Start. Stop. Continue.

Well it is safe to say that this post was meant to go out in June.  I had officially finished my first year as a principal and this was fresh on my mind.  However, this little guy surprised us 10 weeks early.  I have been blessed to see Cael grow and fight as my Summer.

With that being said, I have really been able to reflect on the year and think about what I want to start, stop, and continue moving forward.


I really want to start being more strategic about how I spend my time on campus.  I have gotten really good at not spending much time in my office, but I feel like I learned a lot this past year about the “why” when being out and about.  As any one that knows me, I LOVE spending my time with students.  I not only get to know each and every one of them better, but it allows me to have a good pulse on the culture of the school.  However, moving forward, I really want to start not being so random with when and why I go into certain classes.  I have always had the goal to stop into every classroom at least once a day.  My goal for next year is to start to be more strategic about planning my time in classrooms.


I can easily say I gained even more respect for school leaders than I already had.  As a teacher (and even assistant principal), I never realized the 99% of things that I didn’t have to worry about because the principal protected us from them.  I learned a lot in year one about how to do this and even get more effective and efficient at allowing our staff room to iterate with a bias to action.

With that being said, I have always struggled with being an over-involved person.  I wouldn’t say it is as much a management thing, as it is truly my joy of contributing and collaborating.  However, I learned in year one that I need to stop spending time on things that I shouldn’t be.  As Todd Whitaker says, “when the principal sneezes, the whole school gets a cold.” I need to be considerate of how I spend my time, energy, and resources and continue to maximize the amazing wealth of talent we have in our school.

Sometimes I need to remind myself of three things:

  1. Some people will always take the principals involvement in something in a negative way or want you to have the answer if you’re at the table.
  2. Capacity-building will be vital to our success as a school and my growth as a leader.  I need to build the tools and foundation for people to do their jobs and keep students at the center.
  3. Administrative tasks can feel cumbersome, but are a necessary part of the job.  When and how much time we spend on them is what makes the difference.

In order to prevent that cold from happening, I need to start being more mindful of how these three things impact what I can do. The 80/20 principle can help me focus in on what 20% of my work actually produces that 80%.  Really digging deep into what I need to stop spending my time on will help me grow personally and help grow our school as well.


There is nothing that scares me more than someone doing crappy project-based learning and thinking it’s effective or someone misidentifying what they are doing as being truly project-based learning. One thing that I will continue being is a zealot for transformative PBL experiences.

Paying attention to shifts that occur in the world around us (whether it be in education or societal), will continue to be a driver for shaping my stance on the future of school and how to move to the next iteration of PBL. I want to make sure I continue rooting my beliefs in historically founded best practices (good teaching is good teaching), the current educational landscape and trends emerging, and foreshadowing the possibilities for the future direction and sustainability of “school”.

Check out Getting Smart’s “It’s A Project-based World Campaign”.

I will continue to be rooted in solid practices that inform teacher effectiveness, project quality, and measure student outcomes. But I also want to continue to push the envelope even further.  It is true that we live in an ever shifting project-based world and I want to continue advocating for deepening the way in which we prepare students for a project-based life.


One thought on “Start. Stop. Continue.

  1. Excellent thoughts from a young but surprisingly wise principal! Can only imagine all your students and staff will achieve in the years to come, and I don’t mean test scores! Well done, Mr. Johnson.


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