COVID-19

Just Pick the Pineapple: Building Trust in Turbulence

At the veggie market on the corner of Jamaica Avenue and 216th Street in Queens, NY, my dad showed me how to pick a pineapple. He said, “It just has to smell like a pineapple and feel right, then it’s good to go.” I nodded in agreement, like I wanted him to really believe that I was following him and that I understood this wisdom. (more…)

Crushed by the ‘No’

A few years back, the director of counseling and I brought in a group of high school leadership students. We tasked the students with developing a student workroom/support center. The only major job I assigned to both myself and the director was that no matter what questions came from the students, we had to start our response with a “yes.”  While the students fired off ideas that ranged from bowling alleys to giant slides, my director and I found we enjoyed the session. With big smiles, we crafted a yes response to every question. The students fed off our positivity and we found their student workrooms were not only were creative, but they became more practical the more we said yes. Through the process, we developed a student work center that serves as a gathering place for all students seeking academic support. (more…)

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…)

Let National Principals Month Begin!

National Principals Month has officially started, and NASSP, the American Federation of School Administrators (AFSA), and the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) are excited to share the upcoming opportunities we have for the education community to celebrate, advocate, and collaborate on behalf of principals everywhere. (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…)

The Principal’s Best Protection Against Liability

As the school year gets underway, districts everywhere are grappling with how to ensure safety as they consider strategies and approaches for in-person instruction. One topic that has arisen to complicate reopening plans is whether schools can be held liable if students or staff are infected. There is currently no federal policy in place to protect school and district leaders, and liability remains a significant factor as they carefully measure their reopening plans and how to keep students and staff safe. In addition to the health and safety concerns in their buildings, principals across the country may be wondering how they can stay protected and whether they need liability coverage. (more…)

Lead Like a Ninja: How a ‘Fringe’ Virtual Program Anchored A District’s COVID-19 Response

A key job of every school leader is to establish and nurture strong relationships with key stakeholders—not the least of which is the faculty. When you have the opportunity to open a school, those relationships are the foundation on which your school rests, and the ways of work you cultivate become the traditions that guide your school’s future. And while it was always my goal to open a high-performing, innovative virtual school for our community, COVID-19 required my school to step up in a big way. Our stealthy school mascot, Neo the Ninja, came to represent the strategic deployment of the skills, strategies, and curriculum our virtual school refined as we stepped out of the shadows to lead our district through distance learning to close the 2019–20 school year. (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…)

‘Flatten the Walls’: Communicating During the Pandemic

When we shut our doors in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, my inbox almost became unmanageable with the flood of questions from parents. Being the senior class assistant principal, you can only imagine the number of questions about graduation. We quickly developed a blog as a means of sending out information about graduation and other announcements. However, while creating a virtual graduation program, we realized that the need for interaction went well beyond just posting daily announcements. We needed to do more virtually to connect with all of our stakeholders. Redefining our communication with our stakeholders and cultivating partnerships became my central focus for the summer and is informing my approach to connecting with our school community during the new school year. (more…)

Principals Say Pandemic Conditions Are Accelerating Their Plans to Leave the Principalship

According to a poll conducted August 14–19 by the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), 45 percent of principals report that pandemic working conditions are accelerating their plans to leave the profession. The departures will exacerbate an already challenging principal attrition crisis. (more…)