New Principal Academy! Episode 1 of 4

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-ywmsj-e2cb7c

Mark Wilson’s New Principal Academy begins it’s ninth year.  Our summer series to get off to a good start is LIVE each Tuesday in July at 10:00 AM.  Here’s the link to get register.

https://tinyurl.com/NewPrincipalAcademy

(Register once, you’re registered for the series.

The PPT slides from session one can be found here:  https://tinyurl.com/NewPrincipalOne

Each session we tackle five essential questions for the new principal.  In session one, we examined these:

 

  •  Who are you?
  • What is your job?
  • How do you get permission to do your job?
  • Do you understand WHY you can’t make change too quickly?
  • How do you “make it” as a principal?

mark.wilson.ga@gmail.com

principal-matters.com 

 

Social Justice Education & The School Leader: With Sherida Habersham and Cicely Lewis

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-qgf6e-e2ae8f

Stephen Peters and Mark Wilson are the hosts and producers of Social Justice Education and The School Leader, a six-session series to support principals, assistant principals, and others as they prepare for the upcoming year. 

They are both lifelong educators, nationally recognized for their work as school leaders, and committed to supporting Georgia’s school leaders together. They have been friends and colleagues for over two decades and have joined together now to help leaders build schools where equity, justice, and opportunity define the climate and culture.

In this episode, they are joined by special guests Dr. Sherida Habersham and Cicely Lewis.   Dr. Habersham is “The Evangelist for Computer Science” and Cicely is the founder of the “Read Woke”movement, and the 2020 National School Librarian of the Year.  You can find more about them here: 

Dr. Habersham:   https://www.weimpacteducation.net/  

Cicely Lewis:  https://cicelythegreat.wordpress.com/author/mhsponyexpress/

Social Justice Education and the School Leader: With Jimmy Casas and Baruti Kafele

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-49uai-e1c68f

Our guests for episode two of SJE and the School Leader were Jimmy Casas and Baruti Kafele.     https://www.jimmycasas.com/      https://principalkafele.com/

 

Dr. Stephen Peters and I hosted the session, which you can hear in its entirety here!  

https://thepetersgroup.global/

Join our community of learners and learning at:  https://principal-matters.com/

Here are the three questions that served as a guide for our session.  Thanks for listening! 

Question One: 

In terms of Social Justice Education, how will your school be different because you lead it?

 

Question Two: 

As a school leader, how will you develop organizational structures that align with and support the new realities that our teachers, students, parents and communities face?

 

Question Three: 

How do you develop a culture of equity, justice, and anti-racism at your school?

SJE and TSL E1: Being A Champion for Social Justice

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-rrqfx-e108d9

SJE_and_the_School_Leader_1__bliay.png

 

Social Justice Education and The School Leader   is a multi-tiered effort to support school leaders in their work to lead school cultures of justice, equity and anti-racism.  

This effort includes a six-part series of web meetings between June 23 and July 28, 2020.  The series is produced and hosted by Stephen Peters and Mark Wilson.

This episode is FOUR of FOUR from a recording of the June 23 meeting, and answers the question, ”  What might I do to be a champion for equity and social justice?”

Guests from this meeting, and in this recording include:  Dr. Robbie Hooker, Dr. Linda Lumpkin, Liz Raeburn, and Amy Thornton. 

Stephen and Mark are the hosts and producers of these sessions. They are both lifelong educators, nationally recognized for their work as school leaders, and committed to supporting Georgia’s school leaders together. They have been friends and colleagues for over two decades and have joined together now to help leaders build schools where equity, justice, and opportunity define the climate and culture.

In partnership with these education organizations: Chattahoochee-Flint RESA, Coastal Plains RESA, CSRA RESA, First District RESA, Griffin RESA, Heart of GA RESA, Metro RESA, Middle GA RESA, North GA RESA, Northeast GA RESA, Northwest GA RESA, Oconee RESA, Okefenokee RESA, Pioneer RESA, Southwest GA RESA, West GA RESA.

