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The Principal's Companion

The Principal's Companion
Strategies to Lead Schools for Student and Teacher Success

Fourth Edition
Edited by:

foreword by Kent D. Peterson

March 2014 | 408 pages | Corwin

The classic personal guide for principals, updated to address today’s challenges

As the leader and decision maker in your school, you know that the buck stops with you. But when you’re faced with issues that are unfamiliar or simply overwhelming, where can you turn for advice and experience?

For over a decade, the answer has been The Principal’s Companion. Pam Robbins and Harvey B. Alvy’s comprehensive classic remains a standard reference for principals of all experience levels, providing a wealth of ideas, techniques, and reflective opportunities.

In the fourth edition, new and updated content is delivered in an ultra-efficient format tailored to principals’ busy days. Topics range from big-picture considerations to specific tactics and strategies, including:

  • The principal’s many roles
  • Critical skills for effective leadership
  • Honoring the school’s mission
  • Working together to build a learning community
  • Starting effectively and staying the course

With an eye towards the future, The Principal’s Companion can be referred to over and over again to ensure the school’s most important executive is a strong anchor for educational success.

“This has always been one of the books I recommend to principals, and the latest edition makes it even more important and helpful to principals who face one of the toughest jobs in education today.”
—Stephanie Hirsh, Executive Director
Learning Forward

"Robbins and Alvy's ability to explain the sophisticated and complex landscape of today's connected schools in a manner that is easily understandable to both a new leader and a veteran school leader is masterful. They truly understand the role of today's school leader in the classroom, the school, and the community.”
—Joshua Garcia, Deputy Superintendent
Tacoma Public Schools, WA

