Principal Expert of the Week

In 2020, We Are All First-Year Principals

As we celebrate National Principals Month during this unusual school year, there’s one thing all 90,000-plus of us have in common: Given the continuing challenges our schools and communities face, we often feel like first-year principals. And that’s okay! Even the most seasoned among us are learning at an incredible pace about the best ways to support our students and staff through any combination of remote, in-person, and hybrid learning scenarios. (more…)

‘The State of American Education’

Kathryn Procope, head of school at the Howard University Middle School of Mathematics and Science in Washington, D.C., has been focused on “digital poverty”—what’s now commonly referred to as the “digital divide”—since 2005. “We have always sent devices home with students,” said Procope, a 2020 NASSP Digital Principal of the Year. Even so, the challenges have grown greater in recent months as schools shifted to remote learning. (more…)

Reconsidering Ability Grouping Through an Equity Lens

I have worked in public education for 20 years. I entered the profession because a freshman sociology class in college introduced me to the idea that there were two institutions that impacted socioeconomic mobility—the military and education. The end of segregation in America’s public schools in 1954 is considered a landmark case. But given the critical disparities in graduation rates between Black and white students, how far have we really come? (more…)

Sea Glass and Hope: Reflections for the Year to Come

There’s always that one teacher—the one whose content they taught pales compared to the lessons you learned from them. One of my favorite teachers growing up was the art teacher in my hometown. I say “the” art teacher because, as with many small midwestern towns, the teacher is there the entire time we are in school and even beyond. And as we entered a summer unlike any other we’ve faced as educators, Mr. Holdren’s approach to life offered a personal lesson that helped me reflect on the school year to come. (more…)

Finding Your Why Before Your Way: Setting Vision and Creating Missions

Hey there, remember me? Honestly, I don’t fully recognize myself right now either. What a marathon we’ve been through. From flipping how we teach and lead, to navigating conversations and learning around racial equity and social justice, there has been a lot to do, a lot to reflect on—and truthfully, more to come. This summer, I really needed a reboot on my leadership. (more…)

Student-Led Celebrations of Diversity and Identity

Supporting more than 65 nationalities, the International School of Kenya is committed to ensuring that we have created a safe place where a foundation of trust, openness, and transparency prevail. At the same time, we need to continually support the development of cultural competence and have regular conversations to build cultural proficiency in our students and staff. (more…)

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…)

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…)

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…)