A Middle-Level Perspective on Homework, Student Empowerment, and Prioritizing Well-Being with Kim Campbell

Topics: Health and Wellness, Middle Level, Student Engagement

“We are teaching kids for jobs that do not yet exist.”

Kim Campbell


In this episode, listeners will have the privilege of hearing insights from Kim Campbell, an author, a speaker, a middle-level teacher, and a dean of students. Educational leaders will gain valuable insights into redefining traditional approaches, fostering a supportive environment, empowering both teachers and students, cultivating inclusive cultures, and addressing key challenges in education.

Hosted by NAESP member, author, and keynote speaker Adam Welcome, NAESP Leadership Conversations is a new way to bring you professional learning and in-depth conversations from thought leaders in the field. Through these conversations, you’ll learn strategies to do your job better with more satisfaction, collaboration, and flexibility and gain tools you can use daily.


 Top Takeaways:

  1. Rethinking Homework: Consider the purpose of homework and its impact on student learning. Implement formative assessments daily instead, involving the community in the process.
  2. Empower Teachers: Foster a culture where teachers can effectively teach and students can thrive. Provide support and tools within the district to enhance teaching practices.
  3. Work-Life Balance: Encourage administrators and teachers to establish boundaries, such as avoiding emails after 5 p.m., to prevent burnout. Delegation is key to sustaining programs and maintaining well-being.
  4. Prioritize Mental Health: Normalize taking mental health days and delegate tasks when feeling overwhelmed. Creating a supportive environment for staff contributes to retention and job satisfaction.
  5. Promote Student Empowerment: Shift from focusing solely on engagement to empowering students through choice and voice in their learning. Incorporate project-based and inquiry-based learning to foster ownership.
  6. Encourage Critical Thinking: Pose complex questions that go beyond simple answers provided by technology like Alexa. Prepare students for future jobs by fostering critical thinking skills.
  7. Develop Leadership Capacity: Use inclusive practices like small groups and mentoring groups to amplify diverse voices and encourage innovation. Embrace failure as a stepping stone to growth.
  8. Foster a Fun Environment: Incorporate fun activities and traditions within the school community to boost morale and camaraderie among staff. Be intentional about creating a positive and enjoyable team culture.
  9. Communication and Community Building: Establish clear frameworks and resources, such as a “things to know” guide, to support new and existing staff. Strengthening the school community is vital for retaining teachers.
  10. Address Mid-Year Teacher Attrition: Take proactive steps to strengthen the school community and support teachers throughout the year to mitigate mid-year attrition rates. Continuously assess and improve retention strategies.

Reflection Questions:

  • How can you adapt your approach to homework to better align with student needs and community involvement?
  • In what ways can you enhance support for teachers’ work-life balance while maintaining program sustainability?
  • How might you shift your focus from student engagement to empowerment, fostering ownership and choice in learning?
  • What strategies can you implement to foster a more inclusive and innovative school culture that embraces failure as a learning opportunity?
  • How can you strengthen communication and community-building efforts to address teacher attrition and promote staff retention throughout the school year?

UNITED 24 Pre-Conference Session:

Learn more from Kim Campbell in a pre-conference session, July 14 in Nashville, ahead of the UNITED conference July 15-17. Creating a culture begins with all of us. In her session, you’ll learn ways in which schools can discover values as a school community and create consistency among staff around behavior.

Presenter: Kim Campbell, an author, a speaker, a middle-level teacher, and a dean of students who founded the afterschool program called Students on the Academic Rise, or SOAR.