Kent D. Peterson
About the Authors
Part I. The Principal's Many Roles
1. Leader as Learner
Principal as Lifelong Learner  
Learning in Many Contexts  
The Expanding Role of the Principal  
A Global Perspective  
When Old and New Ideas Converge  
2. Leader as Manager
Instructional Leadership Requires Effective Management  
Management Responsibilities and Strategies  
Crisis Management Planning  
A Final Observation Regarding School Management  
3. Leader as Shaper of School Culture
Core Values and Beliefs Are the Heart of Culture  
The Physical Environment Reflects Core Values: Portraits of Practice  
Rituals Display Core Values and Call Attention to What Is Important  
Celebrations Call Attention to What Is Important  
How People Spend Time Reflects Core Values  
Norms Are the Unwritten Rules of Culture  
Powerful Stories Communicate and Reinforce Cultural Values  
Reading, Transforming, or Shaping a Culture  
Final Thoughts on Culture  
Part II. Critical Skills for Effective Leadership
4. The Art of Human Relations: Getting the Job Done
Task and Relationship Behaviors  
Differentiated Support  
Personality Styles  
Recommendations for Skillful Human Relations  
The Role of Emotions in the Organization: Remembering the Heart  
5. Managing Time: Leading With Purpose
Brevity, Fragmentation, and Variety  
Techniques for Time Management  
Managing Bifocally  
Multitasking: A Modern-Day Solution or Hazard?  
Final Thoughts on Using Time  
6. Effectively Working With the Central Office: Coordinating Teaching, Learning, and Professional Development
Caught in the Middle  
How Is the School District Governed?  
Communication Between the Schools and the Central Office  
The District Office as a Teaching and Learning Center  
The District Office and Principal Evaluations: Partnering for Success  
Management Tips for Working With the Central Office  
Maintaining a Strong Relationship Between the Central Office and the School  
Forging a School and Central Office Partnership: Putting Staff and Student Learning First  
Part III. Honoring the School's Mission
7. Understanding, Planning, and Implementing Change
Guiding the Change Journey: Three Questions  
Understanding Change  
Change Brings Loss and Resistance  
Change Influences Individuals and the Organization  
Failure, Risk-Taking, and Conflict: Ingredients for Change  
Strategies to Promote Trust  
Classical Insights Regarding Change and Continuous Improvement  
Three Phases of Change  
A Look at Change From the Individual's Perspective  
Stages of Concern  
Some Final Thoughts on Change  
8. Building a Vision and a Mission Together
Reflecting on Vision and Mission  
Why Have a Shared School Vision and Mission?  
School Activities That Highlight the Mission  
Mission-Building Activity  
Developing Yearly School Improvement Goals to Accomplish the Mission  
Part IV. Working Together to Build a Learning Community
9. Enhancing Teacher Growth Through Supervision and Evaluation Practices Designed to Promote Student Learning
Issues and Dilemmas  
Essential Ingredients for Successful Supervision  
Effective Instructional Strategies  
Brain-Compatible Teaching Practices  
Guidelines to Successfully Navigate Through Required State and District Teacher Evaluations Frameworks  
Increasing Teacher and Administrative Understanding Through Reflective Clinical Supervision  
Tips for Conferencing and Observing  
Walk-Throughs, Instructional Rounds, Snapshots, or Drive-Bys  
Guidelines Related to Evaluation and Legal Concerns  
Final Thoughts on Supervision and Evaluation  
10. Maximizing Feedback About Teaching: Differentiated Professional Growth Options
Reflections on Feedback  
Creating the Environment for Maximizing Feedback  
Building a Foundation: Getting Started  
Moving Toward Collaborative Feedback  
Differentiated Professional Growth Options: How the System Works  
Sources of Feedback: Categories and Approaches  
Self-Assessment: Establishing Benchmarks of Progress  
Individual Reflection and Institutional Renewal  
11. Building a Collaborative School: The Power of Teacher Leadership and Community
Portrait of a Collaborative School: A Professional Learning Community  
An Image of Reality: Obstacles to Collaboration  
The Case for Collaboration  
Moving Toward Collaboration  
Necessary Conditions for a Collaborative School  
Teacher Leadership and the Collaborative School  
The Principal and Collaboration  
Some Final Thoughts on Collaboration  
12. Fueling the Learning Organization Through Professional Development
Why Professional Development?  
Professional Development Defined  
Standards for Professional Learning  
Creating a Context Where Professional Learning Thrives: Some Guidelines  
Leadership Teams and Professional Learning  
Optimizing the Individual's Professional Learning Experience  
Central Office Support for Professional Learning  
Final Thoughts on Professional Learning  
13. Faculty Meetings: A Tool for Capacity Building
Faculty Meetings as Learning Opportunities--Getting Started  
The School Mission and Faculty Meetings  
Increasing Teachers' Roles in Faculty Meetings  
Some Successful Faculty Meeting Strategies: Stories of Practice  
Faculty Meeting Strategies That Work!  
A Final Thought  
14. Asking the Right Questions About Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment: Getting to Know the C.I.A.
We Live in Interesting Times  
Asking the Right Questions  
Continuing the Curriculum Discussion  
Part V. Starting Effectively and Staying the Course
15. First Days of School
Logistical Concerns  
Beginning-of-the-Year Faculty Meetings Set a Tone  
Departmental and Grade-Level Meetings  
Orienting Teachers Who Are New to the School  
Teacher Time in the Classroom  
Welcoming Students and Parents  
Be Visible on the First Days of School  
16. Tips: Ideas That Work and Align With the School's Mission
Organizing Your Time  
Additional Helpful Ideas to Stay On Task  
Tips From a Superintendent: What Makes a Successful 21st Century Principal  
The School Budget: Common Sense Efficiency Tips Based on the Mission  
Providing Experiences to Celebrate the School's Culture  
Tips on Opening a New School  
Tips on Using Technology to Enhance a Principal's Performance  
Using Tips in Your Setting  
Part VI. Embracing Your Constituencies
17. Working With Parents and Partnering With the Greater Community
Effectively Communicating With Parents  
Building Bridges With the Parent Community  
Additional Ways to Bring Parents and Community Members Into School  
Broadening School Support and Partnerships  
Community-Based Organizations  
Seeking School Support Through Educational Grants  
Reaching Out and Working With the Media  
A Reflection on Partnering With Parents and the Community  
18. Making a Difference for Students: The Heart of the School
The Challenge of Excellence and Equality, Social Justice, and School Leadership  
"Those Kids" and Their Stories  
The Right to Be a Child and to Make Mistakes  
Maximizing Opportunities for Students With Disabilities  
Response to Intervention (RTI)  
School Discipline: The Principal's Role, the Discipline Gap, and Promising Options  
Broad Disciplinary Guidelines  
Reducing Bullying Behavior  
Cyberbullying and Social Responsibility  
Supporting Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Youth  
Graduating America's Youth: Making Progress on a Long Road  
Student and Teacher Resiliency  
Final Thoughts on "Those Kids"  
VII. The Principal's Professional and Personal Worlds
19. The Newcomer to the Principalship
Problems That Challenge New Principals  
A Profile of the New Principal  
Helping Prospective and New Principals Make the Grade  
Practical Suggestions for Newcomers  
Final Thoughts on the Newcomer Experience  
20. Taking Care of Yourself
Achieving Success Over Stress  
Taking Control of Time  
Towards Realizing the Vision: A Personal Mission Statement  
Gaining Perspective by Spending Time With Students  
Body and Mind: Healthy and Ill Together  
21. Keeping the Professional Candle Lit
Institutionalizing Professional Learning  
Reflection as a Tool  
A Principal's Portfolio  
Other Growth Opportunities  
22. Reflections on the Principalship
Serving the School Community  
Where Do We Go From Here?  
The Good School  
Take Time to Smell the Roses  
References and Additional Readings

"As educators we are so fortunate that Pam Robbins and Harvey Alvy continue to update The Principal's Companion.  It has always been one of the "must read" books I refer to principals, and this latest edition makes it even more important and helpful to principals who face one of the toughest jobs in education today.