SJE and TSL: Preparing Teachers To Discuss Social Justice and Anti-Racism

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-4k38m-e108c4

SJE_and_the_School_Leader_1__bliay.png

Social Justice Education and The School Leader   is a multi-tiered effort to support school leaders in their work to lead school cultures of justice, equity and anti-racism.  

This effort includes a six-part series of web meetings between June 23 and July 28, 2020.  The series is produced and hosted by Stephen Peters and Mark Wilson.

This episode is THREE of FOUR from a recording of the June 23 meeting, and answers the question, ”  How might I prepare my teachers to effectively discuss social justice and anti-racism with our students?”

Guests from this meeting, and in this recording include:  Dr. Robbie Hooker, Dr. Linda Lumpkin, Liz Raeburn, and Amy Thornton. 

Stephen and Mark are the hosts and producers of these sessions. They are both lifelong educators, nationally recognized for their work as school leaders, and committed to supporting Georgia’s school leaders together. They have been friends and colleagues for over two decades and have joined together now to help leaders build schools where equity, justice, and opportunity define the climate and culture.

In partnership with these education organizations: Chattahoochee-Flint RESA, Coastal Plains RESA, CSRA RESA, First District RESA, Griffin RESA, Heart of GA RESA, Metro RESA, Middle GA RESA, North GA RESA, Northeast GA RESA, Northwest GA RESA, Oconee RESA, Okefenokee RESA, Pioneer RESA, Southwest GA RESA, West GA RESA.

Social Justice Education and The School Leader: An Introduction to Our Work Together

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-7d42n-e1083e

SJE_and_the_School_Leader_1__bliay.png

 

Social Justice Education and The School Leader   is a multi-tiered effort to support school leaders in their work to lead school cultures of justice, equity and anti-racism.  

This effort includes a six-part series of web meetings between June 23 and July 28, 2020.  The series is produced and hosted by Stephen Peters and Mark Wilson.

This episode is one of four from a recording of the June 23 meeting, and is an introduction to the work of Social Justice Education and School Leaders. 

Stephen and Mark are the hosts and producers of these sessions. They are both lifelong educators, nationally recognized for their work as school leaders, and committed to supporting Georgia’s school leaders together. They have been friends and colleagues for over two decades and have joined together now to help leaders build schools where equity, justice, and opportunity define the climate and culture.

In partnership with these education organizations: Chattahoochee-Flint RESA, Coastal Plains RESA, CSRA RESA, First District RESA, Griffin RESA, Heart of GA RESA, Metro RESA, Middle GA RESA, North GA RESA, Northeast GA RESA, Northwest GA RESA, Oconee RESA, Okefenokee RESA, Pioneer RESA, Southwest GA RESA, West GA RESA.

 

 

SJE and TSL: As a school leader, what is my role in promoting social justice at my school?

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-jpwfw-e108b0

SJE_and_the_School_Leader_1__bliay.png

 

Social Justice Education and The School Leader   is a multi-tiered effort to support school leaders in their work to lead school cultures of justice, equity and anti-racism.  

This effort includes a six-part series of web meetings between June 23 and July 28, 2020.  The series is produced and hosted by Stephen Peters and Mark Wilson.

This episode is TWO of FOUR from a recording of the June 23 meeting, and answers the question, ”  As a school leader, what is my role in promoting social justice at my school?”

Guests from this meeting, and in this recording include:  Dr. Robbie Hooker, Dr. Linda Lumpkin, Liz Raeburn, and Amy Thornton. 

Stephen and Mark are the hosts and producers of these sessions. They are both lifelong educators, nationally recognized for their work as school leaders, and committed to supporting Georgia’s school leaders together. They have been friends and colleagues for over two decades and have joined together now to help leaders build schools where equity, justice, and opportunity define the climate and culture.

In partnership with these education organizations: Chattahoochee-Flint RESA, Coastal Plains RESA, CSRA RESA, First District RESA, Griffin RESA, Heart of GA RESA, Metro RESA, Middle GA RESA, North GA RESA, Northeast GA RESA, Northwest GA RESA, Oconee RESA, Okefenokee RESA, Pioneer RESA, Southwest GA RESA, West GA RESA.

