Welcome to our school. I have been here for a few years so I wanted to be the first to officially greet you. I am excited to learn more about you and your leadership style. I can imagine that you'd like for me to be to work on time, have prepared lessons and execute them in a personalized manner for my students. I know you expect me to have my attendance done accurately daily and to respond to parent and student concerns in a timely manner. I pledge to do all of those things, so will you do a few things for me?
Post written by Ashley Allen, a master's student in communication management with an emphasis on marketing at the University of Southern California. She received her bachelor's degree from San Jose State University last spring and hopes to use her writing skills to make a difference.
Susan Kessler, April Snodgrass, and Andrew Davis of Nashville (Tenn.) Public Schools discussed the struggles of being a new principal and shared valuable insight for surviving the first year during their 2014 ASCD Annual Conference session "When Do You Sleep: Surviving the First Year as a Principal." The dynamic trio each shared tips that have played an integral part in their own success.
The students needed me to make a difference, and they couldn't wait another year for me to figure it out. The disciplinary referrals were piling up in the manila folder on my desk. Their pink, yellow, and white triplicate forms were complete and signed by parents and guardians and entered into the school system's data management system. Even though I had already dealt with these behavior documents and events, they still troubled me.
As the assistant principal for 8th grade, they bothered me because the same students' names populated the forms day after day. They had become "frequent flyers" in my office. And even though I was doing my job as it was assigned, I knew I needed to do something different to serve these students. Turning students' lives into ink and paper was simple, but it wasn't enough. It wasn't making a real difference in their daily lives at school and beyond.
ASCD continually seeks to provide solutions to the challenges that face educators of all levels. A recent ASCD SmartBrief ED Pulse poll asked readers if they believe students should be allowed to bring and use their cellphones at school.
Principals are the key players in developing the climate, culture, and processes in their schools. They are critical to implementing meaningful and lasting school change and in the ongoing school-improvement process. There is also no doubt that the role—or roles—of a principal has changed dramatically in recent years and will likely change even more in upcoming decades.
I was recently asked if I remember teachers or educators that made a difference in my life and learning and how they inspired me. Yes, for a while I was that "middle" kid. I was your student who came diligently every day to class, completes their work, and if given the choice, would have been perfectly happy blending into the background. I was eager about the world's possibilities (which you wouldn't have known unless you asked), but had little belief in myself that I would be a part of making a difference in it. I was the kid who had mastered the art of not being noticed, but not well enough to fool the untrained eyes of some of my teachers.
You, too, likely have had one of these teachers. The teachers who are passionate about their work and believe in the potential of each child, love their content area, but believe in the importance of making real connections with their students even more. They are the ones that make the most indelible impressions on your heart and their belief in you is what made you think differently about yourself so you could soar.
Post written by Kerry Dunne and Christopher Martell
Recent national media attention on attempts by school districts to fold history and social studies into broader humanities programs has brought attention to the role of history education in today schools.
This begs the question: Is the study of history and the social studies a critical part of a 21st century education? In the age of a Common Core State Standards curriculum dominated by literacy and numeracy, will it survive as a core school subject? We argue that high-quality teaching and learning in history, geography, economics, and civics matter more than ever for today's American students and for the future of the country.
I was working with an elementary principal. One of the school's 3rd grade classes had given him a list of responsibilities they assumed formed his job. He showed me the list and chuckled, until he got to an item that he said made him shudder far more than smile: "You fix everything."
That overwhelming mandate contains a big piece of the truth: almost everything that happens in the school is ultimately the responsibility of the principal. What is equally valid is the reality that one person cannot know everything, be everywhere, prevent all problems, and fix everything.
As the key players in developing the climate, culture, and processes in their schools, principals are critical to implementing meaningful and lasting change in the ongoing school-improvement process. Those who have a clear vision; inspire and engage others in embracing change for improvement; drive, facilitate, and monitor the teaching and learning process; and foster a cohesive culture of learning lead our schools in ensuring that each student—and school staff member—is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged.
From July 21 through August 1, we'll be sharing advice for new principal leaders—those who are new to the role or new to a school. What advice do you have for new principals? Are you (or have you been) a principal and have a story or experience to share?