Building Ranks

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…)

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…)

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…)

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…)

Just Pick the Pineapple: Building Trust in Turbulence

At the veggie market on the corner of Jamaica Avenue and 216th Street in Queens, NY, my dad showed me how to pick a pineapple. He said, “It just has to smell like a pineapple and feel right, then it’s good to go.” I nodded in agreement, like I wanted him to really believe that I was following him and that I understood this wisdom. (more…)

Building a Successful and Sustainable Bullying Prevention Program

As we observe National Bullying Prevention Month in October, it is a great time for schools across the country to evaluate their bullying prevention strategies. The media attention around bullying has created a sense of resolve around the issue, and as a result there has been a call for action and demands for schools to do what they can to decrease bullying. (more…)

Self-Care Lessons From My Four-Year-Old

As an assistant principal, teachers come to me for advice about dealing with the difficult situations they face, many directly related to the sudden switch from in-person to virtual learning. The increased number of emails and demands upon teacher time that extend beyond the regular school day have created an additional layer of stress. Administrators need to be cognizant of this and make sure that our faculty are taken care of. However, we cannot take care of others if we are not taking care of ourselves. (more…)

5 Keys to Developing a Future-Driven School

This year has demonstrated in extraordinary ways that we’re preparing students for an unpredictable world. We can’t possibly envision the challenges and opportunities our students will experience in their lives beyond school. But we can know with certainty the world is changing rapidly and continuously, and we must prepare them for the unknown. While there may not be another COVID-19, there will be many surprising developments for the rising generation. We must prepare them to be confident, adaptable learners, no matter what they encounter. We can’t just focus on academic training in isolation and think that’s meeting their needs. It’s critical to have a larger vision that prepares students for the future, a vision that’s bigger than test scores, grades, diplomas, or mastering standards. My school’s Virtual Tour will focus on the keys to creating a future-driven approach to education. (more…)