Monthly Archives: June 2016

Confronting the Brutal Facts

When I was a teenager, I was splitting logs for our woodpile when I couldn’t find the familiar wedge I normally used.
Looking around I spotted an old axe head and decided it would have to do.

Placing it into a good crack in the end of a large log, I knocked the axe head into place with a sledgehammer, and then began swinging. Suddenly, I felt a vibration running up the bones of my left arm from my wrist up to my elbow. Continue reading

PMP:028 Why Vacation Matters

This week’s episode is a reminder of four reasons why your time away from school can help you better serve your school.
Regardless of whether someone is an educator or not, or whether your vacation time is long or short, taking time away from work is healthy for a number of reasons. Also, if you listen to then end, I share one of my creative moments with you from a previous vacation: a song and recorded from a trip to Colorado.

Here are the show notes for Episode 28

Continue reading

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