School of Thought

Student Voice in School Communication

In a world where young people are familiar with opportunities to express themselves online and in person, it is important that we present our students with excellent models of interpersonal communication. Our students come to us with great ideas that they want to express. Why not channel that communicative energy and put it to work to promote your school? (more…)

The Census Is Coming—Are You Ready?

The U.S. Census Bureau will begin its count on April 1, 2020, and principals are vital to its success. Conducted every 10 years, the census seeks to accurately record the population throughout the country, and more than 1 million young children were missed in 2010. More than a typical tally, the results help determine how billions of dollars in federal funding flow into states and communities each year, as well as how many seats in Congress each state and your local school board boundaries are awarded. Of course, some of that federal funding is funneled directly into schools—and principals can be highly effective influencers when it comes to census participation. (more…)

Choose Your Three Words

Reflection is such an important part of the learning process. There was a time in my life when I was all about speed and moving forward—getting to the next thing, checking it off, completing the next task. As I’ve gotten older and wiser, I’ve learned to focus on the balance of slowing down to go faster. I prioritize making time to reflect on what’s been learned or how a skill was executed. I think about what needs to be learned so that I can be and do better. (more…)

Tell Your School’s Story Before Someone Else Does

I know just enough about social media to be dangerous. I grew up in a childhood without cell phones. Your story was told by how you carried yourself and what you accomplished at school, on the playing field, or in your job. Your thoughts and rants were kept to yourself or in your inner circle. As such, I was strongly against a professional social media page and a school page. I felt that it would put our school out in the public eye and leave it open for negative comments that are hard to police. It is difficult enough keeping a handle on the daily and evening activities of a school without tracking social media as well. (more…)

Read This, Save Lives: Creating Safer Classrooms for LGBTQ+ Students

I was a curious student who spent my free periods talking to teachers, and I could find my way around the library blindfolded. But for most of my life, I absolutely dreaded going to school. (more…)

Four Ways to Support Student Well-Being

We seem to be at a place in time where achievement and growth scores continue to dominate the educational landscape, even though these metrics run the risk of overshadowing the students. Fortunately, there are examples of administrations, schools, and districts taking innovative steps to support students beyond academics. Here are four new ways schools and their leaders are supporting student well-being. (more…)

Strategies to Curb Teacher Burnout

We have had a higher turnover rate of teachers the past few years, even as fewer individuals are entering the profession. It is no secret—we hire teachers, they become familiar with our staff, students, and procedures, and then some leave, creating a hole in the continuity of our schools. We then have to scramble to replace and retrain them, ask staff to spend hours to support the new teachers (which they always do without hesitation), only for it to happen again. (more…)

Leading Through Crisis

This fall, the Science Leadership Academy faced its biggest challenge in the 13-year history of the school. After leasing our charming but limited space for many years, we were scheduled to move into a refurbished co-located facility. This was a watershed moment for the district, as it marked the first time in recent memory that two existing schools—one citywide magnet and one neighborhood school—would be co-located in the same facility. The district was committing $23 million to the renovation, and it was seen as a potential roadmap for a district with many severely underutilized facilities. We’d spent the better part of two years preparing—designing the facility, getting to know each other’s faculty, and prepping for the students from both schools to get to know their new neighbors in a way that was powerful and positive. (more…)

Building a Positive School Culture, The Sundevil Way

There are several components to building a positive school culture and multiple ways to go about it. Building culture never stops and is always in development—here’s how our school got started on our journey to create a cohesive, positive, kind, and caring culture. (more…)

Five Reasons to Encourage Extracurricular Activities

Our world emphasizes teamwork, doing a job well, and being able to lead and follow—all skills students can learn and develop through extracurricular activities. Students who participate in extracurricular activities at my school in Montana have significantly higher GPAs and graduation rates than students who do not. Here are five reasons I encourage students at my school to participate in extracurricular activities: (more…)