2 Minutes to Better Relationships with Your Most At-Risk Students

There is much pride in the role of being an elementary school principal. There are many different hats to wear throughout the day and many different kinds of people to work with. One of my favorite aspects of the job is getting to build relationships with students at my school. Granted the job is also very challenging and I am looking for any efficiencies to carry out my work. Building relationships is not an area where shortcuts can be taken but I found an easy way for me to focus my energy and attention in a systematic way that creates more time for me to do my work elsewhere: The 2×10 Strategy! Continue reading

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Future Ready Leaders


Four Essentials of Future Ready Leaders

This is the statistic that disrupted my thinking as an elementary principal:

65% of children entering primary school today will ultimately end up working in completely new job types that don’t yet exist.

Today’s schools are tasked with serving an increasingly diverse student body in an era of high-stakes accountability with rigorous standards, utilizing technology that is expanding exponentially while preparing students to be future ready for jobs that haven’t been invented. In order to do this effectively, schools need future ready leaders.

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Does Your Building Culture Promote Equity Education?


“Culture eats strategy for breakfast” is a phrase coined by Peter Drucker and made more famous by Ford president, Mark Fields.

Likely all of us in education resonate with that phrase and concept to varying degrees, and I assume everyone is unanimous in thinking that absent a strong culture it is more difficult to move forward with key strategies and initiatives, regardless of how compelling or sound in practice they are. Many of the recommendations outlined in independent studies surrounding equal access to education are embodied in the process of policy making. Policy gets tied up in legislation and politics at the national, state, and local level and is disseminated for implementation in the form of mandates which are meted out procedurally in school districts and ultimately implemented at the school building level. This type of change is slow, cumbersome, frustrating and can take years. In order to create conditions which foster educational equity in your schools, focus on creating a culture which supports equity education. Continue reading

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Minnesota Humanities Center Conference

Blog Post paid for by the Minnesota Humanities Center

The Minnesota Humanities Center is taking applications for the Educator Institute, held in St. Paul the week of June 25–30. Administrators, please encourage a team from your building to attend this incredible experience for K–12 educators!

“The Educator Institute remains the single most powerful training I have participated in and has opened the path to on-going changes in dialogue both in the classroom and with community members.” Continue reading

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The Attitude of The Leader

post by Baruti Kafele

For the 14 years that I served as an urban principal in New Jersey, I couldn’t wrap my mind around the notion that the achievement gap was my primary issue. Although it existed and it was rather wide, I did not see a change in instructional practices being the solution to closing this gap. I was convinced that the problem was deeper than achievement yet within our grasp to correct. It was my strong contention then, as it continues to be today, that the attitudes of students, staff, and administrators matter. As I say regularly, attitude is everything!

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Grading for Learning: A Standards-Based Grading Journey

I was once asked what the purpose of school is. What a great question! To be honest I had to really think about the answer, surprised that such a simplistic question could cause me to pause. Schools nurture, inspire, educate; all needed and very important virtues to our students and families we serve, but what I finally landed on was learning. The Wikipedia definition for learning states that “Learning is the act of acquiring new, or modifying and reinforcing existing, knowledge, behaviors, skills, values, or preferences and may involve synthesizing different types of information.” This happens every day in each of our schools. However, this question prompted myself and our administrative team to think deeper about what our practices, procedures and policies were and whether learning was truly prioritized within our school.

If indeed learning is the business of our business, do all of our systems within our schools truly promote and reflect that?

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How Play Powers Social and Emotional Learning

playworksIn July 2015, the American Journal of Public Health published the results of a study that found children’s social and emotional skills in kindergarten are associated with long-term success.

The longitudinal study rated kindergarteners’ chances of success in young adulthood based on their levels of social competency at age five. These competencies, often known as pro-social skills, include skills such as the ability to share materials, resolve peer problems, cooperate, and listen.

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