4 things to help a school principal lead through the pandemic

Despite vaccinations being distributed in record-breaking time, the COVID surge continues to be a wearisome reality for the third consecutive school year. The ongoing pandemic has created an unprecedented crisis evoking strong and divisive emotions and disrupting PreK-12 education. A school principal leading in these demanding and chaotic circumstances faces relentless pressures, limited options, and sleepless nights. 

Emotional exhaustion and physical fatigue have eroded school leaders’ job satisfaction, as evidenced by 42% of U.S. principals indicating they were considering leaving their position and 70% stating they had felt close to their breaking point (NASSP & LPI, 2020). A veteran Iowa school principal lamented, “I have been a principal for 20 years, and this was, by far, the most taxing year on me professionally, emotionally, and physically.  I would have to change things in all three categories in order to survive another year in a pandemic.”

School leaders have carried the weighty responsibility for adhering to pandemic responses, processes, procedures, and protocols, many of which have changed overnight. Principal leadership has been critical to guiding school teams while avoiding professional burnout. To learn more, we administered a survey, which was completed by over 350 Iowa administrators, which found that leaders who not only thrive in uncertainty but retain positive job satisfaction demonstrate four vital leadership traits: purpose-driven, self-care, self-awareness, and self-efficacy.…Read More

10 SEL activities to help students with stress management

As an educator, you are in a unique position to provide stability and care to your students and their families. One of the best ways you can support students during these uncertain times is by teaching them effective stress management strategies.

Just like adults, unmanaged stress in students can lead to anxiety, depression, irritability, poor concentration, aggression, physical illness, fatigue, and sleep disturbance. It can also increase tobacco, drug, and/or alcohol use.

Here are 10 activities to help your students learn effective stress management.…Read More

We cannot innovate if we’re tied to yesterday’s “normal”

Not even 24 hours into his summer break, Brooklyn-based educator and author Cornelius Minor opened ISTELive 21 with a brutally honest assessment of what it means to inspire educators–and the communities that support schools–to innovate and do better for children of all racial and ethnic backgrounds, for students of all abilities, and for students of all gender identities.

“I just said goodbye to the most resilient cohort of kids I’ve ever met,” Minor said. “Fatigue is my new housemate, and I don’t know what’s heavier–my shoulders, or my heart. I know you feel it, too. I see you. You are powerful, and brilliant, and you are tired,” he told the virtual audience of educators.

Minor is a Brooklyn-based educator who works with teachers, school leaders, and leaders of community-based organizations to support equitable literacy reform. His latest book, We Got This, explores how the work of creating more equitable school spaces is embedded in our everyday choices–specifically in the choice to really listen to kids.…Read More

Why, and how, warranties should guide edtech purchasing

School technology leaders are faced with the buying decisions of products for an entire school or district. These types of edtech purchases are a sizeable investment and, unfortunately, funding can be wasted on products that are overpriced and underperform–diverting school budgets that could be better used to benefit students in other ways.

The first and most obvious factor in the search for the right technology is to decide which product will be most cost-effective. Durability of the technology is the next major influencer.

When evaluating a district’s edtech needs there are several factors to consider, including product warranties and life cycle of the product. Consumer brands typically do not offer warranties for school use, and this is where differentiation between consumer and commercial devices comes into play.…Read More

Greatest lesson: Teacher buy-in is overrated

One of the greatest lessons my 30 years of experience in education has taught me is that teacher buy-in is, sometimes, overrated.

There, I said it.

Now, before you stop reading, note my use of the word “sometimes.”  As a former school administrator, I realize there is a time and place for buy-in.  However, as one of my mentors, a seasoned middle school principal once explained to me, while consensus and collaborative decision-making is important, it can also be paralyzing to innovation.  Understanding the balance between growing buy-in and launching innovation has never been more important than in today’s era.…Read More

10 school initiatives that never go away

A new concept called ‘initiative fatigue’ has educators griping

initiative-school-fatigueThere’s a philosophy in fashion that goes something like this: Keep it; it’ll be back in style in another few years. Just like the clothing industry, education has a cyclical nature of its own, mostly around initiatives, leading educators on social media to discuss what they call “initiative fatigue.”

Initiative fatigue stems from what educators say is a new initiative touted as the savior to whatever education problem plagues you. For example, Common Core for 21st century learning, computer-based testing for better student data, and a focus on STEM for global competitiveness.

(Next page: What educators are saying)…Read More