Family Math Night K-3

Family involvement is extremely important.  A strong parent-school connection is a definite need.  However, trying to plan school events can be such a time consuming task.  The goal in hosting these events is to share fun ways parents can help their child at home.  The theme of this packet is making lasting math memories.  That is exactly what I have provided for you.  This year your family math night doesn't have to be daunting.  It can be a success with these activities.

The level of the games are designed with a rigor for parent-student success.  I created these activities with a wide range of ages for K-3.  The parent can take the idea of the game and apply it in a variety of other ways at home.  The games are all hands-on.  They require little prep for the night and are easy on the budget. 

Family Math Night is a wonderful way for you and your students to enjoy a fun and learning experience together.
 You will receive a list of games with the appropriate grade level, a welcome poster, parent invitation, table tents with the directions and a sign in sheet.
 14 games; 100 pages- Simple games that can be explained quickly or demonstrated easily.

Where should you hold the event?
A multi-purpose room on campus would be an ideal location to hold the event.  Other suggestions- library, cafeteria or gym.  Holding the event in one location allows you to be present at all times.  Holding the event in the classrooms would be fine except it is isolated.  A teacher may only have a few students attend whereas another teacher would have a full room.

Give parents plenty of notice by sending home the invitation.  A "Save the Date" in advance would be a great idea so parents have several weeks notice. 

I hope this packet is found as a big help and a time saver.  Let's enjoy a night of fun and games and discover the wonders of math together.

If you purchase, share pictures of your night with me.  I would love to showcase your school on Principal Principles.


your photo name

BOLO-Be on the Look Out

It's a BOLO link-up party.  BOLO means Be on the Look Out.  Today, I'm linking up with some of my friends to share some projects I'm working on so you can be on the look out for them in the next few days.  Check out my current project below and then head over to Ashley Reed's blog-Just Reed! and Teaching Outside the Box with Brooke Brown.

Since our projects are in progress, this is a great time for you to make requests to it or see a sneak peek.  If you have projects of your own and want to share today too, link up on all three blogs.  Just grab the image below for your blog.

Clipart provided by-TaDoodles Illustrations
Be on the look out in the next few days for Family Math Night-Discover the Wonders of Math Together.

Family Math Night will have hands-on math centers for grades K-3.  This packet is being designed for a campus-wide event.  I will provide you with the activities, station signs, parent letter and many more items.  Very little prep needed at very little expense.  We all know how time consuming these events can be.  However, I hope you find this helpful and a big success for teachers, students and parents.  Be on the look out for Family Math Night K-3 in the next few days. 

Since this product is in progress, what would you like to see inside of it? 
Let's BOLO together!


your photo name

Upcoming Link Up-BOLO Party (Sept 28)

Happy Friday Friends!  Just wanted you to know about a new link-up party that I'm hosting along with two other friends.  Ashley Reed from Just Reed and Brooke Brown from Teaching Outside the Box are joining me and we're having a BOLO Party.  We want you to join us too on Monday, Sept 28.

BOLO stands for Be on the Look Out.  It's a time for you to share a product that you are currently working on but not yet completed.  Give your readers an opportunity to see a preview of it "in progress" and maybe have an chance to give you ideas to add to it.

All you need to do is grab the graphic below, post on your blog and link back to our three blogs.

What are you waiting for?  Get your blogs ready by Monday, Sept 28.

See you on Monday for the BOLO Party.

your photo name

Banners for Classroom Observations

The classroom observation notepad banners arrived today! I think they turned out great.  They will be on display at my presentations and exhibit booths.  I have several other items on the way and look forward to sharing them with you as this adventure takes off. 

The feedback I'm receiving from instructional leaders all over the U.S. makes my heart so happy.  Today I received an email from someone who gave me permission to share.  Take a look at what Lauren Almanza had to say:
"Well it's safe to say, I absolutely love your notepad (it's almost out already so another order will be happening soon).  ALL OF YOUR admin things make my life so much easier!  It's the little things that make the difference (saves me a lot of time)!  Thanks!
- Lauren Almanza

Feedback on Instagram:
@texasstaarteacher says, "Leave it to me to get fancy with my classroom observations. I can not wait to use my classroom observation checklist this week.  Thank you!

