This week‘s blog completes my review of the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) series School Leadership In Action: Principal Practices.  The fifth and final segment is titled Managing People, Data, and Processes.

The two principals focus on the same important theme: protecting the principal’s time so that s/he can serve as the instructional leader in the building.  Each of them designates one staff member (an administrative assistant in one case, and one of the assistant principals in the other) to provide two important services.  The first is to help with scheduling and to serve as the building manager.  One of these principals sits down with her AP every day to go over her schedule and deal with any building issues that will interfere with her ability to provide instructional leadership.  

The second service is to guard the principal’s time. The two differ in the way they address this issue. One identifies her personal secretary to serve as a barrier to make decisions about what comes to the principal and what goes to the APs. The secretary intercepts teachers, parents, and community members with the principal’s authorization to make these decisions. The other principal establishes roles and responsibilities for the staff so if there is an issue, each person knows who to go to – and it’s not always the principal. 

Of course the reason they each work so hard to protect their time is that they each see their role as the instructional leader in their building. And what exactly does that mean to each of them?  What does the instructional leader do?  And in what ways does each person fulfill this role?  Among the guiding principles and the ways in which they define instructional leadership are:

  • The majority of the day must be spent on instructional leadership.
  • The analysis of data drives instructional decisions at the leadership and instructional team levels.
  • Every day one has a cabinet meeting with the two assistant principals. They review the day and check which observations they have completed and which walkthroughs they are doing that day.
  • One of the principals and her APs each do about 3-4 write-ups of walkthroughs and observations per week.
  • The focus for all classroom visits is to ensure that instruction is standards based and the work reflects the school’s instructional focus.
  • Being in classrooms and providing professional development during team meetings where observed exemplary practices are shared with other teachers.

You can view this segment by clicking on the screen below.

As a feature of this series, a Discussion Guide is attached here.  There are some excellent questions to help guide viewing of these videos should you decide to use them with your Leadership Team or staff.

I’d like to present one additional perspective on what it means to be an instructional leader in a building, specifically in response to indicator IE08, which states:

 The principal spends at least 50% of his/her time working directly with teachers to improve instruction, including classroom observations. (59).

I’ve presented some of the ways in which these principals meet this indicator.  In addition, I’d like you to hear what Andrew Davis, a Virginia principal, has to say about this indicator. Last year Andrew received the Washington Post‘s Distinguished Educational Leadership Award for Loudon County. I know I’ve mentioned him a couple of times in my blogs since I became aware of the good work he did at an Indistar school, Rolling Ridge Elementary.  Recently, he was good enough to sit down with IndistarConnect and share some of his insights. Please click on his picture to view the interview.

I hope you hear something in his interview that inspires you to share ways in which you protect your time so that you can provide instructional leadership in your building. We look forward to hearing from you.



E-mail me when people leave their comments –

Paul Axtell

With more than thirty years of experience helping organizations and individuals be more effective, Paul Axtell has honed his insights in executive offices and training programs for everyone from office staff and line workers to managers and team leaders.

A large focus of his work is how to run effective and productive meetings—to turn them from something people dread into useful, productive sessions with trackable results.

Paul is the author of multiple books, including Meetings Matter: 8 Powerful Strategies for Remarkable Conversations, Being Remarkable, and Ten Powerful Things to Say to Your Kids. He can be reached at <a href=""></a> and via email at
Find me on:

You need to be a member of indistarconnect to add comments!

Join indistarconnect

For You.

You are busy, the world is big, and the amount of information in it is bigger. So we thought we would create a place where you can find useful, relevant, and interesting information that is also relevant to your work and the indicators of effective practice you have come to know and love. One place.

Use the information for your own personal development, even better, use it with your team!