal can relate. Personally, I’ve had many moments in my 10 years as principal I’d like to redo. And with the blank canvas of a new year ahead, I can’t help but wonder what the next year has in store. (more…)

A Team Approach to Master Scheduling

Most of us are a couple of months away from the daunting task of master schedule construction. Although this task is highly time-consuming, it can set the following year up for success. With this in mind, there are a few things I have learned over the years to help in schedule construction. (more…)

The Principal Advocate: 5 Ways School Leaders Can Support Students, Teachers, and Communities

Americans trust principals to care about others, provide fair and accurate information, and handle resources responsibility. A Pew Research Center survey shows that Americans have an even higher trust for school leaders than police, military leaders, and less surprisingly, journalists and members of Congress. This trust brings tremendous credibility when advocating for students, teachers, learning, and your school. (more…)

Advocacy Update: NASSP Advocacy Leads to Big Increases for Programs Benefitting Principals and Students

After months of tumultuous negotiations, Republicans and Democrats finally struck a deal for the FY 2020 budget, avoiding a possible government shutdown right before Congress’ scheduled holiday break. Earlier this week, lawmakers reached an agreement and President Trump is planning on signing two different omnibus packages that contained the 12 appropriations bills that fund the federal government. Education funding was a big winner in this final package, with many of NASSP’s priority programs seeing increases for the first time in several years. Overall, the package provides a total of $72.8 billion for the Department of Education (ED), $1.3 billion above the FY 2019 enacted level. Some of NASSP’s highest-priority programs received substantial funding increases in the FY 2020 package, including: (more…)

Incorporating Social-Emotional Learning Into a Freshmen Seminar

To better support our students during their critical transition year for ninth grade, I developed a character education class that incorporates a mentoring program. The class was developed to assist academically at-risk freshmen intellectually, socially, and emotionally during their transition into high school. (more…)

Our Experiences Influence Our Leadership

Thirty years into my public education career, I am still in awe every day of the power of what we do. In 1848, Horace Mann claimed, “Education, then, beyond all other devices of human origin, is the great equalizer of the conditions of men, the balance wheel of the social machinery.” At a personal level, education can be a game changer, and principals are leading that charge. We level playing fields, remove barriers, and create hope. (more…)

Building Relationships Between Students and Administrators

Many articles have been written about the importance of building relationships with students in the classroom, but what about us? How do we, as administrators, build relationships with students when we do not have them in class every day? It can be a little more challenging, but with some creativity, we can forge positive relationships just by having fun! (more…)

Helping Students Affected by Trauma During the Holidays

For most of us, thinking about the fall and winter months conjures up happy memories—hayrides, big family dinners, and presents galore. However, the holiday season can be difficult for our students affected by trauma. (more…)

Dirty Hands, Engaged Minds: Passion-Forward Project-Based Learning With ‘Intensives’

At the Young Women’s Leadership School of Astoria, we have made innovation a part of our model. As a grade 6–12 all-girls public school in New York City, we pride ourselves on leading the way for the next generation of leaders with real-world learning, in real time, with real experts. For two weeks, our regular courses stop, and we “Intensify.” My virtual tour provides a look at our “Intensives,” which strive to integrate 21st-century skills in a 1:1 tech environment that offers students multiple ways to display mastery. (more…)