Recently, an avid reader of this blog contacted me as follows:

“…I’ve been appointed a principal for a K-12 school effective this July. I need your help and support. What tips/books/recommendations/magazines/articles do you suggest that I read….that I urgently need to read ??”

This newly-appointed principal has the right idea. He realizes that the word “urgent” is going to be ever-present during that first year. He also realizes he does not have to re-invent the wheel. Many have gone down this same path, and they have left tracks. His question, which prompted this post, is particularly timely. In schools across the globe, new principals are being named and will begin important work.

Reading professional literature will never end. As a starting point, here are a few of the gems:


What Great Principals Do Differently (Dr. Todd Whitaker) This book is the second edition of a best-seller. It’s an easy read that gets to the heart of what really makes a difference.

Teach Like a Champion: 49 Techniques that Put Students on the Path to College (Doug Lemov) So much of the principalship involves developing outstanding teachers. This book is the best I have ever read for addressing teaching strategies. The accompanying DVD allows you to see the techniques in action.

The Daily Disciplines of Leadership: How to Improve Student Achievement, Staff Motivation, and Personal Organization (Dr. Doug Reeves) Anyone who thinks research has to be dull has never read or heard Doug Reeves. The book is nuts-and-bolts and centers on the three topics addressed in the title.

What They Don’t Tell You in Schools of Education about School Administration (John A. Black & Fenwick W. English) Probably my all-time favorite, this book provides an irreverent, but on-the-money look at the many sides of school administration.

Don’t Teach the Canaries Not to Sing (Robert D. Ramsey) I had the opportunity to review this work when it was in manuscript form, and loved it. When it comes to building school culture, this book is the one to read.

The Essential 55 (Ron Clark) Here is a review I wrote on the book for Principal magazine back in 2004. The book would make an excellent book study for the faculty.

Of course, I would suggest my own book,  Get Organized! Time Management for School Leaders. Every good thing we do for our students, our teachers, our community, our family, and ourselves is accomplished through the dimension of time. Organizing your time and surroundings makes everything else possible.

For online professional development, check out The Principal Center. The site serves as a global think tank for professional practice in K-12 school leadership. You will find forums for collaboration, online professional development, and a rich variety of resources.

What about you? What are your suggestions for books, articles, blogs, for a new principal to read now?