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 is, how do you encourage content-area teachers to work together for the benefit of all students? Essentially, how do you transition from a staff to a team

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Congratulations

Congratulations to President Biden and Vice President Harris on their historic inauguration. NASSP stands ready to work with them toward fulfilling the potential of each student in our schools.

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Creativity Labs: Empowering Students Through Problem-Solving and Agency

As school leaders, we set a vision for our school and have a philosophy for learning that guides our leadership. Sometimes our visions grow, change, and merge into new ones; sometimes they are rooted in long-held beliefs. Sometimes our master plans blast off quickly, and sometimes they require a meticulous process that grinds along a windy road. It is magical when our vision for learning in our school becomes a reality! It energizes us, gives us reason to celebrate, and helps us set our next course. Our brand new Creativity Lab at Cedar Crest Middle School is the focus of our NASSP Virtual Tour, and it encapsulates our vision, philosophy, and passion for student agency, engagement, learning, and growth.

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How Core Values Shape Our School Culture and Ultimately Influence Student Success

This school year has presented more challenges than ever before. As leaders, we are charged with keeping it all together at the schoolhouse—while at the same time, as individuals, we are in need of support and self-care due to the uncertainty and unrest that surround us. How, with all that we have going on this school year, do we have time to think about our core values? I sincerely believe that we must make time to reflect on and challenge our core values to understand how they shape our school culture and student success.

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Lead Like a Conductor: Lessons Learned as a Middle Level Band Director

Beginning band was an exciting time for my middle level students. For many, it was the first time receiving musical instruction, playing an instrument, reading music, and working collaboratively to create art. This experience led students through a journey of learning, challenges, excitement, frustration, determination, and euphoria. A conductor depends upon those they lead—if they are able to become self-aware, recognize individual strengths, develop a collaborative atmosphere, and celebrate success, they will be successful in preparing those they serve for the performance. This post will dive into these critical lessons learned and how they influence my leadership philosophy as an educational leader.

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Now Is the Time for Unity

Yesterday’s events in the nation’s capital remind us just how severely our country is divided. At the same time, families, educators, and students in pre-K through higher education continue to fight our way through the pandemic’s interruption to education—itself a source of discord in many communities. Our leaders are calling for unity. We need a common cause to harness our pain, frustration, and suffering and convert them to hope and optimism.

Rebuilding our education system can be that common project through which we can all learn to work together again—and teach our students to do the same. Let’s recommit to unifying students across ideologies by giving them space to process hard realities together. Let’s recommit to amplifying their voices and teaching them how to build on common ground. And let’s recommit to fostering a community where each student can discover a constructive purpose.

In his final published words, civil rights icon John Lewis reminded us, “Democracy is not a state. It is an act, and each generation must do its part to help build what we called the Beloved Community, a nation and world society at peace with itself.” Let’s work together to transform our education system into one that prioritizes those ideals, so each student departs our schools with goodness in their hearts—healthy, safe, happy, and destined for success.

Ronn Nozoe, CEO
NASSP

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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 to preparation for life after high school, but what about life after middle level education? There have been multiple programs designed to tackle this question, but here is a perspective that has been positively embraced by students, parents, and educators at Fountain Middle School. 

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Overcoming Engagement Hurdles With Remote Learners

In order to empower people on some level, you first need to engage them. It is nearly impossible to create a culture of learning if there are elements of boredom, inactivity, and lack of relevance. This is a lesson I learned most recently as a presenter and workshop facilitator. Early on, I used more traditional strategies since this was a new arena for me. The shift from principal to full-time consultant brought a certain amount of fear, and I reverted back to what I was comfortable with in terms of what I could control and perceive that educators wanted. I basically became the sage on the stage and a master of direct instruction with little participant interaction. 

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End of the Year Blog: Budget Deal and COVID-19 Relief Passed at the 11th Hour

It has been a long time coming, but congressional leaders and the White House were able to agree on a massive legislative package that included all the FY 2021 appropriations bills and a $900 billion COVID-19 relief proposal. Passed by Congress and signed by President Trump on Monday, December 21, the bill contains desperately needed funds to support schools as they continue to navigate the ongoing pandemic.

