Guiding Principles

The following guiding principles are the basis for the views represented by the contributors of Connected Principals:

1. All of our decisions focus first on what meets the needs of the children we serve.  All other elements of our decision making process are secondary to this objective. The students we serve are our greatest resource in schools.

2. Building strong relationships is the first basis of creating a strong school environment.  Trust is the first element; both extending it and earning it.

3.  It is imperative we value the gifts, contributions and uniqueness of each individual, whether student, staff, or parent.

4.  We can do more together than we can alone.  Opportunities need to be created for distributed leadership within our school for all staff; as administrators we need to ensure we build upon the strengths of our staff.  We must ensure that we are working together as an educator community to continue to move education forward.

5.   All educators need to be lifelong learners.  Only through continuous reflection, respectful conversation, and collaboration will we ensure that we are continuously serving the needs of our students. As a whole, we must be attentive to and thoughtful about the myriad of ways in which the world is fast changing, and ensure that we are in continued alignment with the needs and demands of the changing world without ever abandoning core principles.

6. All members of our school community should be given opportunities to become leaders.  This includes students, staff, and parents.

7. Parents are our partners in education. We must ensure that their voice is heard and that they are given opportunities to contribute to creating the best environment for our students.

8. Critical thinking and deep learning opportunities for our students are necessary to ensure that they become strong 21st century citizens.  We must know the passions of our students and create learning opportunities based on these.  Students need to be able to think, write, and create as we prepare them for future opportunities that may not currently exist. We must ensure that we also create professional development opportunities for our staff to learn alongside our students and provide them ways to further their own knowledge in a deep, purposeful, and relevant way.

9. Technology should be used to create opportunities for students to ensure that we are meeting their needs and creating opportunities to network and learn from others. It is necessary to ensure that students become strong 21st century citizens with a broad worldview. We need to include the world in our teaching, learning and thinking.  As educators, we must also take opportunities to use social media to connect with educators around the world that have different perspectives and experiences.  The more we connect, the more we learn.

10. We care about our results; we seek to educate for deep understanding and transferable skills, and seek to use the right data to measure our outcomes and use that data not to punish but to inform our organizations’ continuous learning and development.  Through this reflection of our journey, we truly will be able to move forward.

As administrators we need to be transparent, open, and honest.  These principles should not only be embodied in the writing on this forum, but they must also be personified continuously within our respective school communities.


  1. Tracey Saxon said:

    The eyes were rolling like dice at a hot Vegas craps table.
    “WHY do we need to post our PLC work, data and meeting minutes online?”
    “I know what I am doing I’ve done this for YEARS!”
    “This is CRAZY, all this new technology, it is making my job HARDER.”
    The time on the clock – 9:52. What a start!

    I know that folks are hesitant to do new things and may, initially, feel that the increased demands on a professional educator seem never-ending. I’m not so far removed from the classroom experience that I have forgotten the mile-long to-do list that grows faster than kudzu during the pre-service week prior to the start of school. Today’s challenge for me was to win the room, and land the planes at a safe gate hopefully getting our students from destination A to destination B on their unlimited ticket around the educational world.

    I’m a storyteller -so I went to what I knew would at least get the comments to stop….”How many of you can tell me who flew the first plane?” Heads turned – eyebrows raised – whispers ceased (so far I’m making progress). “The Wright brothers did that, ” someone said. “I don’t remember who exactly flew or who watched, but it was the Wright brothers.” I pressed on now that folks were starting to listen. “OK, would you say the Wright brothers were pilots?” The room rallied together like a revival Sunday choir and said, “OF COURSE! They were pilots! WHY would you even ask that Saxon?” I waited….I let them really sell my stupidity to each other for posing the question and said quietly, “So, would you want them to fly you to London today on a Boeing 747?” The heads started to shake. I heard the quick replies, “No way. They would not know how to fly a jet. They would not know how to start it!” Replies and jokes about that idea filled the room. (People are still there in the meeting, no sidebar conversation, hang in there – sell this!!)
    “Would you agree that people who fly planes are pilots?” We were agreed. Now for the big connection…

    “Teaching is like flying a plane. Nobody will say that the Wright brothers were not important and not one person will say they were not pilots – but times have changed. Flight has evolved and is still evolving. The pilot of the Wright brothers era will not be able to fly today’s jet. It does not mean they are bad pilots, it means that the planes have changed and now, to be a pilot, a person must be able to navigate the most current planes and jets.” A few folks started to see the connection…and smiled. “I am not here to say that a pilot of the past can’t learn to fly a jet with the proper training and make a contribution. But without change and advancement they are simply unable to do the job.” More folks are getting the connection….I think I have consumed an entire Starbucks venti iced tea in the past three minutes.