If you want to get in on the fun and order, I have several in stock.  Thanks for all the wonderful support from all my family, friends and fellow school administrators.

Follow me on Instagram @principalprinciples
Twitter @principalsteph1
Facebook- Principal Principles

Teachers Pay Teachers



your photo name

A Man, The Boy and a Donkey

As school leaders trying to keep everyone happy all the time is absolutely impossible.  It never hurts to strive for a happy and content campus.  However, trying to please everyone is just not going to happen.  If you are early in your career as a principal or school leader, please know trying to please everyone will cause you to end up miserable yourself.

Yesterday, I shared a fable with you about a donkey.  Today, is another fable about A Man, The Boy and a Donkey.

A Man and his son went to market with their Donkey. As they were walking a countryman passed and said: “You fools, what is a Donkey good for but riding?”

So the Man put the Boy on the Donkey. Soon they passed a group of men and one said: “See that lazy Boy, he lets his father walk while he rides.”

So the Man ordered his Boy to get off, and got on himself. Then they passed two women, one of whom said to the other: “Shame on that lazy lout to let his poor little son march along.”

The Man didn’t know what to do, so he placed his Boy up before him on the Donkey. By this time they had come to the town, and passers-by jeered and pointed at them. The Man stopped and asked what they were scoffing at. The men said: “Aren’t you ashamed of yourself for overloading that poor donkey with you and your large son?”

The Man and Boy got down and didn’t know what to do. They thought and thought, until they cut down a pole, tied the donkey’s feet to it, and raised the pole with the donkey to their shoulders. They went on in the middle of the laughter of everyone who met them until they came to Market Bridge, when the Donkey, wiggling and moving around, caused the Boy to drop his end of the pole. In the struggle the Donkey fell over the bridge into the water and drowned.

“That will teach you,” said an old man who had followed them: “Please all, and you will please none!”

Moral- trying to please everyone is impossible. People aren't going to always agree. There will be people on your campus who will not like your decisions and others who do. The job as a school leader is rewarding but difficult. However, take steps along the way to communicate with your staff about your decisions. If they don't agree, they can still support and respect you for the decision you made. Trying to please everyone is a heavy burden to carry. Let's try and do what's best for the students on our campus and in the end that is all that matters.

your photo name

Lesson from a Donkey

Today is a Monday Motivation day for you and me.  I'm sure you have probably heard this fable about a donkey in a well.  If not, it is below.  There is a moral to the story and life lessons to be learned from it.  However, I wanted to try and relate it to our lives as educators today. 

One day a farmer's donkey fell down into a well.
The animal cried piteously for hours as the farmer tried to figure out what to do.
Finally, he decided the animal was old, and the well needed to be covered up anyway;
it just wasn't worth it to retrieve the donkey.

He invited all his neighbors to come over and help him.
They all grabbed a shovel and began to shovel dirt into the well.
At first, the donkey realized what was happening and cried horribly..
Then, to everyone's amazement he quieted down.

A few shovel loads later, the farmer finally looked down the well.
He was astonished at what he saw.
With each shovel of dirt that hit his back, the donkey was doing something amazing.
He would shake it off and take a step up.

As the farmer's neighbors continued to shovel dirt on top of the animal,
he would shake it off and take a step up.
Pretty soon, everyone was amazed as the donkey stepped up
over the edge of the well and happily trotted off!

Life is going to shovel dirt on you, all kinds of dirt.
The trick to getting out of the well is to shake it off and take a step up.
Each of our troubles is a steppingstone.
We can get out of the deepest wells just by not stopping, never giving up!
Shake it off and take a step up.

LESSONS we can take from this as educators:
1.  Stay in a success mindset.  
2.  What happens to us as educators isn't nearly as important as how we react to it.
3.  Choose to not give up this year when times are tough.


your photo name

What to do if Classroom Observations are Unsatisfactory

This topic, What to do if classroom observations are unsatisfactory, has two parts.  Part I is for principals and Part 2 is for teachers.  I wanted to share some steps to take and the best way to address this. 

