Assistant Principal Corner #8 SEL Viewpoints

Ap Rocks

There are so many thoughts, ideas, and concerns regarding SEL (Social and Emotional Learning) in schools these days that many can feel very overwhelmed by it all. Many students are coming to school with an array of social and emotional issues and schools are trying very hard to meet their needs but it can be difficult. With tight budgets and soaring costs, many schools struggle to meet all the educational needs and provide their students will fully funded programs and staffs. I can honestly say with over 25 years in education, I have never seen so many students diagnosed with anxiety or depression. We always talk about providing quality interventions and SEL programs for our students which is very justified but what about the root cause of all these issues? I am certainly not an expert in SEL but Here are a few ideas that can possibly help.

  1. 10 Tips to help raise more resilient kids 
  2. A ink between too much cell phone use and teen anxiety
  3. Help kids with self-regulation
  4. Social and Emotional Learning Strategies for Parents-Edutopia
  5. Ensure kids are getting enough free play

 

I certainly hope these ideas from several experts are helpful and through comprehensive education and school-wide education, we can SEL learningstart to reduce the social emotional problems facing so many young students today.

Welcome Back New & Veteran Teachers

Teach Learn

With another school year upon us, I was thinking about all the great educators I have had the pleasure working with during my career and how much the teaching profession has changed. Certainly, the academia learned in our college/university education classes helps build a foundation, but in my opinion there is no substitute for full-time teaching experience and the ongoing interactions with faculty, students, and parents/guardians. Parents have always wanted the best for their kids and as educators we must deliver. I honestly believe a great teacher is worth their weight in gold and although it is a tough job, it is extremely rewarding.

I have been very fortunate to interact with many dynamic school administrators over the years and am fortunate so many were willing to help me provide both new and returning teachers with some good advice/tips for this upcoming school year. Thank you very much to all those listed below. Personally, I wish all new and returning teachers the very best and will share these two tips; Always model what you want to see from your students such as being a life-long learner and be fair and consistent with them. They really understand when the proverbial playing field is not level. 

William Burkhead- Principal Monomy Regional H.S. -“School’s should be places where we treat kids like they are our own.  A place where they are loved, disciplined, respected, trusted & challenged with high expectations.”

Sam Francera- Asst. Professor, Ed. Leadership, William Paterson University-“Getting better requires patience, persistence, and professionalism. Model these attributes in your daily interactions with students, parents, and colleagues to improve learning for all students.”

Eileen Donahue- Assistant Principal Auburn H.S.-“It all comes down to the 3 R’s: Relationships, Relationships,Relationships. Build them early and build them often. Build them with your students, with their parents, with community stake holders and with fellow faculty members and staff. They will pay dividends tenfold when the time comes to have difficult conversations. It is much easier to broach difficult topics when it is not the first time that you have ever really spoken to someone.”

George M. Farro-Assistant Superintendent Whitman-Hanson RSD-“Always be who you are bc the job of a teaching and loving students is hard enough.”

Ross Thibault-Principal Dartmouth High School-“Never lose track of the “why”—the opportunity to make a meaningful impact in the lives of young people and always remember that success is a mindset!”

Lytania Mackey- Director of Technology Swampscott Public Schools-“Classroom management starts day one by building relationships and reinforcing expectations. If you don’t do this you’ll pay for it in December. Don’t worry about the content – worry about getting to know them and them know you.”

Brian McCann-Principal Case High School-Here are two of my mantras: 1. “Make decisions involving students like they were your own children.” 2. “You do not need anyone’s permission to be awesome today.”

Patrick Larkin-Assistant Superintendent Burlington Public Schools-“Have a self-care plan worked out prior to the start of school with attention to sleep and wellness time prioritized in your week. It’s like the analogy on the airplane, adults need to take the oxygen first or they will not be able to take care of the children. If you are not ensuring your own physical and mental health first then you won’t be able to fully support your students.”

Paul Vieira-Assistant Superintendent Ashland Public Schools-Communicate, Communicate, and Communicate, we ask our kids to do it, we want you to do it too. Your success and that of our kids rests on your ability to communicate when you need help or are unsure of things.”

Henry Turner- Principal Newton North High School-“Spend more time listening than talking. Get out of your office and be with people. Spend time with kids outside of the classroom…Go to the cafeteria and go on a field trip. Have fun.”

Joe Scozzaro- Assistant Principal Duxbury High School-“Be transparent with your students about what you don’t know and embrace the role of learner. Your job is to create and manage the conditions in which students learn—not to know everything about your content.”

