Home Leading What Principals Were Reading This Year: Top 10 Stories

What Principals Were Reading This Year: Top 10 Stories


A look at the top Education Week stories read and shared by school leaders this year is a reminder of the slew of challenges they wrestled with.

There are stories on improving reading instruction, helping students “catch up” academically, and keeping schools safe.

The full ranking of stories is below. It’s based on a combination of how many school leaders read the story, how much time they spent reading it, and the engagement it generated on social media.

The story that leads the list is about retaining valuable school staff. The author, Education Week’s Elizabeth Heubeck, says many school leaders were in “panic mode” this year trying to fill vacant positions and keep others from opening up.

Her story discusses a practical, no-cost, and rarely used strategy for retaining top talent: the stay interview. (Think of it like the alter ego of the exit interview.)

“You’re getting a bang for no bucks,” joked Heubeck.

The stay interview can also be used to recruit talent, she explained. “The same things that people who want to stay are looking for are the same things that people want if they are looking for a job.”

Many schools were trying to stand out to job candidates in 2022, and will be in 2023. So it’s a great time to revisit Heubeck’s article or any of the following stories that were popular with school leaders.

1. The Stay Interview: How It Can Help Schools Hold Onto Valued Staff

Dilok Klaisataporn//iStock/Getty

You don’t want to wait for people to resign before finding out what could have kept them from leaving. That’s the idea behind stay interviews, which are conducted during the year with employees considered “enthusiastic stayers.”

Here’s how they’re done and why they can be a powerful tool for school leaders.

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2. Why Can’t We Talk to Each Other Anymore?

conceptual Illustration

Adolfo Valle for Education Week

In an essay that resonated with school leaders, Education Week’s Kevin Bushweller examined “binary thinking,” the black and white way of looking at issues that he argues is dividing the K-12 world.

“It’s time to resist the worst impulses of our brains and dedicate ourselves to full-spectrum thinking,” wrote Bushweller.

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3. How to Build Better Small-Group Reading Instruction

Latasha Johnson teaches reading skills to a kindergarten classroom at Walnut Creek Elementary School in Raleigh, N.C. on May 25, 2022.

At the start of the 2022 school year, students’ reading skills were at a 20-year low. How could schools help them regain ground?

One research-backed strategy is refining traditional classroom reading groups. Education Week’s Sarah D. Sparks wrote about how to get them right.

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4. Four Protocols That Can Shift Your Teacher-Leadership Meetings From Drab to Fab

Group of diverse adults sitting in a circle for a discussion.

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“Too often, educators have had the experience of showing up to professional learning and development and are talked at instead of talked with,” writes Opinion blogger Peter DeWitt.

That sentiment clearly resonated with school leaders, who ate up the protocols DeWitt offers to make meetings more productive and engaging.

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5. What a Researcher Learned From One School’s Underground Snack Market

Hand reaching into a potato chip snack foil bag for chips

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A researcher studying student engagement at an unnamed school in the suburbs of Chicago stumbled upon something she wasn’t expecting: a vibrant underground snack economy.

Karlyn Gorski examined the school’s snack market and shared her fascinating findings with Education Week. One key takeaway for school leaders: consider the underlying needs that might be driving rule-breaking.

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6. Advice for New Assistant Principals: Take Chances, Build Networks, Find Joy

Photo of principal talking with students.


How can new assistant principals get the most out of the position, prepare for the next step, and maximize their impact? Education Week’s Denisa R. Superville took that question to assistant principals and new principals.

Among the tips they shared: spend time listening, observing, and learning before changing anything.

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7. How to Give Students the Confidence to Take on Rigorous Work

Zachary Chan helps Robyn Pinnix, 9, with an activity in his third grade class at Young Women’s Leadership Academy in San Antonio, Texas on February 7, 2022.

In many ways, 2022 was a “catch up” year for students. But so much time without traditional school routines had shaken their confidence in their ability to take on demanding assignments. So how were schools finding ways to deepen rigor without adding to student stress?

Education Week’s Sarah Schwartz tackled that question.

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8. The Uvalde School Shooting: 4 Key Takeaways for Educators From the First Inquiry

Rachel Martinez carries her son and a protest sign as she attends a city council meeting, Tuesday, July 12, 2022, in Uvalde, Texas. A Texas lawmaker says surveillance video from the school hallway at Robb Elementary School where police waited as a gunman opened fire in a fourth-grade classroom will be shown this weekend to residents of Uvalde.

An investigation into the May 24 school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, found problems with school security procedures that were very familiar to educators across the country. Among the findings: Teachers frequently struggled to lock doors in the aging building.

Education Week’s Evie Blad’s roundup of similar takeaways provided cautionary advice to school leaders desperate to keep kids safe.

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9. Why Putting the ‘Science of Reading’ Into Practice Is So Challenging

Staci Pollock teaches reading comprehension to her second grade class at Lacy Elementary in Raleigh, N.C., on May 25, 2022.

There’s a national movement to radically transform how reading is taught. The goal is to bring instruction in line with the decades of research on how young children learn to read. It’s proving to be a monumental challenge.

In a sweeping story, Sarah Schwartz explains why.

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10. Hour by Busy Hour: What a Principal’s Day Actually Looks Like

Left, Principal Michael C. Brown talks on a radio at Winters Mill High School in Westminster, Md., on May 17, 2022. Right, Boone Elementary School principal Manuela Haberer directs students and parents in the pick-up line at the conclusion of the school day on May 19, 2022 in San Antonio, Texas.

“We never know when our schedule will be completely followed to a T, or we should have just shredded it.”

That’s how Manuela Haberer, a Texas principal, described her day. Haberer is one of two principals that shared a log of their daily schedule with Education Week, hour-by-hour, to paint a picture of the principal’s day. The story includes audio clips from each. And it shows just how crucial principals are.

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