 

 

What Do We Want to Keep When We Return to School-at-School Next Year?

The New Normal. Have you heard about it? Of course you have. We all speak about it but we really don’t have enough information to know what will be a blip on the screen and what will truly be lasting.

After the terrorist acts on 9/11, we found some of the immediate changes to be a new normal. Security on flights? That was normalized. It’s hard to even remember the innocent world in which we freely roamed through the airport and paper ticketing was the biggest part of the security system.

In our schools, we have found many new normals in regards to student safety, most recently on a large scale following the shootings in Parkland, FL. During the Summer of 2018, school leaders talked more about safety from intruders than any other topic. We changed our protocols, and a majority of schools moved to a “ring-in” system that we have since accepted as normal.

There’s always a new normal, because there’s always change, and we adapt and continue moving forward. The pandemic and subsequent quarantine have been deeply impactful, but it remains to be seen what parts of our current behaviors will be sustained.

So, rather than wait to see what sticks, what might you and your team determine would be welcome changes to continue moving forward? Now is the right time to consider what we may be doing now that we would want to be normalized, that we would want to be a part of a better normal.

We all know that at nearly every school (and church, family, business, for that matter), there are things that we do because we have always done them that way. Here are five areas of reset for your consideration. Five things that we are doing now that might be good to continue as we move into next year (and beyond). There are certainly more than this, but hopefully these five will get your conversations going about what to keep from our current experience.

  1. Now that we’ve shown that we can, should we hold more of our meetings virtually? We can. Should we? It’s worth a conversation. Think about how more efficient it would be to have meetings with parents via Google Meet (or your favorite live video platform)? It’s more convenient for parents, saves them driving time, and for the immediate period (while we continue to practice safe health protocols) it limits individuals from entering the school. Can you move both smaller and larger meetings to a virtual format? We’ve been holding IEP meetings virtually. Can we continue to do so? Parent and teacher conferences for MTSS, SSTs, and virtually anything could be converted to virtual. So can PTO meetings. Parent information and open house events can be produced in a fashion that have some live elements while other portions are pre-recorded and streamed. Think about it: if we eliminate the driving to the school for many (most?) of our meetings, how many more families can we effectively reach? Again, NOW is a good time to explore that possibility, because it’s applicable no matter what circumstances arrive for you in August.
  2. Our relationship with families of students has changed over the past two months. What have we learned and how do we apply it positively moving forward? If you’ve read much of this site, you’ve heard our concerns with the phrase “dealing with parents.” Parents (families) are highly influential in the motivation and subsequent performance of the students in our schools. To do anything other than seek the best relationships with all of the parents of our students is counterproductive at best. How do you reset and reshape the family-school relationships at your school? Everyone should have seen that it sure works better when we work together. Conversations in May, June, and July can lead to a deeper partnership in August and beyond. Don’t miss these moments to shape a reset that can make A LOT of difference on many levels.
  3. There’s a reasonable possibility that some portion of next school year could be “school-at-home” again. What have you learned about assessment and grading in a distance learning environment that will help you moving forward? This is, as they say back home, the portion where I’ve “gone from preaching to meddling.” Grades are always a controversial topic. It might be a bad time to honestly talk about them. It may, however, be a great time to talk about them. My guess is that may differ based on your location (and the mindset of your faculty). Here’s what everyone should have noticed: there’s a big difference between assessment and grading. For all the time we have spent on each of them, it’s amazing how much further we still need to go. Is now the right time to sort through how we assess performance to design learning? How grades are snapshots and not framed portraits? How learning, growth, and mastery fit in? Your teachers are on the job through May. We have June and July beyond that. Clarity on what your school uses assessments and grades for would be a great start.
  4. Classrooms that were control-centric before we moved to school-at-home were ill-prepared for distance learning. Those that were relationship-centric were able to transition more effectively. Preparing for potential distance learning is about tablets and broadband, but it’s also about relationships. How do you really make relationships the cornerstone of all of your classrooms? Student motivation isn’t only about the relationship with the teacher and the culture of the classroom, but those are two things that influenced who did and who didn’t do work when the aspect of control was mostly eliminated. Influence is always stronger than control in the long run… control, however, can be effective in particular environments. School-at-home? Not that environment. What might you do now in conversations over the next month and beyond to help your teachers explore control and relationships? Is that something that can be of benefit no matter what the circumstances of your reopening may be?
  5. How do we stop ourselves from going back, working too much again, and being too out-of-whack in our lives?  COVID-19 has been fatal to over a quarter of a million people to date. It’s awful. There has been tremendous suffering and loss. It’s been devastating.  Flowers can grow in the middle of a pile of rocks, so even in the worst of settings, something good can grow.  I’ve enjoyed meeting with principals and assistant principals over the past two months and hearing about what they’re doing in their yard, and with their kids, and in their lives. What the restrictions on our movements and our access to work has done, it would seem, is something worth learning from. We are sleeping more.  We are taking time to breathe.  We are enjoying life and the people in our lives who make it worth living.  I hope we don’t go back to being just as we were before all of this. My hope is this experience will help you focus on all that you have to be joyful about and grateful for. I hope that appreciation will last when we reopen schools, and when you go back, you will be returning as a reset version of your old self. I hope that we won’t get right back into the everlasting sprint that we had evolved into. We can and will be good leaders, but we need to lead ourselves first. This is the reset I have the greatest hope, the most sincere desire for. The reset in you. A stronger, more confident leader, fortified by having caught your breath and enlightened enough not to easily give it away. This reset is one that isn’t contingent on anything except you. Not necessary to wait for more information on this. You can, right now, begin planning what you will do upon the return. Think about what you’ve learned. Reflect on what’s most important. Pledge and plan to grow from this experience and your reflection on it.  Reset.

