This was my first post four years ago. I’ve written dozens of posts since, but I revisit this one to remind myself why I started.
So, why call a blog Common Sense School Leadership? As far back as I can remember, when it comes to following someone, all I have ever wanted is to be led by someone with common sense. It seems like a simple and practical wish. Common sense leaders are confident in their ability, but also keenly aware that they don’t know it all.
Leaders with… Continue
Added by Debbie Wooleyhand on October 6, 2017 at 7:48pm —
I began riding a motorcycle over two years ago. I never had any intention of becoming a biker. I was happy and busy and certainly didn’t need a new hobby. I was 51 when I started. Such a cliché. Mid-life crisis, right? Not really, but it’s hard to overcome appearances. I blame my friends. They started riding a few months before me, got their licenses, and took to riding like ducks to the water. Every time we got together they would ask me when I was going to join them. I scoffed at them,… Continue
Added by Debbie Wooleyhand on September 20, 2017 at 5:00pm —
The hiring season is coming up for many school districts. Excited and motivated young graduates will soon be applying for their first teaching position. The thought of that first interview can make even the most confident aspiring teacher a little queasy. Here are a few tips from veteran principals to make your interview a positive experience and help you get that job! Continue
Donna Usewick (@dsusewick), principal at Oakwood Elementary in Glen Burnie, Maryland suggests the following:…
Added by Debbie Wooleyhand on March 27, 2017 at 11:00pm —
“Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education.”
– Franklin D. Roosevelt
Such a timely quote by Franklin D. Roosevelt. As educators, school leaders, parents, and involved citizens, we must remember our role in preparing students to choose wisely. Education will always be important to the success of democracy. As we end one year and enter a new, we should reflect on how… Continue
Added by Debbie Wooleyhand on December 20, 2016 at 6:36pm —
I grew up playing sports. My three brothers and I were always on the go. Whether it was playing whiffle ball in the backyard or tackle football in the nearby field, we were always playing something. We spent very little time in the house. Our neighborhood was our playground.
I played baseball, lacrosse, football, basketball, soccer, and wrestled. I wasn’t an athlete. I liked to wear a uniform. Seriously, I was lured to sports by the smell of a fresh new uniform, hat, or helmet. We… Continue
Added by Debbie Wooleyhand on November 24, 2016 at 9:50am —
Teacher leadership was the discussion topic for #mdeschat the other night. Many great insights were shared. Here are a few:
“A leader helps to create more leaders and inspires. That is exactly what I want to do as a teacher.” -Michael Donnelly @mrdonnelly3
“In the collaborative culture that we build, shared leadership is needed, we can’t do it alone!” –Cheryl Cox @CoxCherylcox628
“Teaching is so complex and involves so many variables; empowering critical… Continue
Added by Debbie Wooleyhand on September 30, 2016 at 1:04pm —
Our school recently held a parent night for our Spanish speaking families. I stood at the front of the school opening the door and greeting families as they arrived. The turn-out was nice and included many of our students. After some refreshments, one of our first grade teachers took the students to her classroom for some fun activities while our EL teacher and community liaison worked with the parents.
The parents participated in warm-up games to help them get to know each other.… Continue
Added by Debbie Wooleyhand on September 22, 2016 at 12:58pm —
John Harbaugh, coach of the Baltimore Ravens and his brother, Jim Harbaugh, coach at the University of Michigan, have often used the quote above to motivate their players. The quote was passed down to them by their father Jack, a life-long college football coach. The words are a simple reminder to appreciate the best things in life. They encourage us to be grateful for all that we have.
After 30 years in education, there is still nothing more exciting to me than the start of a new… Continue
Added by Debbie Wooleyhand on August 9, 2016 at 7:01am —
Thursday, February 4th is National Homemade Soup Day. To celebrate, three members of the #mdeschat PLN shared what “ingredients” make a school great. They offer the following food for thought, which is best digested with a nice bowl of homemade soup, you decide what kind!
“I’d say the three most important ingredients that will determine if a school is great are people, relationships, and mindset. A great school doesn’t ever reach “greatness.” The stakeholders have a growth mindset… Continue
Added by Debbie Wooleyhand on February 6, 2016 at 6:59pm —
After graduating from college in 1987, I served in the Peace Corps for two years. I was assigned to the tiny island nation of St. Kitts/Nevis in the West Indies. The islands in the Caribbean are beautiful, but the economies struggle due the challenges of maintaining industry and tourism structures.
