As a former coach, the value of team and usage of each person’s strengths has always been etched in the forefront of my thinking and planning. Now as a school leader, this same concept has been a driving force in my thought process. My field is my school, and my team is my teachers. Instead of winning a game or a title, our victories are measured by student success. Though my title says principal, to me I am nothing more than the school’s head coach. (more…)
Guest post by Donald F. Gately, principal, Jericho Middle School, Jericho, NY
I recently prepared introductory remarks for our end-of-the-year concert. Using the same “concert introductions” document that I’ve used since I became a principal, I cut and pasted the elements that need to be repeated every year: Turn off your cell phone, don’t yell out your kid’s name, stay until the end of the concert, thanks to our dignitaries for attending.
Despite the canned reminders, I always craft different remarks as part of my introductions. At this event, I referenced a study done by the renowned neurologist Dr. Oliver Sacks about the positive effects that learning to play a musical instrument has on the brain. My mentor taught me that any time you address a large gathering of people in your role as principal, it is an opportunity to reinforce the vision and mission of the school. (more…)
Guest post by Akil E. Ross
As principal of Chapin High School (CHS) in South Carolina, I’m always trying to promote ways to make our students college and career ready. After all, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) calls for our students to meet higher academic standards and for us to help them find success beyond high school. But I often find myself wondering: Does college and career ready mean life ready? Regardless of which path our students take, just possessing the knowledge and skills to succeed in college and a career is only one part of the equation to becoming a productive and happy human being. In addition to making our students college and career ready, my goal is to make 100 percent of our students ready for life.
What does it mean to be life ready, and how can schools prepare students? (more…)
Guest post by Kimie Carroll
I often say to the students that I mentor in our ninth-grade intervention program: “My job is to protect you from yourself.” As anyone who has worked with theses student know, freshmen don’t always make the wisest choices and they need lots of adult support to make positive decisions and pass their classes. To address these problems and reduce the failure rate, Canby High School in 2010 started an after-school intervention program called CATS, (more…)
Guest post by Susan Harrison-Rollins
I’m often asked for the recipe to a high-performing school. It’s a question that’s hard to answer. Of course, the recipe begins with a dedicated staff ready to embrace the many changes that come with education. And it helps to have a motivated group of students who have accepted a culture of learning. A school becomes a high-performing school when it has, through a clear and shared focus, high standards and expectations for all students, effective school leadership, high levels of collaboration and communication, frequent monitoring (of both learning and teaching), focused professional development, and a supportive learning environment with high levels of family and community involvement. Beyond these things, and maybe most important, it is paramount to devise a set of schoolwide strategies that become embedded and essential to the academic culture. (more…)
Guest post by Justin Cameron
Resolutions. Most of us make them. Personal resolutions and professional resolutions are too often prey to self-fulfilling prophecy resulting from a mindset that the resolution will be broken. Carol Dweck and Angela Duckworth, architects of growth mindset and grit, can help shift that thinking. Their extensive work is worth exploring.