Part 1: Principals- What to do if a teacher you observe has an unsatisfactory observation.
  • Keep in mind our role is instructional leader.  We must be able to provide guidance and direction to teachers about classroom management, instructional strategies, student engagement and so on.  If you are going to evaluate a teacher, be willing to provide that guidance and support during this time.
  • Be sensitive but explicit.  In order for the teacher to exactly understand where the shortfall occurred, we need to be explicit in explaining it.  However, be sensitive.  We can explain it in a way that it isn't harsh but instead it's respectful to the profession.  Don't leave the conversation unclear and foggy.  I call this the Thoughtful Approach.
  • One not-so-good evaluation doesn't equate to an unsatisfactory teacher.  Maybe the teacher was having a bad day or the lesson just wasn't thought out in advance.  When a lesson seems to be not working during an observation, I simply walk out and then send a note to the teacher that I will come back at a later time.  If I decide to stay and the lesson was unsatisfactory, I use that as a reflection piece and discuss this with the teacher.  I believe in second chances.  I choose not to write it up but a teachable piece for both teacher and administrator.  However, please note that a consistent unsatisfactory evaluation/observation, takes on a whole other meaning and a totally set of procedures. 
  • A teacher who is struggling in content, classroom management and instructional skills needs support in professional development.  As the principal, locate training that this teacher can attend to become a stronger teacher.
  • A teacher who is struggling in their performance needs a mentor teacher.  I have new teachers observe their mentor teacher every month.  The mentor teacher also observes the new teacher for peer guidance.  
  • Here's my judgement call in evaluations that are unsatisfactory:  A teacher who is willing but can't is reachable.  A teacher who won't put the effort out but could improve is often the hardest to reach.
  • Set goals and create an improvement plan for the teacher ASAP.  Follow up and follow through with this plan.  The teacher and administrator need to be partners in reaching successful evaluations.  Keep lines of communication open through this process until the goals are met. 
  • If you have instructional coaches on your campus, have this staff member model effective lessons or provide trainings and support.
  • Provide consistent feedback to the teacher in order to support them in improving their practice. 
Part 2: Teachers- What to do if you're a teacher who receives an unsatisfactory observation.

  • Know what the evaluator is looking for in your room.  For example, what are the campus goals or initiatives set for the year?  When you know your administrator and their expectations or the district expectations, then observations are less stressful. Most evaluators look for key things such as classroom and instructional organization, student engagement, alignment of instruction and the rigor of instruction. 
  • Plan and then plan again.  Most unsatisfactory evaluations I have observe could have been avoided by planning.  Plan for more than time allows in case something goes wrong or if time runs fast.  Trust me- something happens in every classroom.  Don't think that the other teachers have it all together and the day runs smooth.  There are hiccups in every classroom.  I know you probably do not know when your evaluator is coming in the room so be prepared daily.  Before you leave school each day, look over your lessons and come in the room prepared for the day.
  • When something happens during the lesson that shouldn't, address it.  For example, a student is up out of their seat without your permission, a student blurts out the answer, etc... address it.  I would rather you address it than not.  
  • Work with your administrator on a growth plan to help you improve.  Be open minded and willing to put the effort into a successful year.  Everyone has room to improve.  
  • Ask for a mentor teacher if one is not assigned to you through your district.  Observe this teacher and have this teacher come in your classroom for suggestions.
  • The majority of principals are not observing the teacher.  We are observing instruction.  We are gathering data about instruction and student performance.  Classroom visits are annoying and no one likes them.  However, we are required to do it.  I'm very sensitive to the fact that teachers are nervous.  I try and make them feel comfortable with me in the room.  
  • Be a self-learner.  Read and research what other teachers are doing in their classrooms.  Trust me there are many great teachers blogging today who share their amazing classrooms and talents with the digital world.
  • Attend workshops that focus on the areas of improvement.  For example, a teacher on campus was having a difficult time with classroom management.  I helped the teacher organize and arrange her room and then I provided a workshop to attend.  
  • Prepare your students for the observation.  Students should know the expectations when visitors are in the room.
  • Do the best you can do every day.  It's all administrators ask.  It's our job to take care of the est.


Last week I asked my followers to help me name my notepad.  After many suggestions, I named the notepad Journey.  As you know I have one current design called Bliss.  It is great for female administrators but the male administrators are a bit hesitate to carry something so floral around.  I totally understand.   After many requests by fellow male administrators, the new design was born.

Meet the new notepad- Journey

Classroom Observation Notepad- Bliss


your photo name

Principal Binder- A Must!

