school leadership

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…)

Reclaiming the Narrative of Public Education

June is a time of year when educators naturally tend to reflect on their practice and plan for their future. As school leaders, we take a deep breath as we contemplate the successes and challenges of the previous year, and then we begin formulating goals and plans for next year’s work. I would like to challenge you to add one more layer to your reflection and planning: How did you tell the story of your school’s successes last year, and how can you play an active role in reclaiming the narrative around public education? (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…)

Building a Successful Teacher Advocate Program

While serving as principal at a middle school with over 1,200 students, I lead a team of dedicated staff members who embraced a simple vision. We believed, at our core, that all students could achieve and that failure was not an option. (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…)

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…)

Creating an Environment Where Teachers are Appreciated and Celebrated

When I transitioned from the classroom to administration in January of 2000, I realized that one of the things I was giving up was the direct daily impact on students that I had as a teacher. Sure, I would still have a large impact on students, but not in the same manner that a teacher does. This helped influence how I wanted to treat the teachers who did have that daily direct influence on students. Basically, I was determined to provide my teachers with the support and materials they needed to go out and do their jobs to the best of their ability. That also included making sure that they knew I appreciated their efforts. (more…)

Does Time Management for the Principal Exist?

In my six years as principal of Martinsburg High School, I have realized that it does not matter what my plan is when I walk in the door at 7:00 a.m., it is always going to change based on the myriad situations I am faced with throughout the day.  If you ever find a professional development session for administrators that starts out with a heading like “time management for administrators in order to get everything done,” you should be very skeptical as to whether this leader has ever worked in a school as an administrator. What normally happens is I spend 80 percent of my day putting out fires and prioritizing which of those fires need my attention and which of those fires can I delegate to an assistant. Which bring me to my question for all of you: How should school leaders manage their time to make the most of their day? (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…)

5 Ways Principals Can Promote Student Voice and Self-Advocacy

In my time as principal of Aztec High School in New Mexico, one of my main goals has been to promote a culture centered on student voice. I’m proud to say that our school values student voice and actively seeks out input from students to shape our academics, extracurricular programming, and building culture. And when a school shooting took the lives of two students in December 2017, our commitment to student voice became a vital component to our school community’s recovery. (more…)