Principal Expert of the Week

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…)

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…)

Helping Students Take a Challenging Course Load

Trying to coast can be human nature. Who really likes to do more? Yes, you have a few overachievers, but often the vast majority of us are not willing or able to fully push ourselves. This is why we need personal trainers, workout buddies, and accountability partners. Our students are no different, and this can form a culture of students not challenging themselves academically. (more…)

Culture Outlasts Quarantine

A month or so back, I stopped by my office to accomplish some tasks and to retrieve materials I needed in order to continue working virtually. On my desk were notes about some minor discipline matters that had occurred on the day before we left school. Nothing eventful, just typical middle school “naughtiness.” I have a stark admission to make—I tossed them in the bottom of my desk drawer. (more…)

Making Principal Preparation a Priority

As a newly minted school leader, one of the first challenges Mark Anderson faced didn’t involve teaching strategies or staff issues. Instead, students spilled water on the gym floor during a pep rally. (more…)

Purposeful Technology Use During the Pandemic

Can hear me now? How about now? Did my stream cut out? Or, more embarrassingly, did I forget to unmute myself? Today’s educators have taken on a task no other industry has accomplished. We completely changed our methods, our platforms, and our engagement from in-person to online in record time. (more…)

Staying Connected During a Lockdown

Pandemic. Lockdown. Virtual Learning. Social Distancing. Social Isolation. Five concepts that few of us thought would consume our world just six short months ago. Yet, here we are. (more…)