PMP:096 Wrapping up Another Year of Principal Matters + Bonus Takeaways

Happy New Year! As I look at the past year I am grateful for the connections, relationships and opportunities to grow personally and professionally.

Photo by Brooke Lark – Creative Commons No known copyright restrictions

I wanted to say a special thank you to those of you who check out posts, listen to podcast episodes, or have read my books Principal Matters or Messaging Matters and shared the content with others. Most of all, thank you for applying the lessons we learn together as you continue your service to your teams, your schools, and your own personal development.

Five years ago, I launched my website, and a lot has happened since then. I like to look back each year to gauge growth and set goals for the coming year. Plus, I’d like to share some bonus takeaways with you on helping schools manage grief, essential roles for school leaders, and interview tips.

A Quick Review of Principal Matters Resources


My blog has never had enormous traffic, but since my first post in February 2013, I have had 134,815 views of the weekly posts I share. For context, George Couros, whose shared website has millions of views, also generously shares my posts on his shared site, Connected Principals, and to date one of my posts, 30 Questions for Principal Interviews, has been viewed there 194,013 times. I’m grateful that my content is also re-shared on social media outlets including Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. This year I have been able to share two guest blog posts Solution Tree’s Blog.


In 2015, I began simultaneously posting a podcast version of Principal Matters each week. As I near the two-year date, the podcast episodes have been downloaded 96,475 times, which averages around 1,000 downloads per week for 2016. If you’re a consistent listener, thanks for taking time to learn together through these audio-posts! And a big thanks to friends who have invited me as a guest on their podcasts: Justin Baeder, Jethro Jones, Daniel Bauer, Justin McKean, Andrew McPeak and Tim Elmore.

New Book

One of the biggest accomplishment of 2017 was the publication of my second book, Messaging Matters: How School Leaders Can Inspire Teachers, Motivate Students, and Reach Communities by Solution Tree Press. Publishing a book is an enormous labor of love, but I’m so excited to share it. Also, I am planning an entire series of webinar presentations this coming semester sharing many of the ideas from the new book.

New Position

This summer I was offered a position as the Executive Director of the Oklahoma Association of Secondary Principals (OASSP) and Oklahoma’s Middle Level Education Association (OMLEA). Both organizations are integral parts of the Cooperative Council for Oklahoma School Administrators (CCOSA). It is such an honor to work with CCOSA’s amazing team of directors and staff. And it is a dream come true to have the privilege of serving principals and education leaders across my entire state. Although I miss my school and team members there (I still dream about them and forget I’m not there every day), I am loving the opportunity to invest in present and future school leaders.

Speaking Opportunities

In addition to the work I have done with school leaders in my state, I still have the privilege of connecting with school leaders across the nation as I share lessons in leadership at conferences and professional development days.

Thank you to all the new friends I made this past year as I provided nine keynotes or breakouts with the following partnerships outside of my own state in 2017:

• On January 18, 2017, I spoke at the Minnesota Association of Secondary School Principals, Winter Conference, Doubletree Conference Center in Bloomington, Minnesota.
• February 13, 2017, Texas Association of Secondary School Principals, hosted me for their Assistant/Aspiring Principal Conference in Austin, Texas.
• On June 14, 2017, I was invited again as a Distinguished Speaker for the TASSP Summer Conference in Austin, Texas.
• June 22, 2017, Growing Leaders National Leadership Conference was held in Atlanta, Georgia, where I presented 8 Hats–Essential Roles for School Leaders.
• July 11, 2017, Okaloosa County School Administrators Conference was held in Ft. Walton Beach, Florida where I was the keynote speaker.
• On August 1-2, 2017 Berkeley County Schools Leadership Conference, Martinsburg, West Virginia held professional learning for its administration teams where I presented on 8 Hats for School Leaders.
• Then in December, United School Administrators of Kanas invited me to teach at Assistant Principal Workshops held in Topeka, Kansas on December 4, 2017 and Wichita, Kansas on December 11, 2017.

What’s in Store for 2018?

Obviously, the majority of my work this year will be invested in serving CCOSA members by providing support, advocacy, training and conferences for principals and educators across Oklahoma. But I am also still writing, podcasting, and sharing with school leaders through my work with Principal Matters. Although my out-of-state presentations may be more limited in number, I am already scheduled for five locations during 2018.

