Digital Expert of the Week

4 White Lies We Tell Ourselves About Race as Educators

It’s time we shatter barriers to success and learning for people of color, stand against the social injustices in our world, and stop hiding behind the mantra, “I’m white, I can’t speak out on race.” One of our greatest callings as leaders is to bring our school together toward one purpose, unity. This requires leaders to be courageous, bold, and take action in the midst of pushback, uncertainty, and the racist ways that have held people of color back for centuries. (more…)

Don’t Rush Back to Normal

So many of us are anxious to see our kids again, to start a new school year, to make sure our students are okay. We are ready to start over, to have classes in our rooms so we can get eyes and ears on kids, to have breakfasts and lunches in the cafeteria, and to get back to the schedule of the day—a return to normal or a semblance of normal. But I don’t think there is a return to normal.  We have all experienced a major psychological and social event that we have all had to give serious time, effort, work, and attention to. (more…)

Are Schools Ready for What Comes Next?

At the beginning of 2020, no one could have foreseen the impact of the pandemic. In the face of myriad obstacles, educators stepped up to implement remote learning to get through the remainder of the academic year. A post-COVID-19 world will be here eventually, but it is anyone’s guess when that will be. As schools grapple with the unknown questions and challenges at the top of everyone’s mind, here are a few that I hope resonate: (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…)

Coping With COVID-19: 5 Ways Leaders Can Alleviate the Anxiety of Students

A recent report shared that Americans are experiencing more restlessness, nightmares, and generally poorer levels of sleep during COVID-19. I’m certain this is also true for students. As educators, we have a responsibility to consider and plan to support the mental health of students during this time. If we ignore their mental health, we are neglecting one of the biggest issues in our country right now. As principals, we must be thoughtful, visionary, and focused on supporting mental health and wellness during this time. Without this, our students will begin to struggle and may start to withdraw, become depressed, or think suicidal thoughts. (more…)

Engaging Families in Remote Learning

Throughout my #remotelearning series, I have tried to provide practical ideas and strategies that can be used now. One aspect that needs more attention, at least in my opinion, is how we can assist parents throughout this ordeal. It goes without saying that many of them are dealing with some intense challenges such as equitable access to technology, WiFi availability, finding time to assist their kids with schoolwork, and a general sense of not knowing what to do in a remote learning world. Combine this with the added responsibility of working from home themselves, dealing with impending or current unemployment, the stress of not being able to see older relatives, and being a parent, and you can assume that tensions are running high. They need our support and understanding just as much as our learners do. Together we are better, especially in times of crisis. (more…)

Tending Our Garden: The Importance of Mental Health

It’s that time of the year again—spring has sprung despite the health crisis we are currently experiencing. I first wrote this blog post for the (now canceled) April virtual tour that was supposed to occur in our building. As I attempted to redesign the event—that is what we are doing as a nation educationally, redesigning instruction, redesigning engagement, and redesigning what we do best as educators—I realized the message of supporting mental health is as poignant now as it was before. And as I have been working to accommodate our new reality, my thoughts continue to return to my garden.

Note: This post includes a discussion of suicide.

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Advisories and Crisis: Taking Care of the Kids

There’s a lot to write about everything going on right now, but I’m going to start with talking about how the structures we have in place are the best things we have to lean on when crisis hits. (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…)

My Letter to Families: ‘We Will Get Through This’

Leaving school last Friday, I’m not sure that any of us knew what to expect. I know as I leave tonight, for the last time for a while, I’m feeling similar emotions. Tuesday was our last day with kids, Wednesday with staff. Our building will be shut down beginning this Friday afternoon. It’s surreal. (more…)