We have all read or heard research that concludes the teacher in the front of the room has the largest impact on student learning and performance. Therefore, as principals, we should be focused on helping our teachers to grow and improve. At Ashland-Greenwood Public Schools in Nebraska, we have implemented a successful process to do just this. Here are the three steps we take to improve teacher performance: (more…)
As administrators, we are tasked with building the capacity of teacher leaders. But what exactly does teacher leadership look like? In The What, Why, and How of Teachers as Leaders, teacher leaders are described as “skilled classroom educators (who) hone their craft, mentor others, and grow professionally—while keeping one foot firmly inside the classroom.” So what can we do to build leaders while keeping them in our classrooms? The answer lies in the way we look at professional learning. (more…)
I was a bit fearful at the beginning of this school year. Budget reduction days loomed ahead, which—understandably—would be carved out of our non-student contact days, or our professional development in-service days. I worried that we would not be able to continue to make the great strides we have made in recent years in developing teacher leaders through our PD days. (more…)
In a recent Q&A I host weekly with Danny Bauer, we talked about the importance of having a coach, or mentor, to help you become a better leader. (more…)
Guest post by Kristopher Brown
When colleagues describe why they became educators, they usually describe a teacher who inspired or motivated them. My path toward education also centers around a former teacher; one who used relentless sarcasm and lacked the cultural competency necessary to engage me, an African American male student in a predominantly white suburban school. I got a B in class, but I dreaded going to that room. That class would often ruin my day. This teacher served as my inspiration to become an educator because I did not want another student to have an experience as poor as I had. (more…)
“Rejection doesn’t mean you aren’t good enough; it means the other person failed to notice what you have to offer.” —Mark Amend
How do you handle “no”?
You’re getting ready for dismissal. You have just survived yet another final interview for a principalship. You feel you have highlighted some of the qualities a principal should have and your plan to help the students and teachers move forward at the school. You have a clear vision, and you clearly outlined how to continue the mission already in place. When the phone call comes, you get a lump in your throat and chills. Once again, you hear not only that they have chosen another candidate who was a “better fit,” but you are being moved to another school. (more…)
One of the ways I like to provide meaningful feedback to teachers is by observing the “unobservables” outside of the classroom. A classroom observation is just a glimmer of the real work that teachers do behind the scenes to prepare for each daily lesson. In order to obtain valuable insights into how a teacher approaches lesson planning, evaluates student performance, and collaborates with colleagues, I routinely conduct observations during professional learning team (PLT) meetings. In this environment, I am able to truly understand how a teacher plans a lesson, supports the achievement goals necessary for each student, and contributes to the school’s overall success. (more…)
Guest post by Amber Schroering
After the recent Parkland shooting in Florida, I found myself sitting in church and couldn’t bring myself to sing. I just stood there, almost feeling numb, wondering how I could make a difference. I began to feel the same feelings creep in as I read and saw the extent to which our country is still divided over race and gender inequality. My hopelessness continued when a seventh-grade student came into my office because her dad had been arrested the night before after his inebriated girlfriend called the police and claimed domestic violence. The student said her father was punched in the nose, handcuffed, and arrested. And my feelings of despair hit rock bottom when Deputy Jake Pickett was shot and killed in the line of duty. His wife teaches at one of our elementary schools and he was a 2002 graduate of Brownsburg High School. (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 Abbey Duggins and Amber Schroering
If you’ve spent any amount of time building a high school master schedule, you are familiar with the dreaded “singleton.” A singleton happens when just enough students sign up to create one section of a course—usually an AP or obscure world language—and it throws a major wrench into scheduling every other aspect of the student’s day. A singleton is a scheduling nightmare, but it is also a necessary part of education.
Many positions in instructional leadership can feel like a singleton: there is one superintendent, one principal, one coach. These positions are often lonely, lacking the camaraderie that classroom teachers develop among their peers through the common bonds of students, lesson planning, grading, shared hallways moments, and outside-of-school fun.
So what is a singleton to do? (more…)