The Learning Principal, by Kay Psencik, Frederick Brown, and Stephanie Hirsh, is Learning Forward’s latest book in a series focused on putting professional learning at the heart of improvement for leaders, teams, and systems. The book is full of practical tools, many of which are useful for leaders at multiple levels, including principals.

In the April 2021 issue of The Learning Professional, we shared a tool about implementing change effectively. In this issue, we’re featuring a tool about effective listening skills.

Chapter 6 of the book homes in on the role leaders play in providing feedback and coaching as well as the skills they need to fulfill that role effectively. Listening is one of those core skills. As the authors write, “Effective listening skills are a prerequisite to success in the coaching role. When principals are listening from others’ perspectives — listening to understand, listening without judgment or obligation to solve the problem or without having to be the expert — they give individuals and teams space to struggle with an issue, experiment with new ideas, and determine their own learning paths” (p. 88).

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The following tool can help principals, coaches, teacher leaders, and others deepen their listening skills “so that individuals and teams begin to think in new ways, question current practices, and reflect about the impact of their work on student learning” (p. 89).

About The Learning Principal

The Learning Principal: Becoming a Learning Leader supports school leaders in developing a learning orientation to each challenge they face, ensuring they are ready to identify solutions that put students’ equitable outcomes at the fore.

Chapters cover principals’ roles and responsibilities related to designing professional learning, implementing curriculum, managing change, leveraging feedback and coaching, maximizing resources, and more. Online tools complement each chapter.

Purchase the book through Learning Forward’s bookstore at


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President | CEO at Learning Forward | + posts

Frederick Brown is Learning Forward’s president | CEO. Fred is an education visionary who knows firsthand that our nation’s schools need transformational change if we are to meet the challenges of the next decades. Fred advocates that every child deserves to reach their highest potential and every educator must have the opportunity to participate in exemplary, ongoing, professional learning programs to provide students the skills needed to meet their unique needs.

Supporting educators at all levels and improving student achievement are through lines of Fred's career. An elementary school teacher, a middle school assistant principal, and school principal, Fred saw firsthand the impact high-leverage instructional practices and school culture have on school success.

Fred is a frequent speaker on leadership and building high-quality learning in schools. He has co-authored two books that have made significant contributions to the field of education, demonstrating how a comprehensive approach to professional learning can be achieved so that everyone in a system is a learner, and how principals apply a learning lens to their many critical responsibilities to create a productive climate for learning and collaboration. "Becoming a Learning System" and "The Learning Principal -- Becoming a Learning Leader"  are time-tested Learning Forward resources for schools and leaders.

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Stephanie Hirsh retired in June 2019 after 31 years with Learning Forward, an international association of more than 13,000 educators committed to increasing student achievement through effective professional learning. Hirsh led the organization as its executive director for the last 13 years where she presented, published, and consulted on Learning Forward’s behalf across North America.

Categories: Change management, Facilitation, Fundamentals, Implementation, Leadership, School leadership

The Learning Professional

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