Reclaiming the Principalship with Tom Marshall

by Jenn Hayhurst On April 19, 2018, #G2Great’s PLN welcomed Tom Marshall to the fold. We had an inspired conversation about his new book, Reclaiming the Principalship Instructional Leadership Strategies to Engage Your School Community and Focus on Learning   In Tom’s book he extends a beautiful invitation to “Make the word principal an adjective again. Join me, Head Learner, on the journey of reclaiming the principalship in the name of learning!” This is a powerful challenge. He is asking us to consider a richer more meaningful definition of what it means to teach and lead. How would school be different if we were learners first?

This left me wondering, what if…

What if we were learners who fostered collaboration and coaching?

Collaboration is alive and well. There are so many ways to learn with colleagues. We can learn with teachers in our schools and we can learn with teachers from around the world. Learning can be scheduled and it can be spontaneous. When we decide to raise the bar on our learning lives and open ourselves up to coaching we create a whole new dynamic. Coaching offers the benefit of a shared learning experience. The more we learn together the more informed that learning becomes because everyone has something important to offer:

What if we were learners who were responsive leaders within a learning culture?

Being responsive to needs requires us to think deeply about what is happening so we can plan a course of action. Leaders who make this an inclusive process, one that encourages us all to think of creative solutions, promote a learning culture. Tom reminds us that this relevant work, whether it is at the building level or classroom level, should pass a litmus test – does this benefit student learning? All of it – our evaluations, school improvement plans all of it can be swayed by a learning stance:


What if we were learners who honored each other’s values while growing professional discourse?

Classrooms are dripping with formative data and it tells a story. It reveals what we value and where we may need to go next. Every time we push ourselves to be honest and authentic about instructional practice we invite growth. This is the first step, the beginning of more substantial conversations that build upon strengths and reflection.

What if we were learners who built on community and momentum if we nurtured inner curiosity? 

Leaders who set clear goals and pair them to a metaphor make it take root within a faculty.  Teachers who come together around a goal build community and that is powerful. Whenever we tap into our personal power and harness it supports a shared vision we are making a huge impact on the lives of our students. Writing plays an important and meaningful role in this process. Taking time to stop and reflect is a game changer:

What begins with a “What if…” can lead to powerful changes and important discoveries. Tom’s wonderful book was written to encourage us all to adopt a learning leadership stance.  Thank you Tom. Your wisdom and passion are exactly the right next step forward in education.