The New Principal Show! Season Two Begins August 13

We’re pleased to announce Season Two of “The New Principal Show!”, debuting on Monday, August 13.

Features for Season Two include:

  • Ten Live Shows. Once each month (from August through May), we will host a LIVE show, featuring guests, and providing an interactive opportunity for anyone who joins.  You can reach these shows by joining us at gotomeet.me/principal-matters at 8:00 PM, beginning on August 13.  (Full live show calendar listed below);
  • Twenty Additional Podcasts.    Each of our live shows is recorded and uploaded as a podcast at our podcast landing site,  thenewprincipalshow.podbean.com  This year we ALSO will be posting twenty additional pre-recorded podcasts for a total of 30 podcasts for this season!   Podcasts also are released on Mondays at 8:00 pm (EDT/EST).
  • We’ll be making releases of our guests in advance of each broadcast, and are excited about the opportunity thirty episodes gives us to have dozens of educational leaders on the show!  More details coming soon.

Join us on Monday, August 13 at 8:00 PM for the season premier.  It’s going to be fun!

© 2018.  Dr. Mark D. Wilson.  All Rights Reserved.

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The Teacher’s Journey: The Paths That Led Your Faculty Together

As the new school year begins, it’s important for the principal and the administrative team to focus on the mindset of the teachers as they prepare to welcome the students for another year of exploration and learning.

Here is an activity you can use that can help connect your teachers to their purpose, to their colleagues, to the school’s vision, and to their work this year.

Life Maps.   As you look out at the faculty you’ve assembled, it’s important to consider that they are unquestionably the greatest resource you have to accomplish the good work of the school.  So, what drives them?  What path led them to be a part of your school?  What are their anchors?

Consider leading your faculty in an exploration of their journey by asking them to            draw their life maps.  (Remember “the Game of Life”?  Twisting, turning, full of                    curves and traps.)  It’s a simple exercise:  Give your teachers each a sheet of chart paper, some sharpies, and ask them to search google images for  ‘life maps’ , not for a template but for some inspiration in designing their own map.

They’ll need adequate time to reflect on their lives… their choices, their triumphs, their tragedies, and the essential points in their journey that led them to your school.   (This is probably a thirty-minute event).

After they’ve finished their maps, depending upon the size of your team, you have several options for your teachers to share the story of their journey.  You can break them up into small groups (6-8 is what we’ve learned works best) and ask each person to share their story.  Then, you can ask all of your faculty to post their maps in a hallway or room for a gallery walk.  As your teachers walk around and look at their colleagues journeys, give them post-it notes so they can make comments as they make their way around.  (Sort of an Instagram, alpha version!)

What can you hope to get from this exercise?  For all of the groups I’ve used this with, the individuals in the group have discovered a deep appreciation for the other members of their cohort.  Even at schools where the faculty has been together for a number of years, I’m amazed at how important parts of someone’s life has seemed to remain unknown by other colleagues.

This is more than an ice-breaker or a get-to-know-you activity.  WHO your people really are (and what experiences led them to this point) has a significant impact on HOW they work with others, and WHAT they will do each day in their work.  When your faculty members get to know each other and appreciate their paths, it breaks down walls, gives them a point on which to connect, and opens the door to deep collaboration.

Your school will be more effective if your faculty works collaboratively and with respect for one another.  As they learn more about each other and the paths that led them together, they have a greater likelihood of coming together to do extraordinary work with your students.

And if you arrive there, it was well worth the investment of time.

©  2018.  Dr. Mark D. Wilson.   All Rights Reserved.

 

Recipe Card:  Life Map Exercise Activity

Life Map Exercise

Purpose:  Your teachers reflect on the journey that led them to this moment where they are a member of your faculty.  They gain insight through their own personal exploration, and in discovering the paths of their colleagues.

Method:

  1. Distribute a piece of chart paper to each member of your faculty.  Give them adequate table space to create their map.  (Note: Everyone completes their own map, but they may want options for this activity.  Offer choice to your learners.  Some might want to work in the same space as a colleague to talk while they work; others might need quiet.)
  2. Based on your group size (leadership team? whole faculty? departments or grade levels?), determine if you’ll have your teachers share their journey with the whole group or in smaller groups.
  3. Consider posting the maps in a gallery style and give everyone post-it notes to “leave comments” on other’s maps.
  4. Ask your teachers to reflect.  You can do this in a written format, or you may choose to do a stand-up rotation for dialogue.  Some questions for reflection could include:
    1. How does the path that led you to this point impact who you are as a teacher?
    2. What did you learn about your colleagues through this activity?
    3. Why do the journeys of you and your colleagues matter in the work of your school?
    4. What’s next in your journey?
  5. You may have other variables you want to add to this activity, but one of the biggest take-aways most groups have is how applicable it is to their classroom and with their students.  Getting to know your students and the journey they have been on is also an important pathway to their success.

