Hey! Do this. It will help kids and teachers.

Coming back to school this fall, we all had smiles under our masks. Big hopes for ‘normal’. Even though our guts told us it would be the ‘next normal’. Not entirely the same, but probably close. Right?

Nope. Turns out having kids and teachers apart for over a year created a lot of muck. And it’s muck through which we are still wading. Probably will be longer than we thought. One of our principals now refers to this time as the ‘Letdown of the Fall.’

Step one for us. Rebuild Teacher Agency. From Leading the Rebound, by Fisher/Frey/Smith/Hattie, the ‘reality’ is that ‘many (perhaps most) teachers no longer see the relationship between their efforts and the impact they have.’ The recommendation is ‘to make the link between effort and outcome explicit to rebuild teacher agency.’ So we’re working on that.

And then Emma Pass drops this bomb.

Holy cow. Ponder that elegant and seemingly simple idea. Ponder all the slick ways it can address ‘no longer seeing the relationship between their efforts and the impact they have.’ Parents and kids LOVE to hear good news from teachers about kids. Teachers will and are hearing back from parents and kids about the impact of positive and specific messages.

We’re rebuilding a lot of things. This idea is one heck of a tool. Thank you Emma!

Breathe in. Breathe Out. Lean on others.


I remember around year 4 or 5 as a principal. I really thought I had made a huge mistake leaving the classroom. It seemed like every ounce of negative energy on the planet was colliding in my office. I distinctly remember saying to two of my best friends in the business, “Man. This is brutal. I don’t know if I can do this anymore.”

And then a mentor reminded me that these days would pass. Probably not fast enough, but they would. Breathe in. Breathe out. Lean on others. And the days passed and I found joy in being a principal again.

Hey principals. You are doing amazing work. Hang in there. Breathe in. Breathe out. Lean on others. You are making kids’ lives better.

Kids and Teachers. More Than Ever

More than ever.

A comment from a principal is still banging around in my head. The Letdown of the Fall. Expectation vs. Reality.

So we go to work. Taking care of ourselves and each other as adults. Learning about Teacher Agency. Recommitting to Collective Teacher Efficacy. Investing in student and teacher support.

And being the adults to which kids are drawn. Even with masks. I know it’s not that simple, but I see it at all of our schools, everyday. Kids and teachers doing kids and teacher stuff. And usually you don’t have to see a smile to know there’s a smile under a mask. You can see it in the eyes. You can hear laughter. You can observe teachers in the halls, laughing with each other, greeting kids with the special, insider fun comments that all teachers and kids know from something funny that happened in class.

We control what we can control. And we can control how we we treat each other, which in turn impacts how our students are doing.