Midwest Principals' CenterAn Approved Illinois Professional Development and CEU Provider

MPC: Essential Reads

What It Takes to Be a Human First and a Principal Second

It’s often difficult to keep your footing as an overwhelmed principal By Paul Kelly • EdWeek • November 27, 2018 I remember these words early in my career from a colleague, “Everybody else gets to make mistakes; when you’re a principal, you have to get it right 100 percent... Read More »

6 Steps to Help Your District Systematically Personalize Education

By Bill Shields, Ed.D. September 11th, 2018 Personalizing education requires a transformational shift in the design of schooling that includes every stakeholder For the past decade, personalization has been a hot topic in education. You may have wondered if it’s a real and attainable goal for your school system... Read More »

Morning Meetings in Middle and High School

Can we bring the advantages of an elementary school strategy for building a classroom community to the higher grades? Morning meetings are a nearly ubiquitous feature in elementary classrooms. Students gather on a rug to discuss the calendar, the weather, the news, and how they’re feeling as the day begins. It’s... Read More »

Duncan: Let’s boycott school until gun laws change

Former Education Secretary Arne Duncan pushed a radical idea on Twitter: Parents should pull their children out of school until elected officials pass stricter gun control laws. His tweet came hours after a shooting rampage at a Houston-area high school Friday killed 10 people — a mass shooting that... Read More »

Launching an Engaging Newsletter

Tips for putting together an effective classroom newsletter, a simple step that can enhance teacher-parent relationships. Here’s the family conversation happening in thousands of homes tonight over pot roast:  Fortunately, something as simple as a classroom newsletter can dispel parents’ impression that their children spend school time trapped in an academic tundra. And that impression... Read More »

3 Ways Senior Leaders Create a Toxic Culture

Whether presiding over the entire company, a function, a region, or a business unit, the people at the top of an organization have a disproportionate level of influence over those they lead. Those further down in the organization look to their leaders for cues on what’s acceptable (and what isn’t), and the... Read More »

Why security measures won’t stop school shootings

When deadly school shootings like the one that took place on Valentine’s Day in Broward County, Florida occur, often they are followed by calls for more stringent security measures. For instance, after the Jan. 23 case in which a 15-year-old student allegedly shot and killed two students and wounded 16 others at a... Read More »

How one suburban district is helping traumatized students succeed

Educators nationwide are recognizing that early psychological traumas can have a huge impact on children’s brain development and learning. Just how teachers and schools can support students affected by adverse childhood experiences, or ACEs, is not quite a science. That’s where Algonquin-based Community Unit District 300’s new initiative called... Read More »

How does social media fit into the classroom?

Social media, students’ expansive tech knowledge continue to stump teachers Social media is increasingly used for teachers’ professional learning, but teachers seem more hesitant to use it as a learning tool with students, according to a survey from the University of Phoenix and Harris Poll . Sixteen percent of... Read More »

Trump signs stopgap funding bill with CHIP funding, tax delays

The deal to break through the Senate stalemate over immigration and border security that shut down the government is a bare-bones accord. It provides temporary funding to keep the government operating for just under three weeks. Senate Democrats dropped their objections to a stopgap spending measure. In return, Senate Republican leaders... Read More »

From DACA To DeVos: Education Predictions For 2018

On the NPR Ed Team, I am what you might call the grizzled veteran. I’ve seen education trends come and go and come again. And go again. You get the idea. In years past, around December, my teammates would often pause by my desk and ask: “What do you... Read More »

Social and Emotional Learning for Out-of-School Time Settings

There are many reasons to expect that embedding social and emotional learning (SEL) into out-of-school-time (OST) programming would benefit children and youth. OST settings provide a unique opportunity for promoting SEL as they tend to have greater flexibility in their goals and mission and do not face the curricular demands... Read More »

Beyond the Core: Advancing Student Success Through the Arts

Thirty years ago, in response to a K-12 public education system defined by mediocrity, with low student test scores and widening gaps in achievement, the accountability movement was born.  Federal and state education policies focused on raising standards and regularly assessing students. However, over the years, many policymakers and... Read More »

