AP Expert of the Week

Four Steps to Shift Perceptions of Feedback

In education, we value communication and feedback. We know that growth occurs when we take action on feedback we get. Even so, no one likes unsolicited advice. When discussing what supporting teachers does not look like during a Twitter chat, the comment “unsolicited advice is about the worst support one can offer” led to a lengthy conversation. (more…)

The Principal’s Secretary: The Roots of Growth for the School and Its Leaders

Seven years ago, I stepped foot into my office as the assistant principal of a middle level school of 800 students. Moving from my third-grade classroom to the main office was a hard transition because, for the previous eight years, I was only responsible for the 20–30 students within my classroom. I went from a world of teaching, assessing, grading, and lunch counts to school improvement plans, state assessments, district initiatives, and free and reduced-price lunch data (to name just a few). I would not have made this transition in a positive way if it wasn’t for my secretary, Teri. She is a phenomenal woman and someone who will forever have a special place in my heart. One of the reasons I am in the place I am today and gained success is due to the work Teri did every day and her mindset to make sure that the school and I were the best we could be. (more…)

Daily Announcements During Times of Uncertainty

When this global pandemic began, I asked myself three basic questions: 1) What can I do to lead our community during this time of uncertainty? 2) What does our community need? and 3) How can I have a positive impact on our students, staff, and community during this difficult time? At Millard South High School, we pride ourselves on living the Patriot Way, and I used the school’s eight pillars to guide me on this journey. Here is how the pillars guided me while continuing daily announcements after the school building was closed. (more…)

‘My Voice, My Choice, My Future’: A Vision to Transform Learning

“Who is our customer? What do they expect from us as a school?” These two critical questions changed the meaning of “education” at Waipahu High School (WHS) in Oahu, Hawai`i. When we identified our students’ future employers as our customer, our mindset of “how to do school” changed, and so did the learning opportunities and experiences we needed to offer our students. (more…)

Finishing the School Year Strong

As administrators and teachers, we spend countless hours each summer preparing for an epic kickoff to the new school year. We have themed professional development days and new school year themes in August—“Welcome back! All Aboard for a Successful Year!” Then come the hard months of January and February, then on to spring, during which we are all thinking: Our train has derailed! While this spring has been very different from the traditional end of the school year, we know it takes every ounce of gumption for our students, teachers, and families to finish strong while also keeping the focus. (more…)

The COVID-19 Self-Care Challenge

As educators, we love the flexibility in our typically tightly structured schedule that comes along with school holidays. But, if we are really being honest with ourselves, we usually function best with a schedule and a mountain of things on our to-do list. As we enter the summer months, it will be tempting to binge-watch television during our COVID-19 break, and while there is no shame in doing that, we will feel much better if we also feel accomplished. (more…)

Reculturing the Assistant Principalship

Assistant principalship serves as the entry level to educational administration and the gateway to the principalship, yet many assistant principals say they have been ill prepared for lead principalship. The question is, why? Why aren’t assistant principals being prepared to become lead principals? What skills are they lacking? What experiences haven’t they been exposed to? Who is responsible for their professional growth and development? (more…)

Leading Through a Pandemic

During the best of times, being a school leader is challenging. Balancing the wants and needs of thousands of people on any given day can be exhausting. During the best of times however, there are so many ups to compliment the downs. Looking for ups in the midst of complete worldwide disruption, however, can seem darn near impossible. (more…)

We Can—and Will—Do Hard Things

There is no question that we are in absolutely unprecedented times. Naturally, in situations like these, we turn to the leaders in our schools, districts, states, and nation that exhibit empathy, guidance, and support. If we don’t find those things, we have two choices. We can step up and become the leaders that people desperately need, or we can shut down and become afraid of the uncertainty. (more…)

‘Can I Survive This First?’: Teaching and Learning During COVID-19

In a recent Zoom staff meeting, my principal asked five staff members to share the ways they’ve reached out to students. One teacher shared that he’d sent out a journal activity to his students, and one replied, “Can I survive this first?” That comment sparked a conversation about this historic moment and the kinds of stressors, pressures, fears, and anxieties students, families, and communities are presently feeling. (more…)