3 Tips for Grant Writing (Principals and School Leaders)

I was listening to the Better Leaders Better Schools podcast this week and came across a great episode on grant opportunities, building relationships in the community, and creating business partnerships. I'd like to share a few key points from the podcast that you might find helpful as a school leader.

Make A Million with Grants This episode is literally about how David Kincade generated a million+ dollars for organizations. The premise, and catch, to getting grants is understanding where they are and why they are given. 
And of course, the fact that they are called everything but "grants" is an important first understanding.
Grant Money is Everywhere! Grants are everywhere just waiting for schools to ask for it. Money for furniture, for technology, for agriculture, and more is just waiting for principals to apply for it!
Three Areas for Education GrantsThe Rotary ClubCorporationsSpecific Project Grants "Grant" Money, Rotary Club Cue forward to the 8:00 mark i…

Three Principal Podcasts for Three Months of Summer

It's summer, and here are three principal podcasts that really will keep you inspired, thinking, and focused through the summer months. If you drive, exercise, walk a dog, sit by the pool, or do anything for a minimum of five minutes, then grab hold of a good educational podcast. It's not going to change your world, but it will keep your mind sharp and focused on fresh ideas.

So, here are the three educational podcasts I recommend for this summer.

You can sample the podcasts here and then subscribe in your favorite listening app by simply searching at (Overcast, Google Play, Apple Podcasts).

The Mafost Mashup This one is brand new, and the first two episodes really were rookie, but by the 3rd episode this podcast proved it's worth as a fast-paced podcast rich with innovation. Each episode is less than 8-minutes and there a few bonus segments. This is a must-listen if you enjoy being challenged. It's a podcast for principals and school leaders that is:


Culture is a Reflection of Leadership

School culture is not the sole responsibility of leaders. Each of us has an impact on culture (and You Don't Need a Title to Impact Culture) and a shared responsibility to shape it in positive ways on our campuses.

That said, positional leaders have a title and the hierarchy of the organization behind each of their actions, so their impact is magnified. Whether you are an instructional coach, a curriculum designer, team leader, or the boss behind the desk - you have a magnified impact on the school culture.

And the culture is a reflection of the leadership in your school.

There's no need to buy that new full-length mirror for your closet - the school is your mirror. The school reflects your confidence and your passion. And on the flip side, it also mirrors your fear and insecurity.

[side note: this is why district and regional leaders have an obligatory role to feed the principals]
Does a Leader Need to be Perfect? That's a fair question given the enormous impact and resp…

Quickest Route to a Toxic Culture (And How to Avoid It)

There is one variable at the root of campus culture - humans. This variable is responsible for all of our school culture concerns and strengths.

Whether you've measured it or not, your culture is on a continuum from healthy to toxic. The quickest route to a toxic school culture includes de-valuing humans:
Don't smile.Don't talk.Don't compliment.Criticize often.Don't listen. Here's the great news: leadership controls all five of these campus habits! And each of these habits/actions is a pitfall, and I'm going to show you how to avoid them.

Notice that none of these leadership pitfalls mention instructional leadership. You could be the world's greatest instructional leader, curriculum guru, or assessment expert, but still build (unintentionally) a toxic school culture.
So enough of the negative, let's talk how to avoid the pitfalls of this quick route to a toxic culture.
Here are some ways to avoid the trap of a toxic school culture.
Toxic Culture Bust…

Great Principals Build Networks

It's more than just to-do lists, meetings, memos, and walk-throughs. Great principals know this. You know this.

The job of a great principal is larger than the job description. That's why networks are crucial.

The networks you build, not just your own network, but also the networks you help others build, create influence. And influence is more powerful to effect change than policy, than union agreements, than legislation, and great ideas.

Influence is more powerful to effect change than policy, legislation, and great ideas.
Networks are not built overnight - they slowly grow like oak trees that last decades. They require careful attention and nurturing.

Professional networks are really about relationships. They are about people.

Networks begin with a deep-seated belief in the value of humans - a belief in goodness and diversity. Networks are not for political maneuvering. They are not for manipulation.

In a case study from ASCD, principals who developed networks found the fol…

Teachers R Heroes

Teachers R Heroes

Be sure your teachers are reminded of this more than they are reminded of...
lesson plansdue datesmeeting timesdress codepolicybus dutyparent complaints ...and all the other minutia. Celebrate your heroes and how the impact students!

Never miss a chance to affirm, appreciate, and add value to your teachers - the investment pays immeasurable dividends for them and for students!

Why are Teachers Important? Because they're heroes. Consider sharing this message with an educator hero you know.

Mission Statements Don't Matter, Unless...