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Control+Alt+Delete: Rebooting Our Minds During Remote Learning

School as we knew it has changed, and we are sailing in a different direction. We once worried about students being late for classes and missing assignments, but now our concerns involve students being quarantined and missing instruction with a cloud of COVID-19 fear hovering over their heads. Things are different, there is no doubt about it. It is time we reboot our minds when it comes to remote learning and truly focus on what matters most in any form of learning—community and relational trust. 

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Remote Support of Principal Supervisors ‘Not Different’ From Pre-COVID Times

Ask the experts: Three questions about principal supervisors and how they can best support principals now

Reprinted with permission of The Wallace Blog.

Last spring, the role of the principal changed overnight and continues to evolve. As the pandemic took hold, principals almost immediately shifted from leading a school within a building to leading virtual schools. Principal supervisors had to pivot, too.

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Creating a High-Energy Culture of Innovation

If you’ve ever seen the movie Remember the Titans, you may know this quote: “Attitude reflects leadership.” As a school principal for over a decade, this quote is one I choose to keep close to my heart, embedded in my deep belief of servant leadership. I know the way I choose to lead will make or break the critical work that needs to be done on a daily basis in my school. 

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Patience and Principal Leadership

Two lions, one young and one old, are peering down over the pride at some antelope. The younger, more inexperienced lion shifts from side to side, eager to pounce on the prey for a meal. She leans over to the grizzled veteran lion and eagerly implores, “Let’s run down this hill and eat those antelope!” The wise lion doesn’t move. She slowly turns her head and says, “No. We are going to walk down this hill and eat those antelope.”

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Note Cards: A 3×5 Teachable Moment

Some things go with the territory of being a teacher: sticky notes, colored pens, and the preferred brand of stapler. Those of us who have been teachers could effortlessly rattle off the list of things we need to make our systems run. One of my must-haves as a teacher was the standard 3 1/2 by 4 7/8-inch note card. With one blank side and the other lined, they were perfect for gathering essential information on students, at least in the days of low technology. Quickly and concisely, I could collect all the important information I needed for the year within a few minutes, but the note cards also taught my students—and myself—important lessons.

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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 of skills, or support at home, we still need to do our best to help those students.

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Middle Level on a College Campus: A Winning Partnership

When you think of  the middle level years, you immediately envision awkward physical transitions, acne, loud voices, and quirky attitudes. Then when you picture college, you see young people who are approaching adulthood, finding themselves, and ambitious about their futures. Now put these two together and you have an unlikely partnership that creates amazing opportunities. That is the Howard University Middle School of Mathematics and Science. Being on the campus of a historically Black university helps our students appreciate their identity and think about what it means to be successful in college. Our Virtual Tour on December 8 will focus on how we work with our students to develop habits of success that include goal setting and self-directed learning.

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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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NASSP Works With Congress to Curb Educator Job Loss

As the dust from the election continues to settle, many in Congress have begun to turn their attention back to addressing the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on schools. There is renewed hope for a new COVID-19 relief package following Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) recent call for legislation to be passed before the new year. While a relief package is still necessary and would help address some of the more immediate needs of schools as they navigate what are sure to be difficult winter months, policymakers are also working on legislation aimed at addressing educator job loss due to budget cuts, health concerns, and other problems stemming from the pandemic. (more…)

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NASSP Presents DonorsChoose Grants for Exceptional NPM ‘Shadowing Visits’ With Lawmakers

Every year during National Principals Month (NPM), NASSP encourages principals to host “shadowing visits” with members of Congress, state and local elected officials, and other community leaders. Shadowing visits are a key part of our advocacy strategy for one simple reason: they work. We’ve seen time and again the transformative impact that getting a lawmaker into a school setting can have as principals show them the needs of today’s students and educators. You have the power to win their support for the causes we all believe in, and we want you to use it! (more…)

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