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

6 ways to keep students engaged in any type of classroom

Whether your students take the bus to school or run downstairs to the computer room, keeping them engaged in their classwork throughout the day is the best way for them to master content and progress to the next level of their education.

But not all students do this, or at least, do it well. So how can teachers and principals up their game to keep students engaged and make sure each child stays focused and ready to learn?

As teacher for more than 20 years, I have 6 tips to help keep students engaged throughout the day, whether they are in a traditional or a virtual classroom.  …Read More

EmpowerU Secures Funding for National Launch of Tech-Powered Solution to Address Student Anxiety and Depression

EmpowerU today announced that the company has secured $1 million in seed funding to launch its highly personalized, tech-powered, social-emotional learning solution nationwide. The funding will fuel EmpowerU’s efforts to bring much-needed mental health support to students beyond Minnesota, where more than 1,000 students have already benefited with improved wellbeing, confidence, and hope.

This round of financing was led by Capita3, a Twin Cities venture firm with a focus on women-led organizations. Additional investment partners include ECMC and GreatNorth Labs.

A recent EdWeek survey indicated that 66% of high school principals are actively searching for effective solutions to battle the escalating levels of student anxiety, avoidance and depression. With EmpowerU, student growth happens one day at a time, one small step at a time through engaging, online skill-building lessons supported by daily 1:1 motivational coaching. This daily blend of support results in significant improvements in emotional wellbeing, school attendance, and grades, while decreasing the need for more costly interventions.…Read More

Teacher & Principal School Report Findings

Scholastic, with YouGov, surveyed public school Pre-K–12 educators in winter 2020 to gather their thoughts on equity in education, literacy instruction, family engagement, professional development, and funding priorities. This summer (July 23–August 4), amid the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, Scholastic re-contacted 790 of these educators to see how their views shifted and ask new questions about their priorities and feelings heading into a new academic year.

The full summary of the research findings, here on the Scholastic EDU blog:

https://edublog.scholastic.com/post/teachers-and-principals-reflect-covid-19-and-academic-year-ahead…Read More

Support the Nation’s School Leaders Navigate 2020-2021

mindSpark Learning, a Denver-based national nonprofit dedicated to empowering educators with industry-oriented professional learning experiences, announced today the launch of reSOLVE, a three-part series designed to help district and school leaders across the U.S. mitigate the new paradigm of teaching and learning in uncertain times.

School districts across the nation are evaluating mixed in-person and remote learning teaching strategies for the 2020-2021 school year and must be prepared to pivot quickly depending on the course of COVID-19. reSOLVE brings together district superintendents, assistant superintendents, curriculum directors, principals, assistant principals and deans to develop or fine-tune their contingency plans for the upcoming school year with the support of industry experts.

reSOLVE is free for all participants. The series leverages mindSpark Learning’s robust equity-centered design thinking process to ensure participants engage empathetically with their stakeholders in their decision making and develop responsive blueprints. Its collaborative structure connects leaders with other school districts and provides a way to network with others across the country. In three sessions, reSOLVE participants will:…Read More

What makes a great principal?

Great principals lead effective schools. Under the leadership of a great principal, teachers thrive, students engage with core content and school administrative functions run smoothly.

Conventional wisdom recognizes the value of school principals, and research backs it up. A report by the National Association of Elementary School Principals found that, of the most important factors affecting students’ academic achievement, leadership comes second only to instruction.

This finding makes sense as principals serve as the head of their schools, and their decisions affect school culture, parent involvement and overall community satisfaction. The level of influence a principal possesses, along with the benefits that can accompany the position, make it a post that many motivated educators aspire to hold.…Read More

8 ways to ensure tech readiness this school year

Before each new school year starts, educators have been busy preparing, organizing, and welcoming students back to school–and that means ensuring tech tools and digital resources are ready to go.

District administrators, principals, and teachers are prepping for full classrooms and full schedules. Now is a great time to double-check school priorities, tech tools, and instructional strategies for the coming school year.

Related content: What’s the one tech tool you can’t give up?…Read More

4 ways school leadership encourages proficient readers

At a time when schools are held accountable to the highest level of standards, strong school leadership is critical for success.

Fortunately, researchers have been exploring the school leadership factors that enable schools to successfully provide interventions to struggling readers, even in the face of complicating factors (e.g., a high percentage of the student population qualifying for free and reduced lunch).

Related content: 10 ways to use technology to promote reading…Read More

This program could help aspiring principals succeed

Students in schools where new principals participated in a research-based training program outperformed students in schools with new principals who did not participate in the program, according to a new study.

The RAND Corporation study focuses on the New Leaders program, which partners with districts to offer rigorous and research-based training for aspiring principals.

Read more: Principal prep is changing for the better…Read More

Want to improve your leadership development? Use simulations!

American schools are facing a crisis in the lack of professional learning for school leaders.

These leaders are required to be licensed, which usually entails a two-year program at a university or college. However, once they actually begin their careers, most of them will tell you that any further professional learning comes on the job. This vacuum of professional learning among principals and superintendents means many have to stub their toes by learning from mistakes, leading sometimes to grave consequences and almost certainly to less-than-optimal outcomes.

In my research, I’ve worked extensively with simulations that help our school leaders continue their professional growth well past their licensing requirements. Effective simulations present relevant scenarios that offer leaders the opportunity to listen and learn from their peers and to gain experience without risk.…Read More