PMPEncore109: The Power of One Caring Adult with Josh Shipp

A few years ago, I sat across my desk from a student whose father had abandoned him and left the state.

Photo by Rémi Walle – Creative Commons No known copyright restrictions https://unsplash.com/@walre037?utm_source=haikudeck&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=api-credit


A family in our community had taken in the young man, and our school had been in contact with the Department of Human Services on what to do next. That morning I had been watching a video by Josh Shipp called One Caring Adult.

On a whim, I asked the student if he would watch the video on my computer with me. In his story, Josh Shipp shared his own story of abandonment, foster-care, abuse, and eventually finding stability and hope. His story was a powerful reminder of how one caring adult can change the life of a young person.

After watching the video-clip, I asked the young man if he’d ever had one caring adult on whom he could depend. He said, “Yes, my adopted mom who lives out-of-state. But I left because I didn’t want to follow her rules, and I don’t know if she’d have me back.” After several calls and other conversations, his adopted mom arranged a flight for him, and he flew back to her home to start the next chapter in his life.

Josh Shipp has a powerful story that inspires educators and students alike. Earlier this year, Josh spoke at the Oklahoma Middle Level Educators Association annual conference. Later, I was able to sit down with him for an interview. You can listen to our podcast interview or watch the video of our conversation. Continue reading

PMP:149 Managing Adult Conflicts, Part 2

Spring time is here, and the landscape is green with new growth. Ironically, my wife told me that by the spring of each school year, she has decided that our marriage is falling apart, our kids all need counseling, and we have chosen to the wrong places to live, work, etc.  

Photo by Daniel Hjalmarsson – Creative Commons No known copyright restrictions https://unsplash.com/@artic_studios?utm_source=haikudeck&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=api-credit


In other words, she has finally realized that this time of school year is often the most stressful time. Thankfully, by summer break, life seems more balanced again. Continue reading

PMP:148 The “Why’s” and “How’s” of Managing Adult Conflict

One of the biggest surprises for school new school leaders may be the conflicts that arise with adults.

Photo by Nik MacMillan – Creative Commons No known copyright restrictions https://unsplash.com/@nikarthur?utm_source=haikudeck&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=api-credit


Whether you are encountering conflicts with parents, colleagues or community members, these situations can be difficult to manage. Even experienced principals will tell you that managing conflicts is one of their most challenging but important responsibilities.

In this week’s episode, author Jen Schwanke and I discuss the “why’s” and the “how’s” in managing adult conflicts — many of the ideas she shares in her book, You’re the Principal, Now What! Strategies and Solutions for New School Leaders. Continue reading

PMP:147 Providing Focused Professional Development

When you think about providing professional development, do you feel stressed or excited?

Photo by 1DayReview – Creative Commons Attribution License https://www.flickr.com/photos/159770474@N08

For many principals, providing professional development can be a daunting task. The good news is that professional development can become something that is meaningful and enjoyable when you realize you no longer have to be the expert. Instead, together with your school team, you can select topics, share expertise, and learn together how about topics where teachers really care about. Continue reading

PMP:146 Good Habits for Balancing Priorities

Have you ever felt overwhelmed in trying to balance priorities?

Photo by Stephen Leonardi – Creative Commons No known copyright restrictions https://unsplash.com/@stephenleo1982?utm_source=haikudeck&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=api-credit


If you’re like me, you can probably think of more than once where student discipline, parent concerns, and teacher feedback provided you more tasks than you could complete in a day.

No matter whether you are a new principal or a veteran leader, here’s a quick truth: you will never reach the point where you “have it all together.” That’s because you will always have room for growth. At the same time, how can you build strategies and good habits for better balancing priorities?

This week, author and principal Jen Schwanke and I continue a series on Strategies and Solutions for School Leaders. As we discuss ways for school leaders to balance priorities, we focus on nine helpful takeaways so that you increase your capacity to manage the demands of school leadership. These include: Continue reading

PMP:145 Promoting a Culture of Trust – Part 2

When is the last time you heard the following words? “We do what’s best for kids.” Of course, we want school leaders to do what is best for students. But we also want to provide a place where adults feels supported and encouraged in bringing joy to students.

