Have you ever wondered what it would be like if you walked into your child’s room at home, looked around, gave him a quick nod, and then left him a walkthrough-form listing the pros and cons of your short visit?
None of us would ever think about building relationships by practices like that with our family. But what about our school family? As principals, sometimes we may be unconsciously practicing routines that strain instead of strengthen school relationships.
When I was a boy, I loved to walk the garden where my grandparents grew summer vegetables.
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My grandfather had an interesting way of planting tomatoes. He would dig a deep hole, scatter a small handful of fertilizer in the bottom of the hole, and then place a tomato plant in while gathering the rich soil around the plant till it was secure. Then he’d water the plant and place a bucket over it. He would alternate times when the plants were covered or open to the sun until they were well established and ready to start blossoming.
Creating a strong environment for learning involves a lot of care and attention. In addition to being instructional leaders, school leaders have to be aware of how we are cultivating the soil of our schools. Sometimes this requires consistently managing various demands, dealing with difficult conversations, and planting seeds of positive school culture. Continue reading →
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The first half of the book is what educators know intimately: the changing cultural trends in technology, relationships, politics, and information – and how these affect the ways students learn, think, grow, and behave.
Did you know, for instance, that the average attention span of today’s youth is 6-seconds? It is a challenging mission to reach children so pressed by distracting images, not to mention the social/emotional or intellectual challenges or issues students bring with them each day. Elmore covers many current trends and data on how youth today face challenges we adults never knew at their ages. Continue reading →
A few days ago I was at airport security when I ran into a parent from my previous school.
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We exchanged pleasantries, and I asked him about his children. As we said goodbyes, he commented, “We miss you.” I thanked him, and as I walked away I couldn’t help but be grateful.
In my new role as a director for my state principal association, I often think about the joy of leaving work I enjoyed to do work I also enjoy. And when you give yourself to a school for more than a decade, you leave behind a lot of your heart and soul.
Ten years gave me time to make a lot of mistakes. But it also gave me time to plant my roots deeply and enjoy watching others grow. In order to lead so that your pros outweigh the cons, you have to maintain serious focus on your targets. Continue reading →
The other night I was invited to visit a university classroom with sixteen educators who are working on graduate degrees in educational leadership.
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I listened to each of them present vision and mission statements related to their work with students. It was obvious they had a strong understanding of the road ahead–they understood the “why” of school leadership. I was encouraged and optimistic thinking about the future of our schools in the hands of these potential leaders.
At the end of the evening, I was asked to say a few words to the students. I wanted to give them both a reality check as well as some encouraging reminders. So, I broke the conversation into two parts. Continue reading →
The common thread among all of these students is the new ways they can learn today: their abilities to find resources, access information, and see examples that feed and inform their passions. Continue reading →
I’ve noticed a group of principals trending on Twitter lately using the hashtag #dadsasprincipals.
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And my friend Daniel Bauer recently interviewed a group of these dedicated dads at last month’s National Principal Conference. You can hear their talk here.
These dads have picked up on the #momsasprincipals movement they saw happening among their female colleagues, and they wanted to encourage one another as dads to stay as invested in their own children as they were to the ones in their schools.
I’ve been thinking a lot about fatherhood this week because my oldest daughter just went to college. Continue reading →
In this interview, we explore how reflecting on your own mistakes is a powerful way to lead with vulnerability and authenticity.
Jon Harper Bio
Prior to becoming an administrator, Jon served as a Math Coach and an elementary school teacher. During his ten years as a classroom teacher he taught first, second, fourth and fifth grades. During his sixth year teaching he earned Nationally Board Certification, which he held for ten years. For seven years he ran a Young Gentleman’s Club that was aimed at helping young men reach their full potential.
Jon received a B.A. from Furman University while majoring in Philosophy. He later went on to earn his B.S from Salisbury University while majoring in Elementary Education. Jon was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to student teach in New Zealand. He eventually received his M.A. degree from Salisbury University in Public School Administration.
Jon lives in Cambridge, Maryland with his amazing wife and two awesome children.
Jethro Jones is principal of Tanana Middle School in Fairbanks, Alaska.
Principal Jethro Jones (left) has interviewed over 200 guests for his school leadership podcast
He is also the host of Transformative Principal Podcast. As NASSP’s Principal 2017 National Digital Principal of the Year, he was honored this month at the National Principal Conference in Philadelphia. I’ve known Jethro for years from connecting online and have had the privilege of meeting him in person.
In this podcast conversation, I ask him some probing questions, and we talk about dreams, passions, and goals for school leadership. We explore: Continue reading →
Sometimes my left elbow aches. I have a scar there from when I broke it falling from a horse almost twenty years ago.
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When it starts hurting, I can usually be certain the weather will turn stormy. My aching elbow reminds me of another story. When I was a boy, I often helped on my Granddad’s family farm. His brother was my Uncle Jimmy. One day Uncle Jimmy and I were driving in his pick-up truck. The windows were down, and I was hanging my arm out of it and playing in the breeze as we rumbled down the gravel roadway.
As we passed a nearby pond, the cattle were gathering around for watering, and two calves were prancing about the field, butting heads and chasing one another. Uncle Jimmy pulled the truck to a stop and nodded that direction.
“See those calves?” he asked.
“There’s a storm coming.”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
The skies were blue, the weather warm. (This was long before the days of GPS or Smart-phones.) “Whenever you see calves acting like that, you can be sure there’s bad weather on the way.” Continue reading →