school culture

Four Questions to Ask Teachers on Creativity

How do you lead and model creativity? That’s a question many school leaders ask themselves. Many of us can get our arms around collaboration, communication, and critical thinking, but why is it that creativity is one area where we frequently struggle and sputter? I think it’s because we fear creativity—it doesn’t fall into a nice box that is neatly packaged with structure and details. You see, creativity is often messy, frequently busting the seams of our comfort zones and almost always requiring us to stretch and grow. (more…)

Making Student Connections: Will You Check on Me?

When a former colleague of mine, Joe Turner, was named teacher of the year, a reporter asked him for his advice to new teachers. He responded, “Teach every child like you’re their lifeline—like you’re their last chance to succeed.” (more…)

How We Can Make School Special

Last Halloween, I took my 8-year-old daughter, Juliet, to a Brooklyn Nets game. She had just started playing basketball and was so excited to go to her first professional game that she gave up trick-or-treating to do it. That’s dedication! (more…)

Supporting Staff is Built With Intention

I recently read a tweet by Dr. Bryan Pearlman detailing eight bad leadership traits. The accompanying graphic spoke to poor communicators and leaders who lack integrity, trust, and other important traits. But what tugged at me the most was the idea that poor leaders were “unsupportive.” How could any leader be unsupportive of their staff or their students? (more…)

How Will Your Staff Remember You?

If you’re an educational leader, you may have led (or will lead) hundreds if not thousands of teachers, counselors, librarians, cafeteria workers, paraprofessionals, registrars, bookkeepers, custodians, maintenance technicians, secretaries, bus drivers, and nurses. You are creating a legacy every day you come to work. You are leaving your mark—an indelible impression upon the educators entrusted to your care. How will your staff remember you?  I wonder… (more…)

The First 140 Characters

I was recently a guest on Lead the Way, a podcast for school leaders hosted by Bill Ziegler, and we got to talking about how I challenged my staff at Cedar Crest Middle School (CCMS) to begin telling the story of our school on social media at the start of the 2017–18 school year. But my own path down the road of social media technology isn’t very typical for a Digital Principal of the Year. It actually started with a single tweet. (more…)

A Sweet Way to Infuse Career Education

Every principal wants to make career readiness a priority. The problem many schools face is that there aren’t easy ways to fit it into an already packed array of required courses and subjects. I have seen schools push career programming into classes such as family and consumer science, technology, or even health. Unfortunately, each of those courses have other standards and objectives that lead to difficult curriculum decisions to fit it all in. (more…)

Reflections on Exceptional Teachers

When I think back on my teachers who were most effective, there is something they all had in common: They seemed excited to be teaching us. Teachers should always be aware of the attitude and energy they bring into class. I promise you—the students are aware of it. (more…)

Mission Accomplished: Using Systematic Thinking to Support a School’s Vision

Since 2013, I’ve served as the assistant principal at Milford Junior/Senior High School and have grown as an educational leader through graduate studies and countless professional development opportunities. Each time I think about school leadership, I find myself going back to the seven principles of outstanding leadership that Pat Williams, the senior vice president of the Orlando Magic, shared in his book, Leadership Excellence. Those principles are vision, communication, people skills, character, competence, boldness, and a servant’s heart. What strikes me is that the very first topic he addresses is “vision.” (more…)

Build Relationships with Students in 3 Seconds

Every day in schools, educators have quick breaks during instruction, between class changes, and in hallways where the focus isn’t on learning. I believe that these three-second moments are important opportunities to build relationships between students and staff that contribute to a school’s positive culture. What are you doing with the three-second moments you have with each student you encounter? (more…)