Over the past two decades, Michael Fullan has written influentially about the change that school and district leaders must bring about as formalized achievement standards and new technology transform how schools are run. What he hasn’t done until now is explore and discuss in detail how and why the principal’s role itself must change.
Principals are often called the second most crucial in-school influencers (after teachers) of student learning. But what should the principal do in order to maximize student achievement? In The Principal, Fullan explains why the answer lies neither in micromanaging instruction nor in autonomous entrepreneurialism. He also shows systematically how the principal’s role must change and demonstrates how it can be done in short order, at scale.
Fullan shows how principals have been boxed into a narrow role that undercuts their ability to develop the whole school. He sheds light on how, in times of crisis, it’s all too easy for principals to do the wrong thing – to take actions that are ineffective or even counterproductive, particularly when they don’t feel entirely in charge. But even in the toughest of external conditions, he shows, there is always leeway for action. Fullan explains how to choose the right versus wrong drivers – loosening focus on accountability and instead concentrating on capacity building.
The author explains the three key roles that administrators must play in order to have the biggest impact on student achievement – the learning leader, the district and system player, and the change agent. Throughout The Principal are “action items” to help leaders implement Fullan’s program effectively as well as provocative discussion questions that enhance the book’s usefulness in professional development and leadership courses.