District Takes Steps to Improve Staff Wellness
While programs to improve student wellness have been in schools for years, some districts now are focusing on staff health as well. Teachers in Batesville, Indiana, have participated in fitness competitions and this year some are training for a mini-marathon.
Transition Programs Help Incoming Freshmen
Everyone knows the transition to high school can be a challenging one. Thats why high schools have initiated summer camps for incoming freshman and special programs that track and support students who experience difficulty during the first months in their new surroundings.
Teachers Turn Classes Into Boot Camps
On a mission to improve student performance, some schools are starting boot camp-like programs to motivate kids before state tests. Student recruits march, chant, do sit ups, and pull for their battle buddies. Included: Tips for setting up a boot camp.
Staff Book Clubs Enhance Professional Development
When funding became available for staff book clubs, educators in Hamilton County, Tennessee, jumped at the chance to read professional literature. Teachers continue to read and discuss books about instructional and professional development strategies.
Principals Strive to Boost School Spirit
Every school experiences its share of challenges, but an invisible were-all-in-this-together spirit can go a long way toward carrying a school community through the highs and lows of a year. Included: Principals share their favorite spirit-building activities.
Technology Integration, Projects Mark Top Administrators Work
Two administrators named the 2009 Outstanding Young Educators by ASCD are successfully using data, technology, project-based learning, and parent involvement to help transform their schools and inspire their students and teachers.
Competition Spurs Energy Savings
One district recently challenged school leaders and other staff 93 identify ways to reduce energy consumption and help cut the districts electric bill. In return, schools that reduced consumption the most got to share in the savings. Could this idea work in your district?
Principal Traits That Teachers Appreciate
Principals try to cultivate traits that improve communication, demonstrate respect, and inspire vision. They say the key to whether those traits take hold school-wide lies in their modeling of them. Included: Principals share the principal traits that matter most.
Principal Podcasts Get to the Point
Whether they launched their podcasts at the suggestion of a parent or the gentle prodding of a tech-loving staff member, principals who have tried podcasting repeat the same refrain -- it is easy, inexpensive, and effective. Included: Learn about the free podcasting tools.
Reaching Out to Parents Over Brown-Bag Lunches
Administrators at the school and district level are finding that inviting parents and community members to chat over brown-bag lunches gains them allies in the community and helps keep everyone informed. Included: Tips and topic ideas for brown-bag lunches.
Campfire Gatherings Fire-Up Discussions
Camping enthusiast and principal Scott Myers initiated a series of campfire chats with students to free up some planning time for teachers and give students a chance to talk with him in an informal setting. Included: Activities that spur discussion with kids.
Steps for Making Good Schools Great
Good schools can be great schools if staff focus on best practices, common elements for instruction, and strategies to help all students learn, says Dr. Tim R. Westerberg, author of Becoming a Great High School: 6 Strategies and 1 Attitude That Make a Difference.
Turnaround Principals Are the New Sheriffs in Town
Their mission is to take charge of a failing or struggling school and try to turn it into a model institution. These turnaround principals bring formal training, insight, and instincts to their jobs. Included: Turnaround principals share strategies.
Learning Communities Share Resources, Strategies
For too long, teacher-to-teacher communication meant exchanging weekend plans in the faculty room. In professional learning community schools, teachers develop interim assessments, common goals, and share best practices.
Practical Advice for Principals in the Field
Whether a principal is new to the role or to a school, there is always a lot to learn about a school, its culture, and people. The New Principals Fieldbook offers administrators practical advice on how to process and prioritize all that information.
Teachers Observing Teachers Sparks Discussions, New Ideas
Looking for a way to encourage more collaboration and reflection among his staff, principal Terry Bradley worked with university professors to implement peer walk-throughs. The observations and discussions have changed the way teachers teach.
Keeping Teachers in the Family
To reduce the number of teachers lost to other schools or professions, administrators at two schools initiated programs to acclimate teachers new to the profession and the school to help them feel part of the family. Included: Tips for helping new teachers feel at home.
Principals Tough Stand Turns School Around
Frustrated by what he considered low expectations and minimal structure at American Indian Public Charter School, Dr. Ben Chavis set out to reform the school instituting no-nonsense policies regarding attendance, appearance, and instruction. And it worked.
Applying High Expectations to Everyone
Principal Dr. Gerald Gary knew his students could do better -- he just had to convince them and their families. He improved student achievement and changed the schools culture by setting high expectations for everyone in the building.
Firm Finding Formula for At-Risk-Students
Hard-to-reach students are a vexing problem at any age. Some schools are seeing success with reluctant learners by combining personal attention, high expectations, personal technology use, and flexible schedules. Included: A school for reluctant learners.
Film War on Kids Calls for Scrapping Schools as We Know Them
The documentary film The War on Kids argues that public schools have become overly restrictive and ineffective due in part to an irrational fear of young peoples potential for violence. The films creator said he is not certain the existing system can be reformed.
Hands-On Reform Leads to Big Student Gains
When principal Stephen King decided that struggling readers needed earlier and better intervention, he plunged in with his staff to revamp instruction, assessment, and the curriculum. Test scores rose and the number of special education students declined.
Schools Parent University Graduates Active Parents
Rather than lamenting the lack of parent involvement, one Florida elementary school principal decided to reach out to parents and offer them a degree in how to be active parents. The schools Parent University graduated its first class of eager volunteers.
‘Are You Smarter…?’ Events Get Students’ Heads ‘In the Game’
Seeking new and motivating approaches to encourage students to excel on standardized tests, some administrators are borrowing the format of the program Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? to hold family game nights that prep students for those tests.
Pete Hall: Ten Things Ive Learned from My Students
Here I was, thinking that I was in charge of the instruction occurring within our walls. Then it hit me. I found myself simultaneously astonished and inspired at the lessons that were delivered to me by the very students to whom Ive pledged to deliver lessons.
Pete Hall: Less Is More
Weve got district initiatives, government regulations, grant stipulations, contracted obligations, state mandates Heck, our plates are full! Lets remove some of the clutter from our plates by removing some of the clutter from our teachers plates.
Voting for Mascots Teaches About Elections, Inspires Fun
Three schools have used a powerful process that mirrors the presidential electoral process to choose candidates and vote for a school mascot -- a representative symbol that will encourage, inspire, and sometimes entertain them for years to come.
The Questions I Wish Id Asked When Interviewing for the Principalship
As you prepare to interview for that next school leadership position, Education Worlds Principal Files team offers questions you might ask when the interviewers invite your participation. Included: Ten principals offer the questions they wished theyd asked.
Pete Hall: The Power of Positive Phrasing
At the state gymnastics championships, my daughter learned a valuable lesson about the power of positive phrasing. From her experience we educators might learn the power of framing challenges we face by using words that are uplifting and inspiring.
Principals Make Reading a School-Wide Goal
Students pledge to read thousands of pages. First- and fifth-graders buddy up for reading. Those events and others are part of school-wide reading programs at two Minnesota schools. Included: Additional activities to help make reading a school-wide goal.
Bus of the Month Program
Drives Better Behavior
In an effort to improve school bus behavior, two elementary schools started the Bus of the Month program, honoring the bus with the most thumbs up for good behavior in one month. Included: A description of a unique bus behavior program.
Every School Has One: Principals Share Tips for Working With Negative People
Most schools have a staff member or two who stand out for their negative attitudes. Allowed to fester, that attitude could infect others and eventually an entire school community. Included: Principal Files team members share how they handle negativity.
Pete Hall: Hope Aint a Strategy
As a noun, hope is a beautiful thing. Its what we all hold onto when we think about the future, about our children, our country, and our favorite baseball teams. Hope is the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. But hope aint a strategy for improving schools.
Teachers Lead Improvement at State Street School
Teachers at one Rhode Island elementary school are spearheading school-wide improvement, and the results have been positive. Principal Victor Ventura guides the improvements, but the teachers energy and commitment are making it happen.
School-Wide Rewards Improve Behavior, Boost Achievement
Many schools use rewards as one part of their school-wide effort to boost student achievement and test scores. Others reward attendance, behavior, attributes of student character, homework completion, or other pieces of the “student achievement puzzle.”
Pete Hall: Dog Training and American Schools
So there I was, walking my pup down the snowy streets as I trained him to sit, stay, and get the neighbors cat, and then it came to me. If we really want to fix the American school system, we need to approach it more like training a puppy
Carlton Ashby: Transforming Boys Into Men of VALOR
A few years ago, my colleagues discussed ways in which we might improve behavior, academics, and retention rates for the boys we taught. That discussion led to a mentorship program called Men of VALOR (which is an acronym for the life skills we hoped to develop).
Male Teachers Show That Real Men Read
A library media specialist thought posters showing real men reading and men talking about the benefits of reading could be just the thing to encourage more boys to pick up books. The Real Men Read program is so successful that it has spread to other schools.
Pete Hall: The National Boards and Your School
Purchasing more computers and implementing the most recent save-the-world boxed programs are two ways to raise achievement. But neither of them can trump the one thing we all know makes the biggest difference in education.
Game Room Enhances Successful School Turn-Around
When Constance Burnes saw her efforts to improve student behavior and performance at Wilkerson Middle School pay off, she listened to the students when it came to deciding on a reward. She invested in a high-tech game room that is a powerful student motivator.
NAESP Nominates Five Books for 2009 Principal's Read Aloud Award
Are you a principal who is looking for a special way to promote and model reading for fun? You can share your love of reading and set a great example for students by reading aloud the five books that are nominated for the 2009 Principal’s Read Aloud Award.
Teaching Service Is Part of Principal's Mission
Despite the pressures on schools to focus more on academics, Dr. Shannon Vincent is convinced it's her job as principal to teach students the value of service. She began a year-long, school-wide service program that engages students and their parents.
SAMs Free Principals from Administrative Tasks
Many principals have the training and desire to work on curriculum and instructional strategies, but are buried under administrative tasks. School Administration Managers (SAMs) free principals to meet with students and teachers to improve instruction and learning.
Pete Hall: 57 Games
Joltin' Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak -- The Streak -- is untouchable. Or so they say. For "they" who say it can't be beat, Pete Hall says Hogwash! That "can't" attitude is the only thing holding back many schools from breaking achievement records too.
SAMs Free Principals from
Many principals have the training and desire to work on curriculum and instructional strategies, but are buried under administrative tasks. School Administration Managers (SAMs) free principals to meet with students and teachers to improve instruction and learning.
Making It Fun Again
>>>>>>> .r19504 Today it hit you: Youre the CEO (Chief Everything Officer) at your school, and as much as you love your job, youre beginning to feel a bit down. But remember: the principal sets the mood. If youre feeling down or overwhelmed, it might be HULA time!
Your Schools Main Office: Setting a Tone for the Entire School
Is your schools main office set up to be a truly welcoming place? Is its layout conducive to conducting business? Are there tools in your office that you couldnt live without? Our Principal Files team answers those questions and offers tips for improving the office environment.
Recess Is Alive, (Mostly) Well
A few years ago parent groups were angered by news that recess was being eliminated at many schools. A new report shows that most elementary schools continue to offer recess, although children may get less time to play.
