Go to the Assistant Principal’s Office: A Seismic Shift

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Go to the Assistant Principal’s Office: A Seismic Shift

Written by: Carrie Wisehart

May 22, 2024

“I know you say you love coming to work every day, but do you really mean it?”

A student asked me this question one day while I was making my daily rounds in the hallway. I have been an educator for 25 years. For many years, I never dreamed I would become an administrator. But my love for mentoring teachers, valuing students, and leading schools led me to the last three years as an Assistant Principal – and I have loved every minute! 

As a new leader, I have two primary overarching goals: never forget what it’s like to sit in the seat of a teacher, and change the way students, staff, and the community view the Assistant Principal’s office.

“As a new leader, I have two primary overarching goals: never forget what it’s like to sit in the seat of a teacher, and change the way students, staff, and the community view the Assistant Principal’s office.”

This goal led to the creation of a six episode YouTube series called “Go to the Assistant Principal’s Office: A Seismic Shift,” which explores my journey as I work hard to achieve my goals! 

Each video is 8-10 minutes long (so not much of your time!). A short summary of each video with the included resources is below.  

Oh – and I told that student “ABSOLUTELY!” There is nothing better than the opportunity I get every day to love on our kids. 

Episode 1: Fist Bumps, Lucky Lockers, and “It’s Gonna Be Good” Passes

Making it “fun” and meaningful to visit the Assistant Principal’s Office by rewarding students who are making a difference – but also rewarding kids for absolutely no reason at all! Just because they BELONG and are VALUABLE at our school.

Ways to do this? 

  • Positive Office Referrals – teachers and staff give “fist bumps” to students who make good choices
  • Lucky Locker Cards – put these cards in student lockers for no reason at all – just a reason to come to the office and get candy or a prize!
  • “It’s Gonna Be Good” passes – instead of scaring a student by sending them a pass that looks like all the other disciplinary passes, use this pass to make them excited about coming to the office! 

Fist Bump Template

Lucky Locker Sample

“It’s Gonna Be Good” Passes Template

Episode 2: Look, Listen, Level, and Lean In

Making intentional choices about the process of working with students in the office, how they will be approached, treated, and disciplined. 

Deescalation is extremely important in the office – and listening (even when someone is wrong) is important to the process of helping students (and staff) feel valued and honored. 

The role of Assistant Principal is especially important because you often are there at very crucial points in a student’s life – including expulsion and disciplinary action that affects the outcome of a student’s high school career. Walking this hard journey with kindness and compassion is extremely important! 

Episode 3: Lessons at Lunch Duty

Social Media and the power of posting to create community, creativity, and camaraderie. 

Who knew that I would eventually have 48k followers on TikTok because of my teacher content? Students immediately started following – which created a unique opportunity for me to reach them (and the community) with important content. 

TikTok: @carriewisehart

Link to slides

Episode 4: Curating, Inviting, and Praising 

The role of Assistant Principal is evaluative for teachers – but it should also be a place of opportunity, offering ways for teachers to grow. 

Since I sat in the teacher’s seat for so long, there were some immediate ways I knew I wanted to help by supporting them. One of those ways was to take the time and curate resources that teachers don’t have time to collect themselves. Thus, Motivational Monday was born! 

Each Monday, I send out a slide with curated resources teachers can use or lose. The link below also has links to the past two years of slides, including 2023-2024.

Motivational Monday slides

Episode 5: The Student Market and Care Closet

As an AP, students are in and out of the office every day. When needs are identified, it is important to gather a tribe of people who can help meet those needs! 

The food pantry and care closet we have created at our school are both being used weekly by our student population. It is important to LOOK for needs and do what is necessary to meet the needs of your culture and context. 

Link to slides

Episode 6: Campfire Chats and Book Clubs

As an educational leader, it is important to create space to LISTEN. It is also important to create space for you to interact with employees/colleagues in more informal environments. Thus, I created space through Campfire Chats (informal conversations) and a non-school Book Club to foster relationships with the staff in less risky environments. 

Link to slides

Yes, the office of Assistant Principal can be a hard place to be. Hard conversations happen there. Hard decisions are made there. But more often than not, we can control the way others see that office by creating space for positive interactions and opportunities. I will continue to grow, learn, and stretch myself in this area – isn’t that what education is all about?



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  • Carrie Wisehart

    Carrie Wisehart can best be described as a creative and energetic speaker, author, and educator. For the past 24 years Carrie has touched the heart of her students by recognizing their unique strengths and helping them develop their fullest potential. Through the privilege of educating students, Carrie has won NBC 33’s Excellence in Education award, was featured for her innovative teaching on one of the final episodes of The Oprah Winfrey Show, and was honored as a Woman of Northeast Indiana by 21 Alive television. Carrie was named 2020 Teacher of the Year for Northwest Allen County Schools, and most recently, she was named the 2022 Remarkable Woman of Northeast Indiana by WANE TV. Carrie holds degrees in Vocal Performance and English Education from Olivet Nazarene University as well as a Masters Degree in Teaching and Learning from The Ohio State University. She also has her Masters of Science in Educational Leadership from Purdue University. Carrie loves inspiring others to choose joy in this adventure called life. Carrie has great passion for changing the world wherever she is planted. She has authored the book, Choose: An Invitation to the Best Day Ever Adventure about living the best life. The most important people in her life are husband, Brady and 18 year old daughter, Kayden. They live in a little house in the woods in Ft. Wayne, IN. Carrie currently serves as the Associate Principal at DeKalb High School in Waterloo, Indiana.

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