school culture

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 arevision, 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…)

Three Ways to Ensure Student Academic Success

Thanks to our incredible staff and administrative team, I am fortunate to work at a school that has very few discipline problems. Because of this, I am able to focus on classroom instruction, assessments, and professional development. I pride myself on being a strong instructional leader, and one of my main goals is to help all students, regardless of their background, experience academic success. How can school leaders ensure academic success for all of their students? At Sixth Ward Middle School in Thibodaux, LA, we have made great strides in reaching this goal through a laser focus on three important factors: (more…)

Student Voice: The Most Important School Leadership Tool

A powerful tool exists that principals can access as a knowledge stream to improve school culture: student voice. Students are our prime customers and having their input on the important decisions on academics and programming should be standard operating procedure for school leaders. How can school leaders gain this critical student perspective? (more…)

Cultivating Leadership in Teachers

Schools often have very defined leadership structures, most likely a principal and assistant principal, that make decisions and ensure the good order of the school. But each teacher is also a leader within their own classroom, and many teachers often display leadership qualities that can and should extend outside of the classroom. How can school leaders cultivate leadership and inspire others to use those qualities to push the whole school toward continual improvement? (more…)

Reaching the Masses: Communicating With All Stakeholders

Why do you think companies like Apple and Nike have such a cult following? If you compare their products to their competitors, they are very similar—but these two companies are getting consumers to pay more for their product than their competitors are. Why? I believe the No. 1 reason is communication. These companies know how to communicate the “greatness” of their products. From iPhones to Air Jordans, we have been told we can “Think Different” and “Be like Mike” just by powering on their devices and lacing up their sneakers. In the world of education, we can learn a thing or two from these companies on how we communicate with our stakeholders. (more…)

What Principals Can Do to Ensure School Discipline Policies Promote Safe and Inclusive Learning Environments

Research shows that “principals are essential to improving student achievement and narrowing persistent achievement gaps between students in underserved communities and their economically advantaged peers.” In fact, one study asserts that “there are virtually no documented instances of troubled schools being turned around without intervention by a powerful leader.” (more…)

Improving Staff Morale: One Simple Note at a Time

After 34 years in the education profession and 15 years at the same junior high school, I continue to be amazed at the fact the staff members still enjoy getting positive notes in their mailboxes about what they do at our school and for the students. Over the course of several years, I have altered or changed the process I have used for this positive messaging and modified how I did these messages to fit the personality or needs of each staff member. When you walk around our school you will see these notes attached or posted in each staff member’s room, by their desk, on the side of their computer monitor, or posted on a board behind their desk. (more…)

Moving Your School Toward Restorative and Multitiered Systems of Support

One of the most difficult things to navigate as a school administrator is discipline. How do you help students understand that their behavior is not appropriate? How do you respond so that the teacher who refers a student feels supported? (more…)

Building Positive School Culture Through Service Activities

Middle level students are at a crucial age, consciously developing their identities while trying to understand how they fit in with their peers. Teachers, administrators, and staff have the opportunity to provide a compass for students navigating these difficult times. As middle level students develop their sense of self, they often begin looking for ways to make an impact in their community. This materializes in a desire to pursue a cause, do fundraising, and participate in charities. (more…)