There’s A Lot You Can Be Doing Now To Prepare for Next Year

You don’t know everything about the conditions of your reopening of school, but you know that it will be different.

As you plan for a new school year, it’s natural to have a yearning for the way things were, before the quarantine. Most school leaders would like to find a way to return to the comfortable, familiar ways in which schools operated before we stopped in-person school in mid March.

Of all the scenarios for the beginning of next school year, a return to the way things were on March 11 seems the most unlikely. So how will things be? What can you do about them now?

Right now, we lack all of the information to enable us to plan with certainty; in that, we can be certain. As a school leader, rather than be paralyzed by what you don’t know, what if you took another route? Instead, what if you become energized by the possibilities? How can you do more than just return; how might you lead a reset that changes your school for the better?

In the future, what can we do differently now that we’ve done most everything differently already? If you were ever hoping for a window of opportunity to bring about change, this will be it. The truth is, we have lots of things that we have been doing because… we’ve always done them that way.

Guess what? Not anymore. We have done nearly everything in a different way over the past two months. Some things we will want to return to, but others? Maybe not.

Now is a REALLY good time for you to engage your people in conversations about what those things are. Talk with your administrative team; have small group sessions with your teachers; and (in an age-appropriate fashion) brainstorm with students. Ask your parents what they think has worked better in these days. Get input. Gather ideas. Pose the question, when we return to school-at-school, what should be different than before?”

If you can ask these questions with the mindset of a researcher, eager to discover the truth, you’ll get meaningful data that can help you make good decisions. Be humble, be courageous, ask what others think.

Year-End Traditions And Good Ideas in A Virtual World

What’s everybody else doing? What are other people doing about grades? Honors night? Graduation and prom? We share some of the ideas from your colleagues to help you process what’s best for your school and your community.

Herff-Jones (information, not an endorsement) has developed a virtual graduation tool based on the platform of Stage Clip, seen above.

Click above to hear the HS Principal Conversation from April 7, discussing year-end traditions.