Responding with Care to Students Facing Trauma – Kristin Souers

Many K–12 students are experiencing ongoing life stresses. Recognizing this can help educators respond effectively to their needs. Those of us in caregiving fields have long recognized that trauma is toxic to students’ brains and spirits as well as their bodies. Most researchers now view trauma as resulting not... Read More »

School virtual shooter training program aimed at survival

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — The shooter rapidly fires through the front doors of an elementary school with an assault rifle and blasts his way down the hallway. Screaming children are running for their lives or frozen in fear. Teachers quickly try to decide: barricade the doors, or make a... Read More »

Should principal training include pre-K?

Principals lack the experience and expertise in early childhood education that is needed as pre-K programs expand in public elementary schools and that could inhibit their ability to manage and support pre-K teachers, according to a new report. “Early Childhood Preparation for School Leaders: Lessons from New Jersey Principal... Read More »

Illinois Teacher Shortage Hits Vulnerable Students Hardest

A good teacher can be the difference between a student going to college and dropping out of high school. But in Illinois, our most vulnerable students do not always have access to the teachers they so desperately need. A recent survey from the Illinois State Board of Education reveals... Read More »

Hundreds of Calif. Schools Closed

The magnitude of the wildfire siege in parts of Southern California continued to worsen Wednesday, with more than 100,000 people forced from their homes and authorities warning of the return of dangerous winds on Thursday. As predicted, the winds picked up Thursday morning, with gusts topping 50 mph in... Read More »

What 150 Years of Education Statistics Say About Schools Today

Long before there was an independent federal education department—before many states had school systems, in fact—there was a federal education statistics agency. Today, the National Center for Education Statistics celebrates its 150th anniversary (albeit without a permanent commissioner in place). Though the agency remains independent of the Education Department,... Read More »

No more zeros in K12 education

One education researcher calls it “the academic death penalty”: A grade of zero on a 100-point scale, a mark that spells disaster for a student’s class average. “It’s such an extreme score in a percentage grading system,” says Thomas R. Guskey, a professor of educational psychology at the University... Read More »

From Last to Leading: How Chicago Public Schools Made the Leap

Thirty years after being labeled the worst school district in the nation and after two decades of fiscal crisis, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) welcomed more than 381,000 students back to class last month as a leader among the nation’s urban school districts. If Education Secretary William Bennett intended to... Read More »

WiFi-equipped school buses help students get online

(CNN)The digital age continues to spark creative developments in education. Wireless gadgets are now commonplace in the typical American classroom. But while technology is helping thousands of students reach new heights in their education, many others are falling behind. Dubbed “the homework gap” by researchers, students without the use... Read More »

Leading a School Culture Without Sexual Harassment

It was just about a year ago in the midst of the 2016 presidential campaign. For better or worse, most Americans watched a video of men having a conversation about women. We heard about body female parts and men kissing and grabbing.  We heard one man reveal the privilege... Read More »

Educators Are More Stressed at Work Than Average People, Survey Finds

Teachers are feeling especially stressed, disrespected, and less enthusiastic about their jobs, a new survey has found. The survey, released by the American Federation of Teachers and the advocacy group Badass Teachers Association on Monday, included responses from about 5,000 educators. It follows a 2015 survey on educator stress—and finds that stress... Read More »

Some Puerto Rican schools reopen Tuesday without electricity

Puerto Rico is slated to open about one-tenth of its schools Tuesday — despite not having electricity in classrooms — a small but critical step in returning one of the nation’s largest school systems to normalcy. The territory’s Department of Education said students will return to classes at 119... Read More »

If Your Teacher Looks Like You, You May Do Better In School

Think back to grade school for a moment and envision that one teacher who could captivate you more than any other. Did that teacher look a bit like you? One recent study says: probably. There’s mounting evidence that when black students have black teachers, those students are more likely to... Read More »

School principals to get help through federal grant

NORMAL, Ill. (AP) — Illinois State University is getting a $12.5 million federal grant to help school principals. In a news release, the school says its Center for the Study of Education Policy received the money from the U.S. Department of Education for a project called Together Everyone Achieves... Read More »