Chris Jones- Principal Whitman Hanson Regional High School-“Education is not all about you teaching. It’s about students learning. Remember that learning is a personal experience so let students have that experience by offering relevant, engaging topics. Give choice and support student agency because standardized assessments and curriculum are not always a completely accurate measurement or creator of growth and learning.”

Bill Chaplin- Principal Shepard Hill Regional High School– “Always begins and end with relationships – with students, Fellow Staff,and community – Connect passion with content and mastery, and how this all connects to your students real world today.”

John Clements-Principal Nipmuc Regional High School-“Keep your focus on creating a culture of learning, not a culture of teaching. Although this may sound challenging, remember that little action steps have a huge impact. Simple ideas like tracking your talk time, trading a dominant teaching wall for a “wonder wall”, putting lessons “on-demand” so kids can choose the lesson they want/need, and creating formal ways for kids to give you feedback on your lessons are great starting points to create learning environments defined by reflection, growth, agency, and inquiry for all!”

Lucas Giguere- Assistant Superintendent Franklin Public Schools-“In my experience, the best classroom management strategies aren’t founded on strict rules but through establishing positive relationships between and among students, modeling high expectations for the respectful behavior you expect of your students and providing high-quality instruction that engages them in authentic tasks. The rest will take care of itself. My mentor told me to keep ”Next Year” notes in the form of a running log to capture the lessons learned and ideas to improve moving forward. It served me well. Best of luck!”

Kip Lewis- Assistant Principal King Phillip Regional High School-“Never underestimate the power of dreams and the influence of the human spirit. We are all the same in this notion: The potential for greatness lives within each of us.” ~Wilma Rudolph

Assistant Principal’s Corner #7

It has been a few years since I have posted an Assistant Principal Corner and believe  my perspective has changed a bit since first becoming an Assistant Principal. For those that want to switch from teaching to administration, it is a great career change but is not for everybody. Not everyone can be a great teacher and this goes for administration as well. From my experience and interactions with many colleagues, I would like to share a few thoughts on what I believe it takes to be an effective Assistant Principal. A very wise and seasoned veteran administrator once told me that if an AP tries to be liked by all, they probably will be ineffective and never be able to promote needed change and growth. My thoughts below are in no particular order.

  1. Be visible and support the kids. Saying you support students and actually being at their events are two separate things. Students are smart and know sincerity when they see it. Yes, this is a time commitment but is part of the job and is needed to build relationships.
  2. Be an instructional leader. The days of just dealing with operational issues within the building and discipline are long gone. How do you help your principal with his/her academic vision and how do you initiate new ideas/strategies to promote instructional growth?
  3. Model what you want to see in the building. If we expect students and staff to take educational risks and try new things, we must be willing to do it ourselves. We can’t expect growth if we are not willing to keep learning and sharing what we learn with others. Change is always difficult but necessary so students can be better prepared for an ever-changing global society. Be a transformational leader.
  4. Be transparent, have integrity, demonstrate professionalism, and be loyal. All of these leadership traits are extremely important. Loyalty must be given and also received. Leadership teams must be loyal to each other and not get caught up with school-wide politics.
  5. Your decisions must be made in the best interest of your students but support your teachers and staff. If they make mistakes, discuss it behind closed doors. Praise in public but criticize in private. Your decisions will not always be favorable and surely will alienate someone, but you can’t worry about trying to please everyone so just make the best decision according to the information at hand and from your experience. No two people look at things exactly through the same lens.

6. Constantly be in classrooms to observe teachers. Give honest and descriptive feedback to them. If you have any concerns, it is important to be able to give them steps to correct those areas not just give criticism. The majority of teachers work very hard to plan fun and engaging lessons and they put in many extra hours, so our feedback needs to be useful and relevant to help them continue to grow as professionals. We can always find at least one positive thing in a lesson even if it wasn’t a strong lesson that particular day. On the other hand, failing to address ineffective teaching is not fair to our students and does them an injustice

7. Constantly work on being an active listener. This is an important skill that some people are better at than others. I believe we can always improve in this area but it takes practice.  Certainly, an area I am still working on.

8. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Developing a strong professional learning network (PLN) can provide innovative ideas to create new practices as well as support from colleagues that may have faced challenges that you are presently dealing with. Being a school administrator is not easy so seeking advice from others is a must if you want to be successful. Social media such as Twitter is an excellent resource but also face-to-face opportunities such as committees and conferences are very beneficial as well.