For a snapshot of what resonated with School of Thought readers in 2021, check out the five most popular posts. Because the year was incredibly stressful and far from normal, it’s no surprise that topics such as well-being and collaboration top the list. Our four-legged friends are honored here, too. Happy reading!

Michaela and Maslow with our staff.

1Therapy Dog Programs; Improving Student and Staff Well-Being” by April Harris, an assistant principal at Midway Middle School in Hewitt, TX. Harris shares her school’s experience implementing a therapy dog program and the positive impact it has had on students’ and teachers’ mental health.

2. “Finding the ‘Why’ in School Improvement Plans” by William Dallas, the principal of Fountain Middle School in Fountain, CO. Dallas draws on the Ted Talk, “Start with Why,” by Simon Sinek to share how he and his team have implemented lessons from visionary companies in their efforts to create guiding principles, set priorities, retain teachers, create a positive school culture, and improve academic achievement.

Multi-directional sign in front of clouds

3.How Core Values Shape Our School Culture and Ultimately Influence Student Success” by Carli Francois, the principal of Dutchtown High School in Geismar, LA. Francois explains how in an immensely challenging year, it is more important than ever for school leaders to reflect on and communicate their core values with their staff and school community.

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4. From Staff to Team: 5 Practices That Encourage Collaboration to Improve Student Performance” by Jeff Makelky, the principal of Big Piney High School in Big Piney, WY. Makelky reflects on the five strategies (agreeing on schoolwide goals, providing leadership opportunities for team members, sharing effective strategies, encouraging peer observations, and modeling a collaborative mindset) he has used with his school staff to encourage high level collaboration and collective efficacy.

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5.Letter to a Discouraged Student” by Danny Steele, the principal of Pell City High School in Pell City, AL. Steele thoughtfully writes to an unnamed student who is dealing with a multitude of challenges posed by the pandemic. He recognizes what the student is shouldering, reminds them that their grades do not define their value, and assures them that educators care about them and are in their corner.

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