Recognizing the Stars on Your Staff
Chances are the stars on your staff dont expect or require recognition, but you want to recognize and support them in any way you can. So just how do you reward their above-and-beyond efforts? Members of our Principal Files team share what they do.
Pete Hall: Charismatic Leaders and Ego
Are you a principal with charisma? While it is good to caution against blindly following charismatic leaders, Pete Hall issues a word of defense for all our charismatic colleagues out there: charisma is not a personality deficit. Nor is ego.
PBIS Rules, Rewards Boost Behavior and Academics
By relying on concise rules and frequent rewards, principals say the PBIS approach to school-wide behavior management drastically reduces discipline problems and improves academic performance among all students.
Practicing Love & Logic Can Mean Happier Schools
Stressing positive teacher-student relationships, empathetic adults, and differentiated consequences, the Love & Logic approach to behavior management has fans among teachers and parents. Included: Nine essential skills for teachers practicing Love & Logic.
Discipline with Dignity Stresses Positive Motivation
The Discipline with Dignity approach teaches educators to create positive motivators for kids so they take responsibility for their own behavior. Included: Examples of Discipline with Dignity in action.
Practical Advice for Coping With Difficult Kids, Parents
Weve all experienced them -- the student or parent who not only pushes your buttons but leans on them until relief seems impossible. Building relationships with students and keeping yourself calm when issues arise can mean fewer conflicts.
Students "Stand Tall" Against Bullying
In a proactive attempt to squelch "bullying" behavior before it even emerges, one school district embraced an anti-bullying theme. Students were encouraged across the ages and the curriculum to avoid bullying behaviors and to help the victims.
Paired Schools Work Together to Solve Problems, Boost Achievement
Principals usually work in isolation, with few opportunities to share ideas. But since the Newport News Public Schools started pairing up elementary schools, more principals are sharing ideas, resources, talents, and strategies to make all schools successful.
The School Day: Fitting In Everything Requires Creative Scheduling
Making time in the school day to emphasize academics, tutor students who need help, schedule planning times for teams, or meet many other needs is a challenge all principals face. Our Principal Files team shares how they make time for these things and more.
Big Test Pep Rallies: 2, 4, 6, 8 -- Taking Tests and Feeling Great!
A little stress over tests can keep kids on their toes, but too much will knock them off their feet. Lowering test stress is why many schools are using the popular "pep rally" to get students excited and motivated to do their best. Included: Cheers, skits, and more.
Pete Hall: Get Your Learnin On
Education fluctuates more than a rattlesnakes temperature. We cannot wait two years, then emerge and ask, What did I miss? Education moves much too fast for that. So what can we do to keep our heads in the game? Here are some ideas
Use Personality Types to Structure Staff Development
Can you recognize the Bricks, the Rebels, or Knowledge Royals in your school? Chances are you have some of those personality types on your faculty. Any or all of them can sabotage staff development efforts. But only if you give them the chance.
Principals Reflect on Teachers Who Made a Difference in Their Lives
Who was the teacher who had the most significant impact on your life? That’s the question we posed to our “Principal Files” principals. Their responses confirm that the most respected teachers are those who take time to build relationships with their students.
Pete Hall: The Bulls-Eye of School Discipline
Remember that time when there was a line of students awaiting their punishments outside your office door? The school day was a blur of black eyes, name-calling, and disobedience. That was this morning, really? Oh, you mean that happens every day?
Principals Classrooms Visits Help Build Better Readers
When principals and literacy coaches understand what students are learning and teachers are teaching -- and participate in literacy lessons -- they set a positive tone for the school that can lead to improvement in reading, say author and educator Dr. Beth Whitaker.
Sports4Kids: Reforming Recess by Teaching the Rules of Play
Is recess the most harried time of your day? A time when fights and visits to the nurse's office skyrocket? Before you eliminate recess, consider these principals thoughts about Sports4Kids, a program that has reformed their playgrounds and restored order to recess.
Organizing Staff Meetings Even You Want to Attend
Do you run your staff meetings like press briefings -- that is, read the news and run? More principals should use faculty meetings as opportunities for problem-solving and professional development, according to the authors of Energizing Staff Meetings.
The principalship is one step shy of One Flew over the Cuckoos Nest, so a little diversion is nice. But when all the diversions in our day get in the way of what is most important, we need to say Stop it! because sometimes succinct wins.
Developing, Retaining Strong Teachers in the Schools That Need Them Most
Too often, beginning teachers in urban schools or teachers new to an urban setting become frustrated when their students dont respond to them. Its not that they are bad teachers -- they just need to learn how to reach out more to students and their parents.
Interviewing for the Principalship: Tips from Principals
Interviewing can be a grueling process. But aspiring principals can relieve the pain by heeding this advice from our Principal Files team. Included: Practice interview questions, sound advice, plus a few surprises that might be encountered along the way.
Pete Hall: Leading Off the Edge of the Map
It might not surprise you to come across in a column about principal leadership names the likes of Thomas Edison and Ferdinand Magellan. So how the heck did Pete Hall manage to add to that mix Rowlf the Dog from The Muppet Show? Follow along
Principals Share Lessons Learned About Communicating With Parents, Others
Seldom does a day go by when most school leaders don’t learn something new about the importance of communication. Here, our team of experienced “Principal Files” principals share their thoughts and tips about best practices in communication.
Pete Hall: Confronting Concerns With Teacher Performance
The time is now to confront the malpractice being committed by teachers who dont pull their weight. If there are children in that teachers classroom, we have an obligation to provide the best possible learning environment and to insist upon excellence from that teacher.
Community Scavenger Hunt Teaches Research Skills, Much More
When armies of students descend on local libraries, it has to be time for the State of Jefferson Scavenger Hunt. The three-day event challenges kids to track down answers to a series of questions. The results include improved research skills, priceless memories.
Guidelines for Grading Principals
Stress Multiple Benchmarks
Concerned that administrators might not have enough input into NCLB-inspired criteria for assessing principals, a national principal association has offered criteria that include more than test scores. Included: NASSPs recommendations, comments from NAESP.
Reformers, School Leaders Work Closely to Improve Schools
Sometimes an outside perspective is what is needed to jump-start change. Some districts are committing to reform through long-term partnerships with foundations and centers that can provide consultants, money, and other resources.
If You Were Handed a $10,000 Windfall
Principals can make a seemingly small windfall like $10,000 go a long way! Thats what we learned this month when we gave members of our Principal Files team $10,000 to spend. The principals offered wise tips for spending in ways that add true value.
Study Circles Help Gather Input,
Many schools and communities use study circles to ensure that diverse perspectives are represented as they address issues such as the achievement gap, redistricting, building projects, racism, and bullying. Included: Tips for starting a study circle.
Pete Hall: Whos Doing the
Work Here, Anyway?
Ill just spit this out there: Its time that we, as educators, evaluate everything that we do in our classrooms. Many of us are spending a tremendous amount of time and a monumental amount of energy in low-yield practices.
Twenty-Five Ideas for Celebrating American Education Week
American Education Week was first celebrated in 1921 as a way to help raise Americas literacy rate. Today, AEW offers a special opportunity for educators to shine a light on the great things they do. Included: Twenty-five ideas for celebrating AEW in your school.
Principals Promote Reading
Aloud With Special Award
Are you a principal who is looking for a special way to recognize Childrens Book Week this year? You can share your love of reading and set a great example for students by reading aloud the five books nominated for the 2008 Principals Read Aloud Award.
More Schools Turn to Extended Days
Hours of test preparation, especially in underperforming schools, has left little time for electives or even some of the un-tested basic subjects. Adding time to the school year and day has helped some schools improve their scores and flesh out their curriculums.
Pete Hall: Whos Your
You wake up late, you burn the toast, the cat vomited on the rug and you find out by stepping in it, you leave the house just barely behind schedule but then have to stop for gas Ever had a day like that? Thats the day you have to find your Joey Amalfitano.
Is This "It" for Tag?
Schools in a handful of states have recently made news headlines by banning tag on their playgrounds. While school officials seek to make playgrounds safer, others disagree with the decision to eliminate tag. Included: Views from the trenches and the benches.
Principals Share Programs That Work
There are hundreds of programs out there. Some claim to raise student achievement. Others aim to improve student behavior, stop bullying, or keep kids off drugs But do these programs work? Included: Principals share ten programs that work.
New Chancellor Committed
To Urban Students
Michelle Rhee only spent a few years as a classroom teacher, but during that time she developed a passion for helping underprivileged students. She plans to apply that drive and a commitment to high expectations as the new head of the DC Public Schools.
Pawlas on PR: Volunteers and
Mentors Add So Much to a School
Setting up and maintaining a strong volunteer or mentor program is not an easy task. But most principals who take time to recognize the immediate and countless benefits of establishing volunteer programs feel the extra effort is well worth it.
Pawlas on PR: Forging Relationships With the Larger Community Pays Off Big-Time
Schools cannot afford to function independent of other segments of their communities. Now, more than ever, it is essential that schools form relationships with community members, groups, and agencies for the mutual benefit of the students and schools.
Pawlas on PR: Experienced Administrators Share Their Advice With Aspiring Principals
Twenty-three students in George Pawlas's graduate educational leadership course recently interviewed experienced school administrators to learn, What two pieces of advice would you give to an aspiring administrator? Here is what they said.
Pawlas on PR: Take Care of the People Who Take Care of You
The words of a local dentist's grandmother have got me reflecting on what school principals can and should do for their internal and external publics and members of their immediate families. "Taking care" efforts with all three groups are vitally important.
Pawlas on PR: Crisis Planning -- Have You Done Yours?
No one can predict when or where the next disaster or tragedy will strike, so principals must be prepared to deal with any possible crisis. Principals who develop effective crisis plans are those who understand the true meaning of the saying, "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail."
Developing More Resilient School Administrators
People who are resilient -- “realistic optimists” who adapt to changes and learn from mistakes -- often are more effective leaders. More administrators are learning what it means to be resilient.
Teacher Selection Counts: Six Steps to Hiring
As principals, we feel an enormous amount of pressure to staff our buildings with strong, effective, intelligent people. If youve ever had to fill a teaching vacancy, you know how hard that is: Hard as a coffin nail. Included: Tips for getting the right people on the bus."
Mapping Instruction With Interim Assessments
Officials in one school district needed to know if their instructional interventions were working. They needed data reported more often than state tests could provide, so they created an online assessment tool that has improved instruction and raised test scores.
Teachers Take Lead in Instructional Talk Throughs
To meet teachers professional development needs, one districts administrators developed Instructional Talk Throughs. Teams of teachers observe colleagues and offer written and verbal feedback. Included: An outline of the Instructional Talk Through
Pete Hall: Reviving the American Dream
Pete Hall is wondering if the American Dream is dying. "As educators, we can teach -- through some direct instruction and intentional role-modeling -- what the American Dream means," he says. Will you be joining Pete in reviving the American Dream this year?
