My school, long rated as top-performing, was this year given a rating of “targeted” for underperformance among student subgroups—including African-American, free and reduced-price lunch, and special education students. Though this is understandably not an ideal rating, I look at it as a blessing in disguise. We now have a very clear mandate to look at the performance of these subgroups and make immediate improvements. To me, this gives us an opportunity that will ultimately benefit all students, depending on the measures we put in place and the kinds of practices we implement. As an instructional leader, I am reminded that this work starts with me. (more…)
Guest post by Jack Baldermann
At Westmont High School (WHS)—a Title 1 school just outside Chicago, IL—our team has sustained tremendous growth and significant gains in student achievement. WHS continues to rank in the top 1 percent in Illinois and in the nation for its graduation rate. Over the past five years, 98.5 percent of our students have graduated on time, up from a 10-year average of 90 percent. For five years straight, 100 percent of Latino and African-American students at WHS have completed all graduation requirements on time. In addition, WHS can also claim one of the most improved and top performing AP programs in Illinois and in the nation.
What has caused our substantial growth and gains in student achievement? (more…)
Guest post by Tracy Ragland
One of my goals as principal of Newcastle High School (NHS) in Wyoming is to provide my staff with ongoing, quality professional development. Currently, we follow a traditional, face-to-face PD model, where our administrative team shares best practices with our entire teaching staff during in-service time. Though this approach provides some benefits, our team has struggled to develop programming that addresses all of the different needs of our staff, especially since NHS offers a wide variety of electives ranging from multimedia to welding, in addition to our core classes. How can we as school leaders provide more effective professional development that meets all of the different needs of our staff? (more…)
Guest post by Amy Mims
When I became an assistant principal of Independence High School in Charlotte, NC, our school’s test scores were low. As I started observing classrooms, I saw talented teachers hard at work designing and delivering interesting lessons that utilized a number of instructional best practices. I also saw motivated students who were engaged in lessons, completed assignments, and did well on assessments. I wondered: What was causing our school’s low test scores? (more…)
Guest post by Brent Rowland
Do you have a handful of rock star teachers who are your go-to people, so you keep going to them over, and over, and over?
Imagine finding that just-right leadership spot for all of your teachers—that place where school needs match teacher interest. What would that do to connect them to the school’s mission, distribute leadership, and develop teacher capacity?
Guest post by Ryan Maxwell
Teachers these days are constantly being told that they must “take ownership” for all of their students to meet the standards and succeed. But at the same time, teachers often receive mixed messages from their own school leadership that raise doubts about whether the leaders above them really believe in these goals. At Sunnyside High School (SHS) in Sunnyside, WA , our school leadership focuses on supporting teachers so that they can fully support their students. When teachers’ efficacy is high, they are much more likely to support their own students. The manner in which SHS leadership builds teacher efficacy is through a unified message of teacher ownership. It begins with administrative leadership believing and internalizing the following quote from the distinguished educator and author Carl D. Glickman: (more…)
Guest post by Jamie Richardson
School leaders talk often about innovation in education, but as much as we want it, we have to admit it’s hard to get past talking about it and actually change. Change is scary and uncomfortable. Even with well thought out plans, the outcome is unknown and the stakes are high. A far greater risk, though, is maintaining the status quo. But I have seen the power of change at LaCreole Middle School. Our stellar staff faces their fears, takes risks, and embraces new ideas so that we all work toward a true common goal. (more…)
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…)
Guest post by Scott Long
It is the sixth and final period, and I am in the midst of my third pep assembly of the day. Two-hundred seventh graders are shouting and raising their hands, hoping I will call their name for a 7-on-7 football-bowling competition. Beyond the high-octane atmosphere of the gym, there are eight seventh-grade teachers engaging in content-area-specific data protocol to help drive future instructional decisions. Although not nearly as fast-paced as football-bowling, these PLC meetings have a similar level of enthusiasm. As I facilitate the final assembly of the day, I take great comfort in knowing that we are supporting our teachers with the gift of time. (more…)
Guest post by Brad Currie
Over the past year, Google Classroom has taken the educational world by storm. Teachers and students are now able to thrive in a paperless world. School leaders must support this new way of life while respecting the transition from traditional methods. So how can a school leader leverage the power of Google Classroom to promote student and staff success? Let’s take a look … (more…)