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The Survival Kit for the Elementary School Principal

The Survival Kit for the Elementary School Principal

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February 2010 | 408 pages | Corwin

"I wish I'd had this useful desktop guide to help me through the challenges of my early years and as a reference guide for the later years. The authors have done a remarkable job of anticipating the daily needs of principals and offering practical suggestions that can be used within minutes! This book is eminently useful, up-to-date, and full of rich professional perspectives."
—Ella Reiss Urdang, Elementary Principal
Tenafly, NJ Public Schools

"The school leader's position is often the loneliest position in any school, but this excellent resource is the equivalent of having a mentor 24/7. This book should accompany all newly appointed school leaders into their new positions."
—Neil MacNeill, Principal
Ellenbrook Primary School, WA, Australia

Creative, real-world approaches for responding to the fast-changing demands of school leadership!

Designed for the busy administrator, The Survival Kit for the Elementary School Principal addresses daily challenges faced by all elementary school principals and offers expert solutions for virtually any leadership or administrative issue.

Based on the authors' extensive experiences in public and private schools, this easy-to-use kit includes time-saving forms, sample letters, charts, and checklists for successful day-to-day school administration. The book is a complete desktop reference with solutions for immediate problems or challenges. The authors' pragmatic, tested strategies assist readers with:

  • Systems thinking
  • Negotiating the maze of NCLB requirements
  • Using data to inform practice
  • Understanding the key role that new technologies play in schools
  • Succeeding as leaders, arbitrators, evaluators, disciplinarians, and more
  • Gathering support through positive parent and community relations

Suitable for diverse settings and school sizes, this comprehensive resource is a virtual library of essential information and support for effective elementary school leadership.

All forms, letters, and checklists available online at upon publication.

About This Resource
About the Authors
1. Your Role as Principal: "All Things to All People" or "Principle-Centered Leadership"
The Nature of the Principalship

Define Your Own Belief System

Systems Thinking, the Learning Organization, and Strategic Planning

Instructional Leadership

The Importance of Diplomacy

The Need for Positive Community Relations

Learn From Experience

Effective Time Management Practices

Maintain Perspective

2. How to Plan for the School Year: Setting Goals and Maintaining Focus
The Context for School Goals

The Power of Goals

Goals Should Make a Difference

Setting Goals: Broad-Based Involvement

The Elements of Well-Designed School Goals: SMART Goals

Keep the Ball in the Air

Reporting on Goal Fulfillment

3. Shared Decision Making: The Key to a More Effective School
What Is Meant by Shared Decision-Making?

What Are the Benefits of Shared Decision-Making?

What Do Effective School Leadership Groups Do?

What Steps Are Required to Establish a School Leadership Team?

What Is the Relationship of the Leadership Team to the Larger School Community?

What Are the Skills Required for Effective Team Meetings?

The Role of the Principal in Shared Decision-Making

How to Assess the Effectiveness of a School Leadership Team

4. Improving Teacher Observation and Evaluation
The Purposes of Supervision and Evaluation

How to Establish a Positive Climate for Teacher Supervision

How to Clarify the Criteria for Supervision and Evaluation

Achieving a Balance Between Formal and Informal Observations

Reviewing Professional Development Plans

The Pre-Observation Conference

How to Conduct Effective Teacher Observations

The Post-Observation Conference: A Time for Sharing and Learning

Other Means of Observation and Evaluation

How to Make the Most of an Annual Evaluation Conference

How to Make Effective Decisions About Rehiring Teachers

How to Deal Effectively With the Marginal Teacher

Evaluating the Supervisory Process

5. The Principal's Role in Curriculum Development and Renewal
What Is the Curriculum?

The Content or "Course of Study"

