Category: Leadership

Spring time is not only busy as we finish out the school year, but also it is often a busy time for hiring new teachers or staff.
Even with the pending cuts in state funding, we were excited to be able to fill a couple of openings for the coming school year.

As I’ve looked for strong candidates this spring, I’ve kept in mind some lessons I learned from Jimmy Casas earlier this year (see previous post on Tips for Hiring for Excellence). Jimmy’s advice has been spot on with tips on reaching out to candidates ahead of time, having multiple conversations, and rallying around a common vision.

If I could add anything to Jimmy’s suggestions, it would be some feedback I received from a candidate today. Read More 5 Steps for using YouTube in Hiring

Think of what Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon services and products you use daily. How much are they a vehicle for communications, work, social life, purchases and tasks? How often…

Read More Living in a GAFA world.

When Education Week did a survey a few years ago, principals were asked about the biggest frustrations of their jobs. At the top of the list was the response: “Mandates without Money.”
If you’ve been in education for a few years or a very long time, you can relate to that concern. In fact, this year the federal government produced 81,611 pages in new regulations.

In my state, for example, high schools are mandated to teach personal finance, CPR instruction, test students in 7 end-of-instruction exams, and remediate students who don’t pass them–to name a few.

From the federal level, we are also expected to enforce NCLB regulations until they are replaced with new ESSA regulations (once they are finalized). And we are inundated with infinitely-growing pages of documents and guidelines surrounding federal regulations for children with medical or learning difficulties.

So with the consistent frustrations that surround unfunded mandates, how do you structure your priorities so that you can serve students and support teachers while still fulfilling these imposed expectations?

Here are four suggestions for keeping mandates in perspective:
Read More What Do You Do With All the Mandates?

One day when I was a young teacher, I was shopping at a local grocery when I saw a very large man talking to a teenage girl down the aisle from where I was standing.

willful blindness
A story of courageous choice

I couldn’t hear what he was saying, but he was moving his hands aggressively, and she was backed against the shelves behind her.

I did what I believe most teachers would do: I walked over and asked what was happening.

“Butt out,” the man told me. He was at least a foot taller than I and outweighed me by at least 50 pounds.

I turned my attention to the girl. She was wearing a worker’s uniform. “Are you frightened?” I asked.

“Yes,” she said. “He’s married to my mother, but he’s not supposed to have contact with me. I’m just trying to get to work.”

“This is none of your damn business,” the man said stepping between us. Read More Making the Courageous Choice

The other day I was presenting to a small group of teachers and assistant principals on the many hats school leaders wear.
As I was closing, I asked them to look at me. Everyone fixed his or her eyes on my own, and suddenly I was overwhelmed.

I wanted to tell them how much our schools need their leadership…how much our students need men and women who are passionate, caring, determined, courageous, and committed…how we can’t do this without them.

But all I could get out was, “We need you.” And then I was too choked up to continue. Read More Dear Educators, We Still Need You!

A destructive hail storm pummeled North Texas this past Monday evening. The hail caused significant damage to homes and cars in our little ISD, even causing us to cancel school Tuesday, for a “hail day”. (Everything’s bigger in Texas, right?) From golf ball sized hail at my house to SOFTBALL SIZED HAIL in another neighborhood…we were hit […]

Read More Leadership during severe weather, lessons learned! #thefirstyear

It’s ASCD weekend!  ASCD is a global community of educators dedicated to excellence in learning, teaching, and leading. Thier innovative solutions empower educators to promote the success of each child. They’re also one of the BIG places I turn to for my own professional learning. From books to their Educational Leadership magazine…they are a great resource. […]

Read More Can’t get to #ASCD16 this year? Have no fear! #thefirstyear

The Apollo 13 mission is one of my favorite stories of endurance.

Image Source:
Image Source:

On April 11, 1970 when Jim Lovell, Jack Swigert, and Fred Haise set off for their mission to the moon at speeds equivalent to 20,000 mph, they had entered a realm of record-breaking proportions.

When they were approximately 205,000 miles away from Earth, an oxygen tank exploded, and their mission to moon was immediately transformed to one of survival. Read More Remembering Apollo 13: Overcoming the Insurmountable

One of the things I encourage teachers to do when they consider the impact of their actions on student learning is to look at themselves through the eyes of the…

Read More Leading with Empathy in Schools

It was a hot, humid June 17, 2000, group hike in New Hampshire’s White Mountains. We were on the exposed ledge of the Welch-Dickey trail. For you non-hikers, exposed ledge…

Read More Trust Your Boots