Photo by KzAkabueze – ONEin12 – Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License https://www.flickr.com/photos/64524820@N00


Those priorities are not in opposition to one another. And if you are going to encourage a culture of trust, collaboration and interdependence, you must value the input of your entire school community. That’s why I’m so excited to continue our conversation with author and principal Jen Schwanke as she co-hosts Part 2 of promoting a school culture of trust. Continue reading

PMP:144 Building and Maintaining Positive School Culture

Cultivating a positive school culture is a lot like tending a garden.

Photo by Gabriel Jimenez – Creative Commons No known copyright restrictions https://unsplash.com/@gabrielj_photography?utm_source=haikudeck&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=api-credit


When you have tilled the soil, pulled the weeds, and watered your plants, your work is not finished. You will need to take the same steps again soon in order to keep a healthy environment for growth.

School culture requires the same care. In order to build and maintain a positive school culture, you must identify challenges and promote positives.

In the book, You’re the Principal, Now What? Strategies and Solutions for New School Leaders, author Jen Schwanke shares three kinds of school cultures to keep in mind: two negatives to combat and one positive to promote:

  • A Culture of Isolation
  • A Culture of Distrust
  • A Culture of Confidence, Understanding, and Teamwork

This week, Jen Schwanke joins Principal Matters Podcast to co-host a new series on Strategies and Solutions for New School Leaders. During this episode, we discuss the following strategies: Continue reading

PMP:143 Learning for ALL with Dr. Garth Larson

When Garth Larson was asked to move from secondary administration to become an elementary principal, he was curious if he could be an effective leader at that level.

Photo by Patrick Fore – Creative Commons No known copyright restrictions https://unsplash.com/@patrickian4?utm_source=haikudeck&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=api-credit


But his work in early-education combined with his years in secondary education gave him a unique perspective of the K-12 experience. Later, when he moved into a district leadership position, he and his teachers began asking lots of questions about their own K-12 grading practices:

  • Were students being graded on their work or on their proficiency of learning standards?
  • Were teachers more focused on instruction or on all students learning?
  • What practices would ensure that students reached the targets set for targeted learning standards?

Slowly, the grading practices of his entire district began to change from a traditional model to a target-based (or standards based) grading model. As a result of these targeted practices, within four school years, his district moved from a ranking of 120th among districts in Wisconsin to second in the state.

Meet Garth Larson


Dr. Garth Larson is the President of FIRST Educational Resources, based out of Oshkosh, Wisconsin. He previously worked as the K-12 Director of Learning for the Winneconne Community School District in Northeast Wisconsin. He also served as an elementary principal and high school speech and English teacher. Continue reading

PMP:Encore027 Ten Tips for Interviewing for an Education Opening

It’s that time of year again for hiring and job searches!

Photo by perzonseo – Creative Commons Attribution License https://www.flickr.com/photos/148114704@N05


Whether you are conducting an interview or being interviewed, I have found some common expectations anyone should have when walking into an education interview.

If you are looking for sample questions specific to principal interviews, let me encourage you to check out the post, 30 Questions from Principal Interviews.

But if you are in transition or you know someone preparing for their next interview, I want to share some tips to keep in mind for a solid interview experience: Continue reading

PMP:142 Preventing Student Athlete Injury or Sudden Death – Interview with Dr. Douglas Casa

Dr. Douglas Casa began his study of student athletic safety in 1985 when he suffered an exertional heat stroke while running a 10K race.

Photo by William Stitt – Creative Commons No known copyright restrictions https://unsplash.com/@willpower?utm_source=haikudeck&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=api-credit


As he explains, “I was fortunate to receive amazing care on-site from the athletic trainer; the EMT’s in the ambulance; and at the hospital from the emergency room physicians and nurses. I only survived because of the exceptional care I received. I was just 16 years old at the time, but I have been driven by this experience since that day.”

Whether you a leading an elementary school or high school, school activities and athletics play such an important role in the lives of your students. These programs also contribute to the overall culture and climate of your school community. As positive as these opportunities can be, it is equally important that best-practices are in place for activities, practices, and games. This includes knowing ahead of time how you or your staff will handle emergency situations.

Meet Dr. Doug Casa


Dr. Douglas Casa is a Professor at the University of Connecticut and the Chief Executive Officer for the Korey Stringer Institute. Continue reading