I will be doing connecting with leaders in Alabama, Georgia, and Nevada this coming year. If you’re interested in my availability for a conference or professional learning day you are planning, feel free to reach out by email at or go to my speaking page for more information.

As I look at the new year, I’m excited to increase the service I am providing for leaders in my state as well as developing resources for school leaders in my state, across the nation, and internationally! And I’m already dreaming about the content for my next book (more details to come later).

Bonus Material: Caring for Schools Through Grief, 8 Essential Roles of Leadership & 10 Interview Tips for Education Positions

Recently, I wrapped up the final episode of webinar series covering topics from the Principal Matters: The Motivation, Courage, Action and Teamwork Needed for School Leaders. In the final episode, you will find tips in three areas:

Part 1: Eight ways to manage schools during times of grief
Part 2: Eight essential roles every effective school leader must practice
Part 3: Ten tips for interviewing for an education position

8 tips for managing student loss

Unfortunately, all of us have memories of loss, not just in our personal lives but also in our school communities. Having managed these difficult moments a number of times over the years, I want to share specific tips to keep in mind when you may be managing one of the most difficult moments—a student death.

1. Communicate, communicate, communicate.
2. Be present and visible.
3. Maintain as much stability and routine as possible.
4. Allow creative and spontaneous responses.
5. Ask for help from outside the school.
6. Enjoy and appreciate your students.
7. Be prepared for media contact.
8. Allow yourself time to grieve.

Listen in for explanation on each area or check out this previous blog post for more information.

8 hats every school leaders must wear

One of my most frequent presentations is on the essential roles we must continuously practice if we are to lead with effectiveness. I share about eight of them:

1. Coach
2. Manager
3. Counselor
4. On Duty
5. Chief Communicator
6. Servant-Leader
7. Individual
8. Team Player

Again, you can hear explanations via the podcast or check out the previous post.

10 tips for interviewing for an education position

Having conducted over 100 interviews in the years I served as a school admin, I like to share tips with anyone preparing for the hot seat of an interview scenario:

1. Write a solid resume.
2. Pre-emptive email or phone.
3. Research your prospects.
4. Rehearse your introduction (and deliver with a smile).
5. Play to your strengths and come with your A-game.
6. Anticipate questions and be prepared with examples.
7. Turn failures into stepping stones.
8. Bring your own questions.
9. Rehearse your closure.
10. Follow-up with an email or card.

You can read the entire post here.

Running Your Race for Others

Finally, I wrapped up the final webinar episode with a story about an ultra-runner named Diane Van Deren. Listen in to the end of the podcast for a motivating story about why your leadership matters to those whom you are serving!

Let’s Wrap This Up

As you look at the New Year, if you’re like me, you are excited about the possibilities of what is ahead. At the same time, you also know nothing is guaranteed. Every day we have is a blessing and a gift. Whenever I’m looking toward reaching new goals, I like to set goals larger than I can probably reach within one year. When I do, I know I will have accomplished more than if I set average or easy-to-reach goals. Then I try to ask myself each day the question: What is one step I’ve taken to keep the momentum moving toward my goal? Even if I can only dedicate 60-seconds, for instance, that means I’m one minute closer to my target.

Now It’s Your Turn

As you are leading your school or organization and setting goals for yourself in 2018, can I challenge you to dream big? Dream big, not just for your school, but also for your own personal growth. Shoot for targets beyond the ordinary. And when you do, don’t be surprised when you hit extraordinary goals this year.

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Principal Matters–The Book!

School leaders are very busy, so each of the twenty-four chapters is designed as a quick-read and followed with take-action questions for follow-up or reflection. If you want practical ideas on understanding your purpose, managing school teams, dealing with challenges, and leading with courage, action, motivation, and teamwork, go HERE to pick up a copy for you or your team.

Messaging Matters

Harness the power of messaging to create a culture of acknowledgment, respect, and celebration. Written specially for leaders, this title is divided into three parts, helping readers to maximize their role as chief communicators with students, teachers, and parents and community. Each chapter includes suggestions for using digital tools to enhance messaging and ends with reflection questions and practical next steps.

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William D. Parker
William D. Parker