Guest Blogs

Supporting Students This Fall

When I reflect on what the school year might look like this fall, like all administrators I am filled with a certain amount of uncertainty maneuvering through the COVID-19 pandemic as well as our commitment to focus on equity and diversity. Most of us are spending our time this summer planning for the education of our students. While we make plans for the fall, we also need to be prepared for the trauma our kids have experienced, the behaviors we may encounter, the need for students to hear their voice and express themselves, and develop a plan to be able to respond to a new normal and the increasing needs of all of our students. (more…)

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…)

Fostering Collective Teacher Efficacy

Change is hard. Organizational change is harder still.

How might leaders take action to make engaging with change less difficult? The key may lie in developing efficacy. (more…)

Four Steps to Shift Perceptions of Feedback

In education, we value communication and feedback. We know that growth occurs when we take action on feedback we get. Even so, no one likes unsolicited advice. When discussing what supporting teachers does not look like during a Twitter chat, the comment “unsolicited advice is about the worst support one can offer” led to a lengthy conversation. (more…)

Creating FOMO Experiences

When I took over as principal of Powell High School in the suburban Knoxville community of Powell, TN, in 2015, I walked back into a building that, for the most part, had not changed since I graduated in 1992. Aesthetically, the building looked and smelled the same; yes, my 11th-grade locker was still in the same place with the same locker combination, and there were seven faculty members who had me in class. As I continued to transition into my new role and talked to our students, one thing became clear, and that was that Powell High School was not a fun place anymore. (more…)

Engaging All Students in Civic Learning

As principals, one area that can get lost among our responsibilities is placing an emphasis and value on civic learning. Civics is not a government-mandated assessment, but rather a measurement of how we create an educated citizenry to progress the ideals of democracy and sustain and mold America for future generations. Creating a community, state, and country while preserving democracy is the ultimate test for which we are preparing students. (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…)

The Principal’s Secretary: The Roots of Growth for the School and Its Leaders

Seven years ago, I stepped foot into my office as the assistant principal of a middle level school of 800 students. Moving from my third-grade classroom to the main office was a hard transition because, for the previous eight years, I was only responsible for the 20–30 students within my classroom. I went from a world of teaching, assessing, grading, and lunch counts to school improvement plans, state assessments, district initiatives, and free and reduced-price lunch data (to name just a few). I would not have made this transition in a positive way if it wasn’t for my secretary, Teri. She is a phenomenal woman and someone who will forever have a special place in my heart. One of the reasons I am in the place I am today and gained success is due to the work Teri did every day and her mindset to make sure that the school and I were the best we could be. (more…)

The Power of Positivity—and Postcards

Over each of my last five years as a high school principal, we have set three schoolwide goals. Ranging from advancing college and career readiness to increasing attendance, our goals have been simple, student-centered, and focused on getting staff buy-in. Two years ago, we specifically set a goal to improve our community relationships with stakeholders and increase positive communication, and one simple strategy helped us do both. (more…)

Daily Announcements During Times of Uncertainty

When this global pandemic began, I asked myself three basic questions: 1) What can I do to lead our community during this time of uncertainty? 2) What does our community need? and 3) How can I have a positive impact on our students, staff, and community during this difficult time? At Millard South High School, we pride ourselves on living the Patriot Way, and I used the school’s eight pillars to guide me on this journey. Here is how the pillars guided me while continuing daily announcements after the school building was closed. (more…)