Rural school leaders have some of the most complex, multifaceted jobs in education. They also have some of the highest turnover. Half of all new principals quit their jobs within three years, according to a 2014 study. A national survey released in July found that principals in rural school districts are even less likely than their urban and suburban counterparts to stay at their school the following year and more likely to leave the profession altogether. The schools they preside over, meanwhile, often struggle with persistent poverty, low college-going rates and extreme racial disparities in student outcomes.
When people leave the classroom in order to take on a building leadership role they are often confronted with more than a few people saying it’s too bad that they are leaving the classroom to go to the “dark side.” They are told that they will be disconnected from students.
Teacher salaries do need to increase. No dispute there. What does need to stop is the constant need to put a wedge between principals and teachers when they work in the same building and have an enormous opportunity to connect with students. As a principal I didn’t think my job was to walk the halls and check for students playing hooky. My job was to create relationships with students, teachers and parents, and to have a better focus on authentic learning learning experiences.
Effective communication is one critical characteristics of effective and successful school principal. Research on effective schools and instructional leadership emphasizes the impact of principal leadership on creating safe and secure learning environment and positive nurturing school climate (Halawah, 2005, p. 334)
Halawah, I. (2005). The Relationship between Effective Communication of High School Principal and School Climate. Education, 126(2), 334-345.
Selection of school principals in Hong Kong. The findings confirm a four-factor set of expectations sought from applicants; these are Generic Managerial Skills; Communication and Presentation Skills; Knowledge and Experience; and Religious Value Orientation.
Kwan, P. (2012). Assessing school principal candidates: perspectives of the hiring superintendents. International Journal Of Leadership In Education, 15(3), 331-349. doi:10.1080/13603124.2011.617838
Yee, D. L. (2000). Images of school principals’ information and communications technology leadership. Journal of Information Technology for Teacher Education, 9(3), 287–302. https://doi.org/10.1080/14759390000200097
Catano, N., & Stronge, J. H. (2007). What do we expect of school principals? Congruence between principal evaluation and performance standards. International Journal of Leadership in Education, 10(4), 379–399. https://doi.org/10.1080/13603120701381782
Communication can consist of two large areas:
broadcasting information: PR, promotions, notifications etc.
two-way communication: collecting feedback, “office hours” type of communication, backchanneling, etc.
Further communication initiated by/from principals can have different audiences
Navigating politics and learning to let go of past responsibilities were among the most unexpected aspects of their positions
Richard Carranza — Chancellor, New York City Department of Education
I’ve been principal in two different schools in two different states, so my heart’s really in the classroom, in the schools themselves. But it’s important that if anybody’s going to become a superintendent, you realize that you also have a good array of political issues that you’re going to have to deal with, [from] elected officials [and] individuals that are not elected but have considerable political clout and could affect the initiatives or agenda that you have.
Suzanne Lacey — Superintendent, Talladega County Schools
a thing I struggled with the most was just letting go of the jobs that I had done before.
Glenn Robbins — Superintendent, Tabernacle Township School District
“No one ever made a difference by being like everyone else.” An organization is either run by visionaries or operators. Which are you?
Leadership is a privilege. Serve others each day with a positive attitude. How strong are your relationships with not only your board of education and administrative team, but also the teachers association? Relationships and communication are first. Everything else comes second.
Stay true to the district’s goals and values. Remember to embrace the infinite game, and not chase the external finite game. Focus within, not external. Coach, mentor, support and challenge. Be the leader that creates more leaders, not produces more soldiers.
70 percent of teens now say they use social media more than once a day, compared to 34 percent of teens in 2012.
Snapchat is now the most popular social media platform among teens, with 41 percent saying it’s the one use most frequently.
35 percent of teens now say texting is their preferred mode of communication with friends, more than the 32 percent who prefer in-person communication. In 2012, 49 percent of teens preferred in-person communication.
One-fourth of teens say using social media makes them feel less lonely, compared to 3 percent who say it makes them feel more lonely.
Nearly three-fourths of teens believe tech companies manipulate them to get them to spend more time on their devices and platforms.
Back in 2012, Facebook dominated the landscape, and social media was something for teens to periodically check in on.
In 2018, though, “social media” is no longer a monolith. Teens now communicate, express themselves, share experiences and ideas, rant, gossip, flirt, plan, and stay on top of current events using a mix of platforms that compete ferociously for their attention.
Sixty-three percent of teens say they use Snapchat, and 41 percent say it’s the platform they use most frequently.
Instagram, meanwhile, is used by 61 percent of teens.
And Facebook’s decline among teens has been “precipitous,” according to the new report. Just 15 percent of teens now say Facebook is their main social media site, down from 68 percent six years ago
Anna Egalite, assistant professor of leadership and policy at NC State. Previously, Anna taught elementary school and did a postdoc at Harvard. She’ll be writing about education-leadership research—what we know, where we have good intuitions, and where we’re still very much in the dark.
In April, a PLAYlive Nation lounge in Tracy, Calif., hosted its first Fortnite tournament and sold out. Hundreds of players bought tickets to play against one another and win prizes.
Joost van Dreunen, the CEO of Superdata Research, a video game analytics firm, says most shooter games are serious and simulate violence. Fortnite, he says, is more like a friendly game of tag.
His company estimates the game has made about $223 million across all platforms in March alone. In lifetime sales, it had made about $614 million. The game is free to play, but Epic Games, the company that owns Fortnite, makes money through microtransactions. Players can spend real money to make cosmetic changes to their characters in the game. They can buy things like skins, which are like costumes, for their characters or emotes, which are celebratory dance moves their characters can do after winning or killing another player in the game.
Ninja, the gamer name taken by 26-year-old Tyler Blevins, is now a legend in the Fortnite world. He is a master at the game and rocketed into popularity after playing in an online battle with rap artists Drake and Travis Scott on March 14. That battle has been watched more than 9 million times.
