2012's Required Reading For School Leaders: Leverage Leadership


As students return to school this and next month and buy their required reading books, principals, instructional coaches, department chairs, lead teachers, and teachers hopefully will have read this summer as their required reading Paul Bambrick-Santoyo’s new book, Leverage Leadership – A Practical Guide to Building Exceptional Schools.

“As I traveled across the country working with school leaders over the past ten years, I saw a common trend: great people were working extremely hard and still struggling to increase student learning and close the achievement gap. Despite all that had been written about high-quality education, schools struggled to make an impact," explains Bambrick-Santoyo.

Leverage Leadership provides a step-by-step method for creating exceptional schools by highlighting the seven levers that drive student achievement: from observation and feedback to a strong student culture to a well-managed leadership team,” adds Bambrick-Santoyo.

In the book, the author explains that less than six percent of a principal's time is spent on observing classrooms, coaching teachers to make them better, leading or planning professional training for teachers, using data to drive instruction, and evaluating teachers.

With Leverage Leadership, which includes a DVD with 30 video clips of top leaders in action and how they get results, Bambrick-Santoyo provides the instruction on how to increase that six percent to a much higher level.

He also debunks the myths of effective school leadership:
  • Principals are administrators and firefighters, not instructional leaders
  • Comprehensive observations, walkthroughs, and teacher evaluations are sufficient
  • Change is slow: teacher development takes 10 years
  • There is a “principal personality”
  • Culture comes before instruction…or instruction before culture
Some of the books most compelling takeaways include:
  • Effective instruction is not about whether we taught it. It’s about whether the students learned it.
  • The primary purpose of observation should not be to judge the quality of teachers, but to find the most effective ways to coach them to improve student learning.
  • We learn best when we can focus on one piece of feedback at a time. Giving less feedback, more often, maximizes teacher development.

Bambrick-Santoyo is the Managing Director of Uncommon Schools Newark, which is composed of seven North Star Academy schools. During his eight years at North Star, the schools have seen dramatic gains in student achievement, reaching 90-plus percent proficient on state assessments in almost every category and grade level. As a result, they were recently recognized with the National Blue Ribbon award.

Bambrick-Santoyo has trained over 2,500 school leaders nationwide through his work at Uncommon Schools and as the Data-Driven Instruction faculty member for New Leaders for New Schools, a national urban school leadership training program.

Prior to joining North Star, he worked for six years in a bilingual school in Mexico City, where he founded the International Baccalaureate program at the middle school level.

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