My Principal Binder is a must!  When I'm off campus for meetings or trainings, it is nice to have everything at my fingertips.  All my everyday items are tucked away and can be easily found in my organized binder.  All my other items are filed in my desk or computer.   This binder does not just help me when I'm off campus.  This Principal Binder goes with me to meetings while on campus.  There is nothing more frustrating to me than getting to a meeting and not having what I need.  That just doesn't happen any more. 

The blue file folders tucked away in the back of the binder are some "in progress" files.  As soon as I complete them, they too get filed in my desk or submitted to central office.  I created this system a few years ago and I just don't think I could live any other way. 

I also love the bright color notebook paper.  I found a set of it at Staples this year and think it looks fabulous in the front the binder. 

I use dividers with pockets to store things I'm working on at the time.  For example, the newsletter that is peeking out of the file was something I was working on but not quite ready to be printed.  I didn't want holes punched in it or have it filed in the notebook so I just slipped it in the divider. 

Here are some designs you might like:

How do you stay organized?  
If you have one of these Principal Binders, take a picture and post on instagram.  
Tag with #principalbinder


your photo name

Student Centered Instruction

"Student Centered Instruction"- three buzz words we hear so much in education.  What do those three words actually mean and how can you as the principal or assistant principal help your teachers increase learning?

Student Centered Instruction means the focus is not on the teacher.  The students are now the focus.  How might this be?  Students can easily become the focus on the lesson through active learning.  Research has shown that when students are "doing" and not just "sitting" they learn more.  In a classroom where students are actively engaged and learning, they are solving problems, working on a project, discussing and debating a topic, and formulating a solution to a problem.  Let's face it- when students are actively engaged in the lesson, they are more motivated to learn.  

Let's relate as adults.  How many times have you attended professional development and just sat and listened.  You might come away with one or two things of value from an 8 hour training course.  However, on the flip side, have you ever attended a training and you participated in the course? You were asked to move around, create a chart, share your ideas with a partner or your table, or role play?  This kind of workshop you might typically remember and then the topic of the workshop tends to stick with you more.

We want students: To collaborate.  To be engaged.  To be active.  To be a participant.

If you aren't seeing these in your classrooms, we need to stop and have personal conversations with the teacher after the observation.  We need to provide our teachers with the kinds of trainings to move into this direction.

Trust me - active engagement and students being the center of the lesson works.  It works in all grade levels and with all students and abilities.  We need to move away from lectures and "sit and get" type lessons- in all grades! 

Students can participate in centers/stations, task cards, complete charts and graphs, Think-turn-Talk, etc...  There are so many ways to get students actively engaged.  Here are a few pictures of some active engagement activities.

Below are 30 Interactive Student Engagement Activities in one spot.  These are very easy to use.  Just print. Laminate and put on a ring in your classrooms.

Download Interactive Engagement Activities 
Purchase this packet for every teacher on campus.   These activities will be useful in all grade levels.  Your teachers will be able implement these strategies easily.

Instructional strategies such as group activities, hands on activities, differentiated instruction, etc... have been shown to greatly increase student engagement in learning.  Students learn more and retain more information when they actively participate in the learning. 

Let's help our teachers use more interactive engagement activities.  When we do this, our students will perform at higher levels. 

If you need help getting started with this in your school, contact me so we can make a plan together.


your photo name

School Wide Parent Reminder Notes

I'm sharing something today that I hope will make your life easier.  It's School Wide Parent Reminder Notes.  I created these to help save time and always have notes ready to go home. 

These are editable.  I added text boxes for you to add your own information.  The notes have two notes on each page to save paper.  Just cut in half and you are ready to go. 

All the notes save ink because they are all black and white!  These would be great just to print on colored paper.  In the file you will have a PDF version and a PowerPoint version.  If you use Adobe, you can easily add your text to the pdf.  If not, the PowerPoint file is added for you. 