Want School Choice? Public Education Has It, Says New Report

“Although the current dialogue about school choice is generally focused on charter schools, vouchers, and the overall diversion of taxpayer monies to private entities, it misses a fundamental reality: Most public school districts already offer a wide range of choices to their students.” This message is at the core... Read More »

New Webinar Series to Discuss Principals’ Transforming Roles, Preparation

This fall, American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE) will present a new webinar series called “Principals as Transformation Leaders,” supported by The Wallace Foundation as part of the Association’s ongoing partnership to disseminate the latest research and practice innovations in principal preparation. As faculty working with current... Read More »

Responding to Tragedy: Resources for Educators and Parents

When tragic events happen, it can be difficult for educators, administrators, and parents to know how to help children understand and cope. How adults manage their own reactions, as well as how they help students deal with their questions and feelings, are important factors in providing children with the... Read More »

U.S. Schools Brace For An Influx Of Students From Puerto Rico

Nearly a week after Hurricane Maria battered Puerto Rico, students who can’t return to school may need to continue their education on the mainland. Some of the largest school districts in Florida, plus major cities like New York City and Chicago, are preparing for the possibility of an influx... Read More »

School Leaders: Amid Tragedy, Take Care to Teach Moral Courage

9/11, Hurricane Katrina, Newtown, Paris, San Bernardino … Tragedy lands on our doorstep, literally or virtually, all too often in our world of instant news. As school leaders we are charged with moderating an appropriate conversation, period of mourning, and path forward – often when we’re not so sure... Read More »

How Houston Got Its Schools Back Online After the Hurricane

Lenny Schad has spent the past several years working to turn the 216,000-student Houston school district into a digital leader, setting a national example for how to manage the high-tech transformation of a large urban school system. But as Hurricane Harvey pounded Houston and its schools last month, the... Read More »

Teacher Turnover: Why It Matters and What We Can Do About It

When students return to school this year, many will enter one of the more than 100,000 classrooms across the country staffed by an instructor who is not fully qualified to teach. This is because many districts, facing ongoing teacher shortages, are hiring underqualified candidates to fill vacancies. While shortages... Read More »

Houston Schools Chief: Many Students Will Lose Everything

Public school students in Houston won’t be starting school until at least Sept. 5, as the powerful storm dubbed Harvey continues to swirl overhead, dropping epic amounts of rain that’s caused severe flooding and has submerged large swaths of the sprawling city. “Thank goodness it seems like we’re pulling through, but... Read More »

What causes school leaders to lose sleep?

What keeps school leaders up at night? Four district superintendents shared what issues they’re facing and how they’re working through these challenges during a panel discussion at CoSN 2017. Dave Schuler, superintendent at Township High School District 214 in Illinois, led the Q&A session with the panel, which comprised... Read More »

4 Things Districts Can Do to Find (and Keep) Good Principals

A better principal pipeline requires on-the-job support Leading a school to better teaching and learning requires a great principal. Unfortunately, finding and training new principals in effective school leadership has been a long-standing challenge for many districts. So it’s good news for districts and states focused on school improvement... Read More »


NYC Leadership Academy’s short film, The Power of Leaders, features the voices of nearly a dozen New York City students talking about the impact their principals have had on their lives. Read more Read More »

7 tips for creating an effective PD program

One of the worst “professional learning” experiences from my teaching days involved a clown nose. The entire teaching staff—700 of us—were gathered in the town’s civic auditorium to hear a speaker. Talk about “sit and get.” Read more Read More »

Are fidget spinners a good distraction?

