Author: William Parker

I know a lot of people who love Chick-fil-A because of the quality of their food and service.
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If you’ve eaten there, you know how friendly they are to customers, you’ve seen the fresh flowers on the tables, and you know how much better their chicken tastes than other fast food options.

As a school leader, it is easy to forget how lessons in marketing, public relations, or customer service also improve school climates. A couple of weeks ago, our district leadership team sat down with a Public Relations consultant, Jeremy C. Burton, who manages PR at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

ORU has seen an upward surge in enrollment, ehancements, and development over the past few years, and positive PR has been played an important role for promoting their brand. I wanted to pass along four points Burton made in his talk and add some of my own comments along the way. Read More Importance of Public Relations for School Leaders: 4 Tips

I’ve never been on a cruise ship, but I have lots of friends who tell me you couldn’t find a better vacation choice.
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Although I’d love to try one, I’ll have to take their word for it. With my four children, road trips and camping are usually our most affordable choices for summer vacation.

At the same time, when others ask me what I plan to do with all the time without students at school, I’ll usually say, “Well, it’s kind of like a cruise ship. We just unloaded all the passengers, so we’ll spend the next two months stocking up, rehiring where needed, and preparing for the next voyage.” Read More 5 Tips On Preparing For Your Next Launch

Yesterday I was privileged to hear one our senior boys do a presentation at a neighboring school. Jesse Haynes is a recently published author of young adult fiction.

Jesse Haynes, student and author
Jesse Haynes, student and author. Used with permission.

He was talking to groups of middle school students about his experience setting goals and publishing a book.

He also told them that his greatest inspiration for writing came from his 4th grade teacher. “I don’t know if you ever think about it,” he said, “But teachers give up a large part of their lives to prepare us for the rest of our lives.”

Wow, I thought. What a fitting tribute to the inspiring influence teachers have on students!

This week is Teacher Appreciation for many schools across North America. At our school, we’ve been thanking our teachers with yummy meals and treats. But no gift seems to be good enough for the kind of sacrifice teachers give every day in and out of the classroom. Read More Thank You For Being A Giver!

Recently I was listening to a January 29, 2015 episode of Invisibilia, a podcast about the invisible forces that affect us without us being aware.

image from livescience.com
image from livescience.com

Specifically, the reporters narrating this episode were talking about a phenomenon known as “entanglement.”

They began by describing a physics experiment where scientists have been able to isolate atoms in separate locations, change the molecular structure, and cause the two separate atoms to become one atom in separate locations.

That’s right. In one experiment, an atom contained in a box four feet away from itself in another box was demonstrating simultaneous responses in both boxes. These atoms are not mirror images of one another; they are one another. Separate but one: a phenomenon known as entanglement. Charles Q. Choi from Live Science explains that scientists theorize entangled atoms may stay connected even if a universe a part!

Scientists are able to explain how to make this happen, but they are still unable to explain why this is possible.

So, why am I fascinated with this idea of entanglement? Read More The Power of “Entanglement”: Implications For School Leaders

30 Questions from Principal Interviews by William D. Parker was published originally at www.williamdparker.com on March 25, 2015.

A few weeks ago, some fellow administrators and I presented to an awesome group of teachers who are preparing to become admins. A great follow-up question was: “What kinds of questions can I expect in an interview for assistant principal or principal?”

cc: Tim Gouw – https://unsplash.com/@punttim?utm_source=haikudeck&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=api-credit

I can speak from my own experience, but I will also share a resource at the end of this post and invite input from other admins.

