Curriculum, instruction, and assessments

Engaging All Students in Civic Learning

As principals, one area that can get lost among our responsibilities is placing an emphasis and value on civic learning. Civics is not a government-mandated assessment, but rather a measurement of how we create an educated citizenry to progress the ideals of democracy and sustain and mold America for future generations. Creating a community, state, and country while preserving democracy is the ultimate test for which we are preparing students. (more…)

Helping Students Take a Challenging Course Load

Trying to coast can be human nature. Who really likes to do more? Yes, you have a few overachievers, but often the vast majority of us are not willing or able to fully push ourselves. This is why we need personal trainers, workout buddies, and accountability partners. Our students are no different, and this can form a culture of students not challenging themselves academically. (more…)

Effective Walk-Throughs in Our Digital Spaces

Even as schools have transitioned to online learning, it’s heartening to see that this crisis isn’t keeping school leaders from carrying out what I think is one of the true joys of school administration—classroom walk-throughs and visitations. Over the years, my thinking and approach to classroom walk-throughs have evolved and changed so much to where I consider it one of my best ways to build relationships with teachers and connect with learners. (more…)

For Meaningful Learning Experiences, Focus on Connections

On online platforms such as Google Classroom and Zoom, teaching and learning look quite different than our normal program of learning face to face on the school campus. Learning is a social endeavor, and we are working to think creatively about how to support meaningful learning experiences, understanding the developmental needs of our middle level students while also recognizing that we are in a crisis situation. (more…)

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…)