The principal’s role is increasingly understood as a critical lever for school improvement. Yet the job can be a solitary one, offering few opportunities to reflect with colleagues. What does it take to manage the work of continuous improvement—to push staff members constantly to operate outside their comfort zones? What dilemmas and challenges must principals confront? How can school leaders learn from their mistakes and move forward?
In Becoming a School Principal, Sarah E. Fiarman describes her first few years as a school principal committed to enacting a powerful vision of leading and learning. Drawing thoughtfully on the literature of school reform and change leadership, Fiarman discusses a wide range of topics, including empowering teachers, building trust, addressing racial and economic inequities, and supporting a culture of continuous learning, as well as thornier issues such as learning to use authority skillfully, dealing with resistance, and managing supervision and evaluation. The book addresses common challenges and highlights missteps as well as successes.
A contributing author to several leading books on school reform and instructional improvement, Fiarman engages readers in a lively, frank, and revealing conversation about building the vision and capacity to provide effective instruction for all students and the intensely personal process of learning to lead.
Sarah E. Fiarman, a former public school teacher and principal, is a lecturer at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where she teaches instructional leadership for elementary, middle, and high school principals.
Sarah E. Fiarman is a Lecturer at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where she teaches instructional leadership for elementary, middle school, and high school principals. She is a former public school teacher and principal. Across her work, she is committed to building powerful learning communities through developing teacher leadership, examining teaching and learning in a collaborative context, and surfacing and addressing unconscious racial biases. Her coursework, consulting, and writing focus on increasing educational equity for all children, particularly children of color and other historically underserved student groups.
While serving as a public school teacher, Sarah was a National Board Certified Teacher, Responsive Classroom Consulting Teacher, and facilitator with Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity. As a principal, she was awarded a Lynch Leadership Academy Fellowship, and in 2013, the Boston Globe rated her school the “#1 Dream School in Massachusetts.”
Sarah has consulted on improving instruction at the classroom, school, and district level. She is a coauthor of Instructional Rounds in Education: A Network Approach to Improving Teaching and Learning with Elizabeth A. City, Richard F. Elmore, and Lee