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How to Tell Your Teachers What You Want Them to Know (In Record Time)

Not enough time.

The problem for every principal, particularly at this time of year.  During this season, it’s reasonable for you to be saying that you don’t have enough time for all of the things you want to share with your teachers before school begins.  The truth is, you don’t.  So, what’s next?

Many leaders do what they’ve seen in the past and forsake good teaching to their teachers for making sure that they “cover” everything that has to be covered before the year begins.  A reasonable question to ask is this:

What that you share during pre-planning is actually being heard by your teachers?  Of that, what is being understood?  And of that subset, what will they be able to effectively incorporate in their practice? 

Not to make you feel bad, but if you say everything that’s on your list, but they either don’t hear or understand, or if they aren’t able to transfer the information, what have you really accomplished? 

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Adult learners need to process their thoughts out loud with colleagues in order to enhance the likelihood of understanding.  Standing up increases brain activity by five percent. (Walking gives you a fifteen percent boost).  Consider pausing to let your learners “mindshare” at least every ten minutes. 

What’s the solution?  Here are some practical, real-life things you can do as your teachers return and you get them ready for the year to make this time well-spent.

  1.  During your time with your faculty, check for understanding frequently.   If you are giving your faculty a series of things you want them to know, consider:
    1. pausing after each item, or at least after each set of items, ask them to share their understanding with the person sitting next to them; asking them to stand up is a good thing during this as well;
    2. ask some of them to share with the whole group; (consider asking three of your team to share; always have a person to serve as the timer other than you so answers will be as brief as you want them)
    3. acknowledge your team’s processing of the learning and reteach as needed to get to understanding.
  2. Plan your pre-planning work with your teachers just like they say to pack for a big trip:  lay it all out and then only take half of it with you.  Think about it like this:  if you could only share one thing, what would it be?  How about two?  What is the maximum number of items that you can share that you can be confident your teachers will be able to operationalize or act on?  You really don’t have to tell them everything at once and if you did they wouldn’t remember it.  What do you do with the rest of what you want to tell them?  (See number three below!)
  3. OK, here’s the situation.  Your bookkeeper comes to the faculty meeting before the year begins and tells everyone how to take up money for a fundraiser.  She talks about not leaving checks overnight in a desk; she tells them to write receipts; she asks them to not bring a bunch of change from the penny drive in at 4:15 on a Friday.  Fast forward to February.  Someone has a fundraiser.  It’s been six months since they were told how to do it.  They do it all wrong.  What is a better way to get this info to others?  Videos.  Technology.  What if you built a library of short (3-4 minute) videos to show your teachers “How To…” do the things you’d like them to do?  What if they went to that shared Google Drive when they needed to know things and it was there, waiting for them?  There’s really no end to the good you can do by building your “How To” video library for your teachers.  You can ask some of your all-star teachers to make brief videos on how to effectively call parents, working with struggling students, or even how to effectively utilize group learning.  You can make a 3-4 minute video about… whatever you want your teachers to know throughout the year.  In-Time learning is better than in-case learning every day of the week.  (NOTE:  these videos don’t have to be produced– they can be made with phones.  AND, you don’t have to be the star of all of them (some of them you will want to be).  Collect and curate the collective knowledge of “How To” do things at your school and you will have effectively given yourself time.
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You can easily use a number of platforms to curate videos “made by your school, just for your school” that can save EVERYONE tons of time.  How to “do grades”?  Use a screencast to show them how.  

Good luck in your work with your teachers!

 

© 2018.  Dr. Mark D. Wilson.

 

 

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Ten Things To Remember As Teachers Return To School

While I was at dinner, I heard someone in the restaurant, obviously a teacher, talking to a friend in line.  I heard her reply, but context leads me to believe it was the question every teacher is hearing now.

“Are you about ready for school to start?”

The teacher, replied back, “yes, I’m excited to get back to the kids and to have a routine, but I’ll miss my summer!  We go back next week.”

