Activities for Collaborative Staff Conversations

This activity is designed as a series of collaborative conversations for school leadership team members (administrative, grade level, steering, instructional, etc.) to improve their practice in resolving complex problems by using appropriate and legal actions. In doing so, school leaders/administrators use informed judgment to resolve the issues that affect 21st-century student learning and produce outcomes so as not to “keep administrators up at night.”


Topics and Resources

TopicResources for Presentation and Discussion
LGBT IssuesLevin-Epstein, Michael (2015). Navigating LGBT issues. Principal Leadership, 16(4), pp. 32–37. Retrieved from
NASSP (2016). Position statement on transgender students. Retrieved from
NASSP (2019). New Developments in Transgender Access and Student Privacy Issues [webinar]. Retrieved from
Paterson, Jim (2016). Teacher evaluations require a mix of strategies. Principal Leadership, 16(7), pp. 30–35. Retrieved from
NAESP, NASSP (2014). Supporting Principals in Implementing Teacher Evaluation Systems: Recommendations from practicing principals to improve instruction and learning [policy brief]. Retrieved from
Teacher EvaluationsNASSP (2019). Position statement on value-added measures in teacher evaluation. Retrieved from
Taft, Jennifer (2019). Empowering and supporting teachers as adult learners. Principal Leadership, 19(7), pp. 54–57. Retrieved from
Van Soelen, T. M., Kersey, S. N., & Perkins, R. (2016). Teacher evaluation and support are not mutually exclusive. Principal Leadership, 17(3), pp. 44–47. Retreived from
NASSP (2014). Leveraging Teacher Evaluation for a Culture of Growth [webinar]. Retrieved from
Mental Health and Social-Emotional LearningNASSP (2019). Enhance Learning by Incorporating Social-Emotional Learning [webinar]. Retrieved from
NASSP (2018). Student-centeredness, strategy 2: Targeting supports for each student—academically, socially, emotionally, and physically. In Building ranks: A comprehensive framework for effective school leaders (pp. 51–52). Reston, VA: Author.
Taylor, Stephanie (2017). Mental health issues: Strategies for principals. Principal Leadership, 18(3), pp. 44–47. Retrieved from
Adams, D., Veve, C., Paige, E., & Soares, K. (2018). Building social-emotional competence for lifelong success. Principal Leadership, 18(6), pp. 48–53. Retrieved from
Strobach, K.V. (2019). Improving access to comprehensive school mental and behavioral health services. Principal Leadership, 19(9), pp. 16–18. Retrieved from
Bullying and CyberbullyingBillie, Linda (2016). Why cyberbullying ups the ante. Principal Leadership, 16(5), pp. 46–49. Retrieved from
Decker, J.R., Eckes, S.E., Tanselle, L. (2015). Bullying and harassment of students with disabilities. Principal Leadership, 16(3), pp. 46–49. Retrieved from
NASSP (2018). Leveraging Teacher Evaluation for a Culture of Growth [webinar]. Retrieved from
Social Networks and
School Employees
Decker, J.R., Eckes, S.E. (2014). Social networking and school employees. Principal Leadership, 15(4), pp. 10–13. Retrieved from
To Test or Not to Test …Levin-Epstein, Michael (2015). Standardized testing in flux. Principal Leadership, 16(3), pp. 34–38. Retrieved from
NASSP (2015). Position statement on high-stakes assessments. Retrieved from
NASSP (2016). Position statement on opt-out policies for student participation in standardized assessments. Retrieved from
Curriculum and Experiential Learning/Project-Based LearningEckes, S.E., Fetter-Harrott, A., & Irwin, C. (2016). Culture and curriculum challenges in the classroom. Principal Leadership, 16(5), pp. 56–58. Retrieved from
NASSP (2019). A Live Look at Leyden’s Co. Lab: An adventure in learning [webinar]. Retrieved from
NASSP (2016). Position statement on online learning. Retrieved from
Recognizing innovative leadership (2019). Principal Leadership, 19(9), pp. 32–36. Retrieved from
Paterson, Jim (2019). Engaging your community is a win-win proposition. Principal Leadership, 19(8), pp. 34–39. Retrieved from
Floyd, G., & Handy, C. (2019). SMaRT principals hold the keys to dual-enrollment success. Principal Leadership, 19(5), pp. 42–45. Retrieved from
Paterson, Jim (2018). Full STEM ahead. Principal Leadership, 18(8), pp. 34–39. Retrieved from
Special Education ComplianceZirkel, P.A. (2019). Testing accommodations for students with disabilities. Principal Leadership, 19(7), pp. 40–43. Retrieved from
Weber, M.L. (2016). Tips for working with deaf and hard of hearing students. Principal Leadership, 16(9), pp. 12–13. Retrieved from from
Rumel, J., and Eckes, S.E. (2016). Dealing with ADA employment issues. Principal Leadership, 16(9), pp. 56–58. Retrieved from
Hannon, LaChan (2016). Young, Gifted & Black With Autism. Retieved from

