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Insights: How Expert Principals Make Difficult Decisions

Insights: How Expert Principals Make Difficult Decisions

Other Titles in:
Leadership | Principalship

March 2015 | 192 pages | Corwin

Learn to make the best decisions for your school!

Essential to inspiring and improving schools, principals make complex decisions on a daily basis.  This invaluable resource offers extensive case studies to explore how expert principals manage crises, navigate tough choices, and support school environments. You will find:

  • Problem-solving strategies and cases focused on data analysis and competing stakeholders
  • Easy-to-use checklists, robust reflection questions, and a framework to define your own professional core values
  • Tools to coach and evaluate teachers, and bolster struggling students

A former elementary and secondary school site administrator, the author presents a highly sensible, cohesive, and research-based approach to decision-making that will greatly benefit school principals at any career stage.

About the Author
Part I: Factors Expert Principals Consider in Decision Making
1: Weighing Options
2: Recognizing and Connecting to Core Values
3: Considering the Culture Before Introducing Change
4: Examining the Whole Picture
Part II: Making Difficult Decisions
5: Decisions About Student Consequences
6: Decisions About Faculty and Staff
7: Decisions About Practices, Policies, and Programs
8: Decisions That Improve African American and Latino Student Achievement
Classroom Walkthrough Form
Current Bell Schedule
Proposed Bell Schedule
Principal Interview Questions
List of Tables
List of Case Studies

"I have never seen or heard of an excellent school that did not have an excellent principal.  In this important new book McLaughlin helps us to understand what it takes to become a genuine expert as a school leader by closely examining how they navigate the challenges involved in leading schools during these turbulent times.  For policymakers, district leaders, parents and others who want to see more progress in the effort to improve our nation's schools, this book will be an invaluable resource."  

Pedro A. Noguera, Peter L. Agnew Professor of Education, Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Development
Executive Director, Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and the Transformation of Schools, New York University

"This book is a rare blend of practice and solid academic work. Dionne McLaughlin’s writing shows that she 'talks the talk because she has walked the walk.' As a former elementary and secondary school site administrator. She navigates some of the most difficult and dangerous waters in school site decision making today. In the process of unpacking the nature of difficult decisions, she has not only created powerful exemplars that others can follow, but has erected models that will serve as fount of motivation and inspiration."

Fenwick W. English, R. Wendell Eaves Senior Distinguished Professor of Educational Leadership
School of Education, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill


"This book provides administrators with real stories from those working in school administration. As an administrator, I found the book to be an excellent read."

Nicky Kemp, Assistant Superintendent
North Callaway R-1 School District, Kingdom City, MO

“Agile and inspiring principals remain key to lifting America's schools, to accelerate our progress in narrowing disparities in student learning. Dionne McLaughlin vividly describes the everyday challenges that face principals – coaching mediocre teachers, trying to engage dissident kids, inspiring teachers to collaborate and labor as eager professionals. It’s a masterful volume, offering ethical tenets and helpful tips for aspiring principals, a riveting balance of practical case studies and sound theories of leadership. Insights is a must read for future school leaders, policy makers, and reformers.”

Bruce Fuller, Professor
University of California, Berkeley Graduate School of Education

“In Insights: How Expert Principals Make Difficult Decisions, Dionne McLaughlin describes a sensible and cohesive approach to decision making and includes case studies of actual situations faced by real principals. McLaughlin provides useful  information and guidance for busy principals who make a multitude of decisions on a daily basis. Insights is a valuable resource for new and aspiring principals as well as experienced principals.”

C. Diane Payne, Director
Principal Fellows Program, Center for School Leadership Development, Chapel Hill, NC

Sample Materials & Chapters


Chapter 1

Dionne V. McLaughlin

Dionne V. McLaughlin, Ed.D. is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Educational Leadership at North Carolina Central University. She is a British-born Jamaican educator who is an experienced bilingual high school and elementary school principal. Dr. McLaughlin has experience as a K-12 Director for a voluntary desegregation program in Massachusetts and as the Program Director for a Latino community-based organization. Additionally, she has 11 years of experience teaching, a Doctorate in Educational Leadership from the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill and a Master’s in Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.... More About Author

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ISBN: 9781483351193

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