Leading Learning

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…)

Planning the Way Forward: Focus on Students and Staff

COVID-19 has thrown many schools and educational leaders for a loop. One thing that has become apparent in school districts around the country is the importance of sound and thoughtful leaders, who have surrounded themselves with great people. I know at Mason City Schools, led by Superintendent Jonathan Cooper and our district executive team, we have recently seen this come to life. (more…)

How Twitter Can Serve as a COVID-19 School Resource

With the “new normal” that we are all facing and trying to navigate during the COVID-19 pandemic and quarantines, communicating with our school community has a sense of urgency about it unlike anything we’ve ever faced. We’re all looking for ways to connect. I’m often asked, “Should we use Twitter, email, Instagram, or Facebook?” And I just say, “Yes.” (more…)

Passion and the Principalship

Leadership in the K–12 educational setting is challenging. Everyone looks for the one magic formula to address various grade levels, communities in a district with different needs, best instructional practices, behavior, supervision, managerial duties, governmental statutes, central office responsibilities, and myriad other challenges. And every leader in a school setting is different. Years of experience, education level, teaching background, and personal history all have an impact on an individual principal’s perspective. (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 Zero-Waste Revolution in Schools

Hawaiʻi is an isolated island chain in the middle of the Pacific Ocean that is desperately short of landfill space and good soil. Located on the windward side of Oahu in beautiful Kailua, Kaʻōhao School has embraced a growing worldwide environmental movement that embraces a philosophy encouraging the redesign of resource life cycles so that all products are reused. (more…)