You are here

The Principal's Companion

The Principal's Companion
Strategies for Making the Job Easier

Third Edition
Edited by:

272 pages | Corwin
'In the heroic effort to improve our nation's schools, this newly revised volume is a gift to the profession...and to the professionals' - Roland S. Barth, Former Public School Teacher and Principal

Founding Director, Harvard Principals' Center

'The Principal's Companion is rightfully regarded as 'the bible' of resource books for current and aspiring principals. No other single source provides such a thorough treatment of the multiple roles and dimensions involved in effective school leadership' - Jay McTighe, Author and Educational Consultant

A guide on the side to help you excel in all areas of the principalship!

This third edition of a bestseller serves as a personal mentor for principals, providing the practical resources and tools to help inservice and aspiring administrators manage the challenges of leading a learning organization and facilitating school improvement.

Educational leadership consultant Pam Robbins and experienced principal Harvey B. Alvy guide school leaders on such critical areas as leadership skills, developing vision and a mission, teacher evaluation and supervision, curriculum, technology use, and conducting faculty meetings. This revised and updated guide reflects recent changes in a wide range of educational issues, including data-driven decision making and high-stakes accountability, instructional implications of brain research, federal legislation, cyberbullying, and social responsibility. This book provides:

- Research-based strategies for succeeding with issues deemed critical to the principalship by practicing principals

- An interactive format with reflective questions at the end of each chapter

- A matrix that aligns practices with ISLLC standards

The Principal's Companion is the principal's ideal accompaniment for creating an environment that supports teachers' efforts to bring about successful student performance.

Foreword by 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 School as a Powerful Context for Learning

A Global Perspective

When Old and New Ideas Converge

2. Leader as Manager
Good 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 Beliefs and Values Are the Heart of Culture

The Physical Environment Reflects Core Values

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
Brevity, Fragmentation, and Variety

Techniques for Time Management

Managing Bifocally

Multi-Tasking: A Modern Day Solution or Hazard?

Final Thoughts on Using Time

6. Effectively Working With the Central Office and Other Schools: Forging Success Through Collaboration
Caught in the Middle

How Is the School District Governed?

Communication Between the School and the Central Office

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
Change Brings Loss and Resistance

Influencing Individuals and the Institution

Building Trust for Successful Change

Conflict Can Contribute to Positive 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
Why Have a School Vision and Mission?

School Activities That Highlight the Mission

Joint Administrative and Faculty Mission Statement

Mission-Building Activity

Developing Yearly School Improvement Goals to Accomplish the Mission

Part IV. Working Together to Build a Learning Organization
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

Increasing Teacher and Administrative Reflection Through Clinical Supervision

Tips for Conferencing and Observing

Walkthroughs, 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

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: The Professional Learning Community

An Image of Reality

The Case for Collaboration

Moving Toward Collaboration

Necessary Conditions for a Collaborative School

A Spectrum of Activities

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

Creating an Atmosphere for Professional Development to Thrive: Some Guidelines

Planning a Peer-Coaching Program

Facilitating the Individual's Professional Development Experience

The Big Picture

13. Faculty Meetings: A Tool for Capacity Building
Faculty Meetings as Learning Opportunities

The School Mission and Faculty Meetings

Increasing the Teachers' Roles in Faculty Meetings

Some Successful Faculty Meeting Strategies

A Final Thought

14. Asking the Right Questions About Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment: Getting to Know the C.I.A.
Keeping the Curriculum Relevant

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

Making Record Keeping Easier

Additional Helpful Ideas to Stay On Task

Tips on Using Technology to Enhance a Principal's Performance

Providing Experiences to Celebrate the School's Culture

Tips on Opening a New School

Practical Guidelines for Preparing Printed Materials for Internal and External School Community Members

Using Tips in Your Setting

Part VI. Understanding 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
Social Justice and the Challenge of Excellence and Equality

"Those Kids" and Their Stories

The Right to Be a Child and to Make Mistakes

Maximizing Opportunities for Students With Disabilities

Structuring Student Success

Discipline Guidelines

Effective Classroom Management: Handling Disciplinary Problems

Reducing Bullying Behavior

Cyberbullying and Social Responsibility

The High School Dropout Crisis

Student and Teacher Resiliency

Final Thoughts on "Those Kids"

Part 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
The Selfish Nature of Martyrdom

Taking Control of Your Schedule to Care for Yourself

A Personal Mission Statement

Gaining Perspective by Spending Time With Students

Body and Mind: Healthy and Ill Together

Maintaining Institutional and Individual Balance

21. Keeping the Professional Candle Lit
Institutionalizing Professional Growth Activities

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

"In the heroic effort to improve our nation's schools, this newly revised volume is a gift to the profession and to the professionals."

