The Best Books Every School Leader Should Read

No matter how much I may know or think I know, there is always more to learn.  I am constantly reading and researching from the best educational authors.  If you are enrolled in Leadership Unleashed, you know principals are expected to know it all. Professional learning is key to staying on top of the learning curve.  As a principal, it is my goal to always be a lead learner in the building.  I must be able to take my staff in the direction they need to go.  The only way to do that is to continue to learn and grow through reading, researching, and attending relevant professional learning opportunities.

I'm sharing some of my favorite books that have been a wealth of help to me over the years.

Escaping the School Leader's Dunk Tank 

Amazon Summary:
No school leader is immune to the dunk tank- the effects of discrimination, bad politics, revenge, or ego-driven coworkers.  In Escaping the School Leader's Dunk Tank, Rebecca Coda and Rick Jetter share real life stories and insightful research to equip school leaders with the practical knowledge and emotional tools necessary to survive and, better yet, avoid getting "dunked.

Lead Like a Pirate: Make School Amazing for Your Students and Staff

Amazon Summary: 
Are You a Treasure Seeker?

Pirates are on a constant quest for riches, but PIRATE leaders seek even greater rewards: amazing schools, engaged students, and empowered educators who know they are making a difference. In Lead Like a PIRATE, education leaders Shelley Burgess and Beth Houf map out the character traits necessary to captain a school or district. You'll learn where to find the treasure that's already in your classrooms and schools--and how to bring out the very best in your educators.

What does it take to be a PIRATE Leader?
Passion--both professional and personal
A willingness to Immerse yourself in your work
Good Rapport with your staff, students, and community
The courage to Ask questions and Analyze what is and isn't working
The determination to seek positive Transformation
And the kind of Enthusiasm that gets others excited about education

The ultimate goal for any education leader is to create schools and districts where students and staff are knocking down the doors to get in rather than out. This book will equip and encourage you to be relentless in your quest to make school amazing for your students, staff, parents, and communities.

Are you ready to set sail?

The Energy Bus: 10 Rules to Fuel Your Life, Work, and Team with Positive Energy

Amazon Summary:
The Energy Bus, an international best seller by Jon Gordon, takes readers on an enlightening and inspiring ride that reveals 10 secrets for approaching life and work with the kind of positive, forward thinking that leads to true accomplishment - at work and at home. Jon infuses this engaging story with keen insights as he provides a powerful roadmap to overcome adversity and bring out the best in yourself and your team. When you get on The Energy Bus you’ll enjoy the ride of your life!

Dealing with Difficult Teachers (3rd Edition)

Amazon Summary:
This book provides tips and strategies to help school leaders improve, neutralize, or eliminate resistant and negative teachers.  Learn how to handle staff members who gossip in the teacher's lounge, consistently say "it won't work" when any new idea is suggested, send an excessive number o students to the office, undermine your efforts toward school improvement, or negatively influence other staff members.

Winning with Accountability

Amazon Summary:
Success can't happen without accountability. It is that simple. For over 10 years, Henry Evans has worked with hundreds of organizations around the world, teaching, and building accountability. This book offers that same guidance to you, your colleagues and your team to reach new levels of excellence and success. In Winning with Accountability, Henry offers a step-by-step guide to help any organization improve performance by creating a culture of accountability. The strategies in this book are simple, easy to implement...and the results are immediate! It should be required reading for every member of every team. Read, enjoy, and win with accountability!

The Multiplier Effect

Amazon Summary:

Why do some leaders double their team’s effectiveness, while others seem to drain the energy right out of the room? Using insights gained from more than 100 interviews with school leaders, this book pinpoints the five disciplines that define how Multipliers bring out the best across their schools. By practicing these disciplines, you’ll learn how to:
  • Attract top teachers to your school 
  • Create an intense environment that demands people’s best thinking 
  • Drive sound decisions by constructing debate and decision-making forums 
  • Give your team a sense of ownership for responsibilities and results

Kids Deserve It! Pushing Boundaries and Challenging Conventional Thinking

Amazon Summary:
What if learning was exciting?
What if students felt important and empowered every time they walked into the building?
What if parents looked forward to calls from their children’s teachers and principals, instead of cringing when the school’s number popped up on their phones?

To Todd Nesloney and Adam Welcome, those aren’t far-fetched what ifs; they can (and should) be a reality for every teacher, school, parent, and student.

In Kids Deserve It!, Todd and Adam encourage you to think big and make learning fun and meaningful for students. While you’re at it, you just might rediscover why you became an educator in the first place.

- Learn why you should be calling parents to praise your students (and employees).
- Discover ways to promote family interaction and improve relationships for kids at school and at home.
- Be inspired to take risks, shake up the status quo, and be a champion for your students.

Move Your Bus: An Extraordinary New Approach to Accelerating Success in Work and Life

Amazon Summary:
New York Times bestselling author and award-winning educator Ron Clark applies his successful leadership principles to the business world in this effective and accessible guidebook, perfect for any manager looking to inspire and motivate his or her team. Includes a foreword by bestselling author and FranklinCovey executive Sean Covey.