So, if your teachers haven’t returned to school yet, they’re thinking about it.  And others are asking them about it.

For you as the school leader, it’s a time you should be excited about.  These teachers are your stars;  they are the ones who will lead your students to discovery, to curiosity, to knowledge.  You should be as excited for them to return to you as the parents are to send their children back to you and your teachers.

As you prepare for their return, here are Ten Things To Remember about their return to school.

  1. Help All Your Teachers Get Off To An Inspired Start.   You can tell them all of the rules they’ll ever need to know on the first day you have them back, or you can get them excited about what they do and the promise of a new year.  Which method leads to instructional success?
  2. Teach your teachers what you want them to know; don’t just tell them.    It’s easy for you to look at the list of things you want your teachers to know, and the short time you have them to yourself and to try to tell them too much.  Does it really serve you (or them) well for you to try to cover more things than they can digest?  The school year lasts a while; you don’t really need to tell them everything at once.
  3. Together, Design a Great First Day With Students.   What one thing do you want your teachers to focus on in preparation for their first day with their students?  If you take your time with them to prepare them for that goal, will the beginning of school go smoothly?  Are you clear in your description of what you want the first days with students to be?  Painting that picture is important if you want your expectations to be met.  Taking the time to get the FDOS (First Day of School) right will pay dividends all year long.
  4. Atmosphere Contributes to Performance.   If your first days with your teachers seem rushed, over-scheduled, and full of tension, that will set a tone that you may not mean to set.  What if you and your administrative team met your teachers as they entered the school on the first day?  Giving them high-fives and fist bumps like you’d like them to do when their students arrive?  If you model this, would it be more impactful than if you merely told them?
  5. Define the Focus for the Year.   Recently, I heard some nice, wonderful school leaders tell their faculty what the focus would be for the upcoming year.  They then unveiled a powerpoint presentation for over an hour and shared Fourteen Areas of Focus for the upcoming year!!!   My expectations for their success are… very guarded.  If you tell your team fourteen things are important, they may not actually focus on the one that really is the most important. Please don’t say ‘priority’ if you don’t mean it.
  6. Give Your Teachers Space and Time to Connect with Each Other.  Your teachers will be working together, collaboratively, this year.  Don’t forget to give them time to connect and build trust with each other during the first days of school.
  7. Give Special Attention To Your New Teachers.   Who on your administrative team will advocate for each of the new teachers on your staff?  Sure, they have a faculty mentor, but on your team, who will shepherd each of them through the first days?  If you are checking in on them (in person) a couple of times each day during pre-planning and the first days, you’ll set the tone that you aren’t going to leave their success to chance and that you are going to be there for them.
  8. Be Rested and Ready for the Teachers’ First Day.    Here’s an idea worthy of your consideration:  do all of the planning for your teachers’ return, and on the night before they arrive, get refreshed for the next day.  (Exercise, walk, do something non-school;  then get a good night’s sleep)  Before you start shaking your head “NO!”, hear me out, please:  You have to stop your preparation for the teachers’ return sometime.  Stop it with enough time to get yourself to your best as they arrive.  If you are full of energy that first day, you set the tone in a good way.  If you are dragging on their first day, it’ll do the opposite.
  9. Focus on the Good.    Chances are that most of what you plan for the teachers’ first day will go well… but chances are something may not go as you planned.  This is a time when your teachers will see how you respond in such a scenario.  Is it better for them to see you adapt gracefully or to respond fretfully to the unplanned or unexpected?   If the food for breakfast arrives later than you planned, you can let it ruin your day, or you can keep your focus on the good.  And there’s lots of good on the first day for teachers.
  10. Take Time for Your People.   Will your school get off to a better start with you getting around the building and seeing all of your people on their first day(s) back?  How you spend your time on those first days shows others your focus, and the winning hand in school leadership is always a focus on leading your teachers.

 

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Better Together: The Principal Experience

It’s amazing to hear principal-after-principal, independent of each other, talk about how they once “thought they could do it all” before realizing school leadership is better when done collaboratively.

It’s also a profession, requiring of you sound judgment in unpredictable situations.  You can learn a lot from others who have done, or are doing, the same job as you.

Don’t try do it all alone!

The position of principal can be lonely… but it doesn’t have to be, and it shouldn’t be!  Building networks with other colleagues can help inform your practice, keep you going when things are tough, and give you connections that help you better serve your school.

To support you in your work, please find the following episode of The New Principal Show! 