C.T. Hussion and his team at Union County High School are kind enough to share the questions they used to check in on their students this week.  Another example of the collaboration we all need to be successful in these unprecedented times.  Thanks, C.T.! 

UCHS Student Pulse Check
As we are adjusting to school online, we would like to remind you that you are more than just a bunch of grades and assignments to us. We would appreciate it if you could fill out this form completely so that we can get an idea about how this is working and to help keep up with you and what’s going on in our Panther community. Thanks!

*Required Answer

1. Email address *

ACADEMICS:
Please answer the questions that follow about your academic experience since we’ve moved online.

2.  What is the longest that you spent on a single daily assignment for one class last week? *

___  Less Than 30 minutes
___  Around 30 minutes
___ 1-2 Hours
___  2-3 Hours
___  Over 3 Hours

3.  In total, about how long did you spend on your online schoolwork each day for all classes combined? *

___ 1-2 Hours
___ 2-3 Hours
___ more than 3 Hours

4.  Please describe the online lesson you enjoyed the most last week and what it was that you liked about it.

(Open Response)

You are important to us! Please tell us how you’re doing.

PERSONAL:

The Principal Show: Episode 11. Showcasing Our Seniors

In this episode, we look at ways to honor the Class of 2020.  Dr. Miki Edwards of Morgan County HS shares the “Secret Senior Sign” project.  Dr. Alan Long of Jefferson County HS and his staff have developed a plan to hold graduation on time as scheduled… in a creative way. Finally, Rick Shrewsberry of Herff-Jones shares the resources HJ has developed to help schools deliver a virtual graduation ceremony.

Contact information:

Miki Edwards:   miki.edwards@morgan.k12.ga.us 

Alan Long:   alan.long@gassp.org

Rick Shrewsbury:  RShrewsbury@herffjones.com 

Rick invites you to join an informational webinar tomorrow (April 10).  Here’s the link:

High School Principals Virtual Meeting 4/7/20

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-yzxwa-d886f9

We had a virtual meeting to discuss what everyone is doing in light of COVID-19 in regards to graduation, prom, grades, etc…   People from all across Georgia came.  This is the recording of our conversation.

 

Guest Moderators:  Dr. Jim Finch, Principal, Mary Persons HS and President of GASSP

                   Dr. Alan Long, Principal, Jefferson County HS and Incoming Executive Director                                                         of GASSP

                   Dr. Mark Wilson, Principal-Matters

Meaningful School Traditions~ In A Virtual World

Image Credit: BBT

With school-in-person cancelled for the remainder of the 2019-2020 year, administrators are addressing lots of questions about how meaningful year-end events will be conducted. Prom, graduation, fifth-grade recognition, ninth-grade orientation, third-grade field day. Honoring retiring teachers, holding year-end banquets and awards, powderpuff, and cleaning out your room for the end of the year. There are a LOT of things that are supposed to be happening now. With the public health dangers we are confronting, how do we handle our most cherished traditions?

Here are a few thoughts for your consideration as you develop your plans.