The people in the West Indies were very accepting of Americans, although many of them thought that we were all just like the people on the TV show Dallas. It was a life-changing experience… Continue
Added by Debbie Wooleyhand on January 15, 2016 at 11:42am —
President Barack Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) on December 10, 2015. According to the government’s webpage, the reauthorization of NCLB represents “good news for our nation’s schools.”
The bipartisan law proclaims to:
Advance equity by upholding critical protections for disadvantaged and high-need students.
Require—for the first time—that all students in America be taught to high academic standards that will prepare them to succeed in college and… Continue
Added by Debbie Wooleyhand on January 5, 2016 at 6:23am —
I had the fortune of hearing Todd Whitaker speak this week. Two years ago I attended his keynote at NAESP in Baltimore. His message never gets old. Having him at our district’s leadership conference this week was a great way to bring closure to the school year and provided motivation in planning for next year.
After listening to his words of wisdom, I am even more committed to being a “teachers’ principal.” What is a teachers’ principal and why does it matter? The term “players’… Continue
Added by Debbie Wooleyhand on June 26, 2015 at 3:24pm —
The headline of Lyndsey Layton’s Washington Post article yesterday reads, “Most states lack expertise to improve worst schools.” Layton notes in her article that the government’s 3 billion dollar investment hasn’t led to improved performance in our most challenged schools. Apparently, the states “did not have the staff, technology and expertise to pull those schools out of the bottom rankings.”
The schools that were targeted for improvement had to choose one of four school reform… Continue
Added by Debbie Wooleyhand on May 6, 2015 at 5:46pm —
I am excited to present at the Maryland Association of Elementary School Principals conference later this month. The focus of my session is on how social media can be used to enhance adult and student learning. If you’re a social media regular, this is a message that you are more than likely familiar with. However, we still have a large number of educators and leaders who are hesitant to capitalize on social media for the benefit of their schools.
I think this hesitancy comes… Continue
Added by Debbie Wooleyhand on April 12, 2015 at 6:49pm —
Are you a resilient educator? How do you respond when things don’t go your way? This week was challenging for me. I’ll spare the specifics, but I’m finishing the day wondering where things went wrong this week. The most alarming part of having a bad day or week is the feeling of losing control. How can you get that control back? Here are a few suggestions that might help. I’m going to try and take my own advice.
Put Your Day or Week in Context
Everyone has their moments.… Continue
Added by Debbie Wooleyhand on March 27, 2015 at 7:35pm —
Since the adoption of the Common Core Standards, many states have been working to foster math instruction that incorporates the Standards for Mathematical Practice. These standards are viewed as the key practices that need to be in place in every math classroom, every day:
1. Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.
2. Reason abstractly and quantitatively.
3. Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others.
4. Model with… Continue
Added by Debbie Wooleyhand on March 14, 2015 at 2:46pm —
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan is proposing significant changes to state charter school laws. Yesterday, a hearing on House Bill 486 was held in Annapolis. While the political rhetoric associated with the charter school movement is complex, it should be clear that conservatives and liberals stand on both sides of the issue. Charter schools are supported by both Democrats and Republicans.
In general, advocates of charter schools want to encourage innovative teaching and creative… Continue
Added by Debbie Wooleyhand on February 27, 2015 at 7:01pm —
Early literacy efforts are, needless to say, an ongoing concern for school districts across the US and the world. The pendulum on what methodology is best has swung in enough directions to make the average teacher dizzy. What constitutes good reading instruction?
The International Reading Association adopted standards in 2005 that are research-based and worth revisiting. The IRA recommends that effective early childhood educators:
-Recognize the importance of… Continue
Added by Debbie Wooleyhand on February 14, 2015 at 2:14pm —
Good schools have good leadership. Great schools have great teacher leadership. We can all think back to the day when the single heroic leader model was the norm. This was the era of the authoritarian principal who ruled with a firm hand. They were the only “expert” in the building and they used their influence in every aspect of management. Some of those dinosaurs remain, but much like the dinosaurs, they are headed for extinction.
The postmodern principal recognizes that schools… Continue
Added by Debbie Wooleyhand on January 30, 2015 at 12:42pm —
What is dynamic leadership? How do you know if you have it or not? Why is it important? School leaders continue to take on a range of daily responsibilities. Dynamic leadership may be the singular approach that allows schools to meet with success. Our students and teachers cannot afford to be led by those who lack the skills to ensure that every minute of their day is spent meaningfully. Are you a dynamic leader? Let’s look at the arguable qualities that make a leader dynamic or… Continue
Added by Debbie Wooleyhand on January 12, 2015 at 6:30pm —