When I was a junior high student, I remember feeling pretty clueless about what to expect in high school. Sometimes my teachers would tell me to expect to be treated like a number. At other times, they would warn us that if we were unprepared, we could expect a dismal future.
Over the years, I’ve noticed that whatever stage of education students are in, we often try to motivate them by either the heights they can achieve or the dismal experiences they will suffer without a good preparation. We often appeal to either their pride (what’s in it for me) or their fear (what dreadful thing happens if I don’t do this).
Last Saturday my children were watching the Olympics throughout the day.
I was walking through the living room when I glanced up at the screen and saw men’s cycling. After six and half hours of racing, the final five kilometers lay ahead, and Poland’s Rafal Majka appeared a certain winner as he was leading the race with a 25 second lead ahead of any chasers.
Then I heard the sportscaster say something that caught my ear: “He’s only moments away from a gold medal unless the others decide to collaborate…”
Did he say collaborate? I thought. I sat down by my kids and watched.
Behind Majka were several other cyclists. Each of them was riding in single file and taking turns switching the leader to reduce each rider’s drag. The ones behind would ride in the draft created by the line ahead. Then a rider would pull ahead to lead so the previous leader could regain strength from pedaling behind–a method cyclists call streamlining. Continue reading →
Today’s episode is in response to a listener question, “How can we create a sense of ownership for students into today’s education system?”
Although answering this question could be very long, let me ask three questions connected to mindsets I believe are important for any school:
1. As a school leader, how have you envisioned the outcomes you want all students to achieve?
Do you dream about what you want every student to achieve in your school? If you’re a high school principal, for instance, you should be able to communicate to students and parents how you want every student in your school to accomplish learning, be exposed to challenging lessons, and be involved in great activities before they walk across a stage to receive their diplomas. Continue reading →
Yesterday, a principal who heard me speak at the USA Conference in Wichita, Kansas, emailed me. She asked asked if I had samples of some the newsletters I share with my parents, students, or teachers.
As you’re starting out another school year, one way to showcase the positive happenings in your building is by consistently sharing the great learning and events from your building with others. So I thought I’d share my response in this post so that you can also see samples from my school. Continue reading →
In PMP Episode 30, I continue responding to listener and reader questions.
This week’s question was: What’s one of the biggest leadership challenges you face right now? One principal wrote back, “How can I respond to negativity among teachers about their students, colleagues or the community?” The answer to that question comes in three parts.
1. Check yourself first.
There is no way we can combat negativity unless we’re committed to being positive leaders first. How often are you speaking of those with whom you work in positive, rather than negative ways? If the primary comments we use are negative, how can we influence others to be positive? Continue reading →
Earlier this school year, I had a long conversation with a student who had been abandoned.
He was fourteen years old. His biological mother was not in his life. A guardian had adopted him, but when she had difficulty with him, she had convinced his biological father to take him back.
Now the dad was having trouble with him. So he left the boy with a neighbor, packed up and moved out of state. I had contacted DHS to let them know about the situation. But in the meantime, the boy was without a legal guardian, and his adopted guardian who also lived in another state was trying to convince this new family to house him. Continue reading →
Today’s podcast episode is the first in a series responding to listener and reader questions.
One assistant principal wrote me to ask, “How can I have a bigger leadership role as an assistant?”
This week I wanted to share the response with Principal Matters listeners. If you have other questions you’d like responses to about school leadership, leave comments below. Thanks for doing what matters! Continue reading →
One day I was visiting my family medical doctor, when a nurse asked me to follow her to another room.
She asked if I would unbutton my shirt so that she connect me to some small leads and do an electrocardiogram.
I was surprised since I thought this was just a routine physical. Perhaps she was aware of my family history, I thought. Or maybe the doctor recommended more information on my heart than his stethoscope could give. I wasn’t sure. So I just sat there and let her complete the test. Continue reading →