Guest Post: Michael Allison on Advocacy

This is a guest post by Michael Allison, President of the National Association of Secondary Principals.

Michael Allison, NASSP President

Michael Allison, NASSP President

Michael is also principal of Hopewell High School, Aliquippa, Pennsylvania.

On June 20-22, 2016, NASSP hosted an advocacy conference for state leaders to discuss current federal education issues. Michael’s opening remarks were so poignant, I ask him if he would mind reposting part of it here as a guest blog post:

As the leading organization and voice for middle level and high school principals, assistant principals, and other school leaders from across the United States, NASSP connects and engages school leaders through advocacy, research, education, and student programs. Continue reading

PMP:027 10 Tips for Education Interviews

Whether you are conducting an interview or being interviewed, I have found some common expectations anyone should have when walking into an education interview.
This week’s podcast covers 10 tips anyone can use when interviewing for an education position. Also, I mention a resource at the end: 30 Questions from Principal Interviews, if you want to check it out.

Here are the show notes for Episode 27

Continue reading

Cultivating a Culture of Growth

When I was a boy, one day my dad walked me to the back pasture of our farm.

Image source:

Image source:

At the end of long rows of corn, he had set aside an area that he had tilled and planted with potato cuttings. The plants had grown and died. In this patch, I couldn’t see any sign of life.

“Get down on your hands and knees,” he said, as he squatted on all fours. So I followed suit.

“Now start digging down below the top layer of soil until you feel something,” he told me as he began moving dirt.

Soon I felt the warm topsoil give way to the cool, rich dirt below. And before long I was digging up dozens of new, red potatoes. We made piles of them, loaded them up and carried them home to clean. Continue reading

PMP:026 The 8 Hats of a School Leader

This past week I enjoyed speaking to principal organizations in Georgia and Kansas.
We explored the various hats that school leaders wear in serving their schools.

Today’s podcast is a fourteen-minute version of one of my 90-minute presentations. The keynote is interspersed with examples, resources, and lots of stories, but this summary touches on the 8 hats of school leaders. If you are scheduling events for your school leadership team, check out my speaking page if you’re interested in connecting.

Here are the show notes for Episode 26:

If you are thinking of becoming a principal or have already been serving as one, here are eight hats I believe we should expect to wear: Continue reading

Ruby Payne: Interview Revisited

This week my friends at the Cooperative Council for Oklahoma School Administrators are hosting a pre-conference with Ruby Payne before their annual summer events.


Ruby Payne of aha! Process

Ruby’s teaching on understanding a framework for poverty was instrumental in opening my eyes to the cultural mindsets we are often unaware of in our own assumptions or in those of our schools and communities.

Exactly three years ago, she graciously agreed to let me interview her for Principal Matters with a Question/Answer format. In honor of her upcoming visit to Oklahoma, I wanted to share that interview again. Enjoy!

The following is a Q & A between Ruby Payne and me:

Continue reading

PMP:025 8 Tips for Helping Your School Manage Grief

One of the most difficult parts of school leadership is knowing how to manage the loss of a student.
As a high school teacher and administrator, I have experienced this many times over the years. My first year as a site principal, we lost a senior student in a car accident. She was one of our dream students: great student, cheerleader, fun-loving, and loved by all.

You can imagine the grief and remorse that gripped our school and community during this time. As painful as the time was for our school, I also watched people pull together in some beautiful ways.

In this week’s podcast, I explore the steps we took during that time, and I give 8 tips that may help you when you’re helping to manage the difficulties that come with school-wide grief.

Here are the show-notes: Continue reading

5 Steps for Closing-Out School (And Preparing for Your Next Launch)

When non-education friends ask me about my summer, I often use the cruise ship analogy.
In essence, we’ve just unloaded all the passengers, so we’ll spend the next two months stocking up, rehiring where needed, and preparing for the next voyage.

We still have some “passengers” at the school over summer–state testing make-ups, summer school, athletic team practices, band, etc. keep the building humming during various times over June and July.

But on a practical level, these days after school present another set of important to-do’s. Wrapping up the end-of-the-year deadlines and preparing for the upcoming school year require foresight.

For a concrete example, check out this to-do list I created for my team: Continue reading

PMP:024 Lessons from my Son’s Hospital Stay

When bad things happen, it is sometimes hard to see the good in our difficulties. A couple of years ago, I posted about my son’s battle and recovery from an infectious disease known as Kawasaki.
In addition to the amazing support of our friends, church and community, during that time, I was astounded at the phenomenal care he received from his nurses, techs, doctors, and interns.

They were an excellent example of teamwork. In fact, their actions could apply to anyone interested in growing as a team, organization or even as a family.

In episode 24, I share four lessons in teamwork I have been reflecting on from our experience with my son’s medical team. Here’s a summary of the show notes: Continue reading

5 Steps for using YouTube in Hiring

Spring time is not only busy as we finish out the school year, but also it is often a busy time for hiring new teachers or staff.
Even with the pending cuts in state funding, we were excited to be able to fill a couple of openings for the coming school year.

As I’ve looked for strong candidates this spring, I’ve kept in mind some lessons I learned from Jimmy Casas earlier this year (see previous post on Tips for Hiring for Excellence). Jimmy’s advice has been spot on with tips on reaching out to candidates ahead of time, having multiple conversations, and rallying around a common vision.

If I could add anything to Jimmy’s suggestions, it would be some feedback I received from a candidate today. Continue reading

PMP:023 Five Simple Ways to Support Others

In episode 23, I share a story from a local 10-year old boy who inspired others by his willingness to “be the legs” of his little brother in a 5K run.
Listen in for reminders on 5 ways you can provide “legs” to those in your building.

Here are the show notes for Episode 23

Tobias, a 10 year-old Oklahoma boy, wrote a letter to a local TV station because he had a dream for his 11 year old brother who has Cerebral Palsy. He asked if they could spread the word that he wanted to borrow a large jogging stroller for a local 5k run that was coming up.

Tobias’s dream was to push his brother through the race, but their single mom could not afford to buy a jogging stroller.

Of course, when the news station spread the word, a sponsor quickly donated the stroller, and Tobias’s run and story were broadcast on the evening news. Continue reading