Sunday, February 5, 2012

A New Must-Have for Every Principal's Bookshelf

The Principal's Guide to the First 100 Days of the School Year by Shawn Joseph

Shawn Joseph has penned a must-have addition for every principal’s toolkit. Though intended for a principal to use moving into and through the first 100 days of a school year, Joseph’s work will have relevance for any principal at any stage of a school year and at any school, public or private.

Joseph includes many sample letters and forms, along with helpful timelines and organizational tips, to help the reader develop a plan of action for beginning the school year in such a way as to communicate his vision for the school year and to execute a plan that will result in the realization of that vision. Throughout each section of the book (Vision, Instructional Leadership, Politics, Data, and Planning), Joseph provides authentic insight into what will be necessary for a principal to be successful along with thought-provoking and challenging review questions to help the reader apply the concepts to his or her own scenario.

Joseph’s work does what no other book in recent memory has done: it clearly defines the roles and responsibilities of the principal. Joseph removes the kid gloves when he lays out for the reader the many and varied challenges of being a principal as well as the responsibilities and burdens that fall solely on the shoulders of a principal. Simply said, Joseph gets what being a principal is all about and he puts it out there with no sugar-coating: from casting a vision to setting expectations to communicating with stakeholders to navigating the political waters to ensuring quality in every classroom, the buck stops with the principal and the principal alone.

As an experienced principal, I recommend this book to future and aspiring principals as a road map for how to begin your first journey as the leader of a school. I also recommend this book to other experienced principals as a great reminder of the awesome, non-negotiable responsibilities that come with the position. When it comes to being a principal, Shawn Joseph simply gets it.

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