Here are the notes that I included:

1. School Holiday- School closed
2. School Picture Day
3. It's College Day- wear your favorite college shirt.
4. Parent-Teacher Conference
5. Report Cards Go Home This Week
6. Winter Break
7. Spring Break
8. Easter Holiday
9. Snow Day
10. MLK Jr. Holiday
11. President's Day
12. Book Fair
13. State Math Test
14. State Reading Test
15. Reading Assessment
16. Math Assessment
17. Writing Assessment
18. State Writing Assessment
19. Technology Device Day
20. Science Fair Project
21. Super Hero Day
22. Class Party Info- Halloween
23. Class Party Info- Fall Party
24. Class Party Info- Holiday Party
25. Class Party Info- Christmas
26. Muffins with Moms
27. Donuts with Dads
28. Field Day Events
29. P.E. Tournament
30. Red Ribbon Week- Just Say No
31. Awards Ceremony
32. Early Release Tomorrow
33. Early Release coming soon
34. School Assembly
35. PTO meeting this week
36. Open House
37. Curriculum Night
38. We're Going on a Field Trip
39. School Science Fair
40. Follow our school on social media
41. School Fundraiser STARTS soon
42. School Fundraiser ENDS soon
43. Fall Festival
44. Sch0ol Talent Show Off
45. Library Books due
46. End of Year celebration
47. Grandparent's Day
48. Christmas Program
49. Pictures with Santa
50. It's a Read-a-thon
51. Group Picture Day
52. 100th Day of School
53. Veteran's Day Program
54. Thanksgiving Break
55. Columbus Day
56. Memorial Day Holiday
57. Labor Day Holiday
58. Design your own/Create your own If you don't see the one you need!
Credits Page

your photo name

Paddles in the Water: Coxswain

When you hear the words "paddles in the water," what comes to mind?  For me, it's all about leadership.  

I had this idea for you yesterday but had to do some research on Olympic Rowing and Boating.  This sport is not something I have ever observed or experienced in Texas.  However, the procedures used can be linked back to our role as principals or administrators and school leadership. 

U.S. Olympic Team
Take a look at Mary Whipple in this image.  Mary sits at the stern and is the only person facing forward in the boat.  She appears just along for the ride.  Her title is coxswain (pronounced cox-en).  Coxswain means boat servant.  This person is a coach in the boat.  Mary Whipple coaches her team, steering, executes race strategy, keeps the crew synchronized and motivates the rowers to pull harder on their oars.  The coxswain wears a microphone and the sound is piped through speakers throughout the boat.  Whipple must steer by grasping and moving a string attached to the boats rudder.  She has the ability to get eight women all working together.  When they start to fall behind in the race, she knows the exact words to make them go faster.  Her words say it best here- "My teammates rely on me to lead and unite them with my words, and I love that my words make the boat go fast."

The role of a coxswain in a crew:
1.  Keep the boat and rowers safe at all times by steering the boat.
2.  Be in command of the boat at all times.
3.  Coach the crew.
4.  Provide motivation and encouragement to the crew.
5.  Provide feedback on the crew's performance both in and out of the races.
6.  Make necessary tactical decisions.
7.  Organize and direct the crew at all times.
8.  Be responsible for the vessel. 

I believe there is a great lesson we can all take away from Mary Whipple's position in the boat.  Her role and our role are very similar.  We have the ability to say just the right thing to get our crew moving in the right direction.  We are responsible for our team's safety.  We must be in command.  Coach from the front of the school.  Provide feedback on the performance of our teachers and staff.  Make tough tactical decisions when necessary.  Organize and direct at all times.  Not just in times of good but also when times get tough.  We are responsible for the school and everyone inside it.

Get your paddles in the water and let's go for a ride.  One message- Mary Whipple


your photo name

The Impact of School Leadership on Student Achievement

What impact does a principal's leadership skills have on student achievement? It shouldn't be a surprise to you to know leadership does impact student achievement.  But how much does it really matter and to what degree does leadership impact student achievement?  That 's the question we should ask ourselves.

The number one determinate of the success of a student is based on teaching.  The number two determinate is based on school leadership. For you see, we have the power to achieve greatness each and every day.  Our leadership skills matter and matter BIG.  The power to change a school is in the hands of a principal.  The key to a successful school is a great principal.

I'm not here to share with you research, statistics, valued-added-quantitative research, and some great model of leadership.  There are plenty of books and research to be read already.

I'm here to share with you proven and effective ways you can positively impact your students and close the achievement gaps on your campus.  Always at the forefront of your mind is this- you have the power via your leadership position to revitalize your school.  Are you willing to do that?

If you have been a part of my blog for some time now, you know I'm a no-fluff kind of person.  I tell it like it is.  I'm all about student success and being the best leader possible.  So here goes.

