Every teacher I have ever worked with, or even met, has encountered parents who did not respond in the way they hoped when presented with information about the student and their progress. Obviously many parents responded in exactly the way they hoped — they deferred to the teacher’s expertise, asked what they could do, and reinforced things at home that the teacher was doing in school. But, sometimes, they encountered a parent that did not defer to their expertise, didn’t support in the way that was hoped, or perhaps even undermined what the teacher was trying to do.

Getting parents…


Attendance has always been a point of contention in schools. We adults have certainly spent a great deal of energy regulating student attendance, but adult attendance has also been a problem. Adult attendance has become even more of an issue as the pandemic has put new stresses on people and the sub-ranks have become decimated. However, supervising attendance seems to be a difficult thing for many managers.

The difficulty of attendance supervision rests within these two conflicting precepts: 1) staff being present in school is necessary for student learning to occur and 2) sometimes life and health concerns necessitate a…


Every classroom, school, and district has hidden curricula. With the notable exceptions of recent laws in Florida and Texas, the hidden curriculum is typically hidden out of ignorance, not intentionality. Every school system has implicit things that are being taught to our children, expectations that are used to evaluate and sort children despite the fact that these things are not explicitly written down, taught, or necessarily even valuable things.

I first became aware of the notion of the hidden curriculum during my time as an educator of exceptional children. During this time it became clear to me that things like…


Any good educator knows the importance of routines for students. Students need to know that they are coming into a safe and reliably accepting space everyday. They need to know what to expect from their teacher if we expect them to trust and to learn. Unfortunately, too many leaders think that these things only apply to students — adults have the same needs for routine and predictability.

There are two types of routines that adults in your organization need and one area that requires something of the opposite. As a leader or manager, the adults around you need a degree…


The opening of a new school year represents renewal in so many ways, to so many people. There is something about the first day of class, for children, teachers, parents, even for those without any direct connection to a school. Students and teachers are starting anew with each other and there is an opportunity to start fresh, regardless of what happened in the past year.

For teachers, there are hundreds of decisions to be made about how to welcome students, how to structure the learning environment, how to build a community of learners, and how to get to know what…


Getting a business started is not easy. Even when things are moving along, making a bit of money and hitting some targets, there are any number of issues to contend with. One of the biggest issues has to do with keeping your talented staff and keeping them working hard to help the company get out of the “new company” phase and become established. Everyone knows if your talented folks keep jumping ship you can never get momentum and take the next step.

Too many people think the issues of employee recruitment and retention boil down to the issue of salary…


I’m sure we all have heard a great deal about the power of expectations. Whether you expect little of your team, or great things from them, you will be correct. Over the years I have discovered a different, more important, element of expectations.

The real power behind expectations is in the explicitness of them. In my work with managers and their teams, I have found that unclear expectations is one of the most common sources of poor performance. In nearly every instance, the manager felt that they were either clear about their expectations or, more common, that the expectation was…


I can’t tell you how many magic bullets I’ve read about — the special pedagogical key to being a great teacher. In every instance, I have found myself wanting for a more complete practice on what being a good teacher means. In most of these instances, what was being sold was pretty good, and in a few instances it was actually harmful.

But, after all these years, I think I have discovered the key to being an effective educator and unfortunately, it is not an easy path. There is no magic bullet or simple and straightforward fix to connecting with…


If you’ve ever come across someone who was overconfident and not nearly as qualified as they thought they were, this piece is for you. For anyone dealing with adult learners, understanding the difference between novices and experts is critical. In adult learning situations, we tend to avoid direct assessments of knowledge and instead rely on self-assessments. These self-assessments leave us with an artificially inflated idea of what people know and are able to do.

Can we imagine if we assessed students with only the self-assessments that we use in adult learning situations? “How confident do you feel with quadratics? Not…


I can’t turn around these days without reading about the importance of self-care. The number of things I read about people doing in the name of self-care actually got me really confused. Can all these things be self-care? What exactly is self-care?

The PsychCentral definition of self-care is deceptively simple: “any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health.” At first glance, it seems to be an incredibly inclusive definition, it actually uses the phrase “any activity.” But, a little more examination might put the kibosh on netflix binging as self-care.

Laurence Spring

Public Educator: teacher, teacher trainer, assistant principal, principal, special ed. director, assistant superintendent, and 14 years as a superintendent.

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