I recently interviewed elementary principal Craig McCalla on my podcast. His educational philosophy is rooted in inclusion. One of the things he said that really stuck, it was really the passion with which he said it, was all kids means all kids! As Principals we are trained to be inclusive. In order to be great we must believe that every child deserves a chance to be treated equitably regardless of background. However are legal policies in place to be exclusionary either by erecting a wall or discriminating through immigration policies how are the children of these excluded groups going to be welcomed in our schools? How do we ensure that every child feels safe when the world around them isn’t? For me the idea of a sanctuary school is one where all children feel welcome and safe. These three secrets of inclusion are really best practices
This is where most of us can start. We have the power to allot money to posters, books, guest speakers and classroom materials that highlight our community's’ diversity. Using these funds and our staff we can decorate our buildings with images from around the globe. Asking students, families, and community members who their cultural heroes are and then finding ways to display them creates a learning experience for everyone. Even if you’re in a homogenous community, finding books from multiple cultural, socioeconomic and if you’re really daring, sexual identity perspectives and having them in your school and classroom libraries is essential.
Just like the interactive software program Rosetta Stone, you want to be interactive with your students who come from different linguistic backgrounds. Something as simple as “good morning” in a student's’ home language will bring a smile to their face and help them feel safe. Especially if you’re like me and mess up the pronunciation. This small gesture lets the students know that they are welcome in your school and that you have the courage to try to meet them where they arel. As your staff and students see you model this behavior they will follow your lead. This act of personal kindness and cultural sensitivity will help break down superficial barriers.
Apps connect communities
This is a simple tip that must be used judiciously. An app like Google Translator doesn’t always address context. When you send newsletters and other communication out to families, using Google Translator is an easy way to translate your information to all families. If you’re lucky enough to have someone in your district for each language that is spoken having them review the newsletter is always a good idea. I’ve found that even if there are mistakes the families appreciate you reaching out to them and making that attempt. It shows that you respect them and their culture. A school practice of spreading your message in multiple language will help bring your community closer.
Creating a safe school community is the first thing a Principal establishes. Using these tips to help bring your school together is a way to combat the fear that some of our students feel as national policies change. What are some ways you help your students and families feel welcome? Use the comment section below to share your thoughts.
For more tips check out my blog at the http://www.theprincipalentrepreneur.com/. If you’re an auditory learner you can download my podcast The Principal Entrepreneur. Finally, I’m part of a community of supportive principals please join our private FB group.
In this podcast episode we were blessed to have one of the nations most respected and inspiring educational leaders Principal Kefele (pronounced Kafaylay).
These are just some of the highlights of his career. He is one of the most sought after educational speakers in America as evidenced by his 1000 plus keynotes. He’s the thought leader and originator behind the concept of the attitude gap which describes the difference between those with the will to achieve excellence and those who don’t. He is the author of eight books including his national best-sellers, Closing the Attitude Gap, Motivating Black Males to Achieve in School and in Life and The Principal 50. He also dropped his newest book, The Teacher 50 just last year.
In the short time we had we delved into his origin story and how he became an educator and principal. we talked about his greatest challenge as principal and what he learned from it. We also discussed the themes in his best selling book , The Principal 20 and the advice he would give to aspiring and practicing principals.
Check out his bestsellers below as well as the book, To Kill a Black Man, that inspired his educational journey.
The Big Three Car Companies, (General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler) have been around since the early 1900’s, just a bit more than 100 years. Blockbuster video started in the 1980’s about thirty years ago, and Blackberry phones came out in the early 2000’s about fifeteen years ago. At one point it was unfathomable that these three titans would fall. Now however, Blockbuster is gone, Blackberry is regulated to the recycling heap and an afterthought in the phone industry, and The Big Three car companies have been disrupted by the economy, challenges from across the ocean and new technology. They continue fighting to regain their global dominance but it is not an easy battle
The reason the above examples are important is because traditional public schools are in a similar position to those companies. Public schools are over 200 years old and just like these three former leaders of their respective business sectors, are facing a new challenger in the form of charter schools. And just like The Big Three, Blockbuster, and Blackberry they’re losing.
Public schools have been around so long that and the thinking so entrenched that there is a belief that no one can do it better. Like The Big Three, public schools are stuck in an industrial age mentality. Schools are still run by the ringing of a bell, just like they signaled a shift change in old car factories. That mentality doesn’t work anymore, change is here.
Like Toyota, charters came in and started running lean schools. They eagerly embraced new ideas like data driven decision making and were able to create schools based on particular community niches. Public schools like The Big Three continues to lurch into the new century struggling to play catch up.
Those with public school blinders on are refusing to see the education revolution. Like Netflix, Charters are the early adopters of a new social reality. They are not perfect but they are attempting to cater to their constituents needs. They have to in order to survive.
New thought processes are at play and the customers preference and ease of access to whatever they want is now the norm. Schools “on demand” in the form of school choice continues to disrupt public schools.
In the past public schools were the only game in town and so were able to treat families poorly or with complete disregard. This is no longer the case. The consumer is gaining more control and public schools like Blockbuster need to adapt or die.
Blackberry failed to see Apple as a threat. Public schools thought charters were cute when they first started. According to a pamphlet put out by the National Alliance for Charter Schools, charter schools have grown six fold in the last 15 years. That was before Betsy Devos, became Secretary of Education. The market is continuing to go in that direction and the speed of that change continues to grow.
Charter schools are not going anywhere. Public schools need to adapt and quickly. Old thinking needs to change or just like The Big Three, Blockbuster, and Blackberry public schools will eventually fall and there will be no bail out.
In this episode I talk with our very first Middle School Principal; Sean Fisher. Mr. Fisher is the first African American Male Principal in Dearborn Michigan's Public Schools. He is a former sergeant in the US Army (honorably discharged) and has expertise in creating a restorative culture which reduces suspensions, expulsions and achievement disparities.
We discuss his path into education, what he learned on that journey and how it influences his vision. We also talk about his biggest struggles, what he's most proud of and the advice he would give to first year principals.
Three impactful books he mentioned are below:
In this episode I talk to Elementary Principal Craig McCalla.
Craig is in his 11th year as Principal in the small town Dexter Michigan. He was Michigan’s Region Two Principal of the year in 2012. He started out as a Special Ed teacher of Emotional Impaired students, then eventually made his way from assistant principal to principal of his own building.
We also talk about his path to the principalship, what he’s learned and what tips he has to share including having transgender students in his school. Click on "Read More" for the entire transcript.
I'm a Principal and an Entrepreneur. I'm the former owner of a food venture Hustling Hoagies, the author of the children's picture books Detective Dwayne Drake and the Alphabet Thief, Detective Dwayne Drake and The Case of the Mathematical Misfit and the ebook Making it as a Male Model in Michigan. I've worked professionally as a model and commercial actor......