Roland S. Barth, Former Public School Teacher and Principal
Founding Director, Harvard Principals' Center

"This third edition proves that it’s possible to make a good thing even better. The Principal’s Companion skillfully combines the contemporary 'big ideas' of school leadership with generous amounts of practical guidance regarding leaders’ own learning and ways in which they can nurture teacher leadership, establish genuinely collaborative cultures, and successfully manage the complex organization of the contemporary school."

Dennis Sparks, Emeritus Executive Director
National Staff Development Council

"The Principal’s Companion is rightfully regarded as 'the bible' of resource books for current and aspiring principals. No other single source provides such a thorough treatment of the multiple roles and dimensions involved in effective school leadership."

Jay McTighe, Author and Educational Consultant

Perfect book for the course! Reasonably priced.

Dr Jeanne Surface
Educational Admin Superv Dept, University of Nebraska at Omaha
November 14, 2010
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
  • Assists programs using The Principal's Companion and the Educational Leadership Policy Standards (ISLLC, 2008) and offers a matrix aligning the chapters of this book with the Standards listed on the inside cover
  • Each chapter reflects a topic that is important to principals
  • Ideas, experiences, strategies, and techniques described in each chapter are grounded in research and practice
  • Provides new, stronger emphasis on:
    • Shaping school cultures to promote Professional Learning Communities
    • Storytelling as a powerful culture-shaping leadership tool
    • Social justice
    • Forms of professional development that build individual and schoolwide capacity to address differentiated student needs in ways that influence policy and practice
    • Teacher supervision and evaluation focused on enhancing the quality of student work, including walk-through supervision approaches

The enduring feature of the Principal's Companion, third edition, is that it contains, like the second edition, research based best practices that have withstood the test of time, illustrated with stories from practitioners around the world. It continues to be a valuable resource for veterans, new and aspiring leaders.
The physical appearance of the book has changed. It is now a "user-friendly" 8½ X 11 size (251 pages) handbook packed full of specific, practical examples, figures, strategies, and techniques that can be implemented immediately in one's own context. Inside the cover are the updated 2008 "Educational Leadership Policy Standards", aligned with chapters that address each of these.
References have been thoroughly updated and substantial amounts of new content have been added to support leaders in their quests to make a difference in the lives of teachers, students, parents and community members through their work in schools.

Examples of new content include:

  • a new section on leadership from the global perspective
  • references from the American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress and guidelines for crisis response in our schools
  • a transformation from "management by wandering around" (MBWA) to "leading and learning by wandering around" (LLBWA)
  • the power of storytelling as a tool for transforming school culture
  • the research on how a workplace "feels" and its corresponding productivity
  • an examination of the impact of multitasking
  • a case study of the Fort Osage School District, where Central Office-School Partnerships were forged that culminated in student success
  • a new section on classical insights regarding change and continuous improvement
  • research on the relationship between effective supervisory practices, powerful teaching strategies and student achievement
  • a Student Learning Nexus Model that highlights components of the learning environment, often in the form of instructional initiatives and their collective impact on student learning
  • a section on "Walk Throughs, Snapshots and Drive-Bys"
  • new information regarding how to develop and sustain Learning Communities and their impact on student achievement
  • updated faculty, team or department meeting resources
  • a new section on important shifts related to curriculum, instruction, assessment, and learning
  • important insights on "assessment for learning" (Stiggins) vs. "assessment of learning"
  • a revised "beginning of the year" checklist
  • new tips regarding using technology and technology related issues
  • a new section on opening a new school
  • new information on family involvement, and school-parent-community-business partnerships
  • a new section on Social Justice and the challenge of "Excellence and Equality"
  • a new section on cyberbullying and social responsibility
  • a new section on the high school dropout crisis and the need for academic press and social support
  • new insights regarding the moral and ethical responsibilities of leadership and the concept of authentic leadership

Finally, as Jay McTighe, well respected author and educational consultant said of the third edition, "The Principal's Companion is rightfully regarded as 'the bible' of resource books for current and aspiring principals. No other single source provides such a thorough treatment of the multiple roles and dimensions involved in effective school leadership".

Preview this book

Sample Materials & Chapters


Chapter 1

Pamela M. Robbins

Pam Robbins earned her doctorate in educational administration from the University of California, Berkeley. Currently, she consults with school systems, professional organizations, State Departments of Education, leadership academies, and corporations throughout the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Europe, Asia, and South America. Her presentation topics include professional learning communities, effective teaching, how the brain learns, emotional intelligence, leadership, teaching in the block schedule, peer coaching, school culture, and presentation skills. Pam has served as a teacher, high school basketball coach, administrator,... More About Author

Harvey B. Alvy

Purchasing options

Please select a format:

SAGE Knowledge is the ultimate social sciences digital library for students, researchers, and faculty. Hosting more than 4,400 titles, it includes an expansive range of SAGE eBook and eReference content, including scholarly monographs, reference works, handbooks, series, professional development titles, and more.

The platform allows researchers to cross-search and seamlessly access a wide breadth of must-have SAGE book and reference content from one source.