What Principals Can Learn From ‘Cobra Kai’

The coronavirus pandemic has taught us all a lot, including a greater appreciation for the little things, like Netflix. With this new appreciation, I came across a TV series I may have skipped over pre-COVID: “Cobra Kai.” It might sound vaguely familiar to any of us old enough to remember the iconic 1984 movie “Karate Kid,” with Danny LaRusso as the New Jersey-born city boy who finds karate and a mentor, Mr. Miyagi, to help him acclimate to life in Los Angeles. Even if you never watched it, don’t remember it, or just were not interested, I believe there are plenty of leadership and life lessons to be gleaned from the series. (more…)

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Just Pick the Pineapple: Building Trust in Turbulence

At the veggie market on the corner of Jamaica Avenue and 216th Street in Queens, NY, my dad showed me how to pick a pineapple. He said, “It just has to smell like a pineapple and feel right, then it’s good to go.” I nodded in agreement, like I wanted him to really believe that I was following him and that I understood this wisdom. (more…)

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Self-Care Lessons From My Four-Year-Old

As an assistant principal, teachers come to me for advice about dealing with the difficult situations they face, many directly related to the sudden switch from in-person to virtual learning. The increased number of emails and demands upon teacher time that extend beyond the regular school day have created an additional layer of stress. Administrators need to be cognizant of this and make sure that our faculty are taken care of. However, we cannot take care of others if we are not taking care of ourselves. (more…)

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In 2020, We Are All First-Year Principals

As we celebrate National Principals Month during this unusual school year, there’s one thing all 90,000-plus of us have in common: Given the continuing challenges our schools and communities face, we often feel like first-year principals. And that’s okay! Even the most seasoned among us are learning at an incredible pace about the best ways to support our students and staff through any combination of remote, in-person, and hybrid learning scenarios. (more…)

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Leading During Times of Uncertainty

During times of uncertainty, staff, students, parents, and even members of our local communities turn to school leaders for guidance and reassurance. It is normal for leaders not to have all of the answers during a crisis, but they can build a much-needed sense of community. Amid the pandemic, politics, and the nation’s reckoning with racial inequity, it has been an extraordinary summer. And now comes the start of one of the most unsettling school years in history, with COVID-19 still looming and uncertainty lingering. No matter the model of learning—in person, remote, or hybrid—everyone is trying their best to settle in, knowing there is no guarantee that it will last. (more…)

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Sea Glass and Hope: Reflections for the Year to Come

There’s always that one teacher—the one whose content they taught pales compared to the lessons you learned from them. One of my favorite teachers growing up was the art teacher in my hometown. I say “the” art teacher because, as with many small midwestern towns, the teacher is there the entire time we are in school and even beyond. And as we entered a summer unlike any other we’ve faced as educators, Mr. Holdren’s approach to life offered a personal lesson that helped me reflect on the school year to come. (more…)

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Finding Your Why Before Your Way: Setting Vision and Creating Missions

Hey there, remember me? Honestly, I don’t fully recognize myself right now either. What a marathon we’ve been through. From flipping how we teach and lead, to navigating conversations and learning around racial equity and social justice, there has been a lot to do, a lot to reflect on—and truthfully, more to come. This summer, I really needed a reboot on my leadership. (more…)

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Don’t Rush Back to Normal

So many of us are anxious to see our kids again, to start a new school year, to make sure our students are okay. We are ready to start over, to have classes in our rooms so we can get eyes and ears on kids, to have breakfasts and lunches in the cafeteria, and to get back to the schedule of the day—a return to normal or a semblance of normal. But I don’t think there is a return to normal.  We have all experienced a major psychological and social event that we have all had to give serious time, effort, work, and attention to. (more…)

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An Open Letter to School Leaders

Dear School Leaders,

None of us is doing ok right now, especially our black students. Each horrific incident of state-sanctioned violence against black Americans intensifies the trauma for black students, already suffering disproportionate isolation and fear from the COVID-19 pandemic. And you, leaders of the learning organizations that are central to so many of their lives, are reaching out to them with solace and support. (more…)

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5 Leadership Lessons Learned in Recent Weeks

I began writing this post at the beginning of my state’s—Kentucky—descent into being “healthy at home” and my growing consciousness of social distancing. I replied to the invitation with an acknowledgment that I was sure I could get it done during the coming weekend. That was almost a month ago. (more…)

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