school improvement

Supporting Students through PBIS: A School Community Endeavor

Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports, or PBIS, is a system with long-standing results. PBIS aims to teach core skills as they pertain to behavioral expectations, similar to how schools teach core curriculum expectations. Whaley School, a separate day school for students with acute behavior needs, has been using the PBIS model for five years in the Anchorage School District. We believe that much of our PBIS success is due to the work we have done in four key groups: students, staff, families, and community.  (more…)

You’ve Found Your “Why?” But What’s Your “How?”

If you’re reading this, my guess is that you and your school have crystallized a vision for why you do what you do—student learning outcomes, career pathway discovery, etc. In the case of Elk Grove High School (EGHS), our vision is to solidify America’s middle class by educating a generation of highly ethical, civic-minded, economically successful citizens who create a better future for all of us. (more…)

Streamlining Professional Growth through Micro-Credentialing and Badging

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…)

Carrying on the Tradition: Why I Became an Adviser

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…)

High School Academies: Finding a Place for Everyone

As an administrator at Lancaster High School, I am always seeking to help students find their place. In my experience, students perform at higher levels when they feel comfortable and a part of the school community. To provide these opportunities, our school has created academies that are tailored to certain career paths. We offer a variety of experiences so that students can choose an area that best fits the vocation they have in mind. (more…)

Character Education: It’s Not Something Added to The Plate. It Is the Plate

It was my first year teaching, and I was tidying up my classroom. I picked up trash under a desk and threw it away. The next day I noticed more trash under a desk. I watched for several days as the culprit would place trash under his desk and then leave it.  The next day, when my classroom offender got up to leave, once again leaving trash on the floor, I stopped him and asked him why he would leave his trash, he stated, “Oh, that’s the janitor’s job.” (more…)

The Learning Commons: A 21st Century Research and Technology Center

I can admit it now; I was probably the wrong man for the job.

As building principal, I knew that we needed to redesign and reinvent the space we called our library media center. We had a pretty obvious problem in there—students and teachers were not really using it. This large space situated in the center of our school had been remodeled several times—it used to be the library and before that it was actually the cafeteria. I added some fresh paint, new carpeting, new furniture, and bought some new books—popular young adult fiction and non-fiction. There were a handful of desktop computers and a SMART Board. Despite these superficial upgrades to the learning environment, it was still essentially a warehouse for a mostly-dated print collection and still largely unused. (more…)

Making Everyone Happy: The Unreal Mindset of a School Leader

Being a leader means that you have to make decisions, and in my five years as an assistant principal, I have gradually come to accept the fact that not everyone is going to like the decisions that I have to make. Here is my story in a nutshell along with three key criteria I have developed that help me make sound decisions for my school, while dealing better with the inevitable complaints. (more…)

What Are You Grateful for this Thanksgiving?

One of my teachers sent the following email to our staff. The subject line was: “A Thanksgiving Thought.” With his permission, I am posting it below in its entirety: (more…)

Make the Most of Your Next Staff Meeting

Do you dread staff meetings as the principal? Does your staff audibly groan when you discuss policy changes or district minutia? Do you see your teachers watching the clock and counting down the minutes until they can leave? A few years ago, staff meetings at Harrisburg South Middle School were just this way, tedious gatherings that both the staff and I wished would just end as soon as possible. (more…)