School Leaders and Influence

My definition and viewpoint of  school leadership have changed significantly from when I first walked into a classroom a little more that 15 years ago. Its evolved from a [mis]perception of the ‘battlefield general’ giving orders to my growing, changing understanding today of the leader, collaborator, innovator, inspirer, builder. Its ironic that all of my K-12 principals were never barkers to students.  These principals were very personable to students and I would be hard pressed to imagine them treating staff and teachers differently. But I do wonder how they effected changed and monitored.

My wife and I worked on our school administration degrees together and had the fortune of learning from Dr. Douglas Fiore. He’s the first education leader I’ve met face to face who took us deep into school leadership. He shared the following saying with us years ago and it has stuck with me:

STUDENTS are the reason we have schools,

TEACHERS are the most important people in schools,

The PRINCIPAL is the most influential person in the building.

At the time, this was applied to a very different education field than now. There are different expectations for school leaders today.

As a school leader, how do you use your influence?

Of the many different areas we can affect or influence our staff, I think about this in terms of my practice as a growing digital school leader.


As a connected educator, I embrace my role as a leader and change agent by examining my practices and the resources I use to accomplish my goals. Ultimately, I look to make a positive affect on student learning, teaching practices and how I can always improve my administrative practices.

I fully utilize my influence by:

  • Modeling new practices – Whenever the opportunity arises to share a new tool or model a strategy, I lead in the sharing or strongly encourage our school leaders to demonstrate what will make a difference.
  • Consistently building my PLN – My consistent involvment in building my PLN allows me to pull strategies, bounce ideas off other experts and engage in continuous professional development that will in turn makes a difference with my students, teachers, my school and myself.
  • Committing to looking for better practices – I tell my staff that that our pursuit is not for ‘best practices’ but better practices. To me, ‘best practices’ implies that a goal can be reached or we can arrive at a location. Better practices fits me better because it about journey not destination. Committing to continual improvement is embraces the different teaching practices, learning modalities and all the growing number of resources that are shared through my PLN.
  • Embracing my role as coach – Diffusion of innovations is the science of getting people to try, buy into and adopt new innovations. A big part of Being the model is a great start but it is often not enough. To empower teachers to dive into new practices, school leaders

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