Curriculum, instruction, and assessments

The Power of Walk-Through Observations

Think back to when you were a classroom teacher. Imagine your principal walking into your classroom to conduct a walk-through observation. Does a wave of anxiety wash over you? Do you dread the fact that they are sitting in your classroom? Do you wonder, but never learn, what they are thinking when it comes to your classroom instruction because you simply never receive any feedback? Unfortunately, many teachers harbor these feelings about walk-through observations, but it doesn’t have to be this way! (more…)

Creating Career Pathways With the Academy Model

When I became the principal of West Craven High School, a rural school in North Carolina, I realized that only 30 percent of my students attended college after graduation. As a principal, I’m concerned with every student’s success after graduation, and an uncertain future for 70 percent of them concerned me and my staff. As a result, we made the career and college promise a reality. (more…)

The Nonnegotiable Role of School Librarians

What principals know and think about school libraries we have learned largely from our own past experiences and school librarians. I have had the distinct honor and privilege to work with and learn from some amazing librarians over the course of my career. These innovative educators have shaped my belief in the indispensable value of robust school libraries. They also have transformed how I think about learning and how I make decisions as an instructional leader. (more…)

Using Google to Promote Teacher Collaboration

While various Google applications such as Google Drive and Google Docs are great tools to use with students, they also can dramatically increase teacher collaboration in schools. Administrators can play an important role in encouraging collaboration by introducing these tools and encouraging their use, as we did at our middle level school. (more…)

Incorporating Social-Emotional Learning Into a Freshmen Seminar

To better support our students during their critical transition year for ninth grade, I developed a character education class that incorporates a mentoring program. The class was developed to assist academically at-risk freshmen intellectually, socially, and emotionally during their transition into high school. (more…)

Dirty Hands, Engaged Minds: Passion-Forward Project-Based Learning With ‘Intensives’

At the Young Women’s Leadership School of Astoria, we have made innovation a part of our model. As a grade 6–12 all-girls public school in New York City, we pride ourselves on leading the way for the next generation of leaders with real-world learning, in real time, with real experts. For two weeks, our regular courses stop, and we “Intensify.” My virtual tour provides a look at our “Intensives,” which strive to integrate 21st-century skills in a 1:1 tech environment that offers students multiple ways to display mastery. (more…)

Building Momentum, the Jack Way

With the Lumberjacks as our mascot, the pride of R.A. Long High School dates back to 1927. Ninety-two years later, we have lifted the minds and spirits of our lumber town’s community with a true 97 percent graduation rate, with many students the first high school graduates in their family and the first to go on to college. We built that momentum, with little in the way of additional resources, through a coordinated series of programs and activities we call the Jack Way.  Here’s how: (more…)

In Teaching, You’re Not Always Saving Lives

The administrative team in my district recently engaged in a ritual that we have performed for as long as I have been here. We renewed our certification in CPR and basic first aid. It takes about two hours, and the training is usually provided by a few of our staff members. (more…)

Six Steps to Jump-Start Personalized Learning

As education continues to change, so does the way we teach and how our students learn. Instead of the teachers being the holder of all information, our students now have the resources to drive their own learning. Personalizing learning for students allows students greater opportunities to control their learning and search for what suits them, and my Virtual Tour event focuses on what personalized learning looks like at Mason High School. (more…)

Four Questions to Ask Teachers on Creativity

How do you lead and model creativity? That’s a question many school leaders ask themselves. Many of us can get our arms around collaboration, communication, and critical thinking, but why is it that creativity is one area where we frequently struggle and sputter? I think it’s because we fear creativity—it doesn’t fall into a nice box that is neatly packaged with structure and details. You see, creativity is often messy, frequently busting the seams of our comfort zones and almost always requiring us to stretch and grow. (more…)