Order in the Cafeteria: Tips for Improving Behavior and Supervision
Some principals have nightmares about cafeteria time. But with rules for traffic flow and behavior firmly in place, many principals say lunchtime can run hitch-free. Included: Tips for improving behavior, training monitors, and planning trouble-free recess time.
The Best Thing About This Year
So what was the best thing to happen in your school this past school year? Was it a special event? A school-wide effort that paid off? A special recognition? A kid who made great strides?... Read what our Principal Files principals had to say.
Paul Young: The No-Hat Rule
Would you agree that manners, civility, and respect for decorum are values that are heading the way of the horse and buggy? Paul Young thinks so. He says a return to teaching manners in school must start at the top -- so take off those ballcaps!
Paul Young: The Five Levels of Principal Leadership
Joe had arrived when in early August, at age 29, he was selected as the principal of Union Elementary School. In a rush to make a great first impression, Joe made a momentous mistake. If only hed read John Maxwells Leadership 101
Paul Young: Have You Got Enough Love to Be a Mentor Principal?
Have you got what it takes to mentor the next generation of school leaders? If youre a principal who has benefited from the helping hand and heart of a skilled mentor, youve no doubt picked up skills that will support you as you grow great teachers and future principals.
Paul Young: Who Is Responsible for Unruly Kids?
Community members finally had it with unruly students at a neighborhood bus stop. So they turned to the school for help. After being confronted, the principal knew he had to take action. But how would he handle this potentially dangerous situation?
Paul Young: The Light in the Principals Office
Youve all heard of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), which is often triggered by the shorter days and longer nights of winter. But have you heard of BAD? Principal Paul Young offers his perspective and a few tips for managing kids who suffer from BAD.
Paul Young: The Omnipresent Principal
To students in a school, the principal often seems to be everywhere. While we know that is physically impossible, there are things that any principal can do to make it seem that way. A principals omnipresence sets a tone for a school and gives it a personality.
Paul Young: Give Yourself the Best Gift -- The Gift of Time
Time. Busy principals always seem to need more of it. So why do they give so much of it away so freely? By gaining control of the time they do have, principals can save precious minutes every day and create more hours in a week for more important things.
Paul Young: Preventing Gridlock -- The Principal Traffic Cops Job
The job of a principal is not all that different from the job of a traffic cop. When gridlock forms in our schools, it is the principal -- the schools traffic controller -- who must make the quick decisions that drive achievement and remove barriers to improvement.
Paul Young: Becoming a Principal Is Like Learning to Swim All Over Again
The lessons Paul Young learned while learning to swim stick with him today. Learning to swim and learning to principal arent all that different, he says. Both require encouragement from trusted teachers. So are you ready to dive into the principalship?
Paul Young: Landing Your First Principalship
When it comes to being interviewed for that first principalship, all principals-to-be can benefit from the experience of a mentor. Mentors help their mentees focus on what must be said rather on what not to say. Included: Tips for aspiring principals.
These Shoes Were Made for Running/Walking
A runner for many years, Principal Kim Pavlovich has created a run/walk program that each week attracts teachers, parents, and more than half the student body to the school track. Included: Tips for starting this simple and inexpensive program in your school.
Top Educator Finds Alternatives to Failure
Joris Ray, director of the Memphis City Schools alternative schools, believes that helping students achieve academic success leads to confidence and better behavior. That dedication helped earn him ASCDs 2007 Outstanding Young Educator Award.
Principals on the Move: Tips for Making a Smooth Move
If you have just been assigned to a new school for next school year, or if youre taking your first job as a principal, members of our Principals Files offer practical advice. Included: Tips from principals who have experienced a move or two or more.
Pete Hall: Changing Addresses
Forward this column to anyone you know who will have a new principals office in the coming school year. That includes new principals beginning their first assignments and vets who are moving to new schools or districts. Plus: Tips for starting off on the right foot.
Test-Stressed Out: Strategies for Improving Attitudes, Scores
Whether it is simple butterflies or a severe case of "test anxiety," students can feel overwhelming pressure to succeed on high-stakes tests. But educators can provide the tools students need to do their best. Strategies included: Get ICE, sticky notes, more.
This Is Only a Test
Testing may not be a favorite activity, but it is here to stay. When the adults around them are nervous -- or worse yet, negative -- about standardized tests, students can adopt those attitudes as well. Included: Simple tips to help administrators facilitate a smooth test day.
Pete Hall: Turning Teacher Evaluations on Their Ears The scheduling, the classroom observations, the reports, the checklists Teacher evaluation time is an exhausting time. Just ask our ulcers. But when you keep SITTM in mind, and pair it with frequent classroom walk-throughs, students end up the big winners.
Military Veterans Proudly Serving Again, in the Classroom
Former servicemen and women bring to the classroom unique management skills, flexibility in dealing with others, and the ability to respond to nearly any situation. Included: Three troops-turned-teachers talk about the rewards, difficulties of their new.
Showing Appreciation on Secretaries Day
Administrative Professionals Week (formerly called National Secretaries Week) is celebrated each April. What are you doing to recognize the folks in the front office who keep things on an even keel in your school? Here are some practical ideas
Principals' Feats Fuel Fabulous Reading
What would students do to see a principal camp on the roof, become a human sundae, kiss a pig, or get slimed? Turns out they will do a great deal -- of reading! Many principal are capitalizing on students' desire to see them do wacky stunts and build reading skills.
The Principal as Troublemaker
Paul Young is past president of the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP). And he is a troublemaker. But, as he describes in this essay, being a troublemaker is a necessary thing for strong school leaders to be.
Administrators Praise Three-Minute Walk-Throughs
Since one North Carolina school district started using three-minute walk-throughs, principals have become more involved with curriculum, provided support for educators, and learned from students. Included: How a three-minute walk-through program works.
Students Clean Up Their Act and "Dare Not To Swear!"
At Bremerton (Washington) High School, the student-generated "Dare Not To Swear!" program has proven that students can be even more effective in reducing swearing than teachers. Included: Two schools approaches, plus Dare Not To Swear! poetry.
Marriage, Family, and the Principalship: Making It All Work
The demands of the principals job cant help but take a toll on marriages and families. According to our Principal Files principals, keeping families intact requires plenty of effort, teamwork, a well-used calendar, and a cell phone with lots of minutes. Included: Principals offer their advice.
Pete Hall: Before Lightning Strikes
Around and around we go with the Frequent Fliers. The Detention Crew. The kids who have difficulty staying out of trouble. They are the Lightning Club. Lightning can strike at any time, without warning. Included: Start a Lightning Club in your school.
Making Inclusion the Norm
Including special education students in "regular classes" and finding ways to meet their -- and all other students' learning needs -- should be the goal of every school, according to professor Dr. Mara Sapon-Shevin.
Crafting Thorough Cleaning Plans
Few educators may link school cleanliness with student performance, but cleaner buildings can mean higher attendance and more learning. Included: Tips for developing a comprehensive cleaning program that creates a healthier environment for all.
Improving School Environments Through Green Cleaning
As research mounts about the link between indoor air quality and health, and as more children enter school with respiratory problems, schools, districts, and even whole states are switching to more environmentally-friendly cleaning agents.
Its Time to Repair Americas Schools
Stories of vermin, mold, asbestos, and water in classrooms have become all too common in the U.S., according to a report from the American Federation of Teachers. Its time for the nation to commit itself to repairing its aging and deteriorating schools.
More (Short) Tests Can Help Learning
With all the testing going on these days, it's hard to imagine doing more. But some schools are finding that assessing students throughout the year with short tests can improve learning and better prepare kids for the big tests. The idea is backed up by research.
Wellness Policies Promote Healthy Choices
The federal mandate for schools to adopt written wellness policies has prompted many to focus on cafeteria and snack items as well as opportunities for physical activity. What have school leaders learned as they implemented new wellness policies?
Top Administrator Focuses on Standards, Achievement Gap
Under the leadership of Dr. Beverly L. Hall, the Atlanta, Georgia, Public Schools have seen achievement rise as the achievement gap shrinks. For these efforts and others, Dr. Hall earned the award for the nations top urban educator.
WatchDOGS Unleashed on Schools
WATCH D.O.G.S. is a K12 program that makes it easy for father figures to spend meaningful time in a school setting. The program is overseen by a Top Dog volunteer dad who partners with the school administrator to identify opportunities for WatchDOGS dads.
Pete Hall: Why I Wear Red Socks to School
The earliest known socks were discovered in Egyptian tombs. In subsequent years, socks have taken many turns on the paths of style and function. Principal Pete Halls socks, for instance, are red. Every day, red socks. So why does Hall wear red socks to school every day?
Mentoring New Administrators to Success
Too often new administrators are dropped into their offices with a list of expectations and little support -- not even a bottle of aspirin. But the Savannah-Chatham County (Georgia) mentoring program is designed to nurture and mold quality educators into quality administrators.
Principal Personalizes, Individualizes Student Learning
After watching her bright brother drop out of high school, Dr. Jeryl (Jill) Martin wanted to find ways to keep kids in schools. Her efforts as principal to personalize education at Thomas B. Doherty High School helped earn her Principal of the Year honors.
Pete Hall: T2 -- Togetherness and Teamwork
There is a Kilimanjaro-sized mountain of research supporting the importance of teamwork in our schools. Quotes such as "many hands make light work" and "two heads are better than one" could not be more apropos than they are in today's schoolhouses.
Pete Hall: The Attack
With the advent of the No Child Left Behind Act, higher standards and expectations, growing pressure for preparing children for global competition, and an increasing need to address the whole child on behalf of 50 million children I ask you to join me in "The Attack."
Teachers Teaching Teachers: Professional Development That Works
If you're not capitalizing on the expertise of your school's teaching team, you're missing out on the most effective professional development around. Ed World's "Principal Files" principals share their experiences with and enthusiasm for teachers-teaching-teachers PD.
"Recovery Rooms" Put Disruptive Students on Road to Recovery
Are disruptive students inhibiting learning in your school? If so, the answer may be creating a place for them to refocus and regroup -- a "recovery room." With guidance, students can reflect on their mistakes and find ways to improve.
Pairing At-Risk High School, Elementary Kids Benefits Both
Mixing at-risk high school and elementary-aged students might sound like a plan for perpetuating bad habits. But when asked to serve as mentors, the high school students stepped up, and they and their charges are learning about themselves and each other.
Put "Punch" Into Your Parent Handbook
Is it time to take a fresh look at your school's parent handbook? How can your school get more out of this essential resource for parents? Education World takes a look at ten handbooks from across the grades and shares what each one does especially well.
My Three Favorite Things: Data, Data, and Data
"Educators, as a breed, are afraid of data," says Ed World columnist Pete Hall. "We treat them like contagious numerical pathogens. After all, for decades we have been the evaluators, but now we are the evaluatees, often left to the mercy of unpleasant school designations..."
Group Brings Waves of Humor to Professional Development
The group Wavelength proves that professional development can be fun and full of substance. Using skits, music, and improvisation, the troupe zeros in on hot education topics. Included: Descriptions of Wavelength presentations.