    “YOU are pilots -some of you were trained in the most modern jets and other were trained in less modern planes but you all know how to fly and what the purpose of flying is….to move people from one place to another. You must be current in your pilot’s license in order to fly. You must be able to fly people all ove the worls on the big, modern jets. Our kids are the passengers. They want to go everywhere and unless you are able to bring your practice up to speed we simply can’t deliver.” (More heads are nodding)

    “We want the best pilots in the air. Your professional development and technological integration expectations are key to our success. Flying like the Wright brothers – while important in the development of aviation – is not indicative of the kind of airline we operate.” (Bottom line: Fly with us – any jet, any location, any time – or you will be grounded.)

    The room now looked like the quarter machine in the slot room was broken. Silent people. No movement. Then…all of a sudden people started to get it! They wanted to fly better….they wanted to fly the big jet! People started making plans to collaborate and ….wait for it….POST online! They wanted to USE the technology to make their lives EASIER. Most importantly, they began to see that the passengers dictate the success of the airline.

    I hope to be able to share a status of our airport soon….thanks for flying with me! Vegas here I come!

    August 20, 2010
    • Antonio said:

      Allow me to introduce myself…my name is Antonio from the Niagara area. I just read through your recent post and I had to write a quick comment. I really enjoyed your posting and like many in your audience i began to buy in as I continued to read on….what an excellent analogy with using the Wright brothers and pilots to motivate, support and itiate stimulating thinking amongst any group of educators…well done.

      November 18, 2010
      • Tracey Saxon said:

        Thanks Antonio! We still are trying to get all of our folks on board, but I think the analogy allows us to have a common frame of reference about the ever-changing world of education that we all understand! Tell me about your school!

        November 18, 2010
        • Antonio said:

          Thank you for your response. Our Catholic school community involves just under 1000 students and about 80 staff members. Our school is at the beginning stages of under going a large scale renovation adding 23 new classrooms and making various changes to our exsisting building (which is only 10 years old). Overall the staff is excited and also nervous regarding the construction and changes being made in all departments. This year is going well despite the construction all around us…a great example of working with our community and parish was our parking situation. The church is located nearby and allowed us to share their parking lot until our was completed. Staff were required to use a sticker on their cars for identification in the lot and this small change lead to many interesting discusssions. How does your school and staff deal with change?

          November 20, 2010
    • Velvet Rollin said:

      Wow, great analogy, thank-you Tracey. I will be using this with my teachers and sharing it with my peers.

      March 24, 2015
    • Jeff said:

      Thank you so much for sharing. I am so happy that I stumbled to this site and your post…

      April 12, 2016
  2. A wonderful analogy. Thank you. I am going to use it to spark my next training session with your wise example.

    December 25, 2010
  3. Elly said:

    I linked through to this site and am so happy to read these important Guiding Principles. A brief introduction: I am a former high-tech worker (outsourced many years ago) and just received my CA English credential. While seeking a full-time job, I decided to create a site that my friend can use. She is an elementary school principal, who, while I was “living” on the computer for the past 15 years, was running her school. Her school just became “distinguished!” While my friend achieved this remarkable milestone, it’s no wonder she is a little out of touch with computers.

    One amazing thing about being in the infancy of the social media revolution today is that computers are much easier to use than when I was struggling to create documentation about COBOL with a line editor. Now, there are content management systems, like this blog, where content prevails. No more computer crashing or wrangling with Word to get the message out.

    In that light, I have spent my own time (until I find a job – hopefully next September) creating a free program for administrators. In the spirit of Web 2.0 social networking, the program is called “schoodl.” It allows educators to have their own websites that are networked together. So, my friend’s school in Fremont will be a schoodl, and my other friend’s school in Vallejo will be a schoodl. Your schoodl can link to your district site, class websites, calendars, announcements, etc.

    Please go to the site, take a look, and I will be more than happy to help you get your schoodl going. You can set it up in under an hour and then groom and grow it over time. There are simple training steps to follow to get your schoodl up. A little investment in learning how to use a content management system will pay off in the long run – I promise!

    Best Regards,
    Elly Faden

    March 29, 2011
  4. Brad Latzke said:

    For the past 18 months, I have been building learning capacity for all things connected to my professional catch phrase of “21st Century Learning.” Having created multiple electronic folders that include hundreds of websites and blogs, I finally came across Connected Principals . . . from which link I do not remember!

