The Principalship

Rethinking ‘Senior Moments’ in a Time of Cancelations

My oldest daughter is a senior, and I have been blessed to spend every day with her at school since she was a seventh grader. As we approached the last few months of her high school career, I couldn’t wait to share in those “senior moments” that create memories that last a lifetime. Unfortunately, the reality, enormity, and impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is more evident as every day passes and those events on our school calendars move from “postponed indefinitely” to “canceled.” My heart breaks. (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…)

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.

(more…)

One Step in Front of the Other: Navigating Self-Care in Uncertain Times

How are you? No, really. If you are an educator today, your life has completely turned upside down in a matter of weeks. Just a few weeks ago, most of us were getting ready (or returning) from a spring break, some of us were planning activities for St. Patrick’s Day, while others were grading projects for the end of the quarter. (more…)

When School Buildings Are Closed: The First Few Weeks

On Tuesday, March 10, I was meeting with my instructional leadership team after school for our regular monthly meeting when I was alerted that an email just came in from our superintendent about COVID-19. Effective immediately, all after-school activities, assemblies, and events were cancelled. School would continue during the day as normal, but no guests would be allowed on campus. The email was sent to the entire district: staff, students, and parents. There was no warning, no call to the principals to prepare us. This was a sudden mandate we needed to respond to. (more…)

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…)

Taking Time for Self-Care

Principals and assistant principals experience many different pulls on their position as leaders in their building. We wear different hats as leaders. The principal is the managerial leader who ensures that the building operates as efficiently as possible; the instructional leader who evaluates and coaches staff to improve student achievement; the motivational leader who maintains and improves the culture and climate of the building, both with staff and with students; the political capital leader who is the face of the school, even at its highest and lowest times; and the ethical leader who balances their personal life with the multifaceted demands of the principalship. (more…)

A Fish Out of Water, Just Learning How to Breathe Again

Does anyone else feel like a fish out of water right now, just trying to learn how to breathe again? I have felt this way for the last two weeks. As a high school principal for nearly 15 years, I thought at this point in my career I had seen it all, but then COVID-19 introduced me to the terms “social distancing” and “remote learning.” Almost overnight, what I knew about being an effective school leader changed drastically, as I am sure it has for you. We all have been thrust “out of our pond” and into a world of uncertainty, but one in which our schools need our courage, creativity, and leadership more than ever before. We have to find a way to learn how to breathe again. (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…)