It's Time to Reinvent the Principalship
The idea of a single principal who can do everything is not working. Here are eight recommendations for reinventing the principalship to help reduce stress on current administrators and entice new candidates to the profession.
Principals as Leader-Managers
Principals often view leadership and management as two different roles, but the most effective principals know how to blend the two. Included: Tips for combining leadership and management skills to be a more effective administrator.
Principal Unites School Around Student Strengths
When changes hit Khowhemun Elementary School in British Columbia, staff members and the community initially found it hard to adjust. Charlie Coleman, ASCD's 2005 Outstanding Young Educator, helped give the school focus and unified the staff.
Pete Hall: 600 Reasons To Do It Again Next Year
"I cannot begin to share the number of times that I've sat alone in my car at the end of a long day of principaling. I sit, unwilling to turn the key as dusk creeps into the staff parking lot, and wonder aloud, 'Why, exactly, do I continue to do this?'"
The Best Convention Speakers We've Seen...
Have you been to a conference session that truly inspired you? Have you run into a speaker whose message changed the way you do things? Improved your school? Improved your life? Our "Principals Files" principals name the speakers you must see!
Solid Leadership Key to Good Middle Schools
A multi-year, national study of leadership in middle schools led by professor Jerry Valentine of the University of Missouri-Columbia's Middle Level Leadership Center showed in part that successful schools had good leaders with positive attitudes.
Pete Hall: Prioritize and Delegate Your Way to Effective Leadership
"If a principal cannot effectively prioritize time and energy, and if a principal cannot delegate certain tasks and decisions, then that principal will find him or herself dangling at the end of a very short rope over a frothing sea of sharks, piranhas..."
BRAVO Principals Act With Courage, Conviction
Making difficult decisions requires courage. A principal's acts of courage help ensure that all children learn. Those acts also serve as catalysts; they motivate colleagues to act with courage. Included: Sandra Harris offers ten actions of courageous principals.
Getting Kids to Read By Keeping Their Eyes on the Prize
Educators know that children who read and are read to are more likely to become life-long readers. That's why many schools are using reading incentives -- from reading honor rolls to "prize patrols" -- to encourage kids. And they're reading more as a result.
Create a School Profile Brochure
Most corporations have professional brochures that promote their history, goals, and results. So, asks George Pawlas, why shouldn't schools create brochures to boast of their history, their stats and awards, their community connections, and their visions and goals?
Systems Let Schools Call More Parents Faster
School phone trees are being eclipsed by phone systems that can dial thousands of numbers in minutes and alert parents to emergencies, schedule changes, and even events, saving administrators time and stress.
Got Motto? -- Twelve Slogans to Help Build School-Wide Community
You've seen those celebrity-filled "Got Milk" magazine ads? Now it's time to meet the "Got Motto" poster principals! They're using school-wide slogans to spur enthusiasm, inspire teamwork, and build community. Included: Twelve mottos for your consideration.
Pete Hall: Get Out of That Chair!
Principal Pete Hall says walk-throughs are the most powerful thing he does. They provide him with a clear picture of the state of learning in his school and many peripheral benefits too. Walk-throughs, Hall says, should be a priority in every principal's day.
Use a Daily "School Pledge" to Build Community
While discussing morning rituals that would be meaningful for teachers and students, the staff at the Adams School in Castine, Maine, decided to introduce five daily pledges -- a different one each day. They got their inspiration from literature, history, and pop culture.
BRAVO Principals Celebrate Diversity
Columnist Sandra Harris says principals make their schools stronger by valuing their students' diversity. By highlighting -- even encouraging -- diversity, they make kids who might feel "different" feel welcomed instead. They limit bullying and harassment too.
Triumph Over Truancy: Tips for Improving Student Attendance
Greater learning, a brighter future, less delinquency, and more funds for schools -- there are countless benefits to increased student attendance. Many schools are coming up with novel approaches to resolve their truancy woes. Will their ideas work in your school?
Support Personnel Are P.R. People Too
Secretaries, custodians, cafeteria workers, crossing guards, and bus drivers are key personnel in creating a school's reputation. Education World columnist George Pawlas shares tips for capitalizing on the P.R. potential of your schools support personnel.
Principals Reflect on the Best Parts of the Job
Being a school principal is a tough job. But many principals stick with it because the joys of the job far outweigh the frustrations. Education World's "Principal Files" team recently reflected on what it is that gets them out of bed each morning!
What's the Most Frustrating Part of Being a Principal?
What are the biggest challenges faced by school principals? Members of our "Principal Files" team recently shared the downside of being a school leader. They reflected about unfunded mandates, kids who fall through the cracks, a lack of parent support, and more.
Teen Brings Unique Voice to School Board
Many high school students might groan about attending a school board meeting. But for senior Pallas A. Snider, serving on the Anne Arundel County school board is a chance to make her voice heard on issues important to the community and fellow students.
Morphing Your Elementary School Into a Literacy Academy
We used to call them grammar schools. Now we call them elementary schools. I propose a new definition of our schools -- especially those that service the primary grades. We need to shift our mindset and rename them as
Community Effort Links In-School, After-School Learning
Louisville, Kentucky, school officials wanted youngsters to get more out of their after school hours. With the help of a software program, schools share data with after-school program staff who develop content to address students' areas of weakness.
BRAVO Principals... Help Staffs and Students Cope With Stress
Sandra Harris has seen firsthand how principals have handled the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. But not all disasters are natural ones. In the event of job loss, illness, death, and divorce BRAVO principals do all that they can to help faculty and students cope.
"Together We Can" Motto Spurs Columbia Elementary's Success
Columbia Elementary's school motto is "Together We Can!" Together principal Lori Musser and staff members have adopted initiatives such as after-school clubs and intensive reading instruction to help students achieve.
Pawlas on PR: 50 Million Students Can't Be Wrong
Research says that people base their opinions of schools on what children tell them. That's why principals should take a good look at their schools from a kid's perspective. Included: Tips for improving students' -- and parents' -- perceptions of your school.
Budgeting in the Accountability Age
Doing more with less has been the challenge for school districts in recent years, but now the demands of the No Child Left Behind Act, coupled with shrinking resources, are making budgeting even harder.
Pete Hall: Mentoring and the Three Golden Rules
New principals have no idea what they're about to encounter. That is not their districts' fault; they hired competent leaders. The principalship is simply a beast that cannot be understood until one has wrangled with it. Included: Three "golden rules" for principals.
Principals Offer Practical, Timely "Time Management" Tips
Have you mastered the 3 D's (Delegate it, Dump it, or Do it)? Could a "closed-door policy" help you better manage your time? Maybe you should set up "satellite offices" -- or find a hiding place? EW's "Principal Files" team offers those tips and more.
BRAVO Principals Care About People
How do caring principals show teachers and students that they care? Sandra Harris shares ten traits of caring principals that she has observed -- ten ways in which principals make teachers and students feel important, respected, recognized, heard, and included.
More Tips for Great Newsletters
Surveys say newsletters are the second most important source of information about your school. George Pawlas offers timely reminders about what to include in the newsletters you produce during the second semester. Included: "Fifteen Tips for Writing Right."
Schools Celebrate Martin Luther King and His Dream
Each January many schools celebrate the life of Martin Luther King by bringing to life his words and his dream. Learn what some schools, including three that bear his name, do to keep the meaning of this holiday foremost in the minds of their students.
What H.S. Kids Want from Their Principals
High school students can be a tough bunch, but they also like knowing that someone cares for them. In Sent to the Principal, high school students talk about what principals can do to help them become responsible, confident adults.
How Does Your School Handle the Homework Dilemma?
Do you have a school-wide policy? Do students earn a homework grade? What about late homework? Or the effects of homework zeros on student grades? Education World's "Principal Files" team members share their thoughts on those questions and others.
BRAVO Principals Rekindle the Spirit
Sandra Harris says principals who encourage others "rekindle the spirit" of their schools. Harris shares ten ways in which principals are encouraging teachers and students and, as a result, creating a school-wide atmosphere of encouragement and achievement.
School-Wide Handwashing Campaigns Cut Germs, Absenteeism
School-wide handwashing programs can improve the health and attendance of students and staff. If your school does not have a program in place, many resources are available to help you get one started. Included: Links to valuable free resources.
The Benefits of Being an MBWA Principal
As principal, getting out of the office and into classrooms can have countless benefits for your school. George Pawlas offers three easy and fun ways to get into classrooms more often. A couple of his ideas are accompanied by favorite classroom memories.
Schools Offering Service With A Smile
Greetings, smiles, and eye contact may be standard customer-service training in the retail industry, but now it is moving into schools as well. Some districts are training all staff members, including administrators and bus drivers, to be more customer-friendly.
Pete Hall: 3 Steps to Embracing Change
Change is scary. But as leaders of school improvement, we are faced with the daunting challenge of making change a necessity, a known quantity, and fun. Yes, change is fun! If you don't believe that, come along with me.
Yearlong Themes: Principals Use Them to Build Spirit, Achievement
Does your school use a yearlong theme to motivate students and increase student achievement? Education World's "Principal Files" team shares a dozen ideas to help others see the power and potential of using yearlong, school-wide themes.
BRAVO Principals... Communicate Effectively
Author and EdWorld columnist Sandra Harris says that BRAVO principals follow three principles of effective communication. They are truthful, yet tactful; available; and active listeners. Included: Examples of those three principles in action during the school day.
Building Positive Relationships With the Media
George Pawlas remembers the day he invited the newbie education reporter into his school. The guy hadn't stepped foot in a school in years! But that special invitation led to some great coverage. Included: Simple tips for getting good media coverage.
Preparing the Next Generation of Urban School Leaders
In an effort to deepen the pool of qualified urban principal candidates, the Institute for the Mentorship of Urban School Leaders at Lehigh University was established to give proven school leaders the training and support needed to be effective administrators.
Schools Grapple With Soaring Fuel Costs
With fuel prices rising to budget-breaking levels, school officials are re-tooling their spending plans for this school year to help cover the costs. Some have cut back on bus service, lowered building temperatures, and are looking at long-range remedies.
Kids Tutor Kids to Big Gains
When Ivy Hall School staff members were searching for a way to provide more individual support to struggling readers, they turned to Stevenson High School's service club, and found a supply of free, effective tutors.
Panning for Gold in the Era of Accountability
Is your school's public perception in need of a little polishing? Even if your school is "in need of improvement," you can mine golden nuggets of good news and silver linings to make the school's image shine. Here are some ways you can do just that.
Does Your School's Atmosphere Shout "Welcome!"?
Does your school's atmosphere shout "Welcome!" to parents, students, and staff? Our "Principal Files" team shares how they've created welcoming atmospheres in their schools. Most of their ideas are easy to duplicate. Learn from their ideas, share your own.
Rise and Shine with Morning Assembly
Connect students and staff at the beginning of each day with a "morning assembly." Principals say a well-organized assembly establishes a positive tone for teachers and students and encourages community involvement.
BRAVO Principals Share Power
EdWorld columnist Sandra Harris says sharing power means acknowledging that every faculty member at your school is a leader. By empowering others, you inspire others, you build a climate of trust and respect, and good decisions get made!
