Posted in Book Talks, Guest Posts, Innovative PD, Instructional Tips

The Power of Principal Read Alouds

Principals need to be engaging with students in their classrooms for them to be an effective leader. It is imperative that we get a feeling of what the teachers’ and students’ lives are like in school on a regular basis. Random walkthroughs and class visits don’t always give this immersed feeling because they are quick and the administrator tends to be a bystander to the activity instead of actively engaged. Principal (or any administrator) read alouds provide an intentional and meaningful experience to the principal and the students. In this post, J. Kapuchuck, @principalkap a principal at Plains Elementary, and Andy Jacks, @_AndyJacks, a principal at Ashland Elementary, two principals from different parts of Virginia, have a few thoughts on the impact these read alouds have had on their leadership in their schools. Continue reading “The Power of Principal Read Alouds”

Posted in Guest Posts, Innovative PD, Instructional Tips, Reflection

20 ‘18’ Ways to Start the New Year

Happy (Early) New Year! As you are wrapping up the last few days of 2017, taking in those last hugs, smiles, high fives, and waves for a few days we (Lindsy, Eric, Jessica, Andy, Todd, and Nick) wanted to challenge ourselves, and our PLN, to think about how to ring in 2018 when everyone returns.

This post started as a conversation while preparing for the final days before break. We realized that there is so much time spent on celebrating the last few days before the winter break, but not as much time focused on how to kick off the rest of the school year when staff and students return. Continue reading “20 ‘18’ Ways to Start the New Year”

Posted in Instructional Tips, Reflection

Let Student Lead! Making a Case for Student-Led Conferences

It is critical that students know how they are performing and what they need to do to improve on their skills to be fully invested every day to achieve their learning goals. Student-led conferences are one way to support this effort, and research for many years has stated the positive aspects of involving students in this way. In a study almost twenty years old, parents have expressed their support for this shift, “as one that focused on the whole child, fosters more student-led accountability, and accentuates positive attributes about their child’s learning” (Conderman, et. al, 1998, p 134). So why has it taken so long for student-led conferences to be fully implemented in schools? Continue reading “Let Student Lead! Making a Case for Student-Led Conferences”

Posted in Innovative PD, Instructional Tips, Reflection, Servant Leadership

Green Light Leading


Join me on at the VAESP Conference this month to learn why and how green light leading can increase staff engagement, morale, and success! Throw away that NO button and say, “Yes!”

After-presentation Update! 6.28.17

What a great turnout for this presentation! We even had to get more chairs and still had standing room only! I was so encouraged to see so many amazing leaders in the room trying to find ways for self-improvement and being the best they could for their schools. Thank you for those that attended and for the follow up conversations I had with many of you. Keep me updated on how you are giving the green light in your school. You inspire me!


Posted in Feelings Matter, Inclusive Practices, Instructional Tips

Good evening! How may we serve you at the Decimal Diner?

Education does not have to be miserable. All of those things we complain about in the great system of education can be improved. It starts with us. With our thinking, planning, and effort. Recently, two or our 4th grade teachers, Mrs. Clevenger and Mrs. Milleson took basic math decimals practice to a new level of engagement, fun, and efficiency. They called it the Decimal Diner.  Continue reading “Good evening! How may we serve you at the Decimal Diner?”

Posted in Inclusive Practices, Instructional Tips, Media, Student Leaders, Technology

What, Why, & How of Instructional Technology: Our School’s Story

Using new technology just because it looks cool or because it makes you feel innovative is not enough. Culture, instruction, and the needs of students come first, technology comes after. At Ashland Elementary, we have worked tirelessly to research and try new technologies but to also quickly re-assess usage for students. I talk every day with my superstar Instructional Technology Coach Mr. Benware and the rest of our staff about what is best for students and teachers. Many times we discuss what we will not do along with what we will do next.

Our educational philosophies drive our implementation of technology.

  • We believe in our shared school vision of Kind, Creative, Hard-working, Safe, and Fun.
  • We believe that ALL students should have access and learn through the best technology available and that it shouldn’t be dependent on if we feel like doing it or not.
  • We believe that technology should give students a voice and build confidence.
  • We believe that students and teachers should be supported emotionally and physically when taking risks and being innovative.
  • We believe in our school motto of Together We Soar Higher and that we all have a role in sharing our school’s story and best practices.
  • We believe in using video for motivation, fun, and creating special moments.
  • We believe that instruction and content should drive implementation.

Because of the hard work of our school team, our students are performing higher than they ever have (state performance results above 90%) and our student engagement and leadership is better than it ever. This post is a summary of the many ways we implement these tools at Ashland. I hope this shows the great efforts put in by our staff and the positive effects those efforts have on our students! Maybe you will find a new strategy to take back to your school! Continue reading “What, Why, & How of Instructional Technology: Our School’s Story”