A Seat at the Table

October is National Principals Month, a time when we honor the outstanding efforts of school leaders like yourself and thank you for the inspiring work you do to improve our schools and ensure the success of all our students. On behalf of NASSP, I want to express my heartfelt thanks to all our members for the extraordinary job you’ve done leading our schools throughout the pandemic. I know how incredibly hard you all work, and I know we’ve faced challenges before COVID-19—and that now we must confront even bigger ones in its wake.

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NASSP President Wieczorek Kicks Off 50-State Tour of Schools

Six down, 44 to go. That’s what NASSP President Gregg Wieczorek might be thinking after a full week of visiting schools in late September in the first leg of Leading Forward: The Listening and Learning Tour. But Wieczorek is far from exhausted, even after touring eight schools in four days in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. He’ll resume the tour Oct. 12 with a swing through the Northeast

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Students Come Together to Help Those in Need

As a growing number of natural disasters have affected people across the country and around the world, students and educators have stepped up their efforts to help those in need. One recent example is Bolton High School in Alexandria, Louisiana, where students have raised money and collected supplies for people still suffering from the damage caused by Hurricane Ida in August. Some of their fellow Louisianans were still without power weeks after the storm.

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Empowering Students with Instructional Rounds

Several years ago, our superintendent introduced the practice of monthly instructional rounds, during which teams visit a school and provide feedback on a problem of practice following classroom observation and notetaking. As I facilitated rounds at Bunnell High School four years ago, I realized that the greater part of the feedback and experience of rounds really only impacted the administration, as teachers received feedback secondhand. In short, all the time, effort, and discourse that characterized instructional rounds traveled a long road to directly impact student achievement. To address this concern, I shifted the lens of rounds from administrators to students, seeking to impact their potential and trajectory as learners while providing teachers feedback from familiar faces—their students.

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Successfully Communicating with Multilingual Families

During the COVID-19 pandemic, schools across the country have been trying new approaches in their communication with multilingual families. As a result of that outreach, many schools have discovered new tools and strategies that have strengthened their engagement with families of English-language learners (ELLs) during this challenging time.

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Supporting Students as Civic Leaders

The world has no shortage of problems. My generation, Gen Z, is being handed a society that is grappling with wealth inequality, voter suppression, healthcare injustice, climate crises, and much more. Especially during this pandemic, the future has never seemed so bleak and hopeless.

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Applying the Lessons of Online Learning to the Pandemic School World

When the whole education world turned virtual, we were already halfway there. At Rio Rancho Cyber Academy (RRCA) outside Albuquerque, we’ve been providing a blended model of in-person and virtual learning since long before anyone had even heard of COVID-19. I like to think we are a hidden gem in the Rio Rancho schools that a lot of people just don’t know about; we can offer options that other places can’t simply because we are an alternative school.

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How Oakland’s Teachers Secured $9.6M in Donated Resources

Last year, I became principal of Oakland High School, a diverse community of just over 1,500 scholars. I’m proud to say that we responded quickly to meeting students’ needs in the wake of COVID-19—Oakland High was the first school in the district to start distributing Chromebooks when the pandemic hit. And with the help of my team, we were able to continue fulfilling our educational mission and stay true to our student-centered approach.

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Simple Ways to Build Connection with Staff and Students

As human beings, we are hardwired for connection. We chose to be educators with the intention of impacting the lives of our students through the relationships we build. Yet, as an assistant principal, I often find myself buried in my never-ending to-do lists, which has unfortunately led to missed opportunities to connect with my staff and students. I have challenged myself to adjust my daily routine, creating space to connect. I have discovered that by committing to a few simple strategies each day, I can connect with staff and students significantly more than before.

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Building Community Partnerships Begins with Relationships

When I became the leader of Northwest Rankin High School (NWRHS), I inherited a very positive school culture, characterized by strong relationships with students, staff, and the community. But one thing was missing: partnerships between the school and local businesses and other organizations. Developing a formal relationship with the local Chamber of Commerce helped. It led to a series of programs that have transformed what we do and the role our school plays in the community.

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3 Key Steps to Choosing Interventions that Meet ESSA Standards

Determining whether a product has the right kind of research base to show its effectiveness is often a confusing process. The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) now requires that the intervention programs that school districts purchase have sufficient evidence to demonstrate that they improve student outcomes. Choosing a program with research-based effectiveness increases the likelihood that it will improve student achievement. Understanding ESSA’s tiers of evidence standards and knowing what to look for will help districts make informed choices about an intervention program.

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‘No Apologies’: 5 Examples of Disruptive Leadership

There’s an important reason school leaders should be unapologetic about shaking things up, according to NASSP Digital Principal Brian McCann.

“If we’re not going to be risk-takers, how can we expect our students to be?” McCann asked during a session at the 2021 National Principals Conference.

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Meet the 2022 Principal of the Year Finalists

School leaders faced extraordinary challenges in the 2020–21 school year. Principals found themselves navigating not only the halls of their buildings but also virtual environments in their mission to provide high-quality learning opportunities for all their students. For their exemplary work, the following school leaders have been selected as finalists for the NASSP 2022 National Principal of the Year:

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Before the Bell Rings: Four Ways to Stay Balanced

August. The month for educators of excitement, anticipation, and the start of a new (school) year. Many of us left our classrooms and schools in June with a list of books to read, conferences to go to, and big ideas for the next school year. If you are like me, June, July, and August are months that help me ramp up for the next year and focus on not just professional learning, but also extended time to be with family and friends.  

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Onboarding Students and Forming Personal Connections

As a new school year begins, it feels good to reconnect with students and meet new families in our community. As the assistant principal at Vail Academy and High School, a K–12 public school of approximately 475 students in Tucson, AZ, one of my responsibilities is to focus on onboarding new students and guiding them through a summer orientation process—a challenge that was the first project I took on when I arrived at the school. By serving our learning community, I have been fortunate to watch students that attended our orientation later walk across the graduation stage.  

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‘Monday Musings’: Building Communication, Inclusion, and Cohesion With Parents

At Pewamo-Westphalia Middle/High School, we believe our three stakeholder groups—students, educators, and parents—determine the overall success of our educational experience. We use the analogy that successful education is a strong, solid, weight-bearing “three-legged stool,” with each leg representing one of the stakeholder groups. We have confidence in and rely upon each leg of the stool holding its own weight and doing its job so that it does not collapse or fail. Furthermore, we have a culture in our building that is built upon strong relationships, as we follow the research that dictates that communication and trust are the deciding factors in determining the overall success of any relationship. That being stated, we knew that during a challenging and divisive season such as pandemic education, communication and trust would be even more paramount; when there is a lack of communication, or lack of trust, negativity fills in the gap. 

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