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Leverage Leadership: A Practical Guide to Building Exceptional Schools Paperback – June 26, 2012

ISBN-13: 978-1118138601 ISBN-10: 1118138600 Edition: 1st

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Leverage Leadership: A Practical Guide to Building Exceptional Schools + Driven by Data: A Practical Guide to Improve Instruction + Teach Like a Champion: 49 Techniques that Put Students on the Path to College (K-12)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Jossey-Bass; 1 edition (June 26, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1118138600
  • ISBN-13: 978-1118138601
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 7 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,358 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

For too long and for too many children our education system has not worked. Yet in the face of these struggles, there are principals, superintendents, and coaches who have built extraordinary schools—not just once, but multiple times. What sets these leaders apart? Leverage Leadership demonstrates that exceptional school leaders succeed because of how they use their time: what they do, and how and when they do it. By consistently using seven core principles or "levers," each minute of their day is leveraged to maximal results. Armed with this insight, this practical guide offers the tools and systems needed to replicate these leaders' success:

  • Drive as much teacher development in a year as most schools do in 20 (instructional levers—Chapters 1-4)

  • Build the habits of mind and heart that can shape a strong school culture (cultural levers—Chapters 5-6)

With 30 videos of top-tier leaders in action along with full professional development materials, ready-to-use rubrics, and calendars, Leverage Leadership brings great schools to you—and allows you to create one yourself.

"Leverage Leadership offers a clear, detailed blueprint that will give both emerging and veteran leaders new tools for success. When it comes to school leadership, we've all been looking for guidance: now we have it."
Jean-Claude Brizard, chief executive officer, Chicago Public Schools

"Bambrick-Santoyo shows that the 'miracles' of great school leadership aren't really miracles at all. Instead, they're the results of precise actions that will dramatically improve any school's instruction and culture, creating extraordinary results for all."
Jean S. Desravines, chief executive officer, New Leaders

"Bambrick-Santoyo illuminates the actions and systems used by the best school leaders in the country, and then he shows you how to make them yours. If you are a school leader, or want to become one, then this is the most important book you can own. Read it and use it!"
Mark Murphy, executive director, Vision Network

About the Author

Paul Bambrick-Santoyo is the managing director of the award-winning North Star Academies in Newark, New Jersey. He has trained thousands of school leaders nationwide in his work at Uncommon Schools and as a faculty member for New Leaders. He is also the author of Driven by Data: A Practical Guide to Improve Instruction.

More About the Author

As I traveled across the country working with school leaders over the past ten years, I saw a common trend: great people were working extremely hard and still struggling to increase student learning and close the achievement gap. Despite all that had been written about high-quality education, schools struggled to make an impact.

At the same time, I worked with a smaller subset schools that were the highest-gaining or highest achieving schools in eight major urban districts. These were schools of all types: small and large, district and charter, startups and turnarounds. What made the difference? These schools focused on the core levers that matter, separating themselves from schools that didn't.

"Driven by Data" was my first book on this topic, zeroing in on one of the most important levers--data-driven instruction--that was the fruit of my work with thousands of school leaders nationwide. "Leverage Leadership" takes it one step further, by highlighting the seven levers that drive student achievement: from observation & feedback to a strong student culture to a well-managed leadership team. "Leverage Leadership" also includes 30 video clips of top leaders in action and how they used each lever to get results.

In both books, my hope was to be able to share the best practices I observed with a larger audience (you!) and to give you the tools to replicate this success in your own school. To help make that possible, each book includes a second section and appendix with all the PD materials you would need to turnkey these trainings in your own school. I hope you find them fruitful in providing excellent education for all children.

If you're interested in more, check out the videos and additional information at:


You will find sample principal-teacher meetings, teachers putting this into action, professional development clips, and more.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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So...I'm a fan of Uncommon Schools and their work.
Paul Bambrick-Santoyo is a great educational leader and this book is a true gem for anyone in education, but especially any current or aspiring to be school leaders.
Preston Smith
If you do what the book tells you to do in a thoughtful way, you will see immediate results.
Doug McCurry