  1. There is not just one correct answer to these questions. It is reasonable to think that one course of actions will work well at one school, while the polar opposite is more effective at another. Knowing your students and community and what is important to them is critical now. You always have limited resources of time, money, and energy, and in these circumstances its important to use them in the most effective manner. Postponement? Cancellation? Different Format? After exploring the different options, you and your local school and community will have to determine which path is the right one for you.
  2. Things aren’t like they’re used to be, but you can use what you DO have to get what you want. This isn’t ideal, but we aren’t without resources. We have you, your team, and your skills to create, imagine, and design experiences for your students, their parents, and your teachers. You can do this! It begins with listing what you want to do, and then matching it up with what you have. You aren’t going to be able to do the spring orientation for your sixth-graders (or ninth-graders or kindergarteners) in person, but you CAN do a virtual tour like realtors do of houses they are showing. You can have orientation teams (via Zoom) complete with “tour guides” (students already at your school) and can develop relationships with incoming students now. Their parents? You can still hold an event (or multiple events) to welcome them to school, complete with appearances from teachers, counselors, even other parents already a part of your school family. It’s not how it’s been, but you have a lot you can use to do what you want to do.
  3. It’s time for extreme collaboration, not competition. If you have a good idea, share it, please. If you see someone doing something that looks like a winner, let others know. There is no award for “Best in Quarantine.” Everyone is trying to do the same thing: make lemonade out of our big box of lemons. We don’t need to feel the need to be first to put something cool on social media. As professionals, we ought to all want each other to prosper during these (and all) times. Some of the kids being recognized at your neighbor’s school may be at yours in the fall. Even if they aren’t let’s use this time to connect and share so that we all can do well in replacing our traditions with new traditions, or workarounds during these interesting times.
  4. Don’t Miss ‘Now.’ Think about how to honor and recognize your students now while you are able. You may be committed to an in-person event later, but you still have ‘now,’ and you won’t be able to return here later. So, in the now, how can you honor your seniors? Your retirees? Your students? You can plan to convene together in person when crowds are safe and permitted, but you can ALSO create an experience for now. With the resources that you have available, how can you properly recognize and appreciate all of your people?

So, bring the creative minds of your team together and explore how to do what you want to do with what you’ve got to do it. Good luck!

Tweets may have to replace treats for now but as always, it’s the thought that matters the most.

Exemplary Work in Remote Learning and Leading (Volume 3)

People everywhere are seeing what we all have always known– that teachers, administrators and staff are dedicated, resourceful, and capable of amazing things.

I continue to marvel at how in a matter of hours we flipped to a digitally-delivered learning environment AND, added in preparing, distributing and delivering meals to boot!

As we approach week two of this learning and leading opportunity, please take a moment to see some exemplary work from some of your colleagues. Maybe these examples will give you ideas, encourage you in what you’re doing, or inspire you in your work.

THANK YOU for your service, and thanks to all of your people for what they’re doing for your students and your community.

Get some well-deserved rest this weekend, please!


Leslie Dooley is the school counselor at Russell Middle School in Barrow County. She and the staff there are preparing for a “You Matter” Spirit Week next week!

Billy Kirk (Principal) connects with his students every day at Lumpkin County High School. He brings them that consistency every day now as well as he sends out his daily announcements to all students and the faculty.
Jennifer Abercrombie is the Principal at Crisp County Middle School. She shared this example, and writes, “We usually have our monthly gatherings to recognize accomplishments and “Shout Outs” to staff members. We did a virtual “Shout Out” board and shared through Google Drive to offer encouragement and highlight the positives during this school closure time. It has grown daily.”

Pretty confident that you know about this, but still worth noting that State Superintendent Richard Woods announced that “educators, parents, and students can expect that no state testing will be administered in Georgia this year.” This development will lead all of us to examine what our academic goals will be in the coming days and weeks.
Jennifer Westbrook is the Principal at Mt. Vernon Elementary School in Hall County, where the fourth grade is meeting daily via Zoom.

So important to point out the monumental effort that is happening at schools and systems everywhere to feed our communities. This morning at Pepperell High School (Floyd County Schools), Principal Jamey Alcorn welcomed his colleagues to join in an effort to “operate the drive thru” for the Pepperell community. We ALL are gaining a greater appreciation for what our cafeteria heroes do every day!
Dr. Robbie Hooker, Superintendent of Social Circle Schools is reading Pete the Cat to his students. This unique season gives us an opportunity to promote reading and time to do things that we otherwise might not find time to do.

If you and your teachers aren’t using FlipGrid, you ought to give it a look. It’s perfect for the work that we’re doing now, and gives the teacher an opportunity for assessment of learning, as Central High School in Carroll County is using. Jared Griffis, is the principal of Central HS.
Liz Raeburn, Principal of Bryan County Middle School, is an idea fountain every day of the year, every year. She is someone you should watch as creativity becomes an even more valued commodity. She contacted the author Gordon Korman and now is bringing a great audiobook to her students.

