Building Culture

Leading During Times of Uncertainty

During times of uncertainty, staff, students, parents, and even members of our local communities turn to school leaders for guidance and reassurance. It is normal for leaders not to have all of the answers during a crisis, but they can build a much-needed sense of community. Amid the pandemic, politics, and the nation’s reckoning with racial inequity, it has been an extraordinary summer. And now comes the start of one of the most unsettling school years in history, with COVID-19 still looming and uncertainty lingering. No matter the model of learning—in person, remote, or hybrid—everyone is trying their best to settle in, knowing there is no guarantee that it will last. (more…)

Making Time for ‘Time-Ins’

Over the past ten years of being an assistant principal at the middle school level, I’ve come to realize how every meeting in my office—even the timeouts for disruptive behavior—have become “time-ins.” (more…)

Reconsidering Ability Grouping Through an Equity Lens

I have worked in public education for 20 years. I entered the profession because a freshman sociology class in college introduced me to the idea that there were two institutions that impacted socioeconomic mobility—the military and education. The end of segregation in America’s public schools in 1954 is considered a landmark case. But given the critical disparities in graduation rates between Black and white students, how far have we really come? (more…)

Leading Majority-White Schools as a Black Administrator

As educators prepare for the start of the 2020–21 school year, we are facing unprecedented challenges as we seek opportunities to innovate, collaborate, and implement necessary changes to do what is best for our students. Here’s something you need to know. The combined effects of the murders of Amaud Abrey in Georgia and George Floyd in Minnesota, the nationwide lockdown due to the coronavirus, the recession, massive job loss, and overall feelings of isolation have forced people to become more aware of race, equity, inclusion, or a lack thereof. It’s been interesting to witness history repeat. I also wonder, why now? And now what? As we grapple with the coronavirus and racial unrest, I have been reflecting on my experience as a Black administrator who has led three majority-white schools. (more…)

‘Flatten the Walls’: Communicating During the Pandemic

When we shut our doors in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, my inbox almost became unmanageable with the flood of questions from parents. Being the senior class assistant principal, you can only imagine the number of questions about graduation. We quickly developed a blog as a means of sending out information about graduation and other announcements. However, while creating a virtual graduation program, we realized that the need for interaction went well beyond just posting daily announcements. We needed to do more virtually to connect with all of our stakeholders. Redefining our communication with our stakeholders and cultivating partnerships became my central focus for the summer and is informing my approach to connecting with our school community during the new school year. (more…)

Student-Led Celebrations of Diversity and Identity

Supporting more than 65 nationalities, the International School of Kenya is committed to ensuring that we have created a safe place where a foundation of trust, openness, and transparency prevail. At the same time, we need to continually support the development of cultural competence and have regular conversations to build cultural proficiency in our students and staff. (more…)

Communication and Planning in the Time of School Closure

In March of 2020, schools all over the country were physically closed. However, teaching and learning continued. In Saluda County Schools (SCS), we made clear and consistent communication one of our top priorities. Here are four things we believe we did well that may help other school leaders communicate and plan for what may be an uncertain fall. (more…)

Supporting Students This Fall

When I reflect on what the school year might look like this fall, like all administrators I am filled with a certain amount of uncertainty maneuvering through the COVID-19 pandemic as well as our commitment to focus on equity and diversity. Most of us are spending our time this summer planning for the education of our students. While we make plans for the fall, we also need to be prepared for the trauma our kids have experienced, the behaviors we may encounter, the need for students to hear their voice and express themselves, and develop a plan to be able to respond to a new normal and the increasing needs of all of our students. (more…)

4 White Lies We Tell Ourselves About Race as Educators

It’s time we shatter barriers to success and learning for people of color, stand against the social injustices in our world, and stop hiding behind the mantra, “I’m white, I can’t speak out on race.” One of our greatest callings as leaders is to bring our school together toward one purpose, unity. This requires leaders to be courageous, bold, and take action in the midst of pushback, uncertainty, and the racist ways that have held people of color back for centuries. (more…)

Together, We Can: Six Steps to Prepare to Lead This Fall

Brian McCann found guidance for leading during the upcoming school year in, of all places, a young adult novel he picked up in his school library. “It began with this preface that says nothing goes back to exactly how it was—which was what I was trying to do,” McCann, a 2018 Digital Principal of the Year, said during NASSP’s Principals Power-Up Virtual Symposium earlier this month. (more…)