First of all, a little history…or the story of 6 interviews:

Interview 1

cc: Ben White – https://unsplash.com/@benwhitephotography?utm_source=haikudeck&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=api-credit

Although I have participated in over a hundred interviews to hire teachers and staff over the past ten years, I have been interviewed for administrator openings only six times. Three of those resulted in offers I filled–two as assistant principal (two different sites) and one as principal (current position). So the best examples I have for aspiring principals are the thirty questions I will share below. Read More 30 Questions From Principal Interviews (Plus More)

When I was teacher, I would often hear my students talk about their other instructors. It didn’t take long to discover who were the superstars.
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They were the ones whose lessons were both rigorous and engaging–the ones who greeted students at the door, embedded class routines, differentiated learning, assessed meaningfully, and provided constant feedback.

These educators weren’t perfect, but they were engaged.

Lessons From Industry Research
I was taking a look at Gallop Poll’s 2013 State of the American Workplace.

In it Gallop’s researchers reviewed over 25 million responses in their analysis of 100 million American workers. Read More Research Supports Engagement: 5 Reasons To Improve Yours

Many of my childhood Christmas memories include sharing big dinners at Grandma’s, story-telling with family members, playing on the frozen pond with siblings and cousins, or just singing carols together.
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In reality, not everyone has nostalgic memories this time of the year.

Last Thursday I talked to a teacher about a boy (whom I will call Johnny) who was having a hard time in her class. Specifically, he was shutting down, and no matter what strategies she tried, he wasn’t responding. Read More Making Memories–For Yourself And Others

Our high school football team (American football) is headed for the state championship game this weekend (You can see their championship game promo here.)
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Two years ago when these senior players were sophomores, their team won no games. It was a painful experience for everyone.

But the coaches and players rallied around a new vision, and now they are reaping the harvest of their hard work.

A couple of weeks ago, I was asked to say a few words to the team. So I shared with them one of my favorite stories from history: the epic battle of Little Round Top. Read More Going For Gold: An Essential Element

When I was a boy, I loved to lay on the front porch at night.
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With no streetlights or neighbors, our house was enveloped in darkness, surrounded by swampy creeks and woods, accompanied by the sound of crickets and the serenade of spring frogs.

The blanket of stars above me was a thick, cloudy, mesmerizing maze of constellations.

My dad went through a phase of interest in telescopes, so sometimes we took turns looking for planets or peering at the moon.

Did you know that only one side of the moon is visible from the Earth?

Because of the Earth’s orbit and the moon’s speed of rotation while orbiting, we never see the other side of the moon.

Just like we only see one side of the moon, all of us operate in contexts that no one else is able to see–especially leaders. Read More Seeing The Other Side Of The Moon

School or work environments are like home environments–it doesn’t take long to figure out if you are in a happy, productive place or not.

Last week I was in Oklahoma City for a meeting with our principal association when we were each asked to share at least one idea on building positive environments from each of our schools.

It was so encouraging that I wanted to share them with you. Here are 20 ideas from 20 principals to inspire you to try something new in your school or organization: Read More Building Positive School Culture: 20 Ideas From Principals

We just welcomed our teachers and students back to school.
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It was hard work to prepare for all the moving parts that make up master schedules, professional development, and schedule pick-ups.

But there is also great satisfaction in having everyone back and knowing we’ve had a successful launch.

Each year I try to remember that the first days with our school team are as important as their first days with students. Read More 4 Reminders For A New School Year

I remember a story a good friend told me about her first year as an assistant principal.
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She worked with a teacher who frequently referred the same boy to the office for misbehavior.

Although the boy (I’ll call him Billy) deserved the consequences he received, the teacher was convinced he was impossible to help and really wanted him out of her class. Read More Keeping The Heart Of An Educator

I am not a basketball coach, and I don’t pretend to be one on TV either.
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Over the years, however, I have watched a lot of games, and sometimes I’ll still shoot baskets with my kids until my legs give out, and they’re asking me if they should call EMSA.

This summer my two older daughters participated in summer league basketball. My parental duty was to taxi them to practices or games and watch a lot of messy basketball. Read More 6 Basketball Tips For School Leadership

I was listening to a fascinating show by Pat Flynn, blogger and podcaster who was interviewing Bryan Kelly from What The Speak on the neuroscience behind great presentations.

