Reflection and Growth

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…)

Variability and Vulnerability: Leading the Way for All

I am an unabashed super nerd. While most administrators I know roll their eyes and let out a heavy sigh at the mere mention of administrator meetings or mandated conferences, I actually get excited. I enjoy learning so much that I typically find a pearl of knowledge from the most mundane training. (more…)

Taking Time for You

Wellness (noun): The state of being in good health, especially as an actively pursued goal.

In a field of serving others, how often do we take time to take care of ourselves? Not just a spa trip, random yoga class, or a nice meal out with a friend, but intentional, continual self-wellness? (more…)

Choose Your Three Words

Reflection is such an important part of the learning process. There was a time in my life when I was all about speed and moving forward—getting to the next thing, checking it off, completing the next task. As I’ve gotten older and wiser, I’ve learned to focus on the balance of slowing down to go faster. I prioritize making time to reflect on what’s been learned or how a skill was executed. I think about what needs to be learned so that I can be and do better. (more…)

Leading Through Crisis

This fall, the Science Leadership Academy faced its biggest challenge in the 13-year history of the school. After leasing our charming but limited space for many years, we were scheduled to move into a refurbished co-located facility. This was a watershed moment for the district, as it marked the first time in recent memory that two existing schools—one citywide magnet and one neighborhood school—would be co-located in the same facility. The district was committing $23 million to the renovation, and it was seen as a potential roadmap for a district with many severely underutilized facilities. We’d spent the better part of two years preparing—designing the facility, getting to know each other’s faculty, and prepping for the students from both schools to get to know their new neighbors in a way that was powerful and positive. (more…)

Hindsight is 20/20: Using Personal Reflection to Shape Your Focus

Hindsight is 20/20, or so the saying goes. I’m not sure if it was a clever optometrist who originally coined the phrase, but I’m certain every school principal can relate. Personally, I’ve had many moments in my 10 years as principal I’d like to redo. And with the blank canvas of a new year ahead, I can’t help but wonder what the next year has in store. (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…)

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…)

The Intentional Principal

The best advice I ever received about working as a school administrator came from a great friend and colleague in Idaho’s Treasure Valley. My friend had attended a retirement reception for a gentleman that had been in education for over 40 years, 30 of which as a building administrator. My friend asked him, “How were you able to keep this fire and passion day in and day out in a job that can be so negative and draining?” The answer changed how I thought about my role and what faces me every day at school. The outgoing administrator said, “Discover what gives you energy in your work and do it every day. Be intentional about what you do.” (more…)

Making SMARTer Professional Development Plans

As building administrators, we observe staff and work with them to define clear goals for professional development, but how much time do we take to complete our own professional development plans? As building leaders, it can be easy to think of professional development plans as just another piece of check-the-box compliance. But I urge you to take the steps to create a proactive and engaging professional development plan that will be rewarding for you and your staff and students in turn. (more…)