Tag Archives: Principal Matters Podcast

PMP:084 Adapting to the Changing Winds of Education

I’ve been reading an excellent book by Tim Elmore and Andrew McPeak, Marching Off the Map: Inspire Students to Navigate a Brand New World, and it has sparked a lot of thought.

Photo by James Loesch – Creative Commons Attribution License https://www.flickr.com/photos/34920192@N02


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

PMP:082 How Can You Accomplish a Mission?

This past weekend, NASA broadcasted the final transmission of the spacecraft, Cassini, as it plunged into the atmosphere of the planet Saturn that it had orbited and monitored for the past 13 years.

Photo by Kyle Mortara – Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License https://www.flickr.com/photos/8068336@N02


Cassini’s mission actually began in 1997. It took six years for it to reach Saturn, an its exploratory orbiting mission began. The spacecraft was originally slated to complete a 3-year mission of orbiting, but the technology proved to be so reliable that it remained working far beyond original plans. From 900 million miles away, this spacecraft took over 400,000 photos as well as transmitted data back to Earth about Saturn’s moons, rings, and atmosphere. The end of Cassini is also another hallmark moment for what amazing feats can be accomplished through human engineering, science, technology, and teamwork. Continue reading

PMP:074 Growing Your Digital Leadership with Jethro Jones

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

PMP:065 Celebration Ideas for Finishing The School Year

Last month I was asked to share a webinar on how to prepare for our state’s accreditation visits. I decided to begin the conversation with the practical steps we take with my school team on sharing, planning, scheduling, and compiling for accountability.

Photo by chiaralily – Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License https://www.flickr.com/photos/26870279@N04


Half way through the webinar, however, I switched gears and talked about celebration ideas our students and teachers had embraced for finishing the school year with enthusiasm. One way my school’s student leaders wanted to end the year was by doing something to help others. They designed an amazing idea called BARK week. Our school mascot is the Bulldog, so the theme fit perfectly.

BARK Week

Here’s an explanation our student council sponsor shared a month in advance: Continue reading

PMP:064 Five Tips For Finishing Strong

During my daughter’s first year in high school, I drove to the local lake dam spillway to meet her teammates for a weekend track workout.

Photo by Chris Maki – Creative Commons Attribution License https://www.flickr.com/photos/79526375@N00


After twenty minutes of warm-up running on the grassy path to the spillway and back, they lined up for drills. These included twelve sprints up an intimidatingly steep grassy incline to practice increasing speed.

It was a joy to watch all of the students working hard and pushing themselves. As they neared their tenth sprint drill, their legs began shaking, their shirts were lined with sweat, and their chests heaved with every breath. Their movement was a mass of arms pumping, legs kicking up the hill, bending over to catch a breath, standing up tall before making the climb down to run up again. Continue reading

PMP 057: Why Self-Reflection Matters (Questions to Ask Yourself)

A couple of weeks ago, my wife and I took our oldest daughter, Emily, out to dinner.

Photo by scribbletaylor – Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License https://www.flickr.com/photos/64958688@N00


She turned 18 this year, and we wanted to encourage her in the opportunities and challenges she will be facing as a graduating senior and soon-to-be college student.

Previously, I had been reading Tim Elmore’s Generation iY where he shares about three intelligences that help us in conversations with our students and children as they mature:

Emotional intelligence: We need to help them develop their EQ—self awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management.
Moral intelligence: We need to coach them toward robust character—personal discipline, secure sense of self, strong positive values. (Perhaps we could call this MQ.)
Leadership intelligence: Finally, we need to encourage clear vision, courage, priorities, big-picture perspective, and planning skills (LQ) (Elmore 209).

During dinner, I asked Emily if I could read through the descriptions and if she could reflect on areas she felt were her strengths and where she thought she still needed to grow. As she self-reflected on different areas, I learned some new insights about her. And I think she may have learned some new insights about herself too.

My Own Self-Assessment

Self-reflection isn’t only good for our children as they grow. It’s good for older learners like you and me. I remember about five years ago when I was talking to a buddy who is twenty years younger than I. He was telling me about the goals he and his wife had set and reached. He was excited about being a young father, starting his own business, and pursuing his dreams. I began to reminisce with him about when I was his age—how my wife and I had paid off debts, bought our first house, started a family.

As he listened, he looked at me with a curious expression and asked, “So that was twenty years ago. What are your goals now?” Suddenly, I was stumped. I realized I didn’t have an answer, and as I stumbled around to find one, I finally looked at him and said, “You know. I think right now I’m just trying to survive.”

When I walked away from that conversation, I was haunted by my response. When was the last time I had self-reflected on new goals for my family and my future? In some ways, I had achieved a lot of my dreams in my career. But where did I want to grow from here? Continue reading

PMP 053: 3 Tips for Responding Under Pressure

When I was in high school and college, my brothers and I worked part-time diving for mussel shells in the Kentucky Lake area.

Photo by panuta – Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License https://www.flickr.com/photos/20881848@N00


We would sell them by the pound at local markets, and those shells would in turn be sold to Japanese markets. Apparently, the pearly-white cuts from those shells are unique implants for growing cultured pearls in oysters.

One day I was climbing across the bottom of an area that was ten to twelve feet deep. The only sounds I could hear were the hissing breaths from my regulator. As I found shells, I placed them in a net-bag I had clipped to one side of my weight belt. Continue reading

PMP: Encore 04 Thankfulness (And the Bacon Story)

This week’s podcast episode is an encore recording of one of my favorite growing-up stories.

As you listen, I hope you take time to remember your own good memories. As we approach Thanksgiving, I hope you are taking time to recharge your batteries and invest time with friends and family. Thanks for doing what matters!

Here are the shownotes for PMP: Encore 04: Continue reading

PMP:044 How Challenges Help You Grow

I remember my first year of teaching when I walked into a boy’s bathroom that was reeking of smoke.

Photo by Paul Keller – Creative Commons Attribution License https://www.flickr.com/photos/18259771@N00


A couple of boys were standing at the urinals when one of them dropped a lit cigarette at his feet.

I didn’t know his name, but I told him to grab his bag and follow me to the office. All the way there, he was talking.

“I don’t know why you are taking me to the office,” he complained. “It wasn’t me. I don’t know whose it was, but that cigarette wasn’t mine.”

“I saw it drop right at your feet,” I said. Continue reading

PMP:036 Four Suggestions on Providing Meaningful Feedback from Observations and Evaluations

I have a lot of friends who are good golfers. I am not one of them.
Tiger-Woods-Butch-Harmon-Coaching
But I recognize a good golfer when I see one. He or she is usually the one who gets the ball in the hole with the fewest strokes. One observation I’ve made about great golfers, however, is that most of them have been coached.

Teaching is often a solitary profession. You may have hundreds of students before you on a daily basis, but you are often the lone adult in the room. But even those of us who often do our work outside the observation of peers or advisors can benefit from coaching. Continue reading