Dressing (Teachers) for Success
"Dressing appropriately" used to be a phrase with universal meaning. But in an age where flip flops appear in White House photos, some school districts want to make it clear how they expect all staff members -- including teachers -- to dress.
Newsletters: An Essential Tool for Every Principal
George Pawlas learned early in his years as a principal that regular, informative communication from his office helped build support for his school. That's when he discovered the true value of parent newsletters. Included: Newsletter do's and don'ts.
Parent Planning for Parent Involvement
Too often administrators view parent involvement programs as neglected gardens. If by chance they grow and bear fruit, terrific. If they don't, it can't be helped. But a national institute says that, with some planning, all schools can grow parent involvement programs.
Always Strive to Be a Better You
Just as James Bond exists by the words "Live and let die" so award-winning principal Pete Hall lives by the words "Always strive to be a better you." How does Hall's motto guide his principalship? He shares ideas that might help all principals be their best.
Schools Recruit, Recognize Contributions of Volunteers
Is your school crawling with volunteers? Or are you looking for ways to recruit more volunteers? In this article, our "Principal Files" principals talk about the benefits of volunteers and offer tips for recruiting them and recognizing their contributions.
Co-Principals Face Challenges Together
Many principals have days when they wish they weren't alone at the top. Mary Gentili and Jeanne Wall say they have found that working as co-principals gives them the help and support they need to efficiently run a school with 1,100 K-2 students.
BRAVO Principals Calm the Storm
Sandra Harris teaches at a university near Houston, which has been a focal point of Hurricane Katrina relief efforts. She is witnessing firsthand the essential role that principals are playing in the effort to bring relief and normalcy to the lives of children and families.
Bring "Order" to the Cafeteria
Is your school's cafeteria a place where you love to spend time, or is it a nightmare come to life? How can you make the lunchroom a more "orderly" place? Administrators share their best tips for improving atmosphere, behavior, and manners in the lunchroom.
Getting the Most Out of Parent-Teacher Conferences
Parent-teacher conferences are an important part of any school's communication plan. And principals are in a position to help ensure that the first conference of the year sets a tone for future communication. Included: Tips for prepping parents and teachers ahead of time.
Staff Meeting Idea: Teachers "Stand" for Students
Looking for an inexpensive, powerful way to remind your staff of why they embarked on a career in education? Try "I Stand For...," an activity that asks teachers to rise and name a student for whom they have made a difference. Tips for using this activity included.
Mastering the New Three R's
Most educators find themselves constantly feeling that they have too much to do and too little time. John Blaydes offers advice for mastering the three R's of resiliency, renewal, and reflection to keep you healthy and more productive.
BRAVO Principals Create a Shared Vision for Student Success
Author and EdWorld columnist Sandra Harris says creating a shared vision does not mean telling the faculty what your vision is. Harris walks through steps involved in creating an all-staff Vision Day. Plus ideas for sustaining that vision once developed.
Schools Bring Professional Development In-House
More districts are getting away from generic professional development -- the "spray and pray" approach -- in favor of their own professional development programs targeted to their needs and presented by their staff.
Coaching Teachers to Success
Staff development teachers in the Montgomery County (Maryland) Public Schools are coaches, mentors, and on-site resources for classroom teachers. Many bring years of teaching experience and a desire to help their peers do the job.
State Your Mission: Creating Mission Statements that Work
What is your school's mission statement? If it doesn't exist or you can't recall it, it's time to take another look. A mission statement can be a focal point for learning. It can guide all school activities, and even assist you in choosing the right people to join your staff.
From Chaos to Coherence: Managing Teacher Stress
"I'm totally stressed out." Listen carefully when teachers repeat that routine mantra. The stress they're experiencing could affect their performance, students, and personal lives. But stress doesn't have to take a toll. Included: Effective stress-fighting strategies.
Principals Hold Key to Teacher Retention
Recruiting and hiring teachers for schools is hard enough -- so its frustrating if teachers leave after a year or two. A Houston, Texas, principal talks about the important role a principal plays in retaining teachers.
What Great Principals Do Differently
You can tell great principals by what they do, what they say, and who works for them, according to educator, author, and speaker Dr. Todd Whitaker. They are the people who lead by example and recruit other effective people.
Principal Ideas Volume #1
Just think of Principal Ideas as a virtual show-and-tell for principals. Each week in the coming school year we'll present five new principal-tested ideas. Send in your idea today, get an Education World mug if we use it! See the article for information.
School-Community Relations is Great PR And Then Some
George Pawlas, author of The Administrator's Guide to School-Community Relations, says every principal should carry a list of "six statements you can say with pride about your school." Pawlas offers that PR advice and much more in this EdWorld interview.
What Makes Effective Teaching Teams Tick?
Many of the most successful schools teem with the spirit of team teaching. Educators agree that teaming has huge benefits for students' academic and social growth, but what makes the most effective teams tick? Included: "Ten Commandments" for team teaching.
Strive To Be A Better You
Pete Hall came to Anderson Elementary School in Reno, Nevada in 2002 as a young principal with a mission: to help children who desperately needed support. In two years, Hall changed Anderson from a failing school to one of the districts top achievers.
Improving School Culture
What kind of culture pervades your school? Do staff members feel like a family? Or is it like a factory or a Little Shop of Horrors? One way to assess school culture, and then strive to improve it, is through the Center for Improving School Culture's triage survey.
Green Schools Save the Environment, Money
Green schools, which are built to rely more on natural resources or have extensive recycling and conservation programs, may sound expensive or a lot of work, but actually they save districts money in the long run, some experts say.
Walk-Throughs Are On the Move!
Principals use walk-through observations to engage teachers in conversations about student learning. Included: Principals share the benefits of walk-throughs; how to initiate walk-throughs with teachers who might fear frequent classroom visits by principals.
Excellent Evaluations: Practical Tips for Improving Principals' Observation, Teacher Evaluation Skills
Evaluating teachers is a principal's most important responsibility. Education World's "Principal Files" team offers their advice for doing this process better. Included: What to look for, evaluation form options, walk-through tips and forms, tips for teachers, more.
Report Calls for Overhaul of Administrators' Programs
A report on graduate education programs says they do a poor job of training school leaders. The system needs overhauling, according to the author, Columbia University's Dr. Arthur Levine. We talked with principals who have some suggestions.
Enforcing Dress Codes a Continuous Challenge
Dress codes are hard to create -- and harder to enforce -- but with enough parent and student involvement at the beginning, and consistent enforcement once they are in place, educators at three schools report that dress codes can work.
Before You Fly Off to That Conference Have You Thought of Everything?
A big conference can be the best experience of your professional life -- or a big waste of time! To help you out, our "Principal Files" team shared their experiences. Included: Tips to help you plan for -- and get the most out of -- the next conference you attend.
Principals Offer 30 Ways to Fight Stress
Being a principal is a stressful job -- no doubt about it! But principals do a great job of figuring out how to beat that stress. We asked our "Principal Files" team to share their stress-busting tips. Maybe some of these 30 ideas are ones you haven't thought of before.
Crafting A Workable Cell Phone Policy
With so many families depending on cell phones, banning them from schools became pointless. Now the debate is how to regulate phone use in schools, as more students own camera phones and ones that can send text messages and connect to the Internet.
Using Data Rooms to Map Your Way to Success
Got data? Most administrators would say of course. The trick is to get it off the shelves and into the open. By setting up data rooms to display, track, and analyze information, administrators can make meaningful, measurable changes in their schools.
Uniting A School Around Improvement
A former U.S. Army officer, Samuel E. Harris set out to change the culture at Martin Luther King Jr. Junior High School when he became principal five years ago. Harris's efforts have helped transform the school.
The Journey Back: Administrators Return to the Classroom
They have taken the path from the classroom to the principalship and beyond, then gone back because they realized the lure of teaching surpassed their desire to sit at the helm. Included: Advice for school leaders who are thinking about returning to the classroom.
Recess Before Lunch Can Mean Happier, Healthier Kids
Recess follows lunch almost as predictably as four follows three, because it always has been that way. Principals who have put recess first, though, have noticed children eat more and behave better after lunch. Included: Tips for making the transition.
A Live-In Principal Explains His Move
To squeeze more family time into an 80-hour workweek, principal Michael Bremont moved his wife and four sons into a building on the school campus. The move fits in with his belief that showing students commitment nurtures success.
Principals Review Teacher-Graded Student Written Work, Enhance Instruction Quality
Principals can and should assess the quality of graded student work in their schools. Yvonne Bender offers straightforward, simple suggestions for accomplishing this kind of assessment, which can improve instruction.
Outreach Through the Airwaves: Schools Bring Message Home with Television
Some districts are using cable TV to reach out to their communities. These "education stations" keep citizens informed and show the lighter, "human" side of faculty and administration. Included: Successful programming from two districts.
Easy Ways to Market Your Schools
School administrators often are so busy or so cautious that they don't get to know their local media. But developing good public relations, as well as a solid plan for marketing a school district, are easy to do and can pay big dividends.
Professional Development Via E-Mail: All You Need is a Keyboard!
E-mail is a great way for keeping teachers informed about school goings-on. But are you using e-mail as a tool for providing professional development for your teachers? Ed World's "Principal Files" principals share how they are doing just that. Tips included.
Looking Beyond Schools for School Leaders
Since the traditional ways of training and finding new principals are not producing enough qualified candidates -- or enough who want the jobs -- a study by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute recommends looking to the outside for the next wave of school leaders.
Making Data Work for Your School
Most educators today probably would balk at the mention of more testing, but when results from interim assessments are used to tweak the curriculum and applied to individual learning, schools often see gains.
Preventing a School Hostage Crisis in the U.S.
The hostage crisis at a Beslan, Russia, school last month has raised questions about the safety of public schools in the U.S. A security consultant tells Education World why he thinks schools need tougher security measures.
The Making of a Dynamic Department Head
What makes a dynamic, effective high school department head? How can a department head improve staff morale? In what ways can creative conflict benefit group dynamics in a school department? Education World poses those questions and more to Rodney LaBrecque, author of Effective Department and Team Leaders: A Practical Guide.
Has the Threat of Lawsuits Changed Our Schools?
A recent survey revealed that most school principals have been threatened with lawsuits. That ever-present threat of legal action -- by disgruntled parents or teachers -- can affect the way principals work and schools run. Included: Tips for handling the threat.
The ABC List: A Public Relations Tool That's as Simple as A-B-C
Have you been looking for a quick and easy way to promote your school's finest qualities and its best ways for the community to get involved? South Carolina principal Ann Mohr has a great idea for you, and it all begins with the alphabet!
Lean Regime: A District Cuts Almost Half Its Administrators
With a ballooning deficit and shrinking resources, Mundelein High School District 120's superintendent decided in 2003 to pare down its administrators' ranks by almost half. While there have been challenges, staff members are making the new system work.
Rubrics Help Improve School-Wide Behavior
Teachers have seen the value in using rubrics to assess student work and behavior. Now some principals are using them as a tool for monitoring and modifying behavior on a school-wide basis. Included: Examples of behavior rubrics.
