Empathy Interviews for Reflective Growth

Have you ever looked at a seashell and noticed the repeating pattern? What can we learn from these iterative images in nature for the benefit of improving teacher practice? As teacher-leaders, we naturally reflect on learning to build our practice and encourage others to do the same. Some do this in writing a journal, a blog, or a book, but … Read More

Gratitude: It’s not just for Thanksgiving

Ok, Educators! Are you ready to power through these final days of 2022? One small tip to help energize you during these few weeks (and sustain you into 2023) is a daily gratitude practice. Many of us engage in the traditional Thanksgiving table go-round, but what does it look like after the leftovers have been eaten and the football has … Read More


The mountains in Colorado are huge, and this is coming from a dedicated White Mountains hiker. As we touched down in Denver, I was amazed by how the Rockies loomed over the Mile High City, always visible no matter where you ended up in town. I was in Denver to attend the Visible Learning conference run by John Hattie and … Read More

How School Design Can Hinder Or Help Collaboration

Do you remember hearing about the medieval tales of King Arthur and his knights of the square table? Well, most likely that’s not how you remember the tale. That’s because, beyond being strong enough to extract a sword, Excalibur, from a stone, Arthur was wise enough to convene his team around a round table, one in which no knight sat in a prominent position. … Read More

15 Tips for the New Principal

My most read blog post is an attempt to provide advice to new principals. Originally written 10 years ago on my blog Principal Reflections, the advice below (with some light editing) still works: This is the season of new beginnings. Administrators search for novel ways to inspire their staff and balance exciting initiatives and necessary mandates into a vision that … Read More

Why Surveys Are a Key School Leadership Tool

Principals, how effective was your back-to-school preservice this year? Did teachers gain knowledge and learn new skills? Sure, everyone enjoyed the donuts in the teachers’ lounge, but how did people feel about the professional development sessions that were offered? Were they effective? Did they meet teachers’ needs?   The past couple of years have been especially tough for educators, and … Read More

On the First Day of School

I love the first day of school; I have always loved the first day of school. Sure, I love the ritual of it all – and of course, the new school supplies – but I think what I really love is all the possibilities that come with each back-to-school beginning. Even more so than New Year’s Eve, I love that … Read More

The Power of Opening Day: A post for planners of back-to-school PD

If you are on social media, you’ve likely seen the memes of teachers thinking about returning to school.  I’ve seen several that lament the ‘opening day’ experience. So if you are the planner of this incredibly important event, here are a few tips from experts in the field to help make that opening day beyond incredible. In their 2017 book, … Read More

Management by Exception

In many educational organizations, the management practices revolve around “management by exception?” When one or a handful of folks, do not abide by the guidelines of the organization, all are subsequently held to task. Here’s a perfect example. Schooltime for teachers begins at 7:20 am. A small group of teachers is commonly known to arrive late.  A mass communication goes … Read More

Thinking of Individual Education Plans as Personal Learning Plans in a Competency Based Education System.

Competency-based education lends educators to think of terms like mastery, exceeding, and rigor.  These terms are not just synonymous with Advanced Placement courses and honors programs.  Within a competency-based system, all students can be masters of content and exceed competency standards.  This is especially true for students with learning differences.  Developing a personalized learning plan for students within a competency-based … Read More