Recently, on a trip to Philadelphia, I was sitting in airport gate seating area, which gave me a view of the ground crews prepping planes for departure.
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Workers were driving baggage trains, pulling fuel trucks in and out, and loading bags on runways into planes.
While I watched them, I thought about how many people it takes for you to arrive at any destination. Whether you’re on the road or in the air, someone has to build the vehicles, hire the workers, schedule the routes, write code for mapping programs, or drill the ground for the necessary fossil fuels. But no matter how varied the people or methods for reaching your destinations, you can’t reach the road ahead unless those people or methods are reliable. Continue reading →
When I was in college, I was a resident advisor in the dormitory where I lived.
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My dorm director, Scott Boss, was a graduate student who not only supervised all the resident advisors in my dorm but also taught us leadership lessons. One day Scott was talking to the R.A.’s about ways we could better communicate with the other men who lived on our floors. He said something I’ll never forget. “When it comes to building relationships with others, remember this simple equation: Time Spent = Relationship Built.”
Over the years, I’ve tried to keep that in mind as I’ve visited with students, teachers, or parents. In fact, it is one of the reasons I believe parents struggle so much in connecting with their own children: they simply don’t spend enough time together. I believe the same is true for school relationships as well. The problem, however, is not always how much time you are spending with others, but the mindset you have when you are together. Continue reading →
Recently, my twelve-year-old son, Jack, and I took a long road trip from Oklahoma to West Tennessee to visit my parents.
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Gran and Grandaddy live in the country–so far out they receive no cell service. It was a weekend of being unplugged. It was also a weekend to be reminded that my life is more than just school leadership. We took long walks to see turning leaves and rambled through the deep woods. Jack borrowed Gran’s shovel and dug out an old spring down the hill from the house–a spring we used when I was his age.
Time away is a great time to reflect on life. And reflection is an important part of professional growth as well. As I reflect back on the lessons learned in school leadership, my biggest takeaways often come from trial and error. But experience also teaches you some useful steps for moving forward with more confidence.
This week’s podcast is a replay of a webinar I shared with principals a couple of weeks ago about three important areas I have reflected on in chapters 9-11 of my book Principal Matters. These takeaways come from lessons learned from my experiences as an assistant principal and principal. Continue reading →
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 →