Mission statements don't matter unless you want to be a great leader - that's the title of a recent article that reviews successful cases of organizational leadership.

For school leadership, I'd take it a step further. Mission statements don't matter unless you want to simply be mediocre, at best.

Schools rely on a core sense of purpose - a unique selling proposition - because the service we provide is about changing lives. A mission statement removes the fog of daily work and gives purpose to something larger.

When you clarify your school's mission, you provide:

Unique identity that defines what you do.Core purpose to ignite why you do what you do.A filter through which all goals and strategic decision are passed.Language that unifies teams. If you're lucky to have a community that's academically advantaged, you can get by without a mission statement. 
You'll be average or slightly above average, but turnover will be a problem. Teams will have unresolve…

Communication is Not a Priority - It is the Priority

As a school leader, you are so busy with many things everything! Student data, parent conferences, IEP meetings, faculty meetings, dismissal procedures, student management, human resources, recruitment, policy, curriculum meetings, student programs, budgeting, campus planning, et cetera.

Notice the one thing absent from that list?

The list should read this way:

You are solely responsible for communication, it's easy to get busy with...

That difference is huge. Yes, school leaders are solely responsible for communication.

Like a floodgate, the school leader can let the communication flow or stop it entirely. Because you are so busy, it's easy for communication to just become another priority - but remember it is the priority.

Burned Out, Beaten Up, Fighting Back [Book Review]

Preview a Chapter Here
Burned Out, Beaten Up, Fighting Back: A Call to Action for America's Public Educators
Released on February 9, 2018

Dr. Latoya Dixon gives a practitioner perspective on the efforts of policymakers to reform education as they actually cause harmful unintended consequences.
We have to shift the culture away from competition to collaboration, from standardization to personalization, from the test to the children. We are long overdue for this conversation.She offers a confession and personal narrative about her own burnout as a successful teacher and campus principal. She offers simple-to-follow action steps that will allow educators to fight back against the harmful effects of poorly-designed policy and demeaning narratives.
We've become so connected to the test we're using to sort, sift, rank, and label our schools, that the issue of trusting teachers and educators to assess children's academic needs and provide for thos isn't a consideration.You…

Best Principal Thoughts of 2018 (So Far)

Here's an early reflection for educational leaders in 2018...from educational leaders this year. With popular articles, blogs, and Twitter chats already blowing up 2018, I wanted to share with you my top inspirations from educational leaders so far this year.

Without further ado, let's jump to it.
On Leading Teams We must mine for excellence in every teacher and find ways for them to lead in building our Excellence Support System. @JohnWink90

Schools rise and fall, not on test scores, but on leadership. @heffrey

Championship teams don’t sit in the locker room. They get on the court and demand excellence. They push each other to high levels of performance. @mafost

Principals, who you hire today determines the culture for tomorrow. @nalang1

Behaviors that create trust & inspiration in a learning community team often begin w/ someone being vulnerable, baring a bit more of who they are and what they believe w/ the group. Trust often begins when our vulnerabilities connect w/ …

You Don't Need a Title to Impact School Culture (5 Ways)

Who's the leader? Who makes improvements on your campus? Is it the principal? How about the instructional coaches? What about the paraprofessionals? Here are 5 reasons you don't need a title to impact school culture and make a vast improvement in your school!

Dr. Amy Fast (follow her here) hit a home run when she wrote about the 5 ways to impact school culture (read her article here).

1.) Assume Best Intent
2.) Surround Yourself With Greatness
3.) Elicit Feedback From Those You Trust
4.) Know Your Sphere of Influence (Read more on Context Switching for School Leaders)
5.) Make Your WHY Transparent

If you step back and think about what these all have in common, you'll find one common thread - personal awareness.

The first four ways to impact school culture deal with being aware of the persons around you - listening, trusting, gauging, and building your circles.

The fifth way to impact school culture is not focused on outer awareness but self-awareness - knowing your own inte…

School Leaders, 17 Quotes from 2017

Your Vision and School Culture "When we think we need to solve problems all the time, we forget to focus on and celebrate what's already working!" From @Jennifer_Hogan "The problem with passion...I was too invested in the process...prohibiting me from seeing things through the teacher's eyes." From @matthew_arend
"I believe it's the duty of the educator to prepare students to maneuver in the world regardless of the world's obstacles. Ss determine their position in this world, and this begins with a school's culture." From @calewis1975

Professional Learning and Relationships "When a campus culture lives and breathes professional growth, the principal must clear paths for the teachers that work to improve themselves and their teams." From @GlennWilly "Reflection is a state of mind. It’s a mental habit. It’s a necessity for outlier teachers." From @mafost
"If you want superficial relationships, then don't dev…