23 Qualities of Successful School Leaders


1. Authentic compassion for kids and a deep passion for teaching and learning.
2. A clear, defined and communicated vision.
3. The daily habit of goal-setting.
4. Excellent communication skills.
5. Commitment to Excellence.
6. Ability to empower others.
7. Ability to live with chaos.
8. Political savvy.
9. School finance understanding.
10. The ability to move past disappointment.
11. Energy and Enthusiasm.
12. Confidence tempered with humility.
13. Commitment to life long learning.
14. Optimism.
15. Proactive planning.
16. Willingness to take risks and make mistakes.
17. A love of diversity with individuals and groups.
18. Empathy for others.
19. Excellent negotiating skills.
20. Love of technology.
21. A transparent leadership style.
22. Flexibility and adaptability.
23. Absolute integrity.

Please add your comments and additions!

8 Thoughts About Student Grief

I recently lost my mother after a long and fruitful life. My sons also lost their mom from cancer in the same time frame. Mourning is hard and grief can be unbearable.

I am reminded of the many, many times my students faced the same challenges as they began their school day and were expected to achieve.

We often have concerns about how to help our kids deal with the profound loss of death. Here are some important guidelines to consider:

  • Avoid euphemisms (like lost or asleep). Children interpret things literally.
  • Recognize that when students repeat questions, either at the time you inform them or in the weeks and months afterwards, are not as much for factual information about the death as they are for reassurance that the story hasn’t changed.
  • Predict for the child that she may feel sad and even have strange or different feelings for a while, and that you might even cry together.• Give affection affirmation and security.
  • Assure students that you’ll help them to get through it when they need help.
  • Look for ways to help students express emotions both verbally and nonverbally, like through art and play.
  • Remember and recognize that students will not react exactly the same way.
  • Realize that the child may be expressing feelings not only about the actual death itself, but also about the changes in members of the family after the death.
  • Re-tell good memories. This is very important.

The bottom line is this: kids spend as many of their waking hours and more in school. Educators are literally on the “front lines” of the childhood grief issue — and therefore have a huge opportunity and responsibility to lend support. Understanding goes a long way to their well-being and success.

7 Reasons For Gender Equity Education In Schools

The topic of gender gaps in work, home, leadership positions, and areas such as STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) continues to be debated in politics and the media. Debates rage about nature vs. nurture, social expectations and stereotypes, and much more. But have we looked at a potential underlying contributing source: the lack of education in our schools explicitly and factually teaching gender equity as law and norm.

Here are seven reasons why (and maybe how) gender education should be taught in our schools.

1. The fact that equality — not sameness — for all is the law as well as the founding value of our country.

2. There is a responsibility for educators to offer better exposure for — and clear, direct teaching of — the relevance, importance, and new norms for gender equality.

3. Many immigrant and minority families may not share religious, cultural, or social norms with broader American society, especially regarding male and female roles and gender equality.

4. It is the duty of public educational institutions to expose, explain, and impart a working understanding of historic and current customs, norms, general laws, social standards, and cultural trends of the United States to students. Educators cannot, out of a respect for minority or immigrant cultures, simply ignore and not teach minority or immigrant students the current standards, norms, and legal and societal expectations regarding something like gender equality in American society.

5. American society impacts males and females differently, but possibly more so within many minority and immigrant communities. Laurie Olsen, in her book, Made in America: Immigrant Students in Our Public Schools, found that female immigrant students faced different and often more difficult situations than males, in part due to American culture’s focus on individual desires and romantic love as bases for marriage and relationships.

6. Gender equality is not only an aspect of American culture and society, but has becoming increasingly accepted as an integral part of modern industrialized culture and societies around the world. It is important to teach that gender equality is not simply an American cultural construct, because many minority and immigrant families hold dominant American culture as deficit in morals and values they hold in esteem.

7. Gender equality can be pursued while accommodating and/or respecting many traditional gender roles and values. Helping students to understand that gender equality and norms continue to evolve and that there is a certain continuum — even as modern ideals are pursued — may allow such pursuit of ideals while not calling for wholesale or immediate rejection of traditional or alternative roles, norms, and gender values.