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As I thought about the research Kelly had done on what makes great presentations, I was reminded how good teaching, leadership, or any communication include the same ingredients.

Kelly created the acronym, SPLAT, to define the five most ingredients in helping others learn.

S = Safety–creating an environment that allows for learning
P = Problem solving–helping others find solutions
L = Lectures–avoiding them and focusing on teaching instead
A = All–all audiences are visual learners
T = Talking–teaching others is one of the best ways to learn

How can these reminders help us in the school setting? Here are my 5 take-aways: Read More 5 Essential Ingredients For Learning (SPLAT)

This has been a busy summer of hiring new teammates and preparing for the school year to come.

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Sample Staff KRA

In one of our recent interviews, I was asked to give some feedback on some of the responsiblity areas in our office areas. So I shared some samples of our KRA’s.

Those samples provided some great feedback into the nitty-gritty of how we do school.

I have posted before about KRA’s, or Key Responsibility Areas. Since that post, I have had other requests for some examples of the KRA’s used by my team members.

So I want to share some KRA samples from my school:

One is a list of KRA’s for office staff.

The other is a list and calendar of KRA’s for Counselors.

What Are KRA’s?
KRA’s are lists of Key Responsibility Areas team members can use to define their main areas of responsibility and service to your school and students. Read More Key Responsibility Areas Part Two

This week I have spent a lot of time with to-do lists as well as pulling together with my team members to coordinate important end-of-school-year activities.
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If you are leading a school, organization, or a team, you know the challenges of staying on track with the your seemingly endless list of to-do’s. You also know the importance of everyone being on the same page in reaching goals.

Whether it is end-of-the year procedures or mapping out enrollment, documentation is a simple tool that plays a strategic role in reaching goals.

Like the homing pigeon, it may sometimes seem an outdated tool, but here are 7 reminders of why documentation is still important for school leaders: Read More 7 Reasons Why Documentation Is Still A Good Leadership Tool

Just a few days ago, we celebrated graduation. The next day we wrapped up with professional development and teacher check-out.image

When I arrived home that night, I felt both exhausted and exhilarated.

It was a few hours later when I received the call that two of our students had been in a wreck.

When I made my way to the hospital emergency room, I talked to one of the boys who had a broken arm. The other was in surgery and in critical condition–they had placed him in a drug induced coma for the next few days as doctors monitored his head trauma. Read More 5 Lessons From My First Year As Site Principal

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Last Saturday I drove my daughter to the local lake dam spillway to meet her teammates for a weekend track workout. After twenty minutes of warm-up running on the grassy path to the spillway and back, they lined up for drills. These included 12 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. Read More 3 End-of-the-School-Year Reminders

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A few years ago, I was talking to a teacher about a student she had volunteered to mentor.

The young lady had had a difficult past, and the teacher had confided in me that some of their meetings had been challenging. While I was encouraging her to keep up the good work, at the same time, I wanted to prepare her for the reality of mentoring.

“Don’t be surprised,” I said, “when you are disappointed.”

“That’s not very encouraging,” she replied with a perplexed expression.

I went on to explain to her how important it is to expect, not be surprised by conflict, and we talked about the actions to keep taking in the face of disappointment. Read More 7 Tips For Dealing With Challenging Students

I was talking to an assistant principal friend from a neighboring district who was telling me some funny stories from her middle school experience.
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She said her own mom and dad like to ask her to tell stories from school. When she finishes, her dad, a retired policeman will say, “And to think you do all that without a gun.”

I don’t want to get into the politics of whether or not public educators should carry guns. I will go on record as saying I never want to carry one. Even in my younger years when I would occasionally hunt, I always felt lucky to make it back without hurting myself or someone else. I am just too forgetful and careless with a firearm to be trusted to carry one around.

But that is beside the point. Read More And All That Without A Gun