Process for Presentation Preparations

Each member of the leadership/steering committee team(s) will prepare a staff presentation with resources and discussion prompts on one of the listed topics. Time will be allotted to review given resources with a national perspective, identify local and district personnel who are available for support, and research the policies and procedures in effect in the district and the state. Set up at least one viewing station with a computer, screen, and internet connection for resource review and information searches. Each topic will then be presented to the full leadership team. Local research and familiarity with these materials will aid in formulating sound decisions based on knowledge of the policies and appropriate protocols in your district, state, and nation. Practice is crucial. The following activities will help:

  • Select the school leadership team(s) whose members will participate in the exploration of district and state policies and direct the staff discussion.
  • Review the topics above that affect and/or are appropriate for informed school leaders serving your local school population.
  • Assign each member a topic and corresponding resources from one line of the matrix above. (Note:If the team is large, assign several members to each topic and provide time for them to collaborate on their presentation and discussion.)
  • Each member is to become the “expert” on the materials they have read, viewed, or researched. Ask each person or small group to summarize the given resources for the rest of the group, provide local and state policies, and identify implications for school practice.
  • Each person or small group should be allotted time for research to familiarize themselves with local board and state policies related to the topic in order to identify key district personnel who can give support and locate the state or local regulations that inform policies or procedures.

Process for Planning a Leadership Team Presentation and Discussion

  • Each team leader should plan a rational and productive discussion of the policies, procedures, and outcomes of the policies as related to the school, its administrative team, and each student. (The process used by the leadership team can easily be replicated for a presentation to the full faculty using one or all of the listed topics.)
  • As each member or small group plans their presentation, prepare a conversation that includes answers to the following discussion prompts:
    • What actions were legally supported in the article?
    • What are the legal and appropriate practices and policies in the district and/or state regarding this topic?
    • What are the implications for your school? What additional strategies should our team implement to improve our practices?
    • What preconceived notions might inhibit sound judgment concerning this topic? What practical examples of cases or litigation can you find from your district or state to clarify the outcomes and how they were resolved?
    • What local departments and/or support personnel in your district office can provide policies and procedures and answer questions? What protocol should be followed if you have questions or need support? Has that protocol been vetted with your principal?
    • What previous or current school cases and their resolutions have you identified from your research?
    • What resources are needed to ensure informed judgments/resolutions for cases at your school?
  • Prepare your “expert” presentation: Summarize your research, identify resources to support school and district personnel, and direct a discussion with your team that should familiarize every member with the topic.
  • Distribute links and/or copies of resources or videos for reference in resolving student outcomes. (Set up a viewing station for online resources.)
  • Ask individuals to suspend their assumptions. Use specific resources and references to support outcomes. Utilize question prompts and add discussion questions to continue the conversation in a way that is most relevant to your school.
  • Direct a leadership team discussion about those strategies and initiatives that are appropriate and legal at your school.

Extend and Apply

  • Select a representative group to familiarize itself with the Discussion Guide Planning Templates for use with initiative planning.
  • Prepare a summary of appropriate actions for each topic and use the tools to document staff members who are a point of contact for each topic. Identify school personnel by matching strengths with the dimensions of Building Ranks and the location of resources and complete an algorithm for formulating legal and appropriate school actions based on current district policies and procedures.