Room 241: A Blog by
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Leadership Insights

Why the A in STEAM is Just As Important As Every Other Letter

By Jennifer L.M. Gunn November 8, 2017

STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) has been around a while now, long enough for educators to see its outcomes and practices unfold in schools across the nation. But not long ago, various educators proposed adding an “A” (for arts) to the STEM concept, sparking a national debate about whether the arts have a place… Read More

School administrators often wear multiple hats just like teachers do, but what is it really like to go from being a classroom teacher to an administrator? Meet Sharon Langley and Whitney Meyer, two administrators who know exactly what this journey entails. They graciously agreed to share their thoughts, experiences, and advice with us.   Whitney… Read More

A few months ago, my daughter and her friends came home on a Friday afternoon furious about a recent lecture on dress code. While I’m certain her teaching team had the students’ best interests at heart, the girls heard a different message: Their bodies are distractions that must be managed. Her school is not alone…. Read More

A think tank called Evolution Institute is developing a tuition-free school for 3- to 8-year-olds in Florida to save them from academic failure and help them overcome poverty. True to its name, the institute believes principles of evolution offer a blueprint for educating young people. Its new early learning center in East Tampa starts from… Read More

Give the Kids a Break: Why Reducing Recess Time Doesn't Work

By Monica Fuglei December 19, 2016

A fidgety classroom makes for tough teaching. Historically, students ran off their excess energy during recess, but over the past 20 years, increasing academic demands have squeezed schools’ ability to provide significant recess time. It’s tempting to think we have to either cut recess to increase academic time or keep recess and risk students not… Read More

In President Obama’s 2015 State of the Union address, he spoke sincerely about the positive effects of postsecondary education. He told the stories of Americans who’d changed their lives by earning a degree or certification and affirmed the importance of higher education to maintaining and growing middle class populations in the United States. All students… Read More

1989 was a big year for me: I moved to the big city and started middle school. Thus began the tumultuous years of early adolescence and every cliché we associate with them: friend problems, boy problems, body problems. At the same time, despite or because of those events, this was when my love for reading… Read More

School, Inc.: Are Students People or Products?

By Monica Fuglei June 7, 2016

With the post-No Child Left Behind focus on school reform, many schools have began to look like tiny people factories dedicated to producing high-quality students. The idea of education as a commodity that can be improved through competition is evident in policies including teacher evaluation processes that tie salary to performance level, implementation of benchmark… Read More

In my last post about recovery plans, I discussed the importance of teacher ownership (as opposed to “buy-in”) of new initiatives and the benefits of team-developed plans for when inevitable setbacks occur. It is human nature to become discouraged and overwhelmed when we are faced with changes that present challenges to us. Teachers might express… Read More

Character.org is a non-profit organization dedicated to K-12 character education, a field that includes ethics, civics and social-emotional learning. “As our society continues to become more diverse and increasingly global, these core values are essential in home, schools and workplaces,” said CEO Becky Sipos. “Despite this shift, we continue to hear an emphasis on grit… Read More

As a district-level leader, what can you do to help a principal who appears to be intimidated by his or her teachers? The most obvious tip-off is a principal who avoids convening the staff. Effective principals schedule meetings to boost professional learning Although in past posts I have advocated ditching status meetings, such as standing… Read More

Handling student discipline is typically the bailiwick of assistant principals, although it is usually not their only responsibility. As spring fever begins seizing the student body, many APs find that they have little time for anything but handling office referrals. Commonly-violated rules can lead to student expulsion in states and districts with zero-tolerance policies Spring… Read More

District Level Leaders: The Search for Meaning

By Terry Wilhelm April 5, 2016

In past posts, I’ve discussed how to move from traditional evaluations — even those that include setting goals and objectives — to a system that considers and honors the personal aspirations of the employee. This kind of system is not typical in most bureaucracies, including school districts, but it does engender a higher degree of ownership… Read More

I know a few people who have never been on a diet. Not many, but a few. If you are one of them, you may be unfamiliar with the concept of a recovery plan. Basically, it means that you have a concrete, well-thought-out strategy for coping with the aftermath of moments of weakness when you… Read More

In my first two posts in this series I discussed the kinds of questions a visitation team for a principal candidate might ask about you when interviewing your principal and the teaching staff. This post will examine questions that might be asked of classified staff. The way administrators interact with non-teaching staff impacts a school’s… Read More