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To Celebrate or Not

February and March are two important months for learners. Except they’re all important, aren’t they? Which pretty much sums up my conflict with Black History Month and Women’s History Month,...

Getting Emotional

Although I aspire to be a leader who is always strong, stoic, and sensible, I occasionally succumb to the emotional toll of my job. At least once a year, it...

Do or Die

Don’t be shy about asking for help. It doesn’t mean you’re weak. It means you’re strong. Last spring, a panic-stricken teacher I have worked with informally entered my office. His...

Meeting Mind-Set

“These meetings are a waste of my time.” I frequently hear this from colleagues. Sometimes, I even think it myself. In a recent conversation a dear friend and colleague said...

Allocating Services

Each autumn, a few weeks after the school doors have opened again after summer break, we gather a group of teachers, support staff, and administrators to consider our literacy data...

Telling Our Story

It was a few years ago when our principal called us all into the media center for a bit of news. One of my favorite games is Guess the News,...

Protecting Your Coaching Time

It was 3:00 p.m. when the dismissal bell rang. Some students bolted from the building to head for home, and others chatted loudly in the bus line. I emerged from...

Culture for Coaching Part 2: Resistance to Cycles

This is the second in a series of four articles about creating a culture for effective coaching. Working together as a principal and instructional coach, we took steps to build...

Culture for Coaching Part 1: Introduction

This is the first in a series of four articles about creating a culture for effective coaching. It begins with a problem and a brave, counterintuitive response from a principal...

The Awkward Chair

A colleague of mine recently presented an excellent professional development session about how school leaders can become experts in facilitating effective IEP or RTI meetings. These types of meetings are...

School Leaders and Written Communication

For several years now, I have taught a graduate class for aspiring school leaders. My students are practicing teachers and counselors who have their eye on being principals someday. As...

Literacy and Last Days: Keeping It Simple

“I’m not doing a bouncy house.” That was my initial response when I heard that as principal of our school, I am tasked with coming up with the last-day activity...

Teacher Guilt

Negative emotions like loneliness, envy, and guilt have an important role to play in a happy life; they’re big, flashing signs that something needs to change.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Gretchen Rubin A...

Benched

We’ve all watched games in which players have been benched. In my own house, we have all kinds of experiences with “riding the bench.” One of our kids isn’t athletically...

Aligning Beliefs and Practices: Homework Policies

A few years ago, after rereading Debbie Miller’s book Reading with Intention, I led our teachers through an exercise of defining their beliefs about teaching and aligning practices. They named...

Sustaining Trust While Maintaining High Expectations

As a principal in a new school, I have been hesitant to start observations of teachers. My big goal this year is to build trust and develop relationships with staff,...

Coaching for Confidence

Every once in a while, even the most capable, talented teachers have a year that tests their skill and sanity. You may find them questioning their decision to continue teaching....

Who Keeps You Up at Night?

Beginning a coaching relationship is a bit like a first dance. You have to watch your partner, understand his or her body language, and listen carefully in order to dance...

From Somewhere to Somewhere

It’s been said that people can be only where they are and that everyone is on a path from somewhere to somewhere. When we are working with our colleagues, however,...

The Stories We Tell Ourselves

In a quest to better myself as a literacy learner and leader, I recently enrolled in a doctoral-level literacy course at a local university. The instructor was kind enough to...

Erasing the Lines in the Sand

Social media is a place of strong opinions. Political. Lifestyle. Educational. In one recent Facebook conversation, a young teacher sought clarification on the difference between book clubs and literature circles....