Top 10 Blog Posts of 2021

My goal is simple: write one blog post per week.


In 2021, I met this goal and published more than 50 blog posts.


"Why do you spend so much time blogging?" you may wonder.


First, each blog is one piece of a gigantic puzzle as I work towards publishing my second book (the first can be found here).


But more importantly, blogging clarifies my thinking and archives my best ideas. Jumbled and fragmented thoughts seem to disentangle themselves as they pass through my fingertips.


If you are looking for clarity about work, relationships, and life ... I encourage you to pick up the writing habit.


Below were my most read posts from 2021. Enjoy!

 

10. You Look Like Opie (400+ downloads)


First impressions matter.


Whereas favorable first impressions can serve as the foundation of a prosperous relationship, poor first impressions can be nearly impossible to undo.


For school leaders assuming a new position, few first impressions are more important than the initial all-staff meeting. When I became a superintendent, I wanted to make our first gathering extra special so we took all 250 employees to a nearby convention center for a "Back-to-School Celebration" a week before school started....

 

9. We're Looking for Someone with Experience (400+ downloads)


"We're looking for someone with experience.”


Aspiring school leaders hear this all the time when trying to move up the administrative ladder.


Whether you're a teacher trying to move into teacher leadership, an assistant principal hoping to become a principal, or a principal wanting to be a superintendent, we routinely get the "experience" line when we don't land a job...

 

8. Investing in Culture (500+ downloads)


As school leaders, we learn to do more with less. We always search for ways to build culture in ways that don’t cost money. We give notes of appreciation, allow staff to leave early, organize staff potlucks, and cover classrooms.


However, there comes a point when school leaders exhaust all their "free" ideas: one can only approve so many jeans' days! In these cases, school leaders must dip into school finances for the purpose of investing in school culture.


But in a world where school purchases are increasingly scrutinized, how can leaders invest in school culture without getting slapped on the wrist by auditors?

 

7. "I'm Calling My Lawyer" (600+ downloads)

**This article will be featured in the March issue of School Administrator magazine**


Educational leaders hear this all the time. Often, these are upset parents who believe schools mishandled a situation with their child. Sometimes, these are employees who believe they were wronged by the district. Occasionally, these are students who believe they were mistreated by staff.


In most cases, “I’m calling my lawyer!” declarations go nowhere.


But what happens a parent, employee, or student actually follow through on their threat?

 

6. Why School Leaders Must Visit Classrooms (600+ downloads)


When I meet with new leaders, they often ask how to improve their instructional leadership.


Frustrated with handling discipline, returning emails, and filling out reports, these novice leaders are curious what they can do to really impact student learning.


While there are several activities they could prioritize - such as leading professional development, attending PLC meetings, or analyzing student data - one instructional leadership practice gives leaders the biggest return on investment:


Classroom walkthroughs.

 

5. What Have You Done For Me Lately? (700+ downloads)

**This article was featured in School Administrator magazine**


Leaders across all professions now live in a “what have you done for me lately” culture.


Rather than consider what they have done over the long term, bosses are being judged on their most recent actions. Whereas these individuals may have a stellar professional track record, today's "instant gratification" culture shows them no mercy...

 

4. Lesson Learned (800+ downloads)

*This article was featured at SAI New Administrator Training**


Early in my administrative career, I supervised a pair of teachers who worked closely together.


One teacher was positive, creative, and full of energy. She was loved by colleagues and students enjoyed being in her classroom. She searched for ways to engage students, and always went the extra mile to make learning exciting.


The other teacher was negative, prickly, and lazy. She isolated herself from peers and students didn’t particularly enjoy her class. Her lessons resulted in low engagement and she gave little effort building student relationships....

 

3. It's TIME to Address Teacher Burnout (1000+ downloads)

**This article was featured in District Administrator magazine**


As districts continue to recover from the COVID pandemic, one issue has emerged as the primary concern for school leaders.


No - we’re not talking about student masking or staff vaccines. While these are clearly important (and divisive) topics, another concern has separated from the rest of the pack.


That topic is teacher burnout...

 

2. Managing Anxiety (1000+ downloads)


During my first day of work as a teacher in the Chicago Public Schools in 2007, all 60 building staff gathered into the auditorium.


As is typical of my opening day meetings, employees were asked to stand up and introduce themselves by sharing their name and professional background.


Being seated towards the back of the auditorium, I was one of the last people to speak. One by one, staff shared their information. As the introductions worked their way up and down the rows, I began feeling something I had never felt before: intense anxiety....

 

1. What I Learned About Divorce (2000+ downloads)

**This article was featured in School Administrator magazine**


Lindsey and I met on Tinder in June of 2014 and immediately hit it off.


As is the case with most online connections, we started with your typical introductory questions:


"Do you smoke?" she asked me, explaining it was a nonnegotiable. Although I wasn't sure if she was referring to tobacco or drugs, I had never smoked anything so I was in the clear.


"Do you have kids?" I questioned, noticing a young child in her pictures and wondering if a baby daddy was involved. I was relieved to hear the photos were of her nephew.


Things moved quickly from there. Messaging turned into exchanging numbers. Exchanging numbers turned into becoming Facebook friends (where - let's be honest - the real digging starts).


Our first date was 5 days later. One month later I took her on a family vacation. Ten months later we were engaged. And in the fall of 2016, we were married (#TheySwipedRight)...

 

If you liked this this content, you'll love my new book Learning Curve!


Learning Curve is 360 pages and PACKED with useful ideas on leadership, education, and personal growth.

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