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.

Cultivating Character: One School’s Story

Guest post by Bill Coon, Ed.D.

You enter a social studies classroom and are immediately greeted by a student who welcomes you and introduces himself. The student explains the learning target, or the tangible learning goal he or she can understand and work towards, and then he explains the Habits of Scholarship, or character, target. He shares that today’s Habit of Scholarship is, “I can work collaboratively with my peers to draft a thesis statement for an essay about Peter the Great.” The student invites you to sit down and enjoy the class. After you sit down at a table with three other students, the students unpack the learning targets together and then break into small groups to begin their work for the day. As an observer, you begin to see multiple examples of collaboration in each group.

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Parental Influences and School Practices that Contribute to First-Generation Latino Student Success

Guest post by Heberto Hinojosa, Jr.

As we look toward equity in all aspects of our schools, the small representation of low-income Latino students in advanced courses is of note. Over the last four years, I have had an opportunity to conduct a qualitative study to investigate parental influences and their perception of effective school practices that contribute to low-income, first- and second-generation Latino student success across Texas. Middle school students who were enrolled in at least one pre-AP class and earned honor roll the previous semester are those considered successful for the purposes of the study. (more…)

Always Remember … You Wanted This Job

Guest post by Jay R. Dostal, EdD

I remember the conversation like it was yesterday. It was nine years ago, and I was just finishing up my first week as a brand-new assistant principal. I had been preparing myself to be an assistant principal for years and finally had landed the job I so desperately wanted. The excitement of the job was overwhelming, and I was overjoyed that I was going to be able to put my educational administration and supervision degree to work. (more…)

The Ever-Evolving Role of the Assistant Principal

 

Guest post by Holly Ripley

As you well know, the role of the assistant principal has changed dramatically since the days when our primary responsibility was to serve as the resident disciplinarian. Addressing poor student behavior is of course still a necessary part of the job, but I work to minimize the time I spend on it so I can do the important work of coaching teachers and—sometimes directly, often indirectly—guiding students. If all students are in classes where they feel cared about, comfortable, and confident in learning, then we ultimately have very little misbehavior to deal with.  (more…)

Advocacy Update: Tracking ESSA

ESSA Toolkit

Making sense of new legislation like ESSA is always difficult. NASSP wants to make it easy for you! The new ESSA Toolkit provides a detailed breakdown of some of the law’s most important provisions for principals. It also makes it easy to find out what your state is doing by providing links to each State Department of Education’s web page. It will also provide many other beneficial pieces, including: (more…)

Making Student Character Development a Top Priority

Guest post by Carey Dahncke

Christel House Academy is a charter school that educates impoverished students in the urban core of Indianapolis, IN. Our faculty works hard to educate the whole child and help students grow not only academically, but also as people. To support this focus, we developed a program called Character & Habits of Work, or CHoW, which is an ongoing and deliberate effort to foster and examine these important traits in students.  (more…)

A Commitment to Literacy: A Community Approach

Guest post by Lesley Corner. 

Literacy is the ability to read and write, but at Camden High School, we’ve expanded that definition to include speaking and listening. Students must have the capacity to apply these skills not only at school, but outside of the academic setting as well to communicate effectively and compete globally. Camden High School takes a cross-curricular approach to promote literacy both within and outside of our school through two courses in our Freshmen Transition Program that focus on literacy development, our community summer reading program, a schoolwide literacy learning network, and the Literacy Design Collaborative (LDC). (more…)

Advocacy Update: Tracking ESSA

National Principals Month

As we wrap up National Principals Month, NASSP wants to thank all those who participated in making it such a success. Although the official National Principals Month is over, rest assured that you will still have access to all of the great materials that were created or occurred during it. The website will continue to be active so you can still access the 29 state resolutions that were passed, the recording of the Capitol Hill event, a variety of webinars and many more important resources. While the celebrations are over, it is still extremely important for school leaders to have their voices heard, so please continue to utilize these resources to make your representatives listen! (more…)

Reflections—A Principal’s Lasting Impression

As a principal, we know you’re a game changer. It is your hard work that ensures your students’ succeed academically and prepares them to leave your building to make a positive impact in your community.