Boosting Test Scores: "Principal" Strategies That Work
Raising test scores is a goal at the top of all principals' lists. It's a task that requires focus and a multi-pronged approach. In this article, Ed World's "Principal Files" team shares strategies that have helped them boost sagging scores -- strategies that could work for you too.
Bag It: A Professional Development Activity That Works
Looking for a great staff meeting idea? One that is totally practical and fun? The "Brown Bag It" activity gives all members of your staff an opportunity to play the role of professional developer for an hour. Included: Step-by-step activity instructions.
Twenty-Five Activities for Building Student Character, School "Community"
In an already packed school day, finding time for character education can be a challenge. Most of these 25 activity ideas can be worked seamlessly into the school day to build student character and to develop a sense of community in your school.
Mobilize for Education September 22
A coalition of organizations, calling itself the National Mobilization for Great Public Schools, is asking people to meet at house parties September 22 to discuss education concerns and possible solutions.
Scavenger Hunts Fun Way to Introduce Staff
Staff scavenger hunts are a fun way to kick off the year and help new and returning faculty members get better acquainted. Armed with a list of descriptions, staff members "hunt" for a person who matches each item on the list.
Principals Share "Best Meetings of the Year"
It takes only one waste-of-time meeting to give all staff meetings a bad name. That's why we asked our "Principal Files" team to share a meeting that went exceptionally well. You're sure to find ideas here to help you pump up the value of meetings in your school.
PR Ideas for PRincipals
Is it any coincidence that the word principal begins with the letters PR? Many principals overlook the importance of strong public relations, but these principals recognize the important role PR can play in creating a "buzz" about their schools.
Focus, Higher Standards Can Bring Urban School Gains
As chairman of the Board of Directors of the Council of the Great City Schools, Carlos A. Garcia says part of his job is telling people what urban educators are doing right. Recent academic gains in some cities are reason for optimism.
A Day With Experience Corps Volunteers
They worked all over New York City, almost all of them in fields other than education. Now they are a team, helping first and second graders at P.S. 154 in Harlem learn to read. Included: Descriptions of an Experience Corps program.
Calling All Grandparents: Senior Volunteers Transform Schools
They are reliable and passionate, and they bring learning and love to urban classrooms. They are Experience Corps volunteers, retirees recruited and trained to tutor students and assist teachers. Volunteers and educators alike have nothing but praise for the program.
The Interview: Principals Share 30 Favorite Questions for Future Teachers
It's springtime, which means it's also the beginning of job-interview season in schools. Since principals are starting to interview candidates for open teaching positions, we asked our "Principal Files" principals to share their favorite questions to ask applicants.
Good Morning! -- A.M. Announcements Build School Community
Are morning announcements at your school deadly dreary and dull? Education World's "Principal Files" team shares how they have used their daily announcements to build school "community." Included: Ideas for spicing things up, getting kids involved, more.
Starting School Reform from the Inside
Teachers and principals know their schools best, which is why they need to take the lead in school reform, says author Roland S. Barth. Only when everyone in a school commits to life-long learning will education change.
Making Peer Mediation a Part of Campus Life
Teen skirmishes over rumors, perceived put-downs, and he-said-she-said arguments might seem inconsequential to adults, but to kids they can be major distractions. Mediation by peers can clear up misunderstandings quickly and improve school climate.
Homework Study Hall: Mandatory "Make Up" for Missed Work
Startled by the large number of failing students, principal David Chambers made making up missed homework a mandatory activity. The policy has produced more honor students, raised GPAs, and improved teacher morale. Could it work for your school? Tips included.
Using Satellites to Track Wandering Students
Losing a child, especially in a crowded, unfamiliar place, is every parent and teacher's nightmare -- and a real concern during fieldtrips. Now, a wristwatch-size Global Positioning System receiver can allow students to be tracked and located within minutes.
Making Retention A Last Resort
Too often, educators find themselves choosing between social promotion and retention, when neither benefits children. Some districts have found that intensive intervention in the early grades can eliminate the choice between two unappealing options.
Voice of Experience: Three Differences Between Teaching and Administration
Educator Arnold Pulda reflects on his move from the classroom to administration. There are big differences, he says, but the most important thing administrators need to know is that they can never -- must never -- forget where they came from.
Celebrating Students: Schools Recognize Achievement in Many Ways
When we asked our Principal Files team to share the ways in which their schools celebrate students' accomplishments, we had no idea how many and varied the responses would be. Included: Practical ideas, food-for-thought for all school leaders.
To Close or Not to Close: A Superintendent's Winter Worry
How deep is the snow? How fast is it falling? Have their been any accidents? What is the wind chill? That is just some of the information that administrators process on cold or snowy winter mornings as they decide whether or not to close schools. It's not always easy.
Principals Solve Inclusion Challenges
Five principals share how they faced -- and overcame -- obstacles to inclusion. In spite of budget and staffing constraints, they are committed to educating kids in the least restrictive setting. Included: Ideas for creating an inclusive environment.
From Custodian to Principal
After working with students and teachers as a school custodian, Jack Yates knew he wanted to be an educator. With support from family and colleagues, Yates earned two degrees, and now is an elementary school principal.
Family Reading Nights Create Avid Readers
For administrators looking to increase student reading at school and at home and improve parent involvement, family reading nights have proven successful for many schools. Included: Practical suggestions for initiating a family reading night program.
ABC Book of the Principal's Job
What do principals do? That's the question we asked our "Principal Files" team last month. They told us what they do, and here are their responses -- from A to Z! Included: Contributions from more than a dozen great principals.
Uniting Against Cheating
When students began to complain about the level of cheating at Staples High School in Westport, Connecticut, principal John J. Brady knew it was time to face the issue directly. Faculty, students, and parents now are working to end cheating.
Signaling an End to Classroom Chatter
Some teachers are finding that mini traffic lights are as effective at regulating student conversation levels as the real signals are at controlling traffic flow. Devices such as the teacher-created Yacker Tracker tell students when to put the brakes on their chatter.
Principals Collaborate, Bring About School Change
After years of working in isolation, a group of Milwaukee principals decided to collaborate rather than compete. Principals create yearlong themes, share problems and strategies, and advocate for all students. Included: Descriptions of the group's programs.
New Union President Ready for Big Issues
An educator for 34 years with solid union experience, Baxter M. Atkinson, new president of the American Federation of School Administrators (AFSA), is ready to tackle education issues in the national arena.
Party! A Year of Special School Events
Getting parents involved is no easy task. But Education World's "Principal Files" team offers some great ideas for school-wide events that are sure to draw parents in large numbers. Included: More than 30 events to add to your school calendar!
Student-Led Conferences Successful in Elementary, Middle Grades
As student-led conferences grow in popularity, educators are finding ways to improve their flow and productivity. Preparing students and parents for what's involved and practicing before "going live" can help. Included: Tips from K-8 teachers.
Second Time Around
In the midst of an epidemic of principal burnout, Robert Yeager has come out of retirement to lead a school that has had four administrators in only seven years. What keeps this seasoned educator going? And what lessons does he have for others?
School-Business Partnerships That Work: Success Stories from Schools of All Sizes
Schools and businesses are working together to benefit students, teachers, and entire communities. Successful partnerships can be found across the grades, in schools large and small. Included: Ideas, tips for successful school-business partnerships.
Principal Goes Door to Door With Back-to-School Message
Tired of low student turnouts on the first few days of school, Hartford, Connecticut, principal Dr. Robert E. Morris decided to remind parents about the opening of school. In person. Staff and community members joined Morris walking door-to-door.
Voice of Experience: Alleviating Appraisal Anxiety -- Lessons Learned from 29 Years of Evaluations
Max Fischer has taught for 29 years, but he still gets a little nervous each time he is observed! Over the years, however, Fischer has learned a lot about reducing anxiety during observation and appraisal time.
Retreat, Review, Recharge!
Retreats can be the perfect way to re-energize faculty, flesh out new programs, and help people get to know one another better. While getting away is a treat, some creative activities also can make an in-house retreat productive and fun.
Great Starts: Veteran Principals Offer Opening Day Tips
Are you a first-year principal? A veteran with many years under your belt? Doesn't matter! All principals will learn a thing or two from this article about making the first day of the new school year a smooth one. Included: Tips for a great first day!
What Would Dad Say About Education Today?
Father's Day is just around the corner. With that in mind, principal Paul Young considers what his did might think about the state of education today. Down-home stories and common sense prevail in this principal's touching tribute to his dad.
Power Napping Refuels Weary Students
With school starting at 7:30 a.m., extracurricular activities stretching past 8 p.m., and jobs and volunteer work as well, sleep often falls to the bottom of the adolescent priority list. An after school Power Napping Club gives teens a chance to just relax.
It's About Time (and Sleep): Making the Case for Starting School Later
High school administrators who have pushed back their schools' starting times to coincide with adolescent sleep cycles report fewer discipline problems, less tardiness, and happier and more alert students.
Managing Difficult People: Turning "Negatives" Into "Positives"
You find them at staff meetings, in the classroom, and even at social occasions. They are the always-negative people whose outlook drains everyone's energy. How do you counteract their negativity so you can maintain an upbeat workplace? Tips included.
Principals Caught Up in FISH! Philosophy
Long popular in the business world, the FISH! philosophy developed by ChartHouse Learning is rapidly fans in education circles as well. Employing FISH!'s four guidelines in their schools has brought spark back to working and learning, principals said.
Make Graduation Day a Special Day Across the Grades
Whether you call it Graduation Day, Move-Up or Step-Up Day, or Recognition or Promotion Day, the day you set aside to honor your school's "senior" class can be a special one with these ideas from Education World's "Principal Files" team.
Motivating Teachers to Use Technology
Dr. Walter Tobin, interim superintendent of the Calhoun County, South Carolina, Public Schools, talks about ways of motivating teachers to use technology in the classroom more extensively and efficiently.
Executives Get an Education as Principals For A Day
Once a year, professionals get to leave their own offices and visit the principal's office through the Principal For A Day program. The nationwide initiative gives business people a crash course in school administration in the 21st century.
Sixty-Five Ways to Recognize Teachers During Teacher Appreciation Week -- and All Year Long
Have you special plans for Teacher Appreciation Week? Are you searching for new ways to show your teachers how much you appreciate their efforts? Education World's "Principal Files" principals share 65 ways to show your appreciation!
Effective Strategies for Staff Development: A Wire Side Chat With Angela Peery
In-service teacher training is a popular approach, but it might not always be the most effective way to nurture professional growth. Angela B. Peery shares thoughts about video, journals, study groups, and other effective professional development strategies.
Budgets Pose Multiple-Choice Dilemma for Administrators
With education budget cuts continuing, there is no relief this year for administrators trying to meet an ever-shifting bottom line.
Principals Share Lessons Learned: Staffing Decisions, Bringing About School Change
Members of Education World's "Principal Files" team have turned mistakes they've made into valuable lessons they are willing to share with you. Included: Lessons learned about staffing, bringing about change, and the importance of listening.