The Methods or Techniques to Be Used

Establishing a Timeline for Examining the Curriculum

A Process for Curriculum Renewal

Preparing a Curriculum Document

Curriculum Articulation

Curriculum Supervision and Accommodating Teacher Choice and Flexibility

6. Assessment in the Elementary School: Purposes and Practices
The Purposes of Assessment

A Few Useful Definitions

Assessment Versus Testing

Gaining Consensus on Learning Outcomes

Aligning Assessment to Instruction

Different Assessments for Different Needs

Steps to Follow in Designing Assessments

A Balanced Approach to Assessment

7. Using the School Testing Program to Good Advantage
The Purposes of Standardized Testing

The Kinds of Standardized Tests Often Given in Elementary Schools

Effective Ways to Approach the Testing Situation

Administrative Responsibilities in the School Testing Program

Helping Children Perform Their Best on Standardized Tests

Effective Analysis and Use of Test Results

Understanding the Limitations of Standardized Tests

"Value-Added" Assessment

Reporting the Results of Tests to Parents and Students

8. Reporting Student Progress to Parents
First Things First: Getting to Know Students

When Should Student Progress Be Reported?

Clarifying Reporting Practices With Teachers

Helping Parents Understand the School's Reporting System

Improving Progress Reports

Reporting Progress in Special Subject Areas

Tips and Techniques for Holding Effective Parent Conferences

Student Self-Evaluation

9. Administering Effective Programs for Students With Special Needs
The Role of the Principal in Overseeing Special-Education Services

Identifying Special Needs of Students

Developing a Continuum of Services for Students

Inclusion and Its Implications

Creating a Pupil Support Team

Prereferral Strategies and Response to Intervention

Procedures to Follow in Section 504 Referrals

Referral for Special-Education Services

Dealing With the Outcomes of a Special-Education Evaluation

Discipline Regulations and Special-Education Students

Administering English-as-a Second-Language Programs

Administering Gifted and Talented Educational Programs

Staff Development Needs in Dealing With Unique Learners

Assessing the Effectiveness of Programs to Meet Special Needs

10. Student Discipline: Approaches, Alternatives, and Solutions
Causes of Discipline Problems That Principals Are Likely to Encounter

Approaches to Effective Discipline

Elements of a Preventive Discipline Program

Advice for Teachers About Classroom Discipline

The Principal's Role in the School Discipline Program

The Importance of Parent Communication

Alternatives in a School Discipline Program

11. Improving Your School's Professional Development Program
The Need for Ongoing Professional Development

How to Begin: Conducting a Staff Development Needs Assessment

Staff Development and Behavioral Change

The Principal's Role in Devising a Staff Development Program

Implementing an Effective Staff Development Program

The Faculty Meeting as a Forum for Professional Development

Staff Development for School Service Personnel

12. Promoting Effective Communication: Internal and External
The Importance of Effective Communication

Keeping the School Staff Informed

Obtain Requested Information in an Organized Fashion

Electronic Communication With the School Community

Keeping the Parent Body and the Community Informed

Face-to-Face Communications

Tips on Preparing Presentations

Establishing a Network of "Key Communicators"

