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With a few colleagues, we’ve started reading Leverage Leadership. Here’s a little about the book:

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.

I like the fact that it starts out with formulas and recipes for success. You know, “Do this and you’ll get these results.” Who wouldn’t like to be told what to do, and then what results to search for? I hope you’ll join me as I take notes on this book.

My Notes


  1. A study found that on average principals spent on administrative and organizational tasks…
    1. more than 27% of their time on admin tasks–managing schedules, discipline issues, and compliance.
    2. 20 percent on organizational tasks such as hiring, responding to teacher concerns, checking to see if there was money in the budget for projector bulbs or travel to workshops
    3. less than 6 percent was spent on day to day instruction, including activities such as observing classrooms, coaching teachers to make them better, leading or planning professional development, using data to drive instruction and evaluating teachers.
    4. The most important work in the building went unmanaged 94%of the time in the face of other tasks.
  2. The book addresses how to move from…”I get it” to “I can do it” to I know people in the organization will reliably do it.”


  1. What concrete actions does an excellent school leader take at each moment to make his or her school exceptional?
  2. What really makes education effective is well-leveraged leadership that ensures great teaching to guarantee great learning.
  3. Exceptional school leaders are insistent on being instructional leaders, claiming ultimate responsibility for instruction in their building.
  4. Exceptional school leaders are very intentional about how they use observations and walkthroughs, placing the utmost emphasis on the process of giving the right feedback and making sure teachers implement it.
  5. “Our students cannot wait 10 years for a teacher to become effective–that’s their entire educational career.”
  6. A detailed structure for teacher development that focused on the highest-leverage teacher actions and that could be adapter to the varying needs of teachers.
  7. Exceptional leaders have a drive to continuously improve their school and this motivates them far more than the results they achieve.
  8. Both instruction and culture are vital and must be led simultaneously.
  9. Book boasts seven levers to executing quality instruction and culture; they include:
    1. Instructional levers:
      1. Data-driven instruction. Define the roadmap for rigor and adapt teaching to meet students’ needs.
      2. Observation and feedback. Professional, one on one coaching that increases their effectiveness.
      3. Instructional planning. Guaranteee every student well-structured lessons that teach the right content.
      4. Professional development. Strengthen both culture and instruction with hands-on training that sticks.
    2. Cultural levers:
      1. Student culture. Create a strong culture where learning thrives.
      2. Staff culture. Build and support the right team for your school.
      3. Managing school leadership teams. Train instructional leaders to expand your impact across the school.
  10. Global recommendations (great!):
    1. For Principals:
      1. Start with Data-Driven Instruction and Student Culture
      2. Build the Observation and Feedback Cycle
      3. Implement remaining levers as much as is feasible in Year 1
    2. For Coaches and Other instructional Leaders:
      1. Start with Data-Driven instruction and observation and feedback
      2. Build in Planning
      3. Add professional development (focusing on delivering effective professional development sessions)
    3. For Superintendents:
      1. Limited time? Data and Student Culture, then add observation, feedback, and time.

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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

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