School of Thought Blog

With content from practicing school leaders and education experts, our School of Thought Blog offers a wealth of information and research on emergent education issues.

Five Critical Skill Sets and Their Instructional Implications

From major societal and technological shifts to climate change, AI, and more, students today live in a rapidly transforming world.  

In addition to metacognitive skills, I believe there are five key “learning to learn” skill sets that will increase school success and better prepare students for a lifetime of change. 


Transforming Schools Into Communities

School leaders want students to succeed and become their best selves, within schools bursting with positivity. However, the reality is that educators are dealing with some hard challenges. Amidst a trifecta of concerns at schools around the country—student learning loss, low student engagement, and a rise in student behavior problems—how can school leaders like yourself transform schools into thriving communities?  


Rethinking Your English Sequence With AP Seminar  

AP® Seminar was the fastest-growing AP course in 2023 and saw a 30% increase in student enrollment. Even with such growth, 85% of AP Seminar students earned scores of 3 or higher, the same as the previous year. Today, almost 3,000 schools offer this course. The most rapid adoption is taking place within English departments, and more than half of participating schools have designated AP Seminar as their English 10 course. This is largely because teachers can meet state English Language Arts standards while providing students with cross-curricular exposure through evidence-based reading, writing, and speaking. Students who take the course fulfill a core English course requirement and benefit from a seminar-style approach that builds skills needed to succeed in high school, college, and career. They also have a chance to earn college credit, advanced placement, or both.   


What to Look for in a Professional Development Partner 

District and building administrators have a dizzying array of professional learning options to choose from these days. It’s a big investment for any decision-maker, but an essential one. Forbes estimates $18 billion is spent each year on K–12 professional development (PD) in the United States—but that’s a national statistic. Your decision of which PD to purchase is personal. So, let’s dig in.   


For Principals, Attitude Is Everything

“Do you like your job?” That’s a question I’ve been asked several times by students and even teachers over the course of my nine years as a secondary school principal. It’s a valid question and one that people who are contemplating their position in life probably think about more than say out loud, but it’s one I shouldn’t have to answer.   


My Rise Experience: More Than Just a Scholarship 

I first heard about Rise during my sophomore year of high school. While scrolling through Instagram, I found a video about a program that provided opportunities for promising young people committed to serving others. This piqued my interest. The application itself was fairly straightforward—all it required was that I record videos talking about my passions and recent projects. I was also able to check out hundreds of inspiring projects from other applicants on the platform.  


Why Every Student Council Should Apply for NCOE Awards

Applications for the 2024 National Council of Excellence (NCOE) Awards—representing council activities and projects from January 1 to December 31, 2023—opened last month. To understand the benefits of applying for and receiving such recognition, we spoke with Shawn Freeman, a student council adviser at Ada High School in Ada, OK, and the executive director of the Oklahoma Association of Student Councils. In 2023, for the 11th year in a row, the student council at Ada was recognized as an NCOE. Freeman has worked with the student council since the first year it applied, and she continues to encourage her student leaders to push themselves to new levels of excellence. Here’s why she says other student councils should apply. 


Ensuring Safety at Football Games and After-school Events

An exciting part of fall is the return of Friday night football. But tragically, many communities across the country have already been shattered by gun violence this school year on far too many Fridays. While school shootings continue to be a painfully regular occurrence, we hope that Americans refuse to become complacent in accepting this as normal. Ever since my school experienced a shooting in January of 2017, each of these tragedies has impacted me indifferent and profound ways.  


Four Ways to Ensure Honor Society Induction Ceremonies Run Smoothly

McAnally Middle School in Fort Worth, TX, inducted its first group of National Junior Honor Society (NJHS) students last spring. Kate Thomas, the NJHS adviser and an eighth-grade science teacher at the school, learned a lot that first year about how to run a chapter and, more specifically, how to put together a smooth induction ceremony. She offers a few tips for new advisers seeking advice on successful induction ceremonies. 


Partnerships Open New Job Opportunities to High School Students 

At Harrison High School in Harrison, AR, we are committed to ensuring that every graduate leaves our school as one of “the three Es: enrolled, employed, or enlisted.” This approach has led to a series of initiatives that have transformed our approach to education and career readiness. 


Five Tips for New NHS Advisers

Congratulations! You are now an NHS adviser. At this moment, you are probably filled with a variety of emotions—from excited and anxious to overwhelmed and terrified at the thought of beginning your new role. Don’t panic! You are not alone. I must confess that years ago, I too (along with most other NHS advisers I know) was—and still am at times—in your shoes. You have lots of questions and are wondering what to do. Although I don’t have all the answers, I do have some basic tips to share based on my own experience as an NHS adviser.    


2023 NHS Scholarship Finalists Reflect on Award Experience 

Being named an NHS scholarship finalist is a prestigious honor that comes with the obvious perk of dollars toward a college education. But did you know that finalists also receive the trip of a lifetime to Washington, D.C.? Every spring 25 high school seniors designated as finalists come together to meet each other in person, learn from one another, and hear from inspirational speakers. 


An Inspired Approach to SEL 

As a secondary school leader, you know how challenging it can be to bring change into the classroom. You may also be wondering if it’s worth the time to incorporate social and emotional learning (SEL) activities. We have good news: 

  1. There are proven benefits of learning SEL skills far beyond the school community and student success. Studies have shown that the benefits are long-term and global, showing increased well-being in individuals up to 18 years later.  
  1. SEL lesson plans can be implemented during the school day in as little as 5–10 minutes, some with little-to-no prep. 

Exploring Principal Collaboration in South Korea 

Embarking on a professional journey with the APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) School Leadership Program in South Korea this past July was an exhilarating experience that broadened my understanding of global education dynamics and paved the way for enriching collaborations. I participated in this six-day program with NASSP’s 2023 National Principal of the Year, Donna Hayward, the principal of Haddam Killingworth High School in Higganum, CT.  Because we come from different parts of the U.S., we were able to share our diverse experiences but also spotlight what we—and our principal colleagues around the country—have in common as part of NASSP. 


Igniting the Conversation on Career Possibilities  

Students starting a new school year often focus on beginnings—creating routines, initiating friendships, and starting classes. Beginnings are also an opportunity for students to think about where they’re heading. For most it’s toward a future career they’ll love.   


Three Ways to Help Student Leaders Learn From Failure

Failure is an essential part of life, and its impact on personal growth and development cannot be overstated. However, many student leaders who are accustomed to success and achievement perceive failure as a devastating blow to their self-esteem and academic futures. While they are typically willing to take risks as leaders, they are not always prepared when their efforts fall short. Often compounding their disappointments and anxieties are feelings of embarrassment and the sense they have let others down.  

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