What will become of spinners in the 2017-18 school year remains uncertain. Whirling fidget spinners invaded classrooms across the country this past spring, but with many schools banning them as a distraction, their future as a potential remedy for students with attention difficulties is in doubt.  Read more Read More »

US Trails in Early Childhood Education Enrollment

States across the U.S. are taking more seriously the importance of early childhood education and ramping up their offerings, but compared to the rest of the world, the U.S. has a long way to go. While enrollment rates for children under age three hover just below 30 percent –... Read More »

Carol Dweck Revisits the ‘Growth Mindset’

  For many years, I secretly worked on my research. I say “secretly” because, once upon a time, researchers simply published their research in professional journals—and there it stayed. However, my colleagues and I learned things we thought people needed to know. http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2015/09/23/carol-dweck-revisits-the-growth-mindset.html?cmp=eml-eb-wnbk1.3 Read More »

New Help for States That Want to Bolster Principals

As state education officials set agendas for K-12 under the Every Student Succeeds Act, a new guide and a research review are being released this week to help them figure out how best to elevate school leadership through the law. Two of the resources—a report by the RAND Corporation... Read More »

How Praise Became a Consolation Prize

Helping children confront challenges requires a more nuanced understanding of the “growth mindset.” As a young researcher, Carol Dweck was fascinated by how some children faced challenges and failures with aplomb while others shrunk back. Dweck, now a psychologist at Stanford University, eventually identified two core mindsets, or beliefs,... Read More »

New Orleans High School Turbocharges Restorative Justice

Program at the Net school throws teens on the edge a lifeline NEW ORLEANS — Fights were keeping 17-year-old Symphony Lee out of high school, and off the graduation track. “Once I lose my temper, that’s it,” says Lee, with characteristic bluntness. Lee spoke from the principal’s office at... Read More »

Collaborative Reflection: How Do You Lead?

Leadership can be rewarding and difficult all at the same time. It’s easy to be a thought leader, but much more difficult to put those thoughts into action. Situations arise at any given moment that takes our best thinking, and in my experience, there are four different types of... Read More »

Does Trump’s Win Mean the Honeymoon Is Over for GOP, School Groups?

Last December, Republicans and advocates for education practitioners—including teachers’ unions—teamed up to shrink the federal footprint on K-12 education, with the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act. The law maintained some “guardrails” for historically disadvantaged groups of students but not nearly as many as some in the civil rights... Read More »

Revamped Requirements for Illinois Principal Preparation

The Wallace Foundation has released a four-part video series exploring Illinois’ bold actions to revamp the way school principals are prepared. The state required all of its approved programs to reapply for accreditation under higher standards, based on research about effective principal preparation. Part 1 of the series is narrated... Read More »

Trump and Potential Education Secretaries Talked Choice, Common Core

President-elect Donald Trump Saturday met with two education leaders rumored to be under consideration to serve as his education secreary Saturday: former Washington, D.C. schools chancellor Michelle Rhee and Betsy DeVos, the chairwoman of the American Federation for Children, a school choice advocacy group. Read more Read More »

Cat in the Hat for Prez!

The Cat in the Hat is running for President as the kids’ candidate, and he wants you to help choose his first order of business when he gets into office! Kids across the nation are encouraged to vote for The Cat to work with a fellow Dr. Seuss character(s), and... Read More »

9 Elephants in the (Class)Room that Should “Unsettle” Us

Will Richardson writes “One of the things I’ve has come to realize in my many discussions with educators from around the globe is that there are a number of practices in our current systems of schooling that “unsettle” us, primarily because they don’t comport with what Seymour Papert calls... Read More »

4 Conditions to Help Improve School Culture

School culture can play a key role in teacher satisfaction, educator and teacher-leader facilitator Jessica Cuthbertson writes in this blog post. She shares four conditions that can help principals create a culture that fosters teacher autonomy, agency and risk-taking, instead of compliance.   http://smartbrief.com/original/2016/09/school-culture-check?utm_source=brief Read More »

The Flipped Classroom: Pros and Cons

The “flipped classroom” was being discussed in social lounges, in conference sessions, on the exhibit floor, on thehashtag and even at dinner. People wanted to know what it was, what it wasn’t, how it’s done and why it works. Others wanted to sing its praises and often included a... Read More »

What happens when instead of suspensions, kids talk out their mistakes?

In traditional school discipline programs, students face an escalating scale of punishments for infractions that can ultimately lead to expulsion. But there is now strong research that shows pulling students out of class as punishment can hurt their long-term academic prospects. What’s more, data show that punishments are often... Read More »