 Vision...Set Goals...Provide Solutions

The three ways principals can impact student achievement.  Sounds easy?  Well it's not easy and if it was easy you wouldn't have been hired to do the job.  The district picked you for the job because they see this in you. 

You can be this visionary leader.  Inspire and share a commitment to excellence.  Strive for a vigorous pursuit in high student performance. 

Utilize your data to make informed decisions and work with your teams to develop a purposeful plan for growth.  Align your curriculum, instruction and assessments to your vision.  Stay focused on your goals.  Meet throughout the year so everyone stays on top of achieving the goals.  When you team faces challenges, lead the campus into discovering solutions to them.  

Create your vision.  Set your goals. Provide Solutions when your goals are challenged. 

your photo name

It's in Production!

Good news, friends.  I am now producing my second notepad for Classroom Walk-throughs and Observations.  The original notepad is girly and great for female principals, assistant principals, instructional coaches, etc...  The new one is perfect for males or for anyone wanting a less flowery notepad.

Take a look:

It is in print production right now and will possibly be ready next week.  The notepad contains the following sections:

Student Engagement, Rigor Rate (Blooms), Instructional Strategies, Focus on Instruction, Environment and Culture, Classroom Management, Additional Observations, Note section, Conference required/not needed

Do you want to see it up-close and personal?  Check it out on YouTube.

The original Classroom Observation Notepad is in stock and ships daily! 

Let's have a little fun.  I am having a hard time naming this baby of mine.  The female notepad is called "Bliss" because of the colorful design.  Bliss is defined in the dictionary as perfect happiness; great joy.  I think it's a great name for the original classroom observation notepad.  

Help me name the more male-friendly or less female-ish notepad.  You could win one for yourself or your school administrator if your name is chosen.  The first one to suggest a name and I pick it- could receive a notepad!  Deadline to submit is Sept 9.  Enter here on the blog, Facebook or Instagram.  Make sure you tag @principalprinciples so I know you entered.


your photo name

Solutions for Schools in Required Improvement

I have been asked by several principals to share advice on solutions to move your school out of "Required Improvement (RI)" status or how not to let it fall into RI status.  There is not one magical solution to it.  It is a mixture of many.  I am sharing 14 must haves with you.  One tip that I use is BEGIN WITH THE END IN MIND.  If you can see the success at the end, then you are on the right step.  It all starts at the end and then map back to the beginning.  Every item listed below is a must in my mind.  Not one item is more important than the other.  However, some take a lot more time to accomplish.

1.  Strong Leadership 2. Consistent and Constant Focus on Instruction and 3.  Committed Staff, Administration and Parents where discussed about a week ago.  You can read about them on my blog here.

4.  Data Driven- If you have been following me over the years, you know this was going to be on my list.  I'm dubbed Data Queen.  Data is necessary for making decisions based on evidence and findings.  In order to make informed decisions to drive instruction, the use of multiple data sources is imperative.   Gathering data takes time.  It also takes time to analyze it.  Use your data to check for gaps in learning, gaps in curriculum, etc...  Please note there are many forms of data.  It is not always necessary to measure student academic data.  Other data- surveys from parents and teachers; school climate, student behavior, attendance, etc...  Data from all forms is necessary.
Need help with collecting data or creating a data wall?

5.  Clear Vision and Focus- As the principal, you are "the instructional leader."  Do you articulate a focus on student achievement and provide a plan for your staff to accomplish it?  Get your plan in place.  Step up a meeting and discuss it.  Share with your campus the weaknesses and strengths.  Brainstorm strategies to meet the needs on the campus.  The vision must be embraced and embedded in daily practice by all staff members.

6.  Quality Learning Time- We must be very aware of ways to maximize instructional time.  Classroom instruction time is sacred and should be uninterrupted.  Don't just think of this as "actual clock time." Is the time that teachers spend for core subjects quality time?  Are they prepared for the lessons?  Do we as principals give them the resources needed to provide quality instruction and an adequate planning time for implementation?  We can't ask teachers to teach if we don't provide them with the tools they need to do the job.

