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Reclaiming the Principalship

Instructional Leadership Strategies to Engage Your School Community and Focus on Learning

Reclaiming the Principalship is a tool-packed guide to help principals manage, schedule, evaluate, and build community—all while keeping student learning central to their work and the school’s mission. 


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As a principal, your days are filled with decisions. How do you keep student learning central to your work and the school’s mission while managing all of the mandates and administrative work? With Reclaiming the Principalship as your road map, you will discover how to let learning guide the many decisions you make each day.

Experienced administrator Tom Marshall shows you that, by establishing a learning mindset, you can rekindle the spirit of learning in your school and create an environment in which learning is simply a way of life for students, teachers, and even yourself. An environment of engaged learning, not simply compliance.

In Reclaiming the Principalship, Tom targets some of the biggest current issues principals face, including scheduling, teacher evaluations, isolation, improving academic achievement, and school climate. He includes questions, checklists, templates, and examples to help you:

  • build a professional network with other principals
  • take on the role of instructional leader
  • evaluate teachers honestly, constructively, and supportively
  • build and lead the school community 
  • connect with and nurture your own learning life.

Schools need leaders who have just as much love for teaching and learning as they had when they started their careers. You don’t have to give up your commitment to learning, or students, or your dedication to teachers. With Tom’s guidance, you can make decisions that will have a long-lasting, positive effect on the lives of the students and teachers in your school.

Additional Resource Information

(click any section below to continue reading)


Foreword by Christopher Lehman ix

Acknowledgments xii

Introduction Reclaim the Principalship xiv

Chapter 1

Get Smarter with a Professional Network 1

Build a professional network with other principals to share

knowledge and support

Chapter 2

Coach Teachers to Improve Student Learning 27

Coach teachers sustainably, with a plan to improve instruction

across the school

Chapter 3

Manage Your School with Learning in Mind 51

Put learning before management in leadership decisions by

researching issues and working collaboratively

Chapter 4

Evaluate to Support Teachers’ and Students’ Learning 83

Evaluate teachers honestly, constructively, and supportively

to encourage both teacher engagement and student learning

Chapter 5

Unite and Lead the School Community with Learning Themes 112

Lead the school community with a unified vision of your school

community’s goals

Chapter 6

Nurture the Learner Within 133

Strengthen yourself by honoring your own personal learning

References 149

In Depth

We can begin to take on the role of “head learner” and reclaiming the principalship by establishing a learning mindset. This book offers suggestions for how to do that. Each Chapter explores a different way of keeping in touch with learning by connecting with others.

Chapter 1 gives options for connecting with other principals and learning beside them.

Chapter 2 explores ways to connect with teachers in the classroom, teaching alongside them by taking on instructional coaching.

Chapter 3 addresses the connection between learning and the many managerial decisions principals must make.

Chapter 4 connects the professional development and evaluative aspects of the principal’s job to get the most out of observation and evaluation.

Chapter 5 discusses how to connect teachers, students, and community members through the use of learning themes and teaching metaphors. 

Chapter 6 offers practical ways in which you can connect with and nurture your own learning life. 

This book is an effort to make us keep the teacher in us alive. Schools need leaders who make their teachers feel like there’s a teacher in the principal’s office, with just as much love for teaching and learning as they had when they started their careers. Make the word principal an adjective again. Join me, Head Learner, on the journey of reclaiming the principalship in the name of learning! 


— Introduction


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Email if you would like to contact Tom Marshall directly about professional development support.