As National Principals Month concludes, we at National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP), and the American Federation of School Administrators (AFSA) want to say thank you for your leadership, diligence, and dedication to student achievement.

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Student Voice: Empowering the Student Learner

Guest post by Ted Huff

Within our educational system, and at the heart of all that we do, exists the proverbial “student desk.” In that seat rests the most powerful, engaging, and often untapped school resource. By taking and making time to include student perspective and voice within the academic, social, and behavioral facets of the school day, you will witness increased student engagement, greater student buy-in, and decreased behavior concerns.

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NASSP’s Nod to the President on High School Graduation Rates

With National Principals Month in full swing, NASSP would like to give special recognition to one of its members this week. On Monday, October 17, Principal Anita Berger hosted President Obama, Secretary of Education John King, former Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, and former Secretary of State Colin Powell at Benjamin Banneker Academic High School in Washington, D.C. All were gathered to hear President Obama give a speech touting improved high school graduation rates.

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Advocacy Update: Tracking ESSA

National Principals Month

Although we are nearing the end of National Principals Month, there is still time to advocate important issues. For example, when Congress passed a short-term continuing resolution (CR) that funds the government up to December 9, cuts were made across the board to a number of key education programs. When representatives return to Washington, D.C. after the election, new funding discussions will begin.

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How Can ESSA Support School Leaders?

School leadership is one of the most important influences on student performance, second only to quality instruction. However, year after year, we see Congress fail to allocate the funds necessary to ensure students, teachers, and school leaders can succeed. Even recently, we saw Congress pass a short-term continuing resolution that produced across-the-board cuts to a number of key education programs for the current school year. To make matters worse, the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies appropriations subcommittees of the House and Senate have both proposed significant cuts to Title II, Part A of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) for FY 17, which can be used for professional development, residency and mentoring programs, principal evaluation system reform, and several other important uses that would support school leaders. With full implementation of ESSA to begin with the 2017–18 school year, it has become more important than ever for principals to advocate at the federal, state, and district levels for increased funding toward key education programs.

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My Experience with Powerful Professional Development

Guest post by Daniel Kelley

Principals across the country may face their own set of unique challenges, but one fact applies to all of them: They need greater support and training.

I say this for many reasons, but the top one is this: School leadership is one of the most important influences on student achievement, second only to quality instruction. This is huge. And if principals don’t receive quality professional development (PD) on a regular basis, it is the students who will suffer. (more…)

Great Teachers Need Great Leaders: Why Congress Should Fully Fund ESSA Title II to Improve School Leadership

Guest post by Edward Fuller and Michelle D. Young

The research is abundantly clear—great teachers have a very positive impact on students. Less known is that school leaders are the second most important school factor influencing a variety of student outcomes. School leaders influence student outcomes both directly, through interactions with students, and indirectly, by ensuring students have access to great teachers. (more…)

Fostering an Environment for Teacher Growth

Guest post by Michele Paine

An area of passion for me as a school leader involves facilitating teacher growth. One way I work on this is by hosting several professional book studies during the school year.

Our district pays teachers for two days of flexible professional development time each contract year. Teachers can choose from a variety of options, including conferences, regional training, and state-led events. With all of these choices, however, I feel it is important to foster collegial discussion and professional reading. (more…)

Thomas J. Dodd Named 2017 NASSP National Principal of the Year

What better way to celebrate National Principals Month than NASSP naming Thomas J. Dodd of Colorado the 2017 National Principal of the Year! In a surprise ceremony at his school, Dodd was presented with this honor after 11 years of working as the principal at Lesher Middle School in Fort Collins, CO.

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