7.  High Expectations - Explicit, rigorous standards are in place for student learning.  The teachers have confidence that success is attainable.  The expectations are evident and understood by all.  We have an unwavering commitment and willingness to be flexible and adjust when needed.  Here's the deal with this...Be prepared for setbacks.  It will happen.  Be flexible and have a plan in place if your first plan doesn't go as expected.

8.  Positive School Climate- It's not all going to be "Skittles and Rainbows."  No lie.  We are all human and when the pressure is on we all tend to get aggressive.  I mean irritable.  Laughing... We can all use pats on the back and a treat in our mailbox.  Don't overlook this area.  The small things matter.  A card, a piece of candy, and a compliment goes a long way.  Take the time to listen.  Take the time to make eye contact.  Let your staff know you hear them and will be there to support them.  A principal must support the teachers.  My motto: I will support you when you are right and defend you when you are wrong.

9.  Teacher Quality- Provide meaningful professional development.  Not some pie in the sky training that no one will ever do.  Teachers don't have time to sit in training for something that isn't practical.   Teachers need differentiated professional development.  A first year teacher and a 15 year teacher require different trainings.  Teachers need feedback after walk-through observations.  Be consistent with being in classrooms. Provide time for teachers to collaborate.  Teachers are only as good as their leader.  Be an effective role model when you provide professional development to your teachers.  For example, I use technology devices during training because I want my teachers to use them during instruction.  I will discuss teacher selection/hiring process another time.  However, note that having the right people on your bus matters.
 Provide Classroom Observations easily and effectively with the

10. Organizational Structure- Who is in charge of what?  Empower your staff to be responsive in support of improvement.  Create leadership teams.  Create professional learning communities.  The more the teachers are involved in the planning-the more they're willing to apply the steps necessary.  Let's change gears for a minute and discuss organizational structure and less human organizational structure.  The campus needs to run smooth.  That all begins with excellent planning.  I have always said, "if I do my job right in the summer, then school begins without any bumps."  It's true.  I work harder in the summer than the first semester altogether.  I plan for everything in the summer - schedules, trainings, meetings, etc...

11.  Process and Procedures- We just can't afford to fly by the seat of our pants.  We must put priorities in place for teaching and learning.  Do you have a process for administering data, for collecting data, for evaluating teachers, for monitoring attendance, for parent involvement, etc...  Develop systems for everything. 

 12.  Student Support- Oh boy. What a biggie for discussion.  Let's begin with academic support.  That is the obvious one.  Begin each year with accessing students to determine their weaknesses.  Provide services based on the data.  If your campus does not have the liberty to have interventionists/instructional coaches, then these services are in the classroom.  When I was teaching, I didn't have these either.  I survived and had a plan inside the classroom during small group instruction.  Make plans to effectively monitor student progress and schedule data meetings regularly.  Non-academic- students need rewards, treats and recognition just as adults do (if not more so).  Ideas such as Pizza with the Principal and Principal for the Day are a few things I do.  Student's needs must be met in all areas of academic, social and emotional.  If they are coming to school hungry, we must meet that need.  Get to know your students and understand their circumstances.  Provide what they need to be successful.

13.  Accelerated Learning-  State accountability does not just look at our shortfalls.  It also looks at how many students advanced in learning.  I created Advanced Placement classes in my elementary school.  Students who were scoring high where given time during the day to be instructed on higher level thinking skills.  Don't forget the higher students.  The goal of accelerated learning is to instruct students with a way of learning that suits them best.  Another way to accelerate learning is to know exactly what students need in order to move them forward.

14.  Communication- In order for improvement to occur, we must know how to achieve it.  It is vital to communicate.  Send newsletters, emails, provide faculty meetings, grade-level meetings, etc...  For me, I send out an email every morning.  If I didn't have anything to say about the events of the day, it was a quote or words of inspiration.  I sent home parent newsletters.  I scheduled weekly grade level meetings.  Scheduling them for the same time and day of the week works best for us.  As far as communication goes with school accountability/improvement, everyone must know why we are doing what we are doing.  They must be actively involved in the decisions, planning and implementation of the goals. 

As you can see there are many areas to be addressed when searching for solutions to school improvement.  There are many more too.  They all matter in a big way.  Stay tuned for more Solutions for School Improvement during the month of September.

Looking for anything in particular...just let me know.  Need help with a project- I'm easy to reach.

Let's stay connected.

your photo name
Back to Top