Teamwork is crucial to the success of any business, and as acclaimed author and speaker Ron Clark illustrates, the members of any team are the key to unlocking success. Imagine a company as a bus filled with people who either help or hinder a team’s ability to move it forward: drivers (who steer the organization), runners (who consistently go above and beyond for the good of the organization), joggers (who do their jobs without pushing themselves), walkers (who are just getting pulled along), and riders (who hinder success and drag the team down). It’s the team leader’s job to recognize how members fall into these categories, encourage them to keep the “bus” moving by working together, and know when it’s time to kick the riders off.

How To Be a Happy First Year School Leader

Written by me!

Amazon Summary:
You have just been hired to lead a school and handed the keys to the building. First-year principals are expected to assume the same tasks and responsibilities as the most seasoned administrators. Embrace the challenge. You can do it with the right tools in your hands and knowledge of your support system.

Statistics and research reports the following:
Only about half of newly hired school principals stay on the job at least three years. If you are in a high-poverty school, principals leave even sooner.

The principal position is hard. There is no sugar-coating it.

However, having the right start during year one, will give you the motivation and spark to keep going. In this book, Stephanie will share with you 12 easy, highly practical strategies to help you have a happy first year as a school leader.

If you are a first-year school leader or inspiring leader, this book is for you.
Follow these strategies and you will be well on your way to having a happy first year.

I decided to start purchasing the Kindle versions of all my favorite books.  This just allows me to have my resources at my fingertips.  Even though I may have the hardcopy of the book, I went ahead and purchased some of my favorites for the iPad.

Principal Principles is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to  This post may contain affiliate links, view our disclosure policy for details.  See Disclosure Policy.

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Family and Community Engagement- Integral Part of School Improvement

Family and Community Engagement is essential.  It is important to involve the entire school in creating an environment that supports parents.  We can easily create a welcoming school atmosphere and plan activities throughout the year.  But it is more than that.  It is also about changing attitudes and beliefs.  The attitude and belief system encourages shared responsibility with both school and family.

 It is a collaborative partnership between all stakeholders.

All parents want the best for their children.  Parents and school staff should be equal partners in support their child's learning.  In order to build this parentership, it rests primarily with the school.  Recognizing and investing in family engagement is key to closing the achievement gap and supporting the success of all students.

The number one reason why schools should invest in family and community engagement:

Research shows us that students whose families are involved in their learning earn better grades, and are more likely to graduate from high school.

The number two reason why schools should invest in family and community engagement:

Families and teachers both benefit from the collaboration and support.  We cannot do this alone. 

Integral Part of School Improvement

Did you know the PTA organization has National Standards for Family-School Partnerships?

Take a look.

Standard 1: Welcoming all families into the school community—Families are active participants in the life of the school, and feel welcomed, valued, and connected to each other, to school staff, and to what students are learning and doing in class.

A family friendly school strives to forge partnerships with ALL families, not just those that are most involved.

Standard 2: Communicating effectively—Families and school staff engage in regular, two-way, meaningful communication about student learning.

Standard 3: Supporting student success—Families and school staff continuously collaborate to support students’ learning and healthy development both at home and at school, and have regular opportunities to strengthen their knowledge and skills to do so effectively.

Standard 4: Speaking up for every child—Families are empowered to be advocates for their own and other children, to ensure that students are treated fairly and have access to learning opportunities that will support their success.

Standard 5: Sharing power—Families and school staff are equal partners in decisions that affect children and families and together inform, influence, and create policies, practices, and programs.

Standard 6: Collaborating with community—Families and school staff collaborate with community members to connect students, families, and staff to expanded learning opportunities, community services, and civic participation.

Are you interested in downloading the Family and Community Engagment Checklist?  

Engaging families is key to improving student achievement in school.- McConnell


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Classroom Observation Checklist-Digital Resources

I have some exciting news!  I have created the Classroom Observation Checklist in digital format.  After selling this in a hardcopy notepad for the last year, I have become overwhelmed with massive orders, printing supplies, and daily trips to the post office to ship.  Over the last month or so, I decided to not reprint the notepad and focus on creating a the electronic version.  Therefore, the digital version was born this week!

Many of you have requested this from me over the last year but I couldn't bring myself to creating it.  After all, I had a lot invested in the hard goods.



The digital format allows us as school leaders to use our digital devices (iPad, Smartphones, Laptops) in the classroom.  We can take notes during the observation and submit an email to the teacher at the end of the walkthrough or evaluation.  This is a huge time saving step in our very busy days.  


1.  Clickable Blue Boxes using Adobe Reader.
2.  Many background design choices.
3.  Digital Signature Section
4.  Email capability
5.  Use one page or two pages.


Go to and pick your favorite designs.
Open with Adobe to make all links blue.


If printing a copy, select "Actual Size" feature.  This makes the background go closer to the end of the paper.  



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