This understanding will better position immigrants and minorities for success in American society, and help all students to embrace our age old value of equality for all, while still respecting each of our family’s cultures and values.

5 Reasons Culture Trumps Strategy

The idea that “culture eats strategy for lunch”, is a quote most often attributed to Peter Drucker and has spurred plenty of conversation about the importance of culture in any organization. Within the educational context, it’s quite simple. A commitment to a culture of continuous improvement determines the success of student learning.

Schools that embrace this commitment have the following attributes:

1. Everyone shares collective responsibility for the success of all students served by the school, particularly the newest teachers.

2. Leaders are models and advocates for learning. They show the learning community their commitment to life long learning every day.

3. Data drives improvement and decision making at every level.

4. Professional learning is grounded in evidence; aligned to individual, team, and system goals; driven by protocols, and personalized.

5. Educators have immediate access to classroom-based support virtually and on site at all times.


Creating a healthy school culture is a vital part of the work that educators must do if students are going to achieve at high levels. Teachers matter, and what they DO matters most.

How has the importance of school culture played out in your world?

4 Paths to Heart Leadership

HeartThe source of our real power is the heart.

It’s how we connect with others. It’s how we nurture trust. It’s the heart — both ours and theirs — that makes people want to follow us and throw everything they’ve got into making something successful. People follow leaders who show compassion, competence and warmth with their head and heart. A growing body of evidence  suggests we should always begin with the heart.

1. Go after your vision.

If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll end up somewhere else. The heart-centered leader’s mission is divining the organization’s culture, and then perceiving a vision of what path the organization and its members should take to achieve its goals. Vision and mission bring the “meaning” to the heart-centered organization.

2. Listen with your heart.

Great organizations are built on a foundation of strong relationships–both inside and out.  Two-way communication within an organization–opening up a true dialogue with colleagues–is critical. Worker accessibility to top management is more common today than ever before. The best leaders encourage an openess of ideas throughout the organization. They seek to break down the walls that separate employees from one another whenever and wherever they find them.

3. Encourage employee involvement that’s heartfelt.

No one of us is as smart as all of us–every employee is a source of unlimited ideas on how to improve his or her organization’s work processes, and systems. Effective employee participation works only in an environment of complete and unconditional trust. You can encourage employee participation at work by continuing to build bridges of trust.

4. Change the organization–one person at a time: Relationships.

Putting people first is the key to unleashing the full power and creativity of employee teams. One person can make all the difference in the world! So, whether it’s at work, at home, or in any other part of our the world around us, we can reawaken our hearts–and the hearts of those around us–by putting people first in all that we do.

Try it…….

Stop Talking and Listen

“If we were supposed to talk more than we listen, we would have two tongues and one ear.” Mark Twain.

There are many life skills I constantly strive to improve upon such as diet and exercise. Better communication skills is another. Talking less…listening more!

We live in a high-tech, high-speed, high-stress world. Communication is more important then ever, yet often we seem to devote less and less time to really listening to one another. Authentic listening has become a rare gift. It helps to build relationships, solve problems, ensure understanding, resolve conflicts, and improve accuracy. Effective listening can also mean fewer errors and less wasted time.–All the things we strive for on a daily basis at school.

A good listener will listen not only to what is being said, but also reflect on what is left unsaid or only partially said.

Consider these 5 ideas for improved listening skills:

1. Don’t Talk: Don’t talk, listen.  When somebody else is talking, listen to what they are saying, do not interrupt, talk over them or finish their sentences for them.  Stop—— just listen.

2. Prepare to Listen: Focus on the speaker.  Put other things out of your mind.  We can easily be distracted by other thoughts. Put other thoughts out of your mind and concentrate on the messages that are being communicated to you. This one may need to be practiced.

3. Put the Speaker at Ease: Remember their needs and concerns. Nod or use other gestures or words to encourage them to continue and maintain eye contact.

4. Empathise: Try to understand the other person’s point of view. Look at issues from their perspective and let go of preconceived ideas.  

5. Wait and Watch for Non-Verbal Communication: We don’t just listen with our ears but also with our eyes – watch and pick up the additional information being transmitted via non-verbal communication.

We are in the learning business! Consider the additional opportunities that await with excellent listening skills.