A maximal learning environment cannot exist without students feeling safe and connected with their teacher in the classroom. But teachers quickly get caught up with the demands of covering curriculum and meeting mandates. Most times, it is easier to conform to the system instead of infusing our individual personalities into our school lives. (more…)
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…)
I knew the importance of NHS from my days as a student, and participating as an adviser is even more rewarding.
When I first came to my high school, I was asked to be a National Honor Society (NHS) adviser. I jumped at the chance, as I remembered being an NHS member myself and how it connected me to the community. I knew I wanted to make an impact with our chapter and put us on the map in our school—many of the students didn’t know what NHS was, let alone want to join. Now, 12 years later, we’re ingrained in our school’s culture, and younger students aspire to become members. (more…)
Guest post by Thomas Kachadurian
In last week’s post, I discussed the beginnings of the iCARE program at Colonie Central High School and how it has given students an opportunity to make a difference in our school. This week, I will share how iCARE has grown and united our entire community around a variety of events that aim to serve others and build a positive culture. (more…)
Guest post by Thomas Kachadurian
In 2011, I attended a character education summit at Sage College with my fellow associate principal Chris Robilotti. After attending a seminar on cultivating stakeholder ownership, we walked away with a new mission to take our successful middle school bullying prevention program and build it in the high school setting.
Using the information we gathered at Sage, Chris and I plotted a course (more…)
Guest post by George Roberts
August 27, 2012. The first day of school for the 2012–13 school year. The sun was shining; the sky was a brilliant blue; the air was thick with the smell of freshly cut grass; the students were wearing their best back-to-school clothes; and the schoolhouse was filled with a palpable sense of excitement that only the first day of school can bring. Little did I know that three hours later the smell of gunpowder would fill the cafeteria, the smiles would turn to tears, and the excitement flipped to fear.
Any principal, teacher, or student who has faced the trauma of a school shooting event will understand these descriptions and rapid change of emotions. For me, it was all of these things and so much more as principal of the largest high school in my district and the one responsible for the well-being and safety of more than 2,000 students and 200 staff. (more…)
Guest post by John Clements
I am an optimist about the future of schools and learning. My unwavering hope as an educational leader springs from the expanding definition of what it means to be a successful school. For decades, perhaps since the foreboding message of “A Nation at Risk,” educators have equated success with one word: achievement. While the lens of student achievement may provide a well-intentioned view of school, it clouds the vision of schools as places that engage, empower, and inspire students. Achievement ignores the inherently aspirational aspects of learning.
Ask any mom or dad what type of schooling they want for their child and you’re likely to hear about (more…)
Guest post by Maureen Doyle Kemmett
Compelled to increase literacy skills in students and build a stronger school culture, our leadership team at Furnace Brook Middle School (FBMS) in Marshfield, MA, initiated a One Book, One School (OBOS) program in 2013. After spending the better part of a school year forming a literacy committee, researching OBOS programs, and (more…)
Guest post by Nathan Boyd
One of the most important lessons I have learned as a school principal is that children need to be in a relaxed state of mind in order to perform at their full potential. If students’ physical and emotional needs are not being met, their minds will not be ready to engage. Sounds obvious, right? Actually, creating the right conditions for students to learn is one of the biggest challenges for us as educators, because so many factors are beyond our immediate control. (more…)
Guest post by Holly Ripley
As school leaders, we are often expected to provide answers and guidance in times of uncertainty and transition. But what happens when we do not know the answers? I learned recently that sometimes the best response is to ask your students and encourage the community to share knowledge. Our job is not to have all of the answers but to help facilitate a collective search for greater understanding and help students leverage their own voices. (more…)