Reflection and Growth

An Open Letter to School Leaders

Dear School Leaders,

None of us is doing ok right now, especially our black students. Each horrific incident of state-sanctioned violence against black Americans intensifies the trauma for black students, already suffering disproportionate isolation and fear from the COVID-19 pandemic. And you, leaders of the learning organizations that are central to so many of their lives, are reaching out to them with solace and support. (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…)

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…)