ASCD Whole Child Bloggers

Leading and Learning as a Principal

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.

Short on Time - ASCD AriasShort on Time: How do I make time to lead and learn as a principal?, he emphasized that although there will always be challenges in education, it is vital that educators and administrators bring attention to dedicated teachers, hardworking students, and the success of the school. Doing so can help create an uplifting and thriving environment. Some of Sterrett's quick tips include:

  • Ride the buses after school: Try riding a different route each day until you have learned all the routes. It can be a powerful experience to see the different neighborhoods and communities that students come from. It also makes school staff accessible to students, bus drivers, and community members as they engage with them at each bus stop.
  • Recognize teachers' accomplishments: Teachers always appreciate positive recognition, and it should be incorporated into staff meetings and daily routines. Sterrett recommended that principals start staff meetings by recognizing a teacher who has worked hard to achieve the school's vision. That teacher would then receive a small item, such as the school mascot, as well as a gift donated by parents. At the next staff meeting, that teacher would pass the mascot on to another teacher they have noticed working towards the school's vision. The recognition would preferably go to a teacher that has not recently received the recognition and who does not teach the same grade level.
  • Incorporate student affirmations: Students should also have the opportunity to be acknowledged. One suggestion was to incorporate student recognition during morning announcements, using nominations from teachers. One participant shared, "I write birthday cards for each student and deliver them in class. It always sparks the rest of the class to sing 'Happy Birthday,' which is a fun way for the students to start their day."
  • Do observations: Walk through and observe a few classrooms each day for about 20 minutes, taking 4 to 5 minutes for each classroom. After the visit, provide teachers with meaningful feedback. This not only encourages dialogue and growth, but also serves as a great opportunity to gather best practices to share during staff meetings. Sterrett even recommended videotaping (with permission) teachers who are using stellar methods in the classroom. You can show the video during staff meetings, and teachers can provide an overview of the activity and answer any questions.
  • Find a principal PLC partner: Find another principal to meet with for about 90 minutes once a month. Try to make the partnership last for a couple years so that you can really learn and grow with each other. Take turns hosting and visiting each other's campus. Share challenges and successes and observe different classrooms. This collaboration can help principals discover more fun ideas and best practices to bring to their school.
  • Take it outdoors: Kids need to spend more time outside. To help facilitate this, try conducting a faculty meeting outdoors. During the meeting, teachers can take turns pointing out different outdoor meeting spaces and sharing an outdoor learning activity they have done or could do in that spot. After the meeting, compile the list of every potential opportunity and share it with faculty.

These steps can help transform your school, but they are just the beginning. For more tips, follow @billsterret on Twitter.

Register today for the 70th ASCD Annual Conference and Exhibit Show, March 21–23, 2015, in Houston, Texas. Learn how to create, share, and experience vibrant learning ecosystems that address global challenges and be part of the age ruled by innovation!


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