    When I read through the Guiding Principles, it was the table of contents out of my own professional philosophy as a school leader. I look forward to further exploring the website and am very interested in becoming an author and contributor. How does that happen?

    April 10, 2011
    • Andrisadega said:

      What a great presentation! I’m going to imnpemelt several of your ideas. I need to do an overhaul on many areas of my house. I have lots of cabinet space, but have not taken advantage of it properly. Thank you again for the forms. I can’t believe I missed the online session yesterday. Are you going to do another one?

      January 4, 2013
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  6. Anne Sterrett said:

    Great analogy! Thank you for sharing!

    January 12, 2014
  7. Just read Dave Meister’s post about Core Values and the guiding principles above. A few thoughts: I think that the “kids first” meme, as well as such statements as “…It is imperative we value the gifts, contributions and uniqueness of each individual, whether student, staff, or parent….”, while seemingly powerful and righteous on the surface, are problematic. I believe that we need to consider steering clear of sloganeering. Statements like “kids first” has the unintended consequence of breeding a kind of superficial evangelism that, by its very nature, is not entirely honest. And teachers who are compelled to preach such an evangel can grow bitter because the TRUTH is that each of us, as human beings advocating for our own lives, comes first. It is thus honest to state that the kids don’t come first. The teachers come first – because in order to treat kids with the loving kindness that successful teaching demands, teachers must know, to their CORE, that they are valued and respected and honored.This then brings me to the issues of core values and pedagogy. Each educator comes to the classroom, and hence to her/his students, from an entirely unique place. Each has a unique sense of what constitutes teaching praxis, or the fusion of philosophy and action. Here’s the dilemma for administrators: for myriad educators, a working philosophy, and the actions that logically follow, are not formed from conscious reflection. While teachers are often compelled by educational leaders to distill a working educational philosophy, they are rarely asked to challenge their assumptions about life, the universe and everything. The majority of educators lack self-awareness. They have little or no understanding of why they think and believe they way they do. Thus teachers super-impose upon their students a hierarchy of core values that, like the “kids first” meme, are not entirely honest. If we accept as true that it is the moment-to-moment interactions between adult and student that form the foundation for learning, than challenging our teachers to examine, deeply and honestly, their core values becomes an institutional imperative. One quick example, and then I’ll be quiet: what if, upon deep examination, a teacher comes to the conclusion that one of her fundamental core values (even if it kind of makes her sad that this is so) is to become wealthy? Can she honestly share this with her students? Can she “teach” from a place that acknowledges this foundational truth, or must she “pretend” that this is not the case (for myriad an obvious reasons)?

    March 19, 2014
  8. Eric Olsen said:

    I have enjoyed reading the posts on this site, especially as a first year principal hungry for new information and professional networking. I have been looking for a site to post some occasional blog posts of my own. Instead of launching my own blog, I was hoping this might be a good forum to post my reflections and share my new learnings. How does one post to this site or become a contributor?

    June 9, 2014
  9. Veronica said:

    Great analogy. I can this as an eye opening experience that could be used with my staff. Thanks.

    November 16, 2014
  10. Abdikadir Ismail said:

    Wonderful analogy
    With your permission I wish to use the analogy with my colleagues as we embrace Teaching with Technology which to many in our community is a HUGE Change

    Briefly to introduce myself – I head a Day Secondary School in Maralal, Samburu County, Kenya

    December 23, 2014
  11. Elda Fouché said:

    I would very much like to subscribe, but do not succeed in my attempts??

    January 25, 2015
  12. Lisa Bryan said:

    In reference to Educational leadership, I value this being the number one focus; student needs. If we cannot recognize that our students live in a world different than the one we grew up in, then we are never going to grab their attention, or teach them 21st Century Skills. Technology drives everything we do and too often it is left out for lack of funding, fear of change, or just being stuck in old habits. If we keep that first statement about student needs in mind at all times we can’t do anything but move forward.

    March 26, 2015
  13. For my 10 month-old girls, we do whatever we can to limit screen time.
    We don’t have the TV on and we don’t use the iPad around them. When we do (ie. Canucks game),
    they are drawn to it and cannot move away from it. The first time they found my iPad,
    it was quite the battle to pull it away just because every time they touched it the light went on.
    I cannot imagine how drawn to it they would be with moving images. With twins,
    we have had to resort to some videos when we are home alone and
    we need to distract the other one so we can attend to one…

    January 29, 2018
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