When School Buildings Are Closed: The First Few Weeks

On Tuesday, March 10, I was meeting with my instructional leadership team after school for our regular monthly meeting when I was alerted that an email just came in from our superintendent about COVID-19. Effective immediately, all after-school activities, assemblies, and events were cancelled. School would continue during the day as normal, but no guests […]

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A Fish Out of Water, Just Learning How to Breathe Again

Does anyone else feel like a fish out of water right now, just trying to learn how to breathe again? I have felt this way for the last two weeks. As a high school principal for nearly 15 years, I thought at this point in my career I had seen it all, but then COVID-19 […]

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Planning the Way Forward: Focus on Students and Staff

COVID-19 has thrown many schools and educational leaders for a loop. One thing that has become apparent in school districts around the country is the importance of sound and thoughtful leaders, who have surrounded themselves with great people. I know at Mason City Schools, led by Superintendent Jonathan Cooper and our district executive team, we […]

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Maximizing Space and Talent in Your School

I think one of the best parts of being a principal is when a fleeting comment becomes an idea, an idea becomes a conversation, and that idea then becomes an integral part of your school’s DNA. These ideas and conversations might answer the question, “How do we make this better?” or, “What’s the next big […]

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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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A Roadmap for Implementing Standards-Based Grading

Fair, standards-referenced grading systems that communicate what a student knows and can do are often difficult to design. Developing grading systems that are fair and consistent across an entire school district can seem like an impossible task. However, it is a task that is necessary and worthwhile.

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Three Principles for Improving Practice

My school, long rated as top-performing, was this year given a rating of “targeted” for underperformance among student subgroups—including African-American, free and reduced-price lunch, and special education students. Though this is understandably not an ideal rating, I look at it as a blessing in disguise. We now have a very clear mandate to look at […]

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The ABCs for First-Year Administrators

As I prepared for new teacher training, I came across an Education World article with sound advice for first-year teachers, including a list of the “ABCs” that would help make them successful in the classroom. I took the concept and modified it for new administrators.

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Questions for Summer Reflection

Whether your last day of school was before Memorial Day or not until the end of June, by now every educator has finally shifted into summer mode. Whether relaxing by the beach, hitting the trails, or just spending time in the garden, the final weeks of summer are a perfect time to reflect on the past […]

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