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Skilled school leadership is essential to improving student achievement records. At least, that’s what a study of 180 U.S. schools found back in 2010. Unsurprisingly, this finding still rings true today, especially as the education system shifts between virtual and in-person learning. Students and teachers need guidance and leadership to succeed, which is where you come in. Whether you’re a principal, head instructor or administrator, you have an important role to play in ensuring that everyone reaches their full potential at your school. Ultimately, change begins with you, and you can invest in your own personal growth by reading books that expand your leadership skills. Here are just a few great books about education leadership to add to your reading list.
1. “Lead Like a Pirate: Make School Amazing for Your Students and Staff” — Shelley Burgess and Beth Houf
If you’ve already read “Teach Like a Pirate” by Dave Burgess, you must pick up his wife’s book next. This must-read provides ideas for principals and administrators looking to build rapport with teachers and students. Learn how to search for and identify those with leadership potential — or “treasure” — at your school. How might you help them teach and lead at their highest capacity? Explore these and similar questions and be sure to take lots of notes as you flip through the pages.
2. “Hacking School Discipline: 9 Ways to Create a Culture of Empathy and Responsibility Using Restorative Justice” — Nathan Maynard
Why do the same kids keep getting into trouble? Are the teachers disciplining students correctly? Most importantly, what can you do to improve the situation? Author Nathan Maynard seeks to answer these questions and offers practical solutions that encourage changed behavior in both staff and students. Learn how to impact students in a positive way and become more aware of their behavior as principal and leader of your school.
3. “If You Don’t Feed the Teachers, They Eat the Students: Guide to Success for Administrators and Teachers” — Neila Connors
This book is a must-read for teachers, principals and school administrators alike. Why? Because everyone could stand to cultivate more positive energy. Learn how to change educational climates and infuse your school with a light that’s simply contagious. Boosting morale is fun and easy with Connors’ tips and tricks. If you implement and integrate them well, your teachers won’t eat your students!
4. “The Principal: Three Keys to Maximizing Impact” — Michael Fullan
The education space is evolving rapidly, and school staff must prepare for changes. That’s why promoting positive change in school environments is a top skill that all educational leaders should cultivate. Learn how to influence student learning and maximize achievement with Michael Fullan’s book “The Principal.” This must-read reveals how to choose the right drivers of school success and includes practical strategies that are already successful around the country.
5. “Relentless: Changing Lives by Disrupting the Educational Norm” — Hamish Brewer
Principal Hamish Brewer is anything but normal, and he’s challenging you to disrupt the norm, too. His life story will empower you to pursue your best, transform your school and leave a legacy that encourages others to do the same. To Brewer, relentless is more than a motto, it’s a mission of passion and purpose. His book will show you how to harness that same energy and use it to improve your school.
6. “What They Don’t Tell You in Schools of Education About School Administration” — John Black
From the opening chapter on power and politics to the guidelines for success, this book tells it like it is. Sure, it’s a bit lengthy, but author John Black’s witty writing will keep you engaged — and teach you a thing or two about school administration. Prepare to have your ideals shattered and glean practical advice to transform your school board and the education system as a whole.
7. “Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts.” — Brené Brown
Admittedly, this book doesn’t specifically address educational leadership. However, it’s still relevant and a must-read for anyone working in the field of education. Learn how to choose courage over comfort and develop your skills as a leader with this book from the leadership guru herself, Brené Brown. Meet students where they are, build a culture of belonging and fight for what’s right with the help of her heartfelt advice.
Leading Through Learning
Good leadership should always seek to innovate. What better way to do that than to pick up a book and learn a thing or two yourself? Cultivate motivation and generate effective ideas to continuously develop both yourself and teaching staff. Grow your skills and knowledge through a commitment to ongoing learning and watch your students — and everyone at your school — succeed beyond their wildest dreams.