Kierra Rojas is an instructional coach for Griffin-Spalding Schools. She is lifting up Moore Elementary School first grade teacher Jasmine Gipson as she continues teaching literacy skills remotely.
Something that we can keep going in our remote school universe? Physical Education. It’s important to keep our students (and teachers?) moving during these days, and here’s a simple but potentially impactful idea from Spalding High School (Griffin-Spalding Schools). Here’s another great idea from SHS– a practical idea of how students and parents might structure learning days at home.

Dr. Mark Wilson principal-matters.com

March 20, 2020 @MarkWilsonGA

Remote Learning Examples: Volume 2


What are others doing? What can I be doing?

We ARE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER! Here are twelve terrific ideas from your colleagues from today. You may already be doing some or all of them, but maybe they’ll remind you of someone who needs your attention, or inspire you in your work. THANKS to all of our colleagues for their work today and to these colleagues for sharing a portion of theirs.

THANK YOU for the leadership you are providing for your school and for your community. If I can be of any help to you please contact me at mark.wilson.ga@gmail.com .

Keep doing well and keep doing good! MW

principal-matters.com @MarkWilsonGA March 18, 2020

The “Seven Cs” of Remote Leadership

Remote learning has been around for some time and nearly everyone has some experience with it. Remote leadership is a bit of a different story. While full-time, all-the-time, digital learning leaders have experience in this, for most everyone else, this is new ground (and especially at such a large scale).

What does it take to be effective in remote leadership? Here are seven “Cs” that describe the remote school leader:

Cool, Calm, …. these are stressful times, and, as always, the leader sets the tone for the others. You are bound to get frustrated. (We DID shift our method of delivery across thousands of schools in a matter of hours, days as the most!) There are some things that aren’t going to fit neatly into our new norms. But as always, the leader who stays calm under stress helps reduce it for others. To finish off that phrase, you want to be cool, calm, and…

Connected. As different as things are for everyone, you have a unique opportunity to connect with your people. You have more opportunity to schedule your time than you usually do. In doing so, you may want to consider keeping an ongoing list of who you’re in contact with, to make sure that you don’t inadvertently leave anyone out. You can connect with your folks in one of the many, many platforms that we all are going to get very proficient on! Stay connected.

Confident. The person who thinks they can and the one who thinks they can’t are both right. (Revised from a Henry Ford quote) This is a time for leadership, and leadership requires confidence. So, you’ve never done what we’re doing now. That puts you even with everyone else. You have done things in your previous experience that should give you the courage to know that you’ll take on these new challenges and succeed. Believe in yourself, especially as things get more challenging. I can’t help but think about my mother and father who grew up and lived during the Great Depression and World War II. As challenging as what we’re working through now may be, we can stand tall on the work of those who have come before us, especially when it comes to summoning up the courage and confidence needed to move forward each day.

Creative. What a great time to be a creative leader, and what an opportunity we have to do things we normally haven’t been able to do! You can meet with your people in small groups, 1:1, large groups. You can create digital games and challenges. You can use your creativity to keep the energy and excitement going. And, if you’re one of those people who often say “I’m not creative,” guess what? You can see what others are doing and creatively copy what they’re doing! Keep it interesting for your folks. Have some games and giveaways. Create the space for joyful work amongst your people.

Consistent. Jerry Bavero, principal of Union County Elementary School has a “pep rally” for his entire school every single day of the year to start the day. He’s working to provide consistency and normalcy for his students and teachers by continuing to do it… digitally each day. Whatever you usually do at school… shout outs for birthdays, the pledge, things of that sort… consider doing it virtually to help everyone in your school fam have a little bit of anchor to connect to.

Caring. Bibb County Schools has started a hashtag, #BibbAthleticsShoutOut to share profiles about their Senior Athletes, particularly those who are currently missing their spring sports season. This is a huge loss for those kids and their parents, and this small, but caring touch helps them know their work hasn’t gone unnoticed. As the leader, we naturally look around and notice… we notice who needs a little extra and we work to get it for them. Now’s a great time to be an observant noticer, and to show that you care. It’s really the little things that make the most difference in challenging times. This is what you’re great at on a regular day, and now you’re called to do it in another way, at another level.