Pam and Harvey combine research, practitioner expertise, and personal experiences to provide principals with a resource that will serve them well throughout their career.  The topics, insights, and reflection questions make it a text that principals will find themselves returning to when they are confronting a new challenge or opportunity and seeking new information and insights.

Give the gift of The Principal's Companion to your principals.  You will have given them a compact resource that touches their most pressing issues with suggestions, insights, and findings grounded in research, experience, and practice."

Stephanie Hirsh, Executive Director
Learning Forward

"The revised and expanded edition of The Principal’s Companion will be a welcome addition to any principal’s professional library. The authors have crafted a vade mecum for the thoughtful, engaged… and busy! …principal. This is a user-friendly, accessible, and holistic compilation of educational philosophy, solid research, and practical, tested methodologies. It can be read from start to finish with great benefit. But due to its thoughtful structure, one can also dive into it from time to time for inspiration, expert opinion or a bit of challenge. Drs. Alvy and Robbins have made a wonderful contribution to our profession with this, their latest collaboration."

David Chojnacki, Executive Director
Near East South Asia Council of Overseas Schools, Aghia Paraskevi, Greece

"Alvy's and Robbins's ability to explain the sophisticated and complex landscape of today's connected schools in a manner that is easily understandable to both a new leader and a veteran school leader is masterful. They truly understand the role of today's school leader in the classroom, the school, and the community. Together, they have boiled down complex ideas to practical solutions that leaders can learn from and apply in their daily routines. Through years of research, new learning, and proven experience, they have modeled the way for leaders. This book communicates the need for today's school leaders to develop action plans that produce results. As they say, it is not a matter of 'either/or' but rather 'and' when addressing modern societal demands. Their guidance and reflections provide a road map for schools that will create positive student outcomes for the students they serve."

Joshua Garcia, Deputy Superintendent
Tacoma Public Schools

We used this book for our principal practicum. The students were able to implement what they learned as they engaged in campus activities. They loved it.

Dr Maria Roberts
Clg Of Arts Sciences Education, Texas A&M University-Texarkana
October 5, 2016
Key features

Features an interactive format with reflective questions at the end of each chapter and is intended to help principals feel as if there is an invisible colleague with whom to interact.

Each chapter reflects a topic that is important to principals and offers ideas, experiences, strategies, and techniques described in each chapter are grounded in research and practice.

Moral/ethical responsibilities of the principalship—Affirming that "Character is Destiny" as a key book theme. Embedded in this theme is the notion that school leaders cannot be successful if they lack credibility.

Principal Standards—Examining exemplary state standards and the ISLLC standards, emphasizing that standards offer a "compass" to guide leaders.

Curriculum and Instruction:

  • Addressing the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and the school principal's role in leading the CCSS implementation process with the help of Teacher Leaders
  • Noting the importance of feedback (referencing the influence of John Hattie's research) as a critical element of student empowerment and teacher growth
  • Presenting major curriculum shifts that have influenced supervision, instruction, assessment and professional development

Supervision and Instructional Leadership:

  • Supervising for growth in a non-threatening, nurturing culture that addresses new performance evaluation programs linked to federal and state mandates with principals and teacher leaders working together
  • Addressing difficult one-on-one conversations related to classroom observations and/or performance evaluation
  • Updating alternative observational strategies such as instructional rounds, walk-throughs and peer coaching with Teacher Leadership input

Social Justice—Revising, updating and adding sections related to race, poverty and the achievement and opportunity gap; bullying and cyber bullying, resilience and hope, and supporting and providing a safety net for homeless children and LGBT youth.

School Culture: Celebrating Teacher Leaders as partners that build teacher capacity, a culture of excellence, and serve to nurture newcomers

Technology: Highlighting the principal's collaborative partnership with teachers, in selecting effective resources to be used as an integral part of instruction, curriculum delivery and assessment within lessons

Updating the "From ESEA to NCLB: Implications for the Future" section

Updating "The Student Learning NEXUS Model"—this helpful supervisory and School Improvement Planning will be revised.

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ISBN: 9781452287591