Excellent Teaching and Learning Every Day

The Principal Story Learning Guide

To advance the professional learning of aspiring and current school leaders

The Principal Story

Unit 3: Cultivating leadership in others

Purpose: Unit 3 provides participants with an opportunity to identify principal
behaviors essential to building leadership capacity in others. Follow these links to
move through the sections of this unit. Approximate Time: 4.5 – 5.5 hours.


Facilitators: Adult learning professionals may use this web-based learning tool in principal preparation courses or in workplace study sessions. Facilitators may encourage participants to take advantage of the writable PDFs to record and save their responses. For onsite study groups or classes, the facilitator may choose to print relevant worksheets and provide them to participants. Depending on class structure and learning goals, facilitators will use these tools to provide group and individual learning experiences within the following structure:

     Consider ideas and connect with others
   Watch the film clip
   Read the excerpt
   Complete the activities




Consider ideas and connect with others


Think about the role of a school principal in cultivating leadership in others. Independently, respond to questions on the worksheet and exchange responses with a partner. Connect with others, if applicable, to discuss common themes.
  1. What does it mean for principals to cultivate leadership in others?
  2. What examples or results of cultivating leadership can you share from your own experience?

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Watch the film clip


View a clip on cultivating leadership in others to see research in practice. Use the Big ideas chart to guide independent note-taking while viewing.

In this clip, viewers observe Principal Kerry Purcell (Harvard Park Elementary) participating in an end-of-year team meeting as she develops capacity for learning and leading. While modeling her thought process, expectations, and beliefs for her teachers, she also holds learning as a top priority for teachers and students. [Time: 3 minutes, 5 seconds]



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Read the excerpt

Excerpt from: The School Principal as Leader: Guiding Schools to Better Teaching and Learning (The Wallace Foundation, 2013), 9-10.

A broad and longstanding consensus in leadership theory holds that leaders in all
walks of life and all kinds of organizations, public and private, need to depend on
others to accomplish the group’s purpose and need to encourage the development of
leadership across the organization. Schools are no different. Principals who get high
marks from teachers for creating a strong climate for instruction in their schools also
receive higher marks than other principals for spurring leadership in the faculty, according
to the research from the University of Minnesota and University of Toronto. Read more...

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Complete the activities

Working in small groups or at their own pace, learners observe, discuss, engage, and reflect on the ideas and information presented in the film clips and related materials. Follow these links to tools that include writable PDF files to support this work.

     Activity 1: Discover personal assumptions
   Activity 2: Review research
   Activity 3: Link research with practice
   Activity 4: Take action
   Activity 5: Reflect

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