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Posted by on in Education Leadership

Sometimes things aren't what they seem...

As a teacher I very rarely thought of things from the perspective of my administrator. I still tend to develop training, development, and the services I provide to schools and districts from a teacher-centered perspective. It has always been and always will be my belief that initiatives and instructionalmethods will work better when built this way.

While I continue to primarily work with teachers, my interactions with administrators are much more frequent than ever before. From these interactions I have realized that some of the misconceptions I harbored from the classroom were not only incorrect, but actually very far from the truth.

Here are 3 things I've learned that your administrators wish you knew.

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Posted by on in Education Leadership

principals office door

For seven weeks, I was an interim, elementary principal in one of my district's elementary schools. It was an opportunity and experience that was invaluable. When I began I was nervous and full of anxiety, but when I ended, I had wonderful memories, great new relationships, and a very real and meaningful learning experience. 

So as I look back on my seven weeks as an elementary principal, and try to put things into perspective, these are my top ten things I have learned.  

Be Visible

From my very first day, I knew I had to be out of my office and in the halls, classrooms, cafeteria, and out on bus duty. I needed to show students, parents, teachers, and staff I was there for them. I could not do that from staying in my office trying to sort through all the emails and paperwork. While those needed attention, being visible was more important. 

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Posted by on in Education Leadership

“Life begins at the end ofyour comfort zone.”

– Neale Donald Walsch 

change management1

My work as a school leader brings me to change management often. From graduate school, to post doctoral leadership programs I have received a great deal of information about change management. Often I use a graphic from the Satir Model of change to illustrate the processes related to the systems view of change.

In this model shown in the blog image above, change is indicated as the “foreign element” introduced into the system. Following this change or foreign element, there is chaos in the system.

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Posted by on in Education Leadership

boys at recess

Teacher, "Recess time!"

Students, "Yeh!"

Teacher, "Let's play some football!"

Students, "I wanna be on your team!"

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Posted by on in Education Leadership

Office of the principal

On January 23rd, my 15-year career as a classroom teacher changed dramatically, as I began a new role as interim principal in one of my district's elementary schools. Then on January 24th, my wife and I celebrated our third child being born. It was a week full of emotions but most of all excitement. 

Being a father of two, I knew what to expect with our third child. Late night feedings, sleepless nights, changing diapers (lots of diapers), and a return to the 5S's. But being a first-time principal, it was a lot like being a first-time parent. You could read all the books and get all the advice, but until you actually went through it, you couldn't really understand it

Much like bringing my first child home from the hospital after she was born, I had some, well a lot, of anxiety going into my first day as principal. I had scheduled a full faculty meeting to introduce myself, and while I was only an interim principal in another principal's building, I still had to be myself in order to find success. Prior to my first day as principal, I created a brief video of myself using the Screencastify extension, where I introduced myself to the students. At the full faculty meeting, I asked the teachers to play the link I emailed them in their homeroom, and explained that I would then be around throughout the day to formally introduce myself to the students. I did not want to interrupt the school day with a 15 minute whole-school assembly, that inevitably would turn into at least 30 minutes, just to introduce myself. By creating the video, I accomplished three things right away. First, I let my personality and passion be shown immediately. Second, I connected with the students in a way that is relevant to them. Third, I showed the teachers how much I valued their time by causing as little disruption to their day as possible. Things were off to a good start, but after that, I wasn't exactly sure what to expect from my day.

As a teacher, I knew what I was going to do day to day due to my lesson plans. Yet, as far as I knew, principals didn't make lesson plans. So I wondered, "What was I going to do?" I quickly found out as soon as the full faculty meeting was over. My day immediately got filled up on its own, without me planning a thing. I don't think I was in the office for more than 10 minutes that entire day, and I don't think I had but a three minute lunch. And that was how I wanted it. I knew I needed to do what middle school principal Beth Houf (@BethHouf) said on Twitter, "Be real. Be visible. Be engaged. Be supportive." And I needed to do these things not just my first day but every day.

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