Chances are, you’re thinking by now, “those seven Cs aren’t any different just because we’re leading remotely.” You’re right. You’ll need to adjust your approach and change your platforms, but yes, these are the same things that you do 247/366 already. Which means, you should stand tall and know that you’re ready for this work. In times like these, you don’t have to help anyone “find their why?” Now is your time to lead them, to support them, to nurture them and to do what’s needed, because that’s what you always do.

Thank you for your service.

Exemplary Work in Remote Leadership


Thank you!

The work that you, your teachers, your custodians, your nutrition teams, your technology people, your staff have been doing is nothing short of amazing, inspirational, and powerful.

Thank you all for what you are doing to bring learning, caring, calm, and a sense of normalcy in a time that is anything but.

Working through obstacles is what we’re good at.  Leading people through tough times is what you’re good at as a leader.  That’s what is needed right now, and that’s exactly what you do, what is needed.

THANK YOU for what you’re doing.  Like every other day you spend as an educator, never undervalue the importance of what you are doing for others and for your community. 

Again, THANK YOU.


Great Examples to Share from Around Georgia

You know what’s awesome?  Spirit week.  Guess what?  You can have it remotely.  That’s what John Rhodarmer, Principal at Armuchee High in Floyd County has rolled out for his faculty and students. 

Karen Carsten, the principal at Tritt Elementary in Cobb County, held a leadership team meeting yesterday.  The opportunities for connection and leadership are plentiful! 

Remembering to show gratitude and support, and to celebrate it publicly is a great way to keep the fuel going for our hard-working teachers.  Dr. Olga Glymph is an assistant principal at Milton HS in Fulton County. 

Priority: Hiring Season

One of the most important things you do as the principal or assistant principal is to keep things calm. When others are beginning to panic, the seasoned leader keeps her head and in doing so helps others to relax, think more clearly, and act more effectively.

The most effective principals make things better by slowing things down, getting emotions under control, and keeping their work from being a frenzied rush.

That’s a great way to approach your work… except when it’s “Hiring Season.”

When it’s hiring season, you need to be working with urgency. There are only so many candidates for the positions you may need, and you need to prioritize this work. It’s complicated by the timing: hiring season comes when you’re registering students and families for the next school year, preparing your school for end-of-the-year testing, and doing the daily, busy work of the school. Maybe that’s why some leaders don’t get hiring season right— the other priorities are too much and you aren’t able to immerse into hiring because of those other tasks at hand.

If that’s you, here’s something for you to consider: what you do during hiring season is a gift that keeps on giving. If you do well, it’s a treasure; if you do poorly, it’s a gag gift. You can put in the time and energy needed to do well in hiring, or you are at risk for spending much more time correcting your hiring mistakes and cleaning things up. It’s SO much better to take time and hire effectively than to suffer through poor choices in hiring. Those poor choices can hurt your students, your teachers, and others’ perception of your judgment.

So, if you have people to hire, put other things down, read resumes, call references, host visits to your school. Either get busy hiring, or you’ll be busy next fall wishing you’d done better on the front end.

In the chart above, you’ll see a number of things to consider during the hiring process. First and foremost, make sure that you are connected at the hip to whomever works with you on Human Resources. Each system has their own nuances about the hiring process and you need to follow the policies and protocols that your system has in place. Beyond that, those who invest more time into a task are more likely to be effective in completing it. Don’t rest until you get your people in place, begin their transitional phase, and start to engage them in the culture of your school.

In 2020, school leaders should expect to spend more time than ever in developing the talent in your building to grow effective teachers and a top-notch faculty. You make that job harder than it might have to be if you do poorly in hiring. All of the time you spend now is time invested into getting the teachers and staff that will make a positive impact at your school.

© 2020. Dr. Mark Wilson principal-matters.com

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