Guest post by Brandon Mowinkel
The role of a principal is complex, tiring, and stressful, to say the least. Balancing the needs of your staff, students, school, and community can wear on you, especially as the school year winds down. Tensions seem to run high as patience wanes.
It is vital for principals to keep the focus where it needs to be—on the students. The demands of the job can pull us in various directions and our need to keep students at the forefront of what we do becomes muddled in the minutia of school life. Every principal must find a way to remember his “why” and continuously keep the focus on students and their learning. In my practice, I use three constant reminders to keep me focused on what matters most. (more…)
Guest post by Akil E. Ross
As principal of Chapin High School (CHS) in South Carolina, I’m always trying to promote ways to make our students college and career ready. After all, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) calls for our students to meet higher academic standards and for us to help them find success beyond high school. But I often find myself wondering: Does college and career ready mean life ready? Regardless of which path our students take, just possessing the knowledge and skills to succeed in college and a career is only one part of the equation to becoming a productive and happy human being. In addition to making our students college and career ready, my goal is to make 100 percent of our students ready for life.
What does it mean to be life ready, and how can schools prepare students? (more…)
Guest post by Emily Sturchio
In working with a number of assistant principals both as a high school teacher and as an associate for the NASSP professional learning team, I can tell you that APs are often the unsung heroes of a school. It is our nation’s APs who often do the lion’s share of the work to support students and keep our schools running each and every day. The work of APs often goes unnoticed (more…)
Guest post by Brian M. Stack
Imagine trying to go somewhere for the first time without having access to a map. Worse yet, imagine being the great explorers Lewis and Clark who crossed the western part of our country for the first time in 1804 with no map, no roads, and little knowledge of what it was going to take to get to their destination. In education, early adopters often feel like trailblazers too, using research, trends, and sometimes their guts to forge new ways of thinking and doing. If you are a school leader looking to move your school to competency-based learning today, you may feel a daunting sense of helplessness as you embark on your journey. The good news is (more…)
Guest post by Kelly Parker
South Meadow School (SMS) in Peterborough, NH is guided by our vision: “A caring, cooperative, and respectful community of learners.” We are a family and work hard to instill values that will help students realize this vision by providing the support they need to be successful. One of the most important ways we guide students is by helping them connect to our school and one another in a positive way. We use the following guiding principles to nurture relationships and develop connections for all members of the SMS community: (more…)
Guest post by Bart Peery
In January 2014, while shopping in our local Walmart, I received a voice mail from the county sheriff’s office. Assuming that it had to do with our school, I went to the school to call them back. When I returned the call, my life was forever changed. The officer told me that one of my students had taken her life. I remember sitting alone in my office sobbing, not knowing what to do next. (more…)
Guest post by Burke Davis
As an avid sports fan and longtime coach, I have learned a lot of lessons from the world of sports, such as the importance of commitment, hard work, and culture. Coaches like Urban Meyer, Jay Wright, Tony Dungy, and Vince Lombardi inspire me to do my best and show me what it takes to build a winning team. One of the biggest lessons I have learned is that leaders don’t just happen. Leadership is a skill, and like any skill, we must practice in order to improve our skills and develop as leaders. As an assistant principal at Shelley High School (SHS) in Idaho, I have worked diligently to develop my skills as a leader for the sake of my students and staff.
Here are some of the lessons I have learned about leadership in my time as an educator: (more…)
Guest post by Bobby Bennett
In 2012, I became principal of my alma mater—only the second alumnus since the 1890s to have such an opportunity. No pressure! Eager to begin the work of serving my community and school improvement, I held a series of meetings with staff and the school community over the course of the first three months. These meetings would shape our work for the next five years. In fact, what we learned and put into practice not only yielded academic success, it transformed the culture of our school. (more…)
Guest post by Chris Koch
A colleague with whom I’d shared a classroom once asked me what the toughest part was about being an administrator. The look on his face revealed his surprise at how quickly I answered, “Having meaningful conversations with staff, students, and parents.”
Several years ago, I was in a unique position. I was finishing my 18th year as a classroom teacher when my school hired me to take over as assistant principal. Despite widespread support, I now found myself having many conversations, some difficult, with the staff, students, and parents whom I had worked alongside or taught just months before. Over time, I began to recognize the importance of making sure that each conversation was mutually beneficial and acknowledging that these conversations were a critical component in building lasting relationships.
Here are some lessons I’ve learned (more…)
Guest post by Winston Sakurai
Over the past few years, I have had the pleasure to get to know, learn from, and study some of the most innovative educators in the nation: the NASSP Digital Principals. This cohort of school leaders has a passion to improve the educational experiences of students and use sound leadership strategies mixed with a bit of technology in order to deliver on that goal. They share common practices—most notably, harnessing the power of the members of the school community—to drive student success.
What can school leaders learn from our digital leaders? How do our Digital Principals lead the way in creating innovative learning experiences and supportive school environments? Here are just a few key themes of their practice. (more…)