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The Listening Leader: Creating the Conditions for Equitable School Transformation

ISBN: 978-1-119-18634-2
368 pages
April 2017, Jossey-Bass
The Listening Leader: Creating the Conditions for Equitable School Transformation (111918634X) cover image


The Listening Leader fills an urgent gap in the literature on educational leadership. Leadership is second only to teacher quality in its impact on student learning and achievement. Copious research has linked school success with quality leadership, yet districts struggle to train and retain tomorrow’s leaders. Across the nation, we have overlooked the educational leader’s ability to create a culture of improvement through a simple but easily forgotten skill: listening.

Listening is the heart of school transformation—the one skill that allows leaders to connect with diverse stakeholders, gather rich data, and drive reform through the power of relationships. Today’s educational leaders must learn to distinguish critical signals coming from their stakeholders from the noise of everyday school life. By inviting readers to cultivate a listening mindset, Safir’s book offers a powerful new way of leading.

This book speaks to leaders who care deeply and want to make a difference, but who often feel ineffective. Its practical strategies will help readers foster a thriving culture of improvement. The Listening Leader offers districts a framework for leadership development and a strategy to interrupt the churn that plagues them. It will change the conversation about educational data and leadership.

Designed to be practical, The Listening Leader is filled with vignettes, self-assessment tools, and concrete strategies that can be put to immediate use. To facilitate extended learning, chapters include reflective questions and discussion points for adaptation in a professional learning community or a study group. Readers will walk away rejuvenated—relieved that there is a better way to lead—and motivated to shift their approach.
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Table of Contents

List of Tables, Figures, and Exhibits

Michael Fullan



Chapter 1: The Transformative Power of Listening


Chapter 2: The Core Tenets of Listening Leadership

Chapter 3: Listening for Equity

Chapter 4: Getting Ready to Listen


Chapter 5: Practicing Deep Listening

Chapter 6: Practicing Strategic Listening

Chapter 7: Listening to Parents

Chapter 8: Listening to Students


Chapter 9: Influencing Complex Change

Chapter 10: Leveraging Listening Routines

Chapter 11: Growing a Listening Culture



Appendix A: Listening Leadership Rubric

Appendix B: The Six Stances of a Listening Leader (Chapters 5 and 6)

Appendix C: The Instructional Conversation Planning Tool (Chapter 6)

Appendix D: Additional Resources for Listening to Parents (Chapter 7)

Appendix E: Additional Resources for Listening to Students (Chapter 8)

Appendix F: Telling the Current State Story Tool (Chapter 9)

Appendix G: Tools and Facilitation Steps for Listening Routines (Chapter 10)

Appendix H: Tools for Growing a Listening Culture (Chapter 11)


About the Author



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