School of Thought

What Principals Can Learn From ‘Cobra Kai’

The coronavirus pandemic has taught us all a lot, including a greater appreciation for the little things, like Netflix. With this new appreciation, I came across a TV series I may have skipped over pre-COVID: “Cobra Kai.” It might sound vaguely familiar to any of us old enough to remember the iconic 1984 movie “Karate Kid,” with Danny LaRusso as the New Jersey-born city boy who finds karate and a mentor, Mr. Miyagi, to help him acclimate to life in Los Angeles. Even if you never watched it, don’t remember it, or just were not interested, I believe there are plenty of leadership and life lessons to be gleaned from the series. (more…)

NASSP Works With Congress to Curb Educator Job Loss

As the dust from the election continues to settle, many in Congress have begun to turn their attention back to addressing the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on schools. There is renewed hope for a new COVID-19 relief package following Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) recent call for legislation to be passed before the new year. While a relief package is still necessary and would help address some of the more immediate needs of schools as they navigate what are sure to be difficult winter months, policymakers are also working on legislation aimed at addressing educator job loss due to budget cuts, health concerns, and other problems stemming from the pandemic. (more…)

NASSP Presents DonorsChoose Grants for Exceptional NPM ‘Shadowing Visits’ With Lawmakers

Every year during National Principals Month (NPM), NASSP encourages principals to host “shadowing visits” with members of Congress, state and local elected officials, and other community leaders. Shadowing visits are a key part of our advocacy strategy for one simple reason: they work. We’ve seen time and again the transformative impact that getting a lawmaker into a school setting can have as principals show them the needs of today’s students and educators. You have the power to win their support for the causes we all believe in, and we want you to use it! (more…)

Strengthening Systems of Support to Increase Academic Achievement

Since becoming a house principal, I have worked to establish and promote meaningful relationships among both staff and students. These connections create stronger foundations which encourage social, emotional, and, in turn, academic progressions. (more…)

6 Ways Principals Can Empower Student Voice and Choice

Student voice and choice is often talked about in schools but rarely implemented with a consistent focus on empowering students. For this to take place, principals need to intentionally find ways to place student voice and choice at the foundation of their school. My school’s Virtual Tour will focus on strategies to empower student voice and choice in your school. Here are six ways you can do so: (more…)

Using Student Leadership to Make SEL Meaningful for High School Students

A recent focus on social-emotional learning (SEL) has compelled high schools to purchase curricula and add such models as advisory periods or homeroom to teach SEL skills. According to The Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education, advisory periods provide a regular time for direct instruction on SEL skills, which is most effective when integrated into a whole-school approach to SEL. In my experience, however, many teenagers perceive isolated advisory SEL lessons as fake or irrelevant and disengage from these valuable learning opportunities. They often feel as though the teacher is lecturing to them and not taking their individuality into account. Our leadership team wanted to provide students with a meaningful SEL experience, and we decided to use student leaders to make this happen. (more…)

District Support Is Key to Principal Success

The following post originally appeared on the Learning Policy Institute’s Learning in the Time of COVID-19 blog, a series that explores evidence-based and equity-focused strategies and investments to address the current crisis and build long-term systems capacity.

In September, Steven Elizondo, principal of Golden Hill K–8, a dual-language immersion school in San Diego, began the complicated task of planning for “phase one” of school reopening. Golden Hill, like all district schools, had started the school year online. But students who needed on-site support, including elementary students who were experiencing learning loss and special education students with high needs, would be back on campus in mid-October, while others would continue with distance learning. The logistics for starting in-person learning safely and getting the correct information to families and staff were daunting. But Principal Elizondo was not in it alone. Thanks to the district’s collaborative learning structure, he and his counterparts at other schools were able to tap the expertise and experience of a colleague who had developed protocols and processes for returning to school, as well as a communications strategy for families and staff. Using these models saved precious time and supported consistent practices across the district. (more…)

Principals and the Pandemic

NASSP President Robert Motley recently called one of his students to see why he wasn’t logging into synchronous online classes at his Maryland high school. The student’s reply? He had to take a job at a shipping company to help support his family. (more…)

A Start of School Like No Other

Beginning a new program and opening a new building would be a challenge for any school administration team, but doing so during a pandemic has provided many additional obstacles and unique situations. For this school year, I was extremely blessed to be assigned to our new freshman academy that we are beginning at Harrisburg High School. To host this new program, we built a new addition to our current high school. We added 18 new standard classrooms, four new special education rooms, a new media library, a new lunchroom, and two large common learning areas between the four “houses” assigned to our 415 incoming freshmen. It is a beautiful learning facility, and I am fortunate to be the lead administrator for this program. (more…)

Restorative Practices: Seven Steps for Facilitators and Mediators

By allowing students and adults to improve and repair relationships, restorative practices are key to a healthy school climate. The steps described below are designed to help facilitate a restorative practice session between two students, two adults, or one student and one adult in a small setting—such as an office or conference room. These steps can be used if the participants have no understanding or background or if they are well versed in restorative practices. (more…)