professional development

Four Strategies to Implement Effective PLCs

Richard DuFour’s six characteristics of effective professional learning communities (PLCs) have been around for almost 22 years, and their benefits have been well documented by researchers. So why are some PLCs effective and others not? In a word, implementation. (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…)

Reculturing the Assistant Principalship

Assistant principalship serves as the entry level to educational administration and the gateway to the principalship, yet many assistant principals say they have been ill prepared for lead principalship. The question is, why? Why aren’t assistant principals being prepared to become lead principals? What skills are they lacking? What experiences haven’t they been exposed to? Who is responsible for their professional growth and development? (more…)

Cultivating a Culture of Risk-Takers Among Teachers

The focus of any school must be on the student, but emphasizing teacher success pays dividends throughout a school’s culture. Specifically, by encouraging teachers to take risks, we model this positive behavior for students who will need it throughout their academic careers and beyond. Here are five ways we cultivate this at Bernard Middle School. (more…)

Making SMARTer Professional Development Plans

As building administrators, we observe staff and work with them to define clear goals for professional development, but how much time do we take to complete our own professional development plans? As building leaders, it can be easy to think of professional development plans as just another piece of check-the-box compliance. But I urge you to take the steps to create a proactive and engaging professional development plan that will be rewarding for you and your staff and students in turn. (more…)

Teacher Evaluation to Create a Culture of Learning

The teacher evaluation process has been at the forefront of many policy conversations over the past decade, and the underlying assumption resonates just as much today as it did ten years ago: the quality of the classroom teacher is the most important school-level factor that impacts student achievement. As school leaders, we must bring this assumption to life by creating a culture of teacher learning in our schools. Below are two important ways school leaders can help the teacher evaluation process become a robust and meaningful conversation that promotes professional growth and continuous improvement of professional practices. (more…)

Better Together: The Power of the Professional Learning Network

One of the biggest shifts I struggled with when transitioning from the classroom to the principalship was moving from the support of a team of teachers to the solitude of a building leader. As leaders, we are entrusted to so much confidential, stressful, and often heart-wrenching information. In my early years in the principal position, I struggled to process it all mentally and emotionally. I hit a wall in the summer of 2014, and I considered leaving the profession. The punitive shift that education had taken, coupled with the loneliness of leadership, had me in a very bad place. Luckily, a co-worker and good friend of mine convinced me to go to a summer leadership conference, and it was just what I needed. (more…)

Questions for Summer Reflection

Whether your last day of school was before Memorial Day or not until the end of June, by now every educator has finally shifted into summer mode. Whether relaxing by the beach, hitting the trails, or just spending time in the garden, the final weeks of summer are a perfect time to reflect on the past year and plan with anticipation for the year ahead. (more…)

Digital Resources to Use for Immediate Growth

Whether you’re an experienced educator or just getting started, you will always have moments of self-doubt that may leave you confused or unable to make the important decisions we as educational leaders must make. I will admit, when I first started out in administration, self-doubt happened more often than I desired. As I began to expand my Personal Learning Network (PLN), my doubts as a leader began to diminish. One of the ways my PLN helped me was by sharing a wealth of digital resources that guided me through a variety of daily situations that principals encounter. (more…)

Is Your Campus Professional Development Effective?

We have barely completed one school year before we are planning for the next. Like other schools across the country, Midway High School in Waco, TX, is planning for back-to-school professional development in August and deciding on the goals and initiatives that will drive the next school year. Our focus tends to be on whatwill be delivered to teachers to enhance our school culture, curriculum, and instructional practices. But, what about howwe train our teachers? What elements make professional development effective and impactful? (more…)