Educators Battle ‘Fortnite’ for Students’ Attention
Many educators want to ban the game from their classrooms, but some are taking the opposite approach, attempting to weave students’ interest in Fortnite into class discussions and assignments.
Nick Fisher, a science teacher at Fort Zumwalt North High School in O’Fallon, Mo., said his students like to take screenshots of gameplay and send them to friends over Snapchat. Teenagers want to broadcast their victories, and because the game is on their phones, it’s easy to post updates to social media, making Fortnite “the perfect concoction of addiction,” said Fisher.
North High blocks all social media and gaming sites on its WiFi, said Fisher, but students tell him how they circumvent the restriction: They use virtual private networks, or VPNs, to establish independent internet connections. (Dozens of YouTube videos provide step-by-step tutorials for students looking to get around school WiFi controls.)
“Kids can’t multitask,” she said. “Even having a digital device within sight can cognitively distract the student enough that they can’t focus on the academics.”
Schools and teachers should be guiding parents when it comes to appropriate limits around screen time, said Kolb. Most parents will appreciate research-based recommendations, such as turning off all screens a set amount of time before bed, she said.
Games like Fortnite can even have social benefits, said John Velez, an assistant professor of journalism and electronic media at Texas Tech University. Velez, who studies the positive effects of video games, has found that playing violent games cooperatively with helpful teammates promotes pro-social behavior.
Chris Aviles, the coordinator of innovation, technology, and 21st century skills for the Fair Haven Public Schools in New Jersey, wrote “A Teacher’s Guide to Surviving Fortnite,” an exploration of ways the game can be used for instructional purposes. The guide, posted to his blog Teched Up Teacher, suggests how to integrate the game into writing prompts, math lessons on probability, and physics.
Aviles doesn’t advocate playing the game at school. There isn’t any educational value in letting students engage in virtual combat during a lesson, he said. Instead, teachers can build a lesson around one aspect of the game, such as having students calculate the best angle of approach as they jump from the “Battle Bus,” the floating bus that drops players onto the map at the beginning of each match.
Instagram, Snapchat, Fortnite: The distractions are endless. Here’s how to help kids cope.
In January, two of Apple’s shareholder groups asked the company to look at the addictive effects of iPhones on children. Google’s recent developer conference highlighted tools to help users better control smartphone usage.
A 2015 survey of more than 1,800 teachers and 400 principals in Alberta, B.C., found that nearly three-fourths of teachers frequently or very frequently observed students multitasking with technology, and 67 percent of teachers believed that the number of students negatively distracted by digital technologies in the classroom was growing.
The best approach is to use empathy, compassion and collaboration to help the young people in your life find ways to manage their digital workflow.
Encourage visualization for inspiration and motivation. The first step is getting students to buy in and to want to make behavioral changes.
Focus on compartmentalization. A 2009 study from Stanford researchers found that people who juggled several streams of electronic information were not able to pay attention, remember key information or switch tasks as effectively as those who completed one task at a time.
Using the Pomodoro technique of spending 25 minutes focused on one task followed by a five-minute break can be an easy way to have students begin to shift from a multitasking to a monotasking mind-set.
Make focus fun. There are now numerous ways to use technology to help us be more productive with technology, and it doesn’t have to be arduous. Students in my office use apps such as Forest or Flipd to motivate them to stay off their phones during class or when doing homework. Forest has a simple interface that will build a digital tree for users who stay off their phones. Flipd allows users to hide certain apps, allot time off their phone based on their schedule and, for a premium, track their progress over time.
Provide structured support as needed. A middle school student with whom I worked recently was relieved when his mother used the Mac OS app SelfControl to block YouTube and ESPN while he was doing his homework (Cold Turkey is a similar PC-based app).
Allow opportunities for regrouping. Even the best plans can go awry (for adults and kids alike). It’s important to focus on progress rather than perfection. Create time daily or weekly for students to think about what went well in terms of managing distractions and improving productivity, and what they would like to do better. Ask open-ended questions without judgment or expectation
The Next 10 Years: Helping STEM Students Thrive series, on January 10th, from 12-1:30 PM ET. The topic will be learning spaces with the following guest speakers:
Jeanne L. Narum, Principal, Learning Spaces Collaboratory
Jeanne will discuss what she has learned about what works, why and how it works in achieving sustainable institutional transformation in the world of planning spaces for learning in the undergraduate setting.
Lisa Stephens, Sr. Strategist- SUNY Academic Innovation – University at Buffalo
Rebecca Rotundo, Instructional Technology Specialist, University at Buffalo
Lisa and Rebecca will share their experience in FLEXspace (Flexible Learning Environments eXchange) an open education repository project which has expanded to over 2,600+ users from 1,200+ educational institutions across 42 countries.
Xin Li, Associate University Librarian, Cornell
Xin will share information about the Library’s initiative to install a Portal on the Cornell campus in Sept. 2018, with the goal to engage faculty, students, and the community in live conversations with Portal users in different countries, cultures, or life circumstances, such as what others do for STEM education.
This collaboration between Cornell University and the University at Buffalo featuring the perspectives of national thought leaders and institutional representatives about expanding the participation of women in undergraduate STEM education at different scales.
This interactive, online series features a different topic per month. Each session kicks off with an introduction by our distinguished thought leaders followed by institutional representatives from Cornell University and the University at Buffalo who will share insights from their campuses. Participants may join the conversation, ask questions, share experiences, build networks and learn more about:
· Innovations that can expand female or underrepresented minority student participation and success in STEM undergraduate education.
· Effective evidence-based STEM teaching practices commonly adopted at research universities.
· Unique institutional and cultural challenges to achieving STEM diversity.