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Leverage Leadership: A Practical Guide to Building Exceptional Schools

ISBN: 978-1-118-13860-1
416 pages
June 2012, Jossey-Bass
Leverage Leadership: A Practical Guide to Building Exceptional Schools (1118138600) cover image


Paul Bambrick-Santoyo (Managing Director of Uncommon Schools) shows leaders how they can raise their schools to greatness by following a core set of principles. These seven principles, or "levers," allow for consistent, transformational, and replicable growth. With intentional focus on these areas, leaders will leverage much more learning from the same amount of time investment. Fundamentally, each of these seven levers answers the core questions of school leadership: What should an effective leader do, and how and when should they do it. 

Aimed at all levels of school leadership, the book is for any principal, superintendent, or educator who wants to be a transformational leader. The book includes 30 video clips of top-tier leaders in action. These videos bring great schools to you, and support a deeper understanding of both the components of success and how it looks as a whole. There are also many helpful rubrics, extensive professional development tools, calendars, and templates. 

  • Explores the core principles of effective leadership
  • Author's charter school, North Star Academy in Newark, New Jersey, received the highest possible award given by the U.S. Department of Education; the National Blue Ribbon

Print version includes an instructive DVD with 30 video clips to show how it looks in real life. E-book customers: please note that details on how to access the content from the DVD may be found in the e-book Table of Contents. Please see the section: "How to Access DVD Contents" 

Bambrick-Santoyo has trained more than 1,800 school leaders nationwide in his work at Uncommon Schools and is a recognized expert on transforming schools to achieve extraordinary results.

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Table of Contents

DVD Contents ix

DVD Video Contents xvii

Foreword xxi

Acknowledgments xxv

About the Authors xxvii

Introduction 1

PART 1 Instruction 19

1 Data-Driven Instruction 21

The Model

Assessment: The Roadmap to Rigor

Analysis: Test in Hand, Face to Face

Action:Walking theWalk

Systems: Lock In Success

Turnaround: What to Do First

Conclusion: The Right Map to Follow

2 Observation and Feedback 59

The Traditional Model: Observation Adrift

Schedule Observation and Feedback

Identify Key Action Steps

Effective Feedback

When Feedback Isn’tWorking: Strategies for Struggling Teachers

Accountability: Tools for Keeping Track of It All

Turnaround: What to Do First

Conclusion: Coaching Teachers Toward Greatness

3 Planning 109

Pitfalls of Planning

Yearly Curriculum Planning: Teaching the Right Content

Weekly and Daily Lesson Planning: Ensuring Accountability

Turnaround: What to Do First

Conclusion: Planning Makes Perfect

4 Professional Development 129

What to Teach: Follow the Data

How to Teach: Living the Learning

Avoiding Common Pitfalls of Poor PD

How to Make It Stick: Accountability

Turnaround: What to Do First

Conclusion: Beyond the Conference Room

PART 2 Culture 161

5 Student Culture 163

From Vision to System

Practice: Moving from Aspiration to Mastery

Maintain and Model: Keeping Culture on Track

Evaluating Student Culture

Turnaround: Fixing a Broken Culture

Conclusion: Small Details, Big Results

6 Staff Culture 189

by Brett Peiser, Contributing Author

Five Strategies for a Successful Staff Culture

Month-to-Month Excellence

Turnaround: From Crisis to Cohesion

Conclusion: Getting to ‘‘Teamlyness’’

7 Managing School Leadership Teams 221

Choosing Leaders

Training Your Team

Leveraging Leadership Team Meetings: Iron Sharpens Iron

EvaluateWhat Matters Most

Conclusion: Leader Support, Student Success

PART 3 Execution 237

8 Finding the Time 239

Lock In aWeekly Schedule

Defend Your Time

The Final Step: Manage Tasks

Turnaround: Schedule for Success

Conclusion: Every Minute Matters

9 The Superintendent’s Guide 267

Train Your Principals

Coach Continuously

Leverage Principal Teams

Turnaround: Support Struggling Schools

Conclusion: Succeed at Scale

Conclusion: A Brighter Future 285

PART 4 Professional Development Workshops: Overview and Highlights 287

10 Observation and Feedback Workshop 289

11 Leading Planning Workshop 307

12 Leading Professional Development Workshop 319

13 Student Culture Workshop 331

14 Finding the Time Workshop 341

Quick Reference Sheet 351

ISLLC Standards 355

Notes 357

Bibliography 365

Index 369

How to Use the DVD 379

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Author Information

Paul Bambrick-Santoyo is the managing director of the award-winning North Star Academies in Newark, New Jersey. He has trained thousands of school leaders nationwide in his work at Uncommon Schools and as a faculty member for New Leaders. He is also the author of Driven by Data: A Practical Guide to Improve Instruction.

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Press Release

February 14, 2013
Leverage Leadership: A Practical Guide to Building Exceptional Schools

Schools across the country are keeping an alarming secret: Principals spend over 90% of their time focused on tasks that have little to do with improving student achievement.  In Leverage Leadership (Jossey-Bass, July 2012, ISBN: 978-1-118-13860-1, $34.95 / Paper / also available as an e-book) PaulBambrick-Santoyo meticulously shows the steps that great school leaders need to take to better use their time so that they can transform lackluster (or even good schools) into great ones.

After years of running high-performing schools, training over 2,500 school leaders worldwide and studying the habits of other successful school leaders, Bambrick-Santoyo developed seven crucial levers that great principals can employ to drive student achievement.

“The success these leaders enjoy stems not from some mystic, evasive circumstance, but from practical, specific decisions that any leader at any school can apply,” says Bambrick-Santoyo.

Leverage Leadership deconstructs the myths behind the work of the modern-day principal, such as, “change is slow: teacher development takes 10 years, there is a ‘principal personality,’ and culture comes before instruction…or instruction before culture,” by offering concrete guidelines for a new paradign in school leadership.  Additionally, the book’s companion DVD includes 30 video clips of top-tier leaders in action, offering a path for any leader who wants to replicate his results.

Claude Brizard, the CEO of Chicago Public Schools said, “Bambrick’s clear, detailed blueprint will give both emerging and veteran leaders new tools for success. When it comes to school leadership, we’ve all been looking for guidance: now we have it.”

This marks Bambrick- Santoyo’s second book.   His first, Driven by Data, which details how schools can use focused assessments to vastly improve student performance, is widely regarded as a must-read for educators committed to making data-driven instruction a reality in their schools.

It’s up to the leaders to set the tone of a school and prioritize student achievement, and Leverage Leadership can help any school leader begin to implement impactful positive change. 

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