Equity and Excellence Part One: All of the Recordings

Our first set (of five) sessions of our Equity and Excellence in Our Schools series is complete, and we have all of the recordings available for you below.

The first session featured thought leaders Tommy Welch, Chief Equity and Accountability Officer for the Gwinnett County Schools and Kerensa Wing, 2020 National Principal of the Year (NASSP) and the principal of Collins Hill High School, Gwinnett County Schools.

Stephen Peters and I were joined by Jon-Erik Jones, Liz Raeburn, and Amy Thornton in part two of this segment.

In that session, we reviewed segments from Tommy and Kerensa’s episode and Stephen led the panel in discussion. You can see that episode here:

Here’s our “Why?” for presenting this in this format:

The panel is a part of our effort to: 1) share presentations from leading educational thought leaders; 2) demonstrate a panel conversation around that presentation; and 3) encourage school leaders to have your own conversations with your administrative team, leadership group, or entire faculty. For your convenience, we’ve shared (below) excerpts from the original session. There are four topics in the short clip below. If you want to generate conversations around equity and excellence in YOUR school, you might consider using this clip and these four areas of conversation:

  1. The Effects of the Pandemic on Equity and Excellence in your school;
  2. The Role of Expectations on Equity and Excellence in your school;
  3. What’s Working in your school in the pursuit of Equity and Excellence;
  4. What pathways are you paving towards doors of opportunity for your students?

Equitable opportunities and equitable outcomes don’t occur in our schools without intent. And, that intentionality has to include consistency, which means this is more than the effort of a few. It begins with a few committed people, but equity and excellence only becomes real when it’s part of your school and school system’s culture; a value that nearly everyone considers sacred.

How do you get to there? Conversations. Then more conversations. Examination. Reflection. Commitment.

Our effort is to provide content and structure to support you in building a creative space of inquiry around equity and excellence in your school and system.

Thanks to Albany State University Educational Leadership and The Wallace Foundation for their support of these efforts towards a more equitable future.

Equity and Excellence In Our Schools

What kind of conversations are you having with your administrative team about equity and excellence?

The past year has delivered challenges to educators everywhere that have stretched our time, resources, and energy to the limits. As we begin to look ahead and plan for our yet-blurry future, issues of equity and excellence continue to be important for your consideration.

To support your work, Dr. Stephen Peters and I are privileged to facilitate and host a series of sessions designed to provoke your thoughts and ignite your conversations. Here is the format:

Part 1. WEBINAR: Presentation from Thought Leaders (see the flyer at the top of the page, please). These webinars are hosted from 4:00-5:00 PM ET on the dates listed.

Part 2. REFLECT: We share questions for reflection; your admin team or group of colleagues discuss them on your time, in your space. After the webinar, we’ll generate a list of thought-provoking questions that you can use, if you’d like, to start conversations among your school-level or district-level administrative team, a group of your colleagues, or whomever you’d like to interact with. Our suggestion is to get your group, each of you watch the webinar, and then set a day/time for 30-40 minutes of group reflection. Takes you beyond sit and get and into reflect and refine.

Part 3. WEBINAR: Our expert panel of practitioners gathers again with you one week later to follow-up on the learning. A week after each “Thought Leader” webinar, we’ll assemble a group of current practitioners to join Stephen and I to discuss the questions you’ve been considering. We’ll give you a chance to interact with us and with each other at this session, where we bring it all together– the original presentation, your time to reflect, and an expert panel to discuss moving ideas into action.

The three-part piece will take an investment of around two-and-a half hours: an hour each for our broadcast; around a half-hour for your group reflection. Yes, your time is limited, and precious. But we are bringing you the speakers, the questions, and the follow-up, for the terrific price of… well, there’s no price involved. (Albany State University and their University Principal Preparation Initiative have been generous in providing support for these sessions).

You’d be hard-pressed to get to a concise set of content, delivered to you at no cost to you, and in a format intended for immediate implementation within your school. We hope you’ll be interested and make you and your team available to utilize these resources to support your work. And, as always, everyone is welcome and you’re welcome to engage in whatever manner you’d like. While teams will benefit from the contact and the format, individuals can also find it useful. And, if other commitments prevent you from using our suggested format, it’s all good! Grab the pieces you are able to use, when you’re able to use them.

OK, here’s how: register one time and get links to all of the sessions (and access to all of the sets of questions). Please fill out the google form located here: http://tinyurl.com/equityseries and you’ll get links in your email on the dates of all of our sessions.

If you have any questions, please let me know! (Mark at mark.wilson.ga@gmail.com )

One. A Process for Success for Every One and Everyone

Stephen Peters and I have known each other for years. We both grew up in South Carolina and now reside in Georgia. In between, we have both been blessed in careers of service through education.

We’ve been teachers, coaches, and principals. We’ve helped others be better teachers, better coaches, better principals.

Now we find ourselves together with decades of experience and a joint mission… help schools and school systems to meet their potential in success for every one and for everyone.

We’re proud to announce the launch of our initiative, One.

So, what is it?

One. is a process for building schools of excellence for every one and everyone, developed and led by Stephen and I.

We help you align your resources towards a vision & develop strategies that build a deeply-seated culture of equity, unity, collaboration and excellence. 

One. is not a program, packaged for redelivery.

It’s a process based on a conceptual framework that is unique for each school and system we support. 

The work we do with you is the deep work. We aren’t designed for a quick fix. We help you build your system for the long haul. 

We lead the people in your system in a multi-tiered and multi-yeared set of processes about vision, values, purpose, personal growth and collective efficacy.

Our work is with all of your people: your Board, your Superintendent and Central Office, your School-Level Administrators, your Teachers, your Students, your Staff, your Parents and Community. 

What we do when and with whom is carefully designed following a lengthy data-collection to pinpoint your baseline and approximate your desired direction.

This work is about everything. 

It’s about your climate, the atmosphere you live in, the air you breathe, the way your schools feel.. 

It’s about your culture, your values and priorities that drive the thoughts and actions of everyone in your system. 

It’s about reflection and refinement.  

It’s genuine and real; it’s about building a place where each person and their journey is supported, encouraged, and celebrated.

It’s about bringing people together in pursuit of common goals and in support of each other’s journeys. 

It’s about learning.  And learning to learn, and loving learning.  It’s about failing forward and learning through mistakes.  

It’s about the real life of your schools, your system, and your community. 

“Educational Programs” seek to shape you into an image they bring to you and every other system they work with.  

The work of One. is built around the notion that your schools, your system and community are unique. 

We bring decades of experience doing this very thing in schools we’ve led and schools we’ve taught to do these things. 

Engage us to support your excellence.  We’ll help you serve every one and everyone.  

Contact us for more information or to discuss engaging us in support of your work:

Stephen Peters: drstephenpeters@gmail.com

Mark Wilson: mark.wilson.ga@gmail.com

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

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