Wednesday / July 24

4 Steps Every School Leader Needs to Take this Year

A new year brings a rebirth, a time to start new and to challenge ourselves to stretch and grow. As a school leader, I work to use this time to challenge myself to discover and learn new things. Plus, school leadership is not meant to lead alone; this is why I make sure I take time to connect with my professional learning network. We must be leaders who are fiercely committed to learning and growing; we need to keep moving forward, one step at a time. We must be willing to take the necessary steps forward to challenge ourselves and to model what we want to see in students and staff.   

Check out these four steps to move forward as a leader 

1. Discover 

Kids embody the spirit of curiosity and discovery like none other. We can learn alot from the curious nature of kids as we work to lead our schools in times of change and flux. Be sure to work your curiosity and discovery muscles as a leader. That’s right, I called them muscles because being curious and having a spirit of discovery takes effort, energy, and endurance. We can stretch these muscles by learning something new.  

Nothing helps us to break out of the status quo like learning something new. When we are brave enough to learn a new skill, knowledge, practice, or wisdom, we open ourselves up to growing and developing. I recently attended a workshop on how to use Garageband, an Apple app to design music for student podcasting and learning. This Apple session stretched me as a learner and challenged me to use learning muscles I haven’t used in a long time. I challenge you to attend a Corwin Institute to learn something new and to learn practical and research based strategies you can immediately implement in your school. Click Here to enroll in a Corwin Institute.   

2. Connect  

We can’t do this work alone; we need to be intentional in building a connection and network with other school leaders. By doing this, we are encouraged, empowered, and equipped to take on the plethora of challenges that regularly come our way. Plus, we are inspired to move beyond our own understanding and learn new things from others. An ancient proverb says, “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” This proverb reminds us to stick together; we are stronger together. School leadership is not meant to lead alone; be sure to get connected with a professional learning network that can elevate your leadership and empower you to be the leader your students and staff need.  I have a very strong network of school leaders whom I connect with regularly to work through problems, come up with solutions, brainstorm ideas, and dream about possibilities. Without this network, I would be a weaker school leader who struggles to move beyond my own lens of leadership. My professional learning network has empowered me to connect and grow as a leader.   

3. Grow  

Everytime I think of growing, I’m reminded of my wife, kids, and I planting our garden in our backyard. Our family works throughout the year to grow our small patch of crops that we can or freeze to keep throughout the winter months. This gardening requires constant attention and work; we must be intentional in growing vegetables or the garden becomes overgrown by weeds and overtaken by animals.  

Much like a garden, our leadership requires nurturing and fertile soil. We need to prepare our minds and hearts to learn and grow. By doing this, we are intentional in our focus to read, listen, watch, and develop new skills. Just like the need to weekly get out and garden, we must regularly work to learn and grow. Develop a reading list at the start of the month, follow and listen to podcasts for school leaders, or visit other schools to see how they are innovating and learning.   

Click Here to check out these Corwin new releases in Administration and Leadership. Select a book to work through as a leadership team or professional learning network. By doing this, you grown and learn through collaboration and networking.    

Here are five powerful podcast for school leaders. Subscribe to these podcasts and watch your leadership grow through these practitioners sharing insights and strategies for school leadership.   

4. Go  

Go share what you learned and lead others by inspiring them to be relentless advocates for kids. By doing this, your leadership grows exponentially and you expand your influence. The Go step is a big one to take because I am going to encourage you to go and share what you know, what you are learning, and how you are growing. By going, I want you to begin to share your work with other school leaders. This can be done by starting to blog, posting consistently on social media, beginning a podcast, or simply working to mentor other leaders in your school district. However you do it, you need to do it. School leadership needs your input and insights.  When you share, you empower others to grow and develop as leaders. Consider writing a book for Corwin or contributing to Corwin Connect. Feel free to reach out to me, I’d be happy to walk through how to get started. To connect, email me at on Twitter, or visit my website at   

I recently read a quote that made me chuckle: “If I worked out as much as I talk about it, I’d be the Rock.” The same is true for school leadership; it’s time to stop talking about getting to it and start doing it. Take one step at a time, but begin to take steps now toward growing and developing as a school leader.   

Written by

Dr. Bill Ziegler is Principal of Pottsgrove High School, the 2016 Pennsylvania Principal of the Year, and a 2015 National Association of Secondary School Principals Digital Principal Award Winner.  He serves as a Board Member for the National Association of Secondary School Principals. Bill is an author and educational consultant with Corwin on School Leadership.  He also served as the President of the PA Principals Association and is an adjunct professor in Temple University’s Department of Education. Twitter: @drbillziegler | Website: . Podcast:  Lead the Way

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