Leveling Up: Ways to Increase Remote Student Engagement

Shifting back to (or continuing in) distance learning during the 2020–21 school year provided opportunities to continue to look at how we can build relationships with students, even with only seeing them on a computer screen. Instead of focusing on what students are not doing, taking time to dig deeper and ask others what is working can be the first brave step of trying something innovative to support our students in this new way of doing school.

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In the Middle of Difficulty Lies Opportunity

On Tuesday, August 6, 2013, my family, my parents, my sister, and her family spent a wonderful day together at the Wisconsin State Fair in Milwaukee. It was a beautiful day, sunny and warm. That night we got home around 8:00 p.m. Our children (ages 1 and 4) had fallen asleep on the way home. We put them in their beds, and my wife and I went to bed soon after—all tired from a long day. That night, around 1:00 a.m., our house was hit by a tornado. 

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Letter to a Discouraged Student

You’re discouraged. I know you are. Your heart sank when you saw the grades. But those letter grades don’t define you.

Last spring didn’t go like it was supposed to go. You missed out on activities. You missed seeing your friends at school every day. And this year isn’t normal either. It’s uncomfortable to wear a mask at school. Remaining “socially distanced” isn’t much fun either!

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Taking Care of Yourself and Your Staff

Educators rarely leave the profession because they don’t love teaching. As a leader, that was one of my lightbulb moments. They leave because they don’t feel loved, they don’t feel balanced, and everything becomes too much. These are feelings every educator can relate to, and these are the feelings that I have been trying to overcome for a large portion of my 20 years in the field. 

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Personalized Learning in a Comprehensive High School

What does it mean to personalize instruction for all students? Personalization seems like a daunting task, and some educators may say that it is impossible. But let’s face it—personalization is everywhere. Netflix allows each member to view movies and shows with an algorithm that adapts to their interests, doctors can now make virtual visits 24 hours a day, DoorDash will deliver food to your door within minutes, the Mirror personalizes each member’s exercise plan, and you can find transportation at your fingertips by using Uber or Lyft. The issue with education is that our world is entirely personalized, but education has stayed industrialized for more than 100 years. 

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Sharing Your Highlight Reel: Ways to Share Your School’s Story—and Your Own

Have you ever found yourself scrolling through Twitter and getting the feeling that you aren’t doing enough? Do you ask yourself how others find time to do what they do? Having an online professional learning network (PLN) is extremely important and beneficial; however, if I am being honest, I have found myself comparing where I am and what I am doing with others.

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The Power of Acknowledgement: Supporting Social and Emotional Needs to Build Culture

In times of crisis and challenge, we are told to be optimistic and keep our heads up. We see memes of positive messaging coming across our social media streams and words like, “Do the human work and the rest will take care of itself.” As people who have chosen the profession of education and as leaders in that profession, we strive to share these worthwhile messages, to find magical words to motivate, and to keep our buildings student-centered. Here are several strategies that can help support social and emotional needs and strengthen school culture.

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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 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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