Superintendent of the Year is a Ready Advocate
Superintendent of the Year Dr. Kenneth Dragseth plans to advocate for children, education needs.
Principals Share Lessons Learned: Dealing With Student Discipline, Parent Involvement
Members of Education World's "Principal Files" team have turned mistakes they've made into valuable lessons that they are willing to share with you. Included: Lessons learned about student discipline, involving parents, and school poli-tricks!
Md. Asst. Principal is ASCDs First Outstanding Young Educator
Barely ten years into an education career, Patrick J. Bathras has gone from the classroom to the assistant principals office to the national spotlight as ASCDs first Outstanding Young Educator of the Year. Bathras recently sat for an Ed World e-interview.
Preparing For The Worst: Why Schools Need Terrorism Plans
With terrorism advisories and talk of war commonplace, school principals need to create and test terrorism preparedness plans of their own, according to some school security consultants. Included: Recommendations for developing and implementing a plan.
Classroom Management: Principals Help Teachers Develop Essential Skills
Almost everybody agrees that strong classroom management skills are essential to successful teaching. So what is a principal to do with a teacher who has great potential but needs help with classroom management? Our Principal Files team has a plan!
Learning and Living the First Amendment
Does your schools involvement with the First Amendment consist of one or two civics lessons a year? Find out how you can use your school as a mini democracy lab, applying the First Amendments five freedoms to school governance and everyday issues.
Teachers Observing Teachers: A Professional Development Tool for Every School
More and more schools are discovering the professional development and student performance benefits that occur when teachers observe their peers. Included: The benefits of teacher-to-teacher observations -- for the entire school.
Motivating Teachers: A Wire Side Chat with Todd Whitaker
"Outstanding principals know that if they have great teachers, they have a great school," Todd Whitaker, author of Motivating and Inspiring Teachers, told Education World. In this Wire Side Chat, Whitaker shares his tips for motivating teachers.
Parents On Board: Persuading Parents to Join the Team
Most administrators recognize the need to get parents involved in school activities, but often efforts to draw them into the educational equation yield disappointing results. Included: Strategies for Parent Days, parent teams, more!
"Story Bits" Strategy Works
Last summer, principal Addie Gaines read about a strategy called Story Bits. This fall, that strategy is exciting students -- and their parents -- about reading and its improving reading comprehension. Included: Ideas for implementing Story Bits at your school!
Reaching Out Tops New AASA Presidents Agenda
Dr. John Lawrence, the new AASA president, recently talked with Education World about reaching out to members, training new administrators, and monitoring national issues.
Team Teaching: Teaming Teachers Offer Tips
Education World explores two essential questions -- What constitutes an excellent teaching team? and How can teachers strengthen their teams? Included: Practical tips to share with teaming teachers!
25 Ways to Motivate Teachers
What special things do principals do to inspire teachers to keep on learning and improving? What do they do to make their schools fun places to work? Included: Principals share more than two dozen practical ideas for motivating teachers!
New Leaders Trains New Principals
Hoping to change urban education one school at a time, Jonathan Schnur and some colleagues founded New Leaders for New Schools, a training program for principals. By meshing coursework, on-the-job training, and mentoring from administrators and executives, New Leaders hopes to produce principals who can turn schools around.
I Wish I Had Taken a Course In
A principals day can be full of surprises. In this article, Education Worlds Principal Files principals share the courses they wish they had taken before they took on the job. Included: Ten courses universities might be wise to offer!
A Lesson for Principals: Put Instruction First
Making time for a focus on instruction is very difficult, said Joy Hood, a coach with a principal leadership program in Denver. We help principals see which of their daily activities add value to their role as an instructional leader Education World writer Sharon Cromwell recently interviewed participants in Denvers program.
Its the Principal of the Thing!
Numerous studies confirm that nearly one third of new teachers leave the profession within five years. Why do they leave -- and why dont they stay? Columnist Linda Starr suggests that principals are one of the biggest deciding factors!
When All Else Fails, Turn to the Survival Kit!
Though the new school year may seem daunting on the first day, survival kits can help teachers and students feel welcome and inspire them to start the year on a positive note. Ingredients can include bandages, Life Savers, and pennies.
Great Staff Meetings: Pointers from the Principals Who Lead Them
Stuck for ideas for effective staff meetings? Looking for ways to make sure everybody is present and interested? The Education World "Principal Files" team has some ideas for you!
Is Your School's Culture Toxic or Positive?
"School culture is the set of norms, values and beliefs, rituals and ceremonies, symbols and stories that make up the 'persona' of the school," says Dr. Kent D. Peterson, a professor in the Department of Educational Administration at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Education World recently talked with Peterson about the differences between positive and negative school cultures and how administrators and teachers can create a positive culture in their schools.
Are Your Students Sleep Deprived?
The problem of sleep deprivation in adolescents is well documented. But what about sleep deprivation in younger students? Is a lack of sleep interfering with your students' learning? Education World recently talked with two experts about the effects of sleep deprivation on elementary school students.
Two Principals Lead One School
Principal Marilyn Prall was about to lose assistant principal Martha Deichler, who was moving up to head another school. Then Prall had an idea for "an alternative leadership model" for Vista Square Elementary School. She persuaded the district superintendent to allow her and Deichler to lead the school as co-principals. Their partnership was launched when the school opened in July, and the hard work and the fun haven't stopped since.
Principals Talk Tech: How Is Technology Integration Going?
Are all your teachers aboard the tech integration express? Did a few miss the train? This week, the Education World "Principal Files" principals share their perspectives on how tech integration is going. For some, the obstacles loom large. Others are using special incentives to motivate teachers to join the technology team.
Coaching Sparks Change in Boston Schools
In schools, as in business or government, accomplishing change is never easy. In 1996, Boston schools embarked on a rigorous, multi-year "whole-school change" initiative. All of Boston's public schools are now part of that change effort, which is driven by the learning needs of students in each school. Whole-school change, literacy, and math coaches have been deployed throughout the system to train and support Boston educators. Recently, Education World spoke with administrators, lead coaches, and a teacher for a close-up look at how this coaching approach is working in Boston.
Teachers Urged to Consider Principalship
The principal's job can be a difficult, high-stress one. But it's a job that most principals would never think of giving up! So what do they see in the job? This week, Education World's Principal Files principals share the joys of the job along with words of encouragement for educators who might be considering a career path that leads to the principal's office.
The Best & Worst Things About Being a Principal
A recent study by Public Agenda documents principals' feelings about their jobs. Today, Education World does its own survey. Our Principal Files principals share their thoughts about the best and worst "principal tasks."
New Handbook Identifies "What Principals Should Know and Be Able to Do"
NAESP is moving the principalship into a new era with the publication of Leading Learning Communities: Standards for What Principals Should Know and Be Able to Do. This new book takes a fresh look at the role of the school leader by addressing the need to focus on instructional leadership while balancing management responsibilities. It identifies a ten-point call to action and urges the support of policymakers. It also offers the latest findings from research and practitioners, along with an extensive bibliography and supportive information.
Paige Announces Five Model Professional Development Programs
This week, at the Department of Education's Improving America's Schools Conference, Secretary of Education will formally announce the winners of this year's National Awards Program for Model Professional Development. And the winners are ...
Principals Want Less Bureaucracy, Ability to Reward or Fire Teachers
The research organization Public Agenda recently released the results of a survey of more than 1,700 school superintendents and principals. Education World shares some of the major findings published in the Public Agenda report "Trying to Stay Ahead of the Game: Superintendents and Principals Talk About School Leadership."
Principal Uses 'Book Talk' to Engage Teachers as Learners
Leading the professional development of teachers is one of the greatest challenges school administrators face. Because teachers put so much energy into teaching every day, they often don't find time to imagine their work in a larger context. That's why Principal Jim Thompson launched a Book Talk program in his school. Thompson shares how he uses Book Talks to inspire teachers and to integrate continuous learning into his teachers' school day.
Principals Recommend Best Professional Books
To help celebrate Children's Book Week, we thought we'd ask school principals to recommend the "best professional books" around!
'The Parent Trap' -- Luring Elusive Parents to School
Parents are an essential component to a successful educational program. Often overwhelmed by work and family needs, their "free time" is also in demand. How can schools do more to encourage busy parents to get more involved in their children's school activities? Find out on the Internet!
School District's TV Talk Show Increases Parent Involvement
Involving parents in their children's education can prove difficult, especially when those parents speak a language other than English. In the Houston (Texas) Independent School District, assistant superintendent Jaime de la Isla found an innovative approach designed to reach Spanish-speaking as well as English-speaking parents. The school district airs a live interactive talk show -- Parents' Voices, or Voces de los Padres -- in which parents participate.
Principal Primes Kids to Succeed
A Texas transplant, former high school assistant principal Donald W. Salm told Education World he is impressed with the caring staff and community members he has met since taking over as principal of Beatrice Rafferty School on the Passamaquoddy reservation in Perry, Maine. Salm talked with Education World news editor Ellen R. Delisio last spring about life on the reservation and his goals for the Beatrice Rafferty students. This article is a part of a continuing Education World series Lessons from Our Nation's Schools.
Retired Air Force Officer Faces New Challenges as School Superintendent An Education World Wire Side Chat
After 31 years in the Air Force, Major General John C. Fryer Jr. was inspired to enter educational administration by the superintendent of Seattle public schools, a retired Army officer. Fryer's goal now is to lead the "finest school district in America."
Veteran Principals Offer Advice to New Colleagues
The Education World Principal Files principals have dozens of years of "principal-ing" under their belts. So we turned to them to try to help this year's crop of new principals. Advice from our P-Files principals includes the following: Listen to your staff, from the kindergarten teacher to the custodian. Don't take teachers for granted. Don't forget the kids. And don't neglect your own family!
Mission Statements With Vision: Where Is Your School Going?
What is your school's mission? If you have to search through your handbook or you can't recall the entire lengthy statement, you probably aren't making the most of your school's mantra! How can you make your mission statement more meaningful? Bring it into the classroom and give it vision!
Golden Nuggets: Seven Tips for Technology Success
Dr. Bruce Whitehead is the principal of Hellgate Intermediate School and an associate professor at the University of Montana. He designed and implemented a model for classroom technology centers that earned him the National Distinguished Principals Award from the National Association of Elementary School Principals. In this article, Whitehead shares "seven golden nuggets" -- seven tips to help ensure the success of your school's technology implementation plans. This article is reprinted by permission of Bruce Whitehead.
From the Principal Files: Has Accountability Taken All the Fun Out of Teaching and Learning?
Does the accountability movement in schools force teachers to spend more time teaching to the test? Does the emphasis on testing take all the fun out of teaching? Education World's Principal Files principals share their thoughts about the impact of standards and testing on classroom teachers and students.
Professionalism + Perseverance + Passion = Progress
Michelle Pedigo is a leader with a vision of a "kids first" middle-level learning community. Her dedication to academic excellence, developmental responsiveness, and social equity embodied by her innovative and challenging reforms at Barren County (Kentucky) Middle School (BCMS) earned Pedigo distinction as the MetLife/NASSP National Middle Level School Principal of the Year for 2001. Education World speaks with Pedigo about her role as middle school principal and about the most meaningful reforms she oversaw during her tenure as principal of BCMS.