[podbean type=audio-square resource=”episode=7xrau-741f73″ skin=”1″ auto=”0″ height=315 ]

Our guest hosts for episode five are quick to testify about the power of the principal making connections.  Stephanie Johnson is the Deputy Superintendent of the Georgia Department of Education and was the 2017 Georgia High School Principal of the Year (GASSP) and a finalist for National Principal of the Year (NASSP) for the work she led at Maynard H. Jackson High School in Atlanta (Atlanta Public Schools).

Jim Finch is the Principal of Mary Persons High School in Monroe County (Forsyth) and is the Vice-President of the Georgia Association of Secondary School Principals (GASSP).

Along with a live chat-audience, Stephanie, Jim, and Mark take time to talk about how and why the effective principal connects and how it’s beneficial for the progress of the school.

The New Principal and Instructional Leadership

When superintendents ask me if I know good candidates for principal positions, I always ask them what they’re looking for, but I know what they’ll say.

“We’re looking for… an instructional leader.”

With our focus on learning and student growth, it’s what you need to be to do what you need to do.

As the new principal, you’re a lot like a freshman in college.  Not only are you tasked with challenging work, but you’re getting acclimated to a new place, new people, and a new lifestyle.  Sometimes for that college freshman, the main thing can get swallowed up by lots of other adjustments.

The same thing can happen to you as a new principal.  That’s why it’s important to keep your focus on instruction and your leadership growth in that area.  To support you in that work, we hosted an episode of The New Principal Show! in season one with  amazing co-hosts Cindy Saxon and Casey Bethel to help you in your work as an instructional leader.  As we get ready for season TWO  of TNPS!, we are re-delivering you last year’s shows to get you back in the swing.  Please enjoy this one whenever you listen to podcasts!

[podbean type=audio-square resource=”episode=shs6j-70f1de” skin=”1″ auto=”0″ height=315 ]

MW

© 2018 Mark D. Wilson

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The New Principal Show! Live from Summer GAEL- A Recap

Principals, APs and other school leaders gathered yesterday at Jekyll Island at the Summer GAEL Conference for our LIVE session to support new principals.

Our topics included discussions on the previous two blogposts found here:  Principles for New Principals  ( https://principal-matters.com/2018/07/11/guiding-principles-for-new-principals/ ) and This! Not That! (https://principal-matters.com/2018/07/11/this-not-that-twelve-practical-steps-towards-successful-school-leadership/ )

We also heard from three leaders who have accomplished the chief goal of first-year principals:  they are now second-year principals!  Dr. Susan Stone of Jasper County and Tanya Welchel and John Rhodarmer of Floyd County shared some of the “You Won’t Believe This” moments from their first year in the principalship.

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Here’s the reason those stories need to be told:  you really don’t get a course in college to prepare you for every circumstance that might come your way.  These wonderful folks did well because they were adaptable, nimble and confident.

There’s no instruction booklet to cover all of the possibilities that come your way in school leadership.  You are able to do more than survive-  you can thrive IF you are able to rely on your experience, your knowledge, and the core of who you are to make good decisions and do the right things.

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Who YOU are will determine what your school achieves.  The most effective school leaders work on themselves first– not out of selfishness, but out of an understanding that your growth is critical for that of your school’s.  That’s why our hope is that you’ll never stop learning, and that you’ll make room for your own growth.

Here’s to a great year of learning! We’ll try to make it convenient for you.

MW

©2018 Mark D. Wilson

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Guiding Principles… for New Principals

It’s July and that means that we have new principals taking their places at their schools.  Congratulations!

It’s our passion here to support you (as well as veteran principals, APs and aspiring leaders) in your work.  Today we share some insight in the form of an infographic… something called “The New Principal:  Guiding Principles for Success.”

Over the coming months. we’ll dig into these individual notions about the work of principals.  For today, thanks for giving it a look and reflecting on your feelings and thoughts about these guiding ideas of the incredible job of being a principal.

Principles for New Principals: Click Here for the PDF Version

Principles for New Principals

© 2018 Mark D. Wilson

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This! Not That. Twelve Practical Steps Towards Successful School Leadership

School leaders are doers.  They are also dreamers, negotiators, and experts in human behavior, but as a group, we like to do things.

In that spirit, we share with you this list of twelve practical steps towards successful school leadership.  Each of these steps is a “This! Not That!” for simplicity.  Don’t be fooled; the ideas behind them aren’t simplistic.

