10 Things I’d Do Right Now as a High School Principal

At the Moorseville edtech conference (#Connection12 on Twitter), which I covered for Digital Learning Now! this week, a Midwest high school principal serving about 700 students asked me for some advice on the shift to digital learning. Borrowing from advice to superintendents, here are 10 things I’d do right now as a high school principal.
1. Put a planning team together and start by asking them to read and discuss “The Rise of Blended Learning .” (It wouldn’t hurt to read Getting Smart as well). Focus staff study on competency-based learning and personalized learning strategies.
2. Plan for the shift to personal digital learning in phases over the next three years. You need six, coordinated plans considering content and instruction, assessment and data, devices and broadband, staffing and professional development, fiscal impact, and communications.
3. Consider laptops (rather than tablets) if you want students to do a lot of writing across the curriculum. Consider a literacy platform with online assessment like WriteToLearn or WritingRoadmap.
4. Expand upper division options. Shift all Advanced Placement (AP) courses online and offer all 34. You’ll save money and boost options. For the course you can enroll 200 students, use your own staff. For lower enrollment courses, use a partner. Create and staff a cool lounge area (similar to many IB schools) where high school students can study and get in-person support.
5. Launch a blended pre-algebra math pilot with a lead teacher, a double block, an online curriculum, and a handful of complementary game-based content. This is a great place to show the rest of your district how competency-based learning works. Like Carpe Diem, you can augment online learning with workshops and small group support.
6. Build or adopt a dropout prevention/recovery strategy . A lab with some credit recovery software is better than nothing, but you need to identify kids at risk and provide them with a well supported competency-based pathway to graduation. You could just call AdvancePath and tell them to open an academy with your teachers in the second semester.
7. Serve special needs students with online learning . PresenceLearning and Connections Learning offer speech therapy that, compared to traditional staffing, works better, costs less, and is available on demand. Check out RethinkAutism resources for more.
8. Work with employee groups on staffing and development plans that anticipate new roles and relationships. Check out OpportunityCulture for strategies that leverage talent with technology.
9. Pick an online advisory curriculum like Navigation 101 and/or College Board’s MyRoad with post secondary decision support.
10. Listen hard and communicate clearly with district and community members about the intent, the goals, and the process. Make sure you look open educational resources (OER).
For more see:

Disclosure: Tom Vander Ark is Director at AdvancePath. This blog first appeared on EdWeek.

Tom Vander Ark

Tom Vander Ark is the CEO of Getting Smart. He has written or co-authored more than 50 books and papers including Getting Smart, Smart Cities, Smart Parents, Better Together, The Power of Place and Difference Making. He served as a public school superintendent and the first Executive Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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