Gear Up for the New School Year

August 2015, Volume 38, Issue 12


Meet this upcoming school year head-on with these game-changing strategies, culled from NAESP’s annual conference in Long Beach, California.

1. Hold a Ten-Minute Meeting
Todd Whitaker and Annette Breaux presented a session titled “The Ten-Minute Inservice,” based on their recent book. If you’ve seen these two present before, you know that they bring a level of honesty and frankness to everything they do. Some of the most relevant ideas from their session include the idea of limiting staff meetings to only 10 minutes (hence the title). If the meeting concept is clear and engaging, you shouldn’t need any more time than that. Whitaker and Breaux also explained that principals should aim to be models for their teachers, not just executives.

2. Ignite Student Health and Wellness
Through leadership and innovative programs, Wendy Ellen Starwalt moved her school in northern Illinois toward a healthier culture focused on wellness and exercise. One bright idea from her presentation: Add health and wellness activities to the school calendar. Ideas like these are becoming more and more important as schools take the approach that a healthier child, more often than not, results in a more successful student.

3. Get Creative With Improving School Climate
In perhaps the fastest-paced session of the conference, principals Becky Roth and Abi Van Regenmorter from South Dakota shared a treasure trove list of ideas for improving school climate—everything from providing opportunities for teachers to visit each other’s classes to book studies to making a video that celebrates your school to sharing staff baby pictures on a bulletin board—and everything in between.

4. Learn to Manage Your Twitter Stream
Leveraging Twitter was a big topic throughout the conference, but one particular session focused on how principals can extend their professional learning communities using the social network. Attendees learning about the best tools for Twitter, like TweetDeck, as well as how to participate in chats using hashtags.

5. Bring a Maker Space to Your School
With the nation abuzz about STEM and STEAM initiatives, principal Kimberlie Linz from Manhattan Beach, California, actually brought a maker space to her school as an extracurricular activity. In this lab, students are encouraged to experiment with common items in a series of projects that explore creativity, engineering, and problem-solving skills. The program was so popular that over 40 students were willing to come in at 6 a.m. to take part!

These are all concepts that require few resources. Mainly they just need a leader willing to think outside the box in an effort to improve schools.

Copyright © 2015. National Association of Elementary School Principals. No part of the articles in NAESP magazines, newsletters, or website may be reproduced in any medium without the permission of the National Association of Elementary School Principals. For more information, view NAESP’s reprint policy.

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