Moving the Needle: Strategies to Increase Academic Achievement in Rural Schools

Six years ago, our middle level/high school in rural Idaho was facing the same problems as many rural schools throughout the United States. Shifts in the local economy and an increase in the number of transient students attending schools in neighboring districts had dropped our high school enrollment to below 50 students, raising concerns about […]

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From Staff to Team: 5 Practices That Encourage Collaboration to Improve Student Performance

It’s a fact—secondary teachers are by nature more individualistic than lower-grade teachers. In most schools, they are singleton teachers who are specialists in their content area. Although this specificity is critical at the secondary level, it can often prevent collaboration and collegiality from becoming part of your school culture. The question for secondary school leaders […]

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Reframing the Middle Level Conversation on Postsecondary Readiness

We are firmly within the 21st century, yet we still use phrases such as “21st-century skills” and “college and career readiness.” As leaders, it is high time that we refocus our vernacular to reframe the conversation around how we prepare students for the world. We have seen many examples of professional learning and topics related […]

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What Drives Your Engine? Social Media Timelines and Goal Setting

Recently, I’ve been holding individual meetings with our new educators at our school. We’ve hired some phenomenal teachers this year, and while I’ve visited their classrooms and had a few conversations here and there with them, I still was left wanting and needing to know them better personally and professionally.

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Heeding Early Warning Signs to Keep Students on Track for Graduation

As we make our way through these unprecedented COVID times, it is all the more important to keep kids on the path to graduation as best we can. We’ve seen and heard the horror stories of students losing credits, failing classes, and falling behind while in quarantine last spring. Whether it be the format, lack […]

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Four Strategies to Implement Effective PLCs

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

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Reconsidering Ability Grouping Through an Equity Lens

I have worked in public education for 20 years. I entered the profession because a freshman sociology class in college introduced me to the idea that there were two institutions that impacted socioeconomic mobility—the military and education. The end of segregation in America’s public schools in 1954 is considered a landmark case. But given the […]

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Fostering Collective Teacher Efficacy

Change is hard. Organizational change is harder still. How might leaders take action to make engaging with change less difficult? The key may lie in developing efficacy.

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Orange Barrels and Leadership

This summer, we took a family road trip to Toronto and Niagara Falls. During our 12-hour drive to and through Canada, we got stuck in a traffic jam just outside of Hamilton, Ontario, due to road construction. While we were sitting there, all yearning to be done driving and out of our vehicle, I began […]

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Cultivating a Culture of Risk-Takers Among Teachers

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

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