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Craig Jerald on June 19, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
For more than twenty years, experts have admonished principals to be "instructional leaders," but many principals still struggle to fulfill that charge because the concept has remained ill-defined, fuzzy, and frankly, somewhat impractical. Not anymore. Leverage Leadership offers an exceptionally clear, concrete, and actionable plan for how school leaders can exercise precise kinds of instructional leadership that will make a big impact on teachers' practice and students' learning. Want to know how to observe classroom instruction and provide useful feedback to teachers? This book offers a step by step guide. What about professional development of teachers? That's covered, too. Bambrick-Santoyo even addresses the biggest practical challenge to principals' instructional leadership: Finding -- and protecting -- the necessary time. In fact, there is more practical wisdom and specific advice about how to be an effective instructional leader in this book than in anything else ever been written on the topic. Best of all, Bambrick-Santoyo shares all of the tools he has developed as a supervisor and coach of principals, from an "Observation Tracker" to a "Superintendent's Dashboard." My colleagues and I found this book to be so useful that we just bought 50 copies for an upcoming conference of school district leaders. It's hard to imagine a better book on education being published this year.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Preston Smith on June 18, 2012
Format: Paperback
Paul Bambrick-Santoyo is a great educational leader and this book is a true gem for anyone in education, but especially any current or aspiring to be school leaders. Uncommon Schools has set the bar for school leadership and professional development and to have the opportunity for Paul to lift the curtain and further reveal their best practices in school leadership as an organization is a great opportunity for all school leaders, in whatever educational setting they might occupy--district, charter, private, and/or parochial.

The research is clear that school leadership is at the core of school success and transformation and to have it broken down so succinctly and clearly is powerful. Leverage Leadership is able to effectively demonstrate a clear outline of the principles of culture and instruction that fuse together into a book that is explicit, clear, and simple to understand and then to put into practice. Moreover, it is accompanied by videos that can help you understand HOW to put this work into practice in real-time and live action. This is not just a professional development book that talks the talk; rather, it is accompanied with tools, best practices, and results from the schools that have implemented these practices that demonstrate Leverage Leadership walks the talk.

At Rocketship, our current school leaders and leaders to be will all be reading and using Leverage Leadership as the foundation of their work to further refine their craft and leadership, but most importantly, to ensure that they have the skills to continue to transform kids and families lives through great schools.

Preston Smith
President, Rocketship Education
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Doug McCurry on June 15, 2012
Format: Paperback
Paul Bambrick-Santoyo is the real deal. THERE IS NO BETTER THINKER ON SCHOOL LEADERSHIP IN THE COUNTRY, and I'm incredibly excited about the potential for Paul's work to have lasting impact on schools - public charter, traditional public, parochial, and private - across the country.

This is not a theoretical book created by an ivory tower researcher. The schools Paul runs are among the finest in the country. Go visit them. You will be inspired and challenged. And you'll want to know how he does it. This book tells you how.

In an incredibly practical way, Paul names the skills that school leaders must have to drive real achievement. If you do what the book tells you to do in a thoughtful way, you will see immediate results. My own observation and feedback game improved significantly after consistently using Paul's framework, and my PD sessions are much better after putting up the mirror to my own practices based on Paul's framework.

I am buying a copy for all Achievement First principals, and we are aligning a lot of our leadership development efforts to the principles in his book.

Paul has not hit a home run here. He has hit a grand slam to win the 7th game of the World Series.

I cannot endorse a book more strongly. If they had 10 stars, I'd give ten.

Doug McCurry
co-CEO & Superintendent
Achievement First
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Chi Tschang on June 24, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Leverage Leadership is a revolutionary book written by a revolutionary educator. Paul Bambrick-Santoyo enjoys deity-like status at the high-performing NYC schools with which I work. This is for good reason: Bambrick-Santoyo's Northstar schools in Newark, New Jersey are well known as being the gold standard of urban public schools in America today. Visitors to any of the Northstar schools will see 100 percent of students engaged, listening attentively and doing rigorous work. In many schools, you'll see great instruction in isolated pockets; at Northstar, you see warmth, joy, engagement and rigor in every single classroom from k to 12. The results speak for themselves: for instance, Northstar Elementary was named a National Blue Ribbon School in 2010.

Leverage Leadership is quite possibly the best book on school leadership I've ever read: a must-read for educators or - indeed - any who care deeply about improving the quality of our schools. I am buying 20 copies for all of our school leaders. It methodically walks readers through seven pillars of school leadership - data-driven instruction, instructional planning, observation and feedback, professional development facilitation, school culture, staff culture and leadership teams. It thoroughly explains what to do, how to do it and why it works.

Within its 350 pages, there are dozens of keen insights that I wish I would have learned many years ago. Here are just three of my favorite:

* Many school leaders overvalue daily instructional walkthroughs and undervalue the analysis of interim assessments. As Bambrick-Santoyo points out, data-driven instruction allows us to "see" 80 percent of all instruction whereas regular observations only assess 1 percent.
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