Ways to Celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week
An apple for the teacher? Banners in the sky? How will you celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week? Learn about the gestures that touch educators' hearts. This week, Education World reports what teachers say makes them feel honored and valued.
KIPP Principal Talks About Hard Work, Success, and Challenges
David Levin, the KIPP Academy Charter School principal, talks to Education World about how the KIPP philosophy of hard work helps students achieve. In this interview, part of the Lessons from Our Nation's Schools series, Levin explains that there can be no excuses, from either the students or the adults in charge of their learning.
Female, Minority Superintendents Face Double Inequity
A study of ten urban female superintendents shows that although race and gender have played a role in their careers, strong role models and family support helped them.
Principals and School Psychologists Staff Hotline
During the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) convention, school psychologists and principals will staff a national hotline for three days. Children, parents, grandparents, or anyone who has an education-related question is invited to call or e-mail questions.
Recognizing Racism in the Administrator's Office
Are employment decisions at your school "color-blind" -- or are they colored by racism? Are you sure? Sociologist David T. Wellman offers criteria to help you recognize -- and eliminate -- unintended racism in your district's employment decisions.
Professional Development Falls Short; Department of Ed Offers Toolkit to Improve Efforts
The Department of Education has designed a toolkit to help school administrators overcome obstacles to accomplishing quality professional development.
Inside Track on Houston School Reform Effort (An Education World E-interview With Donald R. McAdams)
Education World assistant news editor Ellen R. Delisio talks to Donald R. McAdams, author of Fighting to Save Our Urban SchoolsAnd Winning! Lessons from Houston. McAdams, a Houston Board of Education member, discusses the board's push for reform beginning in 1990 and how board members and the superintendent worked with residents and the business community to improve student performance, accountability, management, and teacher performance. Included: Twelve Lessons from Houston School Reform.
Buffalo Schools to Reorganize
A study of Buffalo schools by the Council of the Great City Schools recommends changing the district's management and organizational structure to ultimately lead to greater student achievement.
Top Urban Educator Continues Push for Success
Eric J. Smith, superintendent of schools in Charlotte-Mecklenburg, North Carolina, was named the top urban educator in October. He earned the award for improving student achievement in the 103,000-pupil school system. A solid foundation in basic skills and rigorous secondary courses are some of the ingredients in Smith's recipe for success.
From the Principal Files: The Principal Shortage -- What Can Schools Do to Attract a New Generation of School Leaders?
Education World asked our "Principal Files" principals to suggest some ideas that might help grow the shrinking pool of qualified school leaders. Today, we share their responses! Included: Read their replies -- some common sense, others provocative!
From the Principal Files: The Principal Shortage -- Why Doesn't Anybody Want the Job?
"I wouldn't want your job!" School principals hear that remark all the time. Is it any wonder? The day doesn't include enough hours to accomplish half of what most principals must do. Paperwork mounts. The stresses of accountability pervade. Support from above and respect from the community border on nonexistent. Finally, considering that most principals work long days and year-round, the pay stinks! Included: Today, Education World's "Principal Files" principals share their thoughts about why our nation is on the brink of a severe principal shortage. Tomorrow, they share their ideas for alleviating that shortage.
Principals Speak Out on Major Election Issues
"Core values allow the school community to remain focused on what's important," says Marilynne Quarcoo, principal of the Cabot Elementary School in Newton, Massachusetts. Today, Education World guest editor Elaine L. Lindy documents the process and benefits of creating a set of core values at any school. Included: Tips for helping your school team develop a dynamic list of core values.
Three Ways to Make Values Last at Your School
"Core values allow the school community to remain focused on what's important," says Marilynne Quarcoo, principal of the Cabot Elementary School in Newton, Massachusetts. Today, Education World guest editor Elaine L. Lindy documents the process and benefits of creating a set of core values at any school. Included: Tips for helping your school team develop a dynamic list of core values.
Boards, Superintendents Should Collaborate More
Friction among school board members and between boards and superintendents makes recruiting people to serve on boards or work as administrators harder, Dr. Paul Houston, executive director of the American Association of School Administrators, told Education World. A recent report from the New England School Development Council offers strategies to help build strong school board-superintendent teams. Included: Practical suggestions from the report and comments from officials of national school leadership organizations.
Ending Social Promotion -- Does It Work in Chicago?
As policy makers look for ways to fix the nation's ailing schools, many eyes focus on Chicago's four-year-old effort to end social promotion. Although more students pass the city's standardized tests, half the students who are retained continue to struggle. Nearly a third of the students who repeat a grade drop out when they turn 16.
From the Principal Files: Principals Identify Top Ten Leadership Traits
Education World recently surveyed 43 principals to learn what they consider essential traits of successful school leaders. Vision, trustworthiness and credibility, daily visibility, and a sense of humor were among the ten traits that topped the list! Included: Principals comment on the most important characteristics of strong leadership!
Lessons Learned the Hard Way (Part of the Education World Principal Files Series)
What's the secret to the success of a strong school administrator? And how do you figure out that secret? For many, the secret is learning from their mistakes. This week, Education World's Principals Files principals own up to some of their biggest mistakes -- and, therefore, their biggest opportunities to become better school administrators! These principals share how they learned the importance of communicating, of quiet leadership, of understanding where kids come from -- and of making copies of anything ever sent to the district office, because the originals are sure to get lost!
Site-Based Management: Boon or Boondoggle?
Site-based management is great -- when it works! Today, Education World looks at research on SBM. We talk with a prominent superintendent who leads a large school system in which site-based management has garnered accolades. Learn what that superintendent has to say about making SBM work!
Can Non-Educators Lead Our Schools?
Roy Romer, a former Colorado governor, was selected last week to lead the schools of the Los Angeles Unified School District. Romer is the latest non-educator to lead a large urban school district. What drives school districts to look outside education for leadership? Is this a trend or another experiment bound to fail?
Is the Superintendency in Crisis?
Part 2: How Will the Next Generation Handle Increased Challenges?
In Part 2 of "Is the Superintendency in Crisis?" Education World examines how a new generation of superintendents might handle the challenges of adversarial school boards, special interest groups, financial constraints, and more. Three experts offer their points of view.
Is the Superintendency in Crisis?
Part 1: Two New Studies Offer Conflicting Conclusions
Two recently published national studies from the American Association of School Administrators (AASA) take a close look at the state of the superintendency. In Part 1 of "Is the Superintendency in Crisis?" Education World looks at those reports, which suggest that today's superintendents enjoy some stability and a high level of job satisfaction. The reports reach different conclusions about whether the superintendency is in crisis. Included: Education World speaks with the authors of each report and with others close to the issues.
Decisions, Decisions! A Week in the Life of a Principal (5 Part Series)
Each day, principals make dozens of decisions -- small decisions and big decisions, decisions that may have minor consequences or major consequences for their staff and students, decisions that affect one person or an entire community. For one week last month, seven of the Education World Principal Files Principals tracked the decisions they made each day. Education World compiled those decisions to paint a picture of "a week in the life of a principal."
Top Ten Picks for Great Teacher Flicks
Good teacher movies draw future teachers into the profession and reinvigorate seasoned veterans. Often based on real-life events, the films show teachers reaching deep inside themselves in order to touch the lives and hearts of their students. This week, Education World reports on an e-survey of teachers around the country to find the ten teacher movies that resonate most strongly with todays educators. Included: A message board link so you can weigh in with your favorite teacher movie!
Thirteen Strategies to Improve Reading Performance
How have some Chicago schools improved student reading performance? Leadership is essential -- leadership and 13 practical strategies to nurture concrete, measurable gains in reading! This week, Education World tells what principals and teachers do in some of Chicago's most successful schools and how they do it! Included: How to get a copy of the "Leave No Child Behind" study that documents the 13 keys to success!
Governing America's Schools: Changing the Rules
The growing demand for organizational reform (evidenced by an increasing demand for charter schools, magnet schools, and school choice), the increase in home schooling, and the recent incidences of school takeovers by state and local governments indicate that many schools would benefit from changes in governance. A recently released report examines how school governance affects student learning. What does the report reveal about the governance of your school? Included: Two organizational models for effectively educating young people that spell out specific responsibilities for the state, school district, and individual schools.
From the Principal Files: Advice for First-Year Teachers --- From the Principals Who Hired Them!
Most principals were teachers too. (Once upon a time they were even first-year teachers!) Since becoming principals, they've had the opportunity to observe many first-year teachers -- and to see many of those teachers make many of the same mistakes!
Good Principals: What Traits Do They Share?
Do you want to be a better principal? Maybe you're thinking about becoming a principal and wondering if you have what it takes. This week, Education World's Principal Files principals tell about the "principal qualities" that are most important to being a successful school leader. Included: Links to other resources that provide further insight.
From the Principal Files: If You Had a Choice, Would You Still Be a Principal?
What draws some educators to become school principals? What keeps them on the job? That's the question Education World asked our Principal Files principals this month. Perhaps some of what they have to say will inspire you as you go about your daily routine.
Tenure or a Higher Salary -- Which Would You Take?
Principals in New York City were recently offered $25,000 pay raises -- in exchange for concessions, including giving up tenure. Given such a choice, what would you do? Education World's "Principal Files" principals add their thoughts to the debate.
Dear Santa Claus...
Education World recently asked principals, "If you could ask for and receive one gift for your school, what would that gift be?" Take a look at what they said!
What Do Principals Do?
Students at Orangewood Elementary School (Phoenix, Arizona) share their unique perspectives on what their principal -- Dr. Peggy George -- does!
The Principles of Principal Assessment
Many states are testing new principals and eliminating established principals' tenure. Will these measures improve our schools? And after the dust settles, and all evaluation is complete, will there be enough qualified principals left to staff our schools?
From The Principal Files: Principals Search for Words to Rally the Troops!
Want to get the year off to a good start? Looking for the words to motivate your staff? Here are the messages a few of your colleagues plan to pass along to "the troops" at the start of the new school year!
Laugh and the World Laughs with You
It's the end of the school year -- a stressful time for everybody. Time for a break! Check out some education humor on the Web. Share a story or two with your teachers to lighten their load.
Help Wanted: Qualified Principals
School systems are finding fewer and fewer qualified applicants when they need to hire school principals, according to a new study by the NAESP and NASSP.
Calling All Principals!
Looking for a few good principals.
Follow the Leader: School Principals in Training
"Leadership stories" is an approach used in the educational administration program at Colorado State University. Current school administrators serve as mentors, offering their experiences -- their "leadership stories" -- to the next generation of school principals.
When some future historian tallies up buzzwords of the 1990s, "vision" will be high on the list. A recent ERIC Digest looks at a make-or-break talent that many leaders possess.
Calling All Principals!
Now that I have your attention....
AASA Launches Internet Discussion Group for Superintendents
The American Association of School Administrators (AASA) has introduced a new e-mail listserve called the SUPER-LIST for school leaders with district-wide responsibilities.