Do you search for effective and meaningful professional development?  Do you wish you could observe teachers more frequently?  Do you never have enough time?  Paul Bambrick-Santoyo examines this problem and offers practical solutions for improving instruction, building a school culture, and finding the time in Leveraging Leadership: A Practical Guide to Building Exceptional Schools (2012).  He also offers a companion DVD with specific examples and resources.

These resources are centered on what he calls the “seven levers for executing quality instruction and culture”: data-driven instruction, observation and feedback, instructional planning, professional development, student culture, staff culture, and managing school leadership teams.

In the introduction, Doug Lemov, the founder of Uncommon Schools, offers the reflection that principals spend less than 6% of their time on instruction, instead giving priority to administrative tasks.  Bambrick-Santoyo offers a great analysis of how principals spend their time and offers templates and system to observing instruction.  He offers a sample schedule with specific blocks of time for observation and following up with teachers.

As Bambrick-Santoyo states, “Read a principal’s calendar, and you’ll know his priorities.”  He is making an argument for a better use of a principal’s time.  I found this argument so compelling that I decided to change the way I interact with principals this year with more frequent check-ins and monthly meetings replacing the quarterly sessions.

This is an education book and would serve well as a textbook.  If you’ve been wanting to challenge your professional practice, this book would serve as a great refresher.

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