Author: William Parker

Lately, a lot of controversy has arisen over the implementation of Common Core standards in U.S. public schools.

A recent op-ed by George Will, and a resolution by the Oklahoma Republican Party calling for the end of Common Core demonstrate what a thorny political issue it has become in my own state.

At the same time, as I read the arguments against Common Core, it seems like many of those speaking out are failing to grasp the real challenges public schools are facing. Read More The Common Core Debate

Two weeks ago I attended the NASSP Ignite Conference in Dallas, Texas.
On my flight home, the pilot informed us that we would encounter heavy fog at the Tulsa airport. As we began descending, we were shrouded in it. I kept looking out the windows, and all I could see was the faint blinking lights on the plane’s wing. Read More 6 Quick Leadership Takeaways From A Flight Through The Fog


The other day, I sat in a conversation with a student and a DHS worker who had come to take her into custody. She was no longer able to stay at her host home and would be moving back to a shelter till a new home could be found. In the meantime, she would go to a different school.

As she sat in tears listening to the news, she said to the DHS worker, “No offense, lady, but DHS has done nothing for me. I’ve been from home to home, in and out the shelter, and from school to school. This was supposed to be my fresh start.” Read More 5 Ways To Cultivate A Culture Of Acceptance

One of my favorite college education professors would often start class with a provoking question.
As we would grapple with how to answer and/or support our positions, he would stand there with his large hands lifted in the air, his voice booming, “Disequilibrium is the beginning of education!”

It took me a while to figure out that he was teaching us by example. He was trying to help a room full of future teachers see that the greatest learning opportunities in life first start with challenges that “shake” our normal way of thinking about problem solving. Read More 5 Ways To Respond To Resistance

Recently, I was inspired by the story of Diana Nyad, who made it a personal goal to swim from Cuba to Florida and did so at the age of 64. Her 100-mile feat came with many unsuccessful previous attempts, the pain of jelly-fish attacks, hallucinations, and unwavering teamwork. You can see her inspirational story here.

marathon (2) Image

Like long-distance swimming, being an educator is a marathon, not a sprint. And the start of a new semester is a great time to remind ourselves of what our goals are for the remainder of the school year.

So here are seven reminders I shared with my teachers at the start of this semester that apply to all of us in education: Read More 7 Mid-School Year Reminders on Finishing Strong

A few months ago I was planning to attend a principal’s meeting near my state capital. helping-hands

Since I was going alone, I asked a principal friend from a neighboring district if we could ride together.

Little did I know how much I would be learning! We spent the ride there and back sharing insights and stories from our schools. It was such a great conversation, I opened my Ipad and starting taking notes.

Sometimes our greatest resource for change is as close as a phone call (or a car ride in this case). As I thought about that conversation, I reflected on other ways I have learned from simply asking. Read More 4 Ways To Learn From Other People’s Expertise

Recently, I was asked to speak to a group of teachers who are interested in becoming school principals.
My task was to summarize some of the principal’s roles and responsibilities.

If you are a principal, I am sure you could add more to my list. If you are thinking of becoming a principal, here are seven hats I believe you should expect to wear: Read More 7 Hats Principals Must Be Prepared to Wear

A good friend and fellow principal, Lydia Wilson, from Bixby Central Elementary, wrote me recently about personal motivation.

Laughing Zoe by: airenmin license: Creative Commons 2.0 (by-sa)
“Laughing Zoe”, by airenmin. Creative Commons Photo

I liked what she said so much, I asked her if I could share it with others. Her response is a good reminder of the deep satisfaction that comes when we have the right motives for school leadership.

She writes:

Ultimately, there is no satisfaction in work if there is no balance in life.  

It does not mean that I don’t still experience heart-wrenching moments in this job, infuriating frustrations, or great losses filled with sadness. Read More Motivation by Wonder and Purpose

The other day, I had someone tell me, “I would never want your job.”

Optical Illusion (student work used by permission)
Optical Illusion (by student Daniel Eckenfels. Used with permission)

On the one hand, that may be true. Sometimes the negatives can be overwhelming.

When it comes to the part of my job involving student discipline, for instance, I have conducted hundreds of suspensions for drug/alcohol violations, fights, and weapon violations.

I have administered literally thousands of other discipline actions for offenses like truancy, harassment, obscene language, driving violations, bus violations, thefts, vandalism,  computer hacking, and just about every other teen misbehavior you can imagine.

I am not alone. All principals manage a myriad of student and personnel issues, complaints, custody disputes, Facebook and texting dramas that involve both students and parents at times. We counsel students wanting to drop out, those grieving over deceased parents, and ones afraid for their safety at school or at home. Read More Staying Focused During Difficult Times

If you are like me, you want school leadership to be about inspiring or encouraging others to reach shared goals. So often, motivational leadership also requires managing complicated situations or people.


Over the years, I have begun to learn practical skills in dealing with people who are upset, angry, or just plain mean.

I don’t always do it correctly, but I believe with practice, anyone can learn to maximize the potential of finding solutions in conflicts.

Whether you face challenging people on a daily basis, or only occasionally, here are some tips I have learned from my own experience as well as watching others who consistently manage difficult people: Read More 6 Tips on Dealing With Difficult People

Zig Ziglar’s “wheel of life” is often referred to by leadership coaches, like Chris Locurto, because it represents a good visual of the competing interests in each of our lives.…

Read More 4 Caution Lights For School Leaders

We have a student who is an orphan at my school. She struggles with so many emotions and doesn’t always make the best decisions–even though she still makes me proud…

Read More Purpose Motivated Leadership

My first year as a school administrator, I was determined to be a leader who followed through on requests from teachers.


What I didn’t anticipate was how many requests I would receive in a day. After a while, I began to learn to some habits that helped manage requests more wisely. So, here are some suggestions on how to prioritize so many competing demands:

1. Give up Your’Savior’Complex

Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can find the solution to every problem in your building.

During my first year, in a typical hour as I walked through hallways and classrooms, I would often be stopped two or three times with requests. I would write down each request on a legal pad I carried with me. By the end of the day, I had pages of notes. Then I would sit down that evening or the next morning to follow-up on them.

Bad idea. Read More Tips On Better Managing Requests

He met a teacher, and it changed everything.

red_apple Jim Wengo was fresh out of high school when he started working at the local butcher shop. But his high school agriculture teacher, John Krivokapish, had other plans for him. When he heard of an area college work study program for those who could score well on a civil service exam, Mr. Krivokapish walked into the butcher store and told Jim’s boss he needed to borrow him for a couple of hours.

Removing the blood stained apron, Jim followed his teacher to the local college where he took an exam on the spot. That test resulted in Jim’s opportunity to begin college. Read More And Then I Met A Teacher