The Written Letter: A Lost Art

13. Promoting Positive Parent and Community Relations
Begin With Your Own School Community

Developing a Unity of Purpose

The Importance of Availability and Visibility

Working With a Principal's Advisory Council

Establishing Procedures for Handling of Parental Complaints

The Importance of the Role of the School Secretary

Dealing With the Media

Becoming Skillful at Creating Positive Publicity for Your School

14. Technology and the Elementary School Program
Clarifying the Purposes of Technology in the School

Planning for Effective Use of Technology in Schools

Integrating Technology Into the General Curriculum

Technology and Educational Reform

Planning for Appropriate Staff Development for Using Technology

Using Online Services

Evaluating Content and Software Programs

Ensuring the Proper Use, Maintenance, and Inventory of Equipment

Evaluating the School Technology Program

15. Effective Budget Preparation and Control
Advance Planning: The First Step

Preparing Budget Documents

Budget Review and Approval

Implementing and Controlling the Budget

Securing Alternative Means of Funding in Your School

16. Maintaining a Clean, Safe, and Secure School Environment
Caring for the School Building

Maximizing the Use of Building Space

Working With the Custodial Staff

Securing, Storing, and Maintaining an Inventory of Custodial Supplies

Maintaining a Safe and Clean School Site

Improving the Appearance of Indoor Spaces

Long-Term Planning and Capital Projects

Safeguarding School Equipment and Materials

School Safety and Emergency Planning

17. Developing and Implementing Effective Class Placement Policies
Fair and Appropriate Organization of Classes

Inviting Parent Input Into Class Placement: Benefits and Drawbacks

Developing Class Lists

Forming Incoming Kindergarten Classes

Dealing With the Retention of Students in a Grade

Announcing Class Placements to Parents

Handling Parent Complaints About Class Placements

Placing Students Who Enter During the School Year

Reviewing and Evaluating Class Placement Practices

18. Effective and Creative School Scheduling Practices
Setting Goals for the School Schedule

The Effect of the Schedule on the Climate of the School

Defining Premises, Assumptions, and Contractual Considerations

Models and Approaches for School Scheduling

Getting Down to Business: Developing the Master Schedule

The Trend Toward Year-Round Schooling

19. Staffing and Hiring: Critical Decisions for Principals
Projecting Staffing Needs

Forming a Selection Committee

Developing a Candidate Profile

Recruiting Suitable Candidates

Paper Screening

Developing Interview Questions

Developing an Interview Schedule

Conducting Interviews

Checking References

Making a Hiring Recommendation

Notifying Applicants of Their Status

Announcing Hiring Decisions to the School Community

Orienting New Staff Members

Evaluating Hiring and Orientation Practices

20. Fostering a School Culture: Traditions and Ceremonies
Making Schools Great and Memorable With Traditions and Ceremonies

Developing a School Culture

Planning for Ceremonies and Maintaining Traditions

Examples of School Traditions and Ceremonies

Passing Down School Traditions From One Generation to the Next


“Wow, it used to be said that being a school leader was a lonely task, but this book is the equivalent of having a personal coach standing beside you as you walk through your school. This book is more than a 'survival kit' it is also a brilliant 'reviver kit.' For busy school leaders who are often under pressure, this book provides the guide-on-the-side when you reflect about what you are doing."

Neil MacNeill, Principal
Ellenbrook Primary School, WA, Australia

"As I look back upon my long career in educational administration, I wish I had this useful desktop guide to help me through the challenges of my early years and as a reference guide for the later years. The authors have done a remarkable job of anticipating the daily needs of principals and offering practical suggestions that can be used within minutes! The result is an eminently useful, up-to-date book full of the authors' rich professional perspectives."

Ella Reiss Urdang, Elementary Principal
Tenafly Public Schools, NJ

“'Everything You Always Wanted to Know About the Principalship but Were Afraid to Ask' could certainly be the title for this rich resource and reference manual. Highly practical and filled with useful hints, tips, and templates, the book is the perfect tool for aspiring as well as for experienced educators!"

Jill Gildea, Superintendent
Harrison School District, Wonder Lake, IL

“An excellent resource for the beginning administrator. It provides current information and processes/procedures for the 'real world' of the school administrator. Also a great tool for administrators who may have some prior experience as principals and are looking for some ways to re-energize their school.”

Pamela B. Maxwell, Principal
E. E. Oliver Elementary School, Fairview, Alberta, Canada

“This book provides the new elementary principal with an overview of areas of their work that could be invaluable as the school year is planned and programs and communication are established. Sample forms and letters are valuable models that serve as a starting point for a new administrator.”

Roseanne Lopez, Performance Pay Coordinator
Amphitheater Public Schools, Tucson, AZ
Key features
  • Contains forms, sample letters, charts, lists, and other items that can be of invaluable assistance to principals
  • All of the recommended practices have been proven to work in actual schools, are based on years of experience, and have evolved from discussions with countless principals in urban, suburban, rural, private, and public settings
  • The suggestions are suitable for schools of any size, regardless of how they are organized
  • The book's many letters, forms, and checklists are available on the accompanying CD-ROM and can be customized with school logos, letterheads, and names that meet local and individual user needs

Sample Materials & Chapters

Bergman_Survival Kit_Ch1

Purchasing options

For large school/district orders, volume discounts, availability and shipping times contact customer service at 800-233-9936

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ISBN: 9781412972772
CAD$ 76.95

For large school/district orders, volume discounts, availability and shipping times contact customer service at 800-233-9936

For instructors

This book is not available as an inspection copy. For more information contact your local sales representative.