Leading Learning

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…)

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…)

5 Leadership Lessons Learned in Recent Weeks

I began writing this post at the beginning of my state’s—Kentucky—descent into being “healthy at home” and my growing consciousness of social distancing. I replied to the invitation with an acknowledgment that I was sure I could get it done during the coming weekend. That was almost a month ago. (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…)

Denial, Anger, Acceptance: The COVID-19 Grieving Process

As we have transitioned into new territory, I’ve found that many of us seem to be undergoing a process of grief. Initially, I of course was in denial, just as many of my staff and students were. I wanted to be at school as long as I was able to, I wanted to see the staff coming in as they came to gather their things from their classrooms; I wanted connection. I honestly thought we would get through this situation expeditiously, and our working from home routine would only be temporary. (more…)

Moving Counseling Online During COVID-19

If we revisit Harry Wong’s The First Days of School: How to Be an Effective Teacher, we know that we can’t access Bloom’s taxonomy until we address Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. During this time of considerable uncertainty, it is increasingly important to consider mental health and wellness as a need we must address before we can get to the higher-order thinking skills associated with great instruction and learning. To that end, our school system quickly made plans to take school counseling online during this challenging time. (more…)

When School Buildings Are Closed: The First Few Weeks

On Tuesday, March 10, I was meeting with my instructional leadership team after school for our regular monthly meeting when I was alerted that an email just came in from our superintendent about COVID-19. Effective immediately, all after-school activities, assemblies, and events were cancelled. School would continue during the day as normal, but no guests would be allowed on campus. The email was sent to the entire district: staff, students, and parents. There was no warning, no call to the principals to prepare us. This was a sudden mandate we needed to respond to. (more…)

The Ever-Growing Role of the Assistant Principal

In an unexpected way, being from Alaska actually helped me prepare for my role as the 2019 NASSP Assistant Principal of the Year. When you are from Alaska, you get asked a lot of the same questions over and over again when you meet new people. So I was prepared when in this role, I was asked: “What are your responsibilities as assistant principal?” In honor of National Assistant Principal Week, I would like to share just a fraction of what assistant principals do every day: (more…)

A Fish Out of Water, Just Learning How to Breathe Again

Does anyone else feel like a fish out of water right now, just trying to learn how to breathe again? I have felt this way for the last two weeks. As a high school principal for nearly 15 years, I thought at this point in my career I had seen it all, but then COVID-19 introduced me to the terms “social distancing” and “remote learning.” Almost overnight, what I knew about being an effective school leader changed drastically, as I am sure it has for you. We all have been thrust “out of our pond” and into a world of uncertainty, but one in which our schools need our courage, creativity, and leadership more than ever before. We have to find a way to learn how to breathe again. (more…)