Each of these steps is a lesson unto itself, and we’ll take up those lessons in the coming days here at Principal Matters!  For now, here’s the list of This!  Not That! (School Leader Version)

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Stress Is Real. You Can Do Something About It.

What a great group we had today at the GAEL Summer Conference.  Over 60 people crammed into a breakout session room to talk about … stress.

The interest in stress management (particularly at the least-stressful spot on the calendar) speaks volumes, but so do the results of our audience poll.

As you see above, 88% of the group reported having chronic stress as a school leader.  The participants, assistant principals, principals, district office leaders and more, answered the question, “How often is work stressful?”  

Eighteen percent reported always.  That alone calls for attention to the well-being of our leaders.  Another 70% reported that work was often stressful.  Not even one said that work was ‘hardly ever’ or ‘never’ stressful.

The Science of Stress: Click Here for Great, Short Video

So, what do we do about it?  In our session today (the ppt of which you can access at this link:   http://tinyurl.com/GAELSC18 ) we discussed what to do to reduce workplace stress and how to make those efforts work.

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The short version is this:  you already know what you ought to do to reduce stress:  be healthy; don’t stay in the middle of stress non-stop; focus on intellectual activities; and introspection.  Again, this isn’t groundbreaking;  we all know to do these things.

So why don’t we?  That’s the second set of things to consider.  How do we become more healthy, focus on the right things, and develop meditative practices to reset?  Here are four ways that might work:  1)  Acceptance (recognize that stress is real and you should have a committed strategy for its management; 2) Consistency (developing and maintaining healthy habits regularly are better than all of the good intentions we might stack up); 3)  Accountability: perhaps this is the key.  It’s hard to do right without some level of accountability and that’s one of the reasons leaders are so suspect in being stressed. There’s always safety in numbers.  Having a partner (or 2) to hold you accountable might keep you on the right side of the stress line; and, 4)  Reflection;  journaling about your experience will have a positive impact on your progress.  If you know what you’re supposed to do (and you do) and you have to write about your experience weekly, what might that do to your choices?

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We need great leaders to have great schools, but we need our leaders to be healthy.  Chronic stress leads to short-term and long-term health issues, as well as a lessening of your effectiveness as a leader.

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To review:

  1.  Stress is real;
  2.  Stress is bad;
  3. You CAN do something about it (but it’s not going to take care of itself: you’ll need strategy, commitment, and most likely someone to hold you accountable.

Good luck!

MW

 

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Communication for the New Principal

We had an amazing show in season 1 of “The New Principal Show” on Communication.  As we get ready for the Launch of Season 2 in the coming days, we are reviewing last year’s shows, and are proud to share with you again Kevin Paul Scott, Jayne Ellspermann, and Octavius Mulligan’s conversation on communication for the school leader.

[podbean type=audio-square resource=”episode=z24ij-6d9e58″ skin=”1″ auto=”0″ height=315 ]

Enjoy the show!

MW

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The First Work of The New Principal

Are you a new principal?  Maybe you aspire to be one.  Perhaps you were a new one LAST year (and now you know enough to be nervous!) ?

Wherever you might be on the continuum, we hope we can support your work here at Principal Matters!  As we move towards the upcoming Second Season of The New Principal Show!, we are sending out episodes from last year’s debut season.

This episode is one that emphasizes what to do when you’re new… when you’re first new.  Our guests for this episode are Garrick Askew, Amy Thornton, and Paul Shaw.  Please give it a listen as we get ready for the new season coming soon!

Enjoy!

[podbean resource=”episode=pxhr5-6d4ed6″ type=”audio-rectangle” height=”100″ skin=”1″ btn-skin=”107″ share=”1″ fonts=”Helvetica” auto=”0″ download=”0″ rtl=”0″]

 

so many things

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You’re the Principal. Now What?!?

the new principal Show! Podcast[podbean type=audio-rectangle resource=”episode=c48jj-6d23b4″ skin=”1″ auto=”0″ height=100 ]

Good news!  Season TWO of TNPS (The New Principal Show!) begins in a couple of weeks.  We are reposting episodes from season one as we get ready for the new season! During 2017-2018, we debuted “The New Principal Show”; this year, it’s going to be even bigger!

Enjoy this re-release of “The New Principal Show! Podcast: S1E1” and get ready for a big release about the NEW SEASON of the show, coming soon!

 

 

 

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