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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Back-to-School Resources for School Leaders

Explore resources from Edutopia and the Web that support school leaders -- including principals and other administrators -- as they guide school communities into a new school year.

Strategies That Make a Difference

  • What Makes a Great School Leader? by Elena Aguilar (Edutopia, 2014)

    Aguilar highlights the three qualities she thinks most indicative of a great school leader: exhibiting visionary leadership, acting as a community builder, and demonstrating emotional intelligence.

  • A Teacher Perspective: Advice for Principals, by Ben Johnson (Edutopia, 2013)

    Johnson offers his observations to administrators to help them support and build better relationships with teachers.

  • Successful School Leaders Know: People Come First, by Camilla Benbow (Vanderbilt University, 2012)

    Benbow, the Patricia and Rodes Hart Dean of Education and Human Development at Vanderbilt University's Peabody College, discusses research on school leadership and five key responsibilities for school principals.

  • My Back to School Speech, by Dean Shareski (Ideas and Thoughts, 2013)

    Shareski shares the words that he would most like to hear from leadership at the start of a new school year -- food for thought for school leaders mulling over their own new-school-year messaging.

  • Five Leadership Strategies for the New Year, by Eric Sheniger (Edutopia, 2011)

    Sheninger, a former high school principal, presents his ideas on leadership during challenging times and offers up several strategies for back-to-school.

Explore strategies for maintaining balance, retaining focus on key priorities, managing limited time, and staying organized at the start of a busy school year:

Also, whether you’re a new or veteran administrator, these tip lists include useful advice and reminders:

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Engaging Families and Community

  • 9 Suggestions for the Welcome Back Letter from the Principal, by Jonathan Martin (Connected Principals, 2012)

    Martin shares a few thoughts with principals about how to use welcome-back letters to communicate important messages to parents about educational philosophy, successes, next steps, teacher accomplishments, mission, and vision.

  • Plan a "Digital Family Summit" to Engage Students and Parents, by Joe Mazza (Edutopia, 2012)

    Mazza recounts his visit to the Digital Family Summit and talks about how school leaders can plan similar events to engage families with school communities around questions of technology use and digital citizenship.

  • Cool Tools for Back to School, by Carrie Jackson (NASSP’s Digital Leader, 2013)

    Jackson, a middle school principal, shares several ways to engage school communities and technology tools that can help.

  • Engaging ELL Families: Twenty Strategies for School Leaders (Colorin Colorado, 2011)

    As you head into a new school year, how can you welcome and engage ELL families? This guide offers twenty ideas for building a new ELL family engagement plan.

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Planning Purposeful Teacher Development

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Building School Culture and Climate

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Connected Digital Leadership

  • Tech Integration and School Culture, by Andrew Marcinek (Edutopia, 2014)

    Marcinek fits together three of the puzzle pieces for a school-wide tech integration initiative: developing a trusting, open culture; embracing risk and innovation; and turning PD into exploratory, sharing experiences.

  • Learn How to Be a Digital Leader (PrincipalCast, 2014)

    Eric Sheninger joins the hosts of PrincipalCast to talk about how to become a digital leader. For more on this topic, you may also want to read Sheninger's post on TeachThought, "7 Pillars of Digital Leadership in Education."

  • 21st-Century PLNs for School Leaders, by George Couros (Edutopia, 2012)

    Couros encourages social media newbies to expand their PLNs for their own professional development, as well as for the benefit of their students.

  • #Satchat: A Great Way for Administrators to Connect, by Brad Currie (Edutopia 2012)

    Vice principal Currie explains the origins of the #Satchat group on Twitter, and describes how school administrators can benefit from expanding their Personal Learning Network.

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