Learning to Lead: The Dynamics of the High School Principalship

Learning to Lead: The Dynamics of the High School Principalship

Learning to Lead: The Dynamics of the High School Principalship

Learning to Lead: The Dynamics of the High School Principalship

Synopsis

Dismissing current books and courses which neatly compartmentalize the ideal principalship, Donaldson examines the everyday realities of the position. Drawing from his own experience and contemporary studies, he identifies three crucial functions of high school leaders: choosing activities that serve the school's purposes; identifying and enlisting capable partners; and developing and maintaining productive relationships. As expectations for principals and schools rise and as current literature prescribes unrealistic principal roles, Learning to Lead is a rich hands-on source for the examination of the organizational dynamics of secondary schools and leadership.

Excerpt

Gordon Donaldson is a remarkable educator. This lively volume is, above all, his story. It is a story about his search for leadership told uniquely from three vantage points: Donaldson's as principal, his staff's, and Donaldson's as analyst of school leadership. It begins with his appointment as principal of the 800-student public high school in Ellsworth, Maine. From there, we see the inside of his seven-year principalship as he experienced it and as his faculty saw it. "What does the principal do?" many ask. Through time studies, journals, and conversations the reader is privy to all of the recurring work of a high school principal from bathroom checks to forging a personal vision. We go where the principal goes, see what he sees, do what he does, and feel what he feels.

Not only are we informed by Donaldson's introspective account, but also we view him through the eyes and with the words of teachers. Thus, we come to know the person and the principalship of Gordon Donaldson well. Most importantly, his staff and faculty teach us about his leadership--and the nature of school leadership--as only they can. It is a revealing portrait, intertwining the perspectives of leader and led with unusual candor, courage, playfulness, analysis, insight, and self-criticism.

But this book is far more than the fine-grained picture of one high school principal. It is a generic depiction of the principalship itself. a principal's office is an extraordinary epicenter from which to view the panorama of public education. From this vantage point all of the hopefulness and difficulty of currently popular school qualities come to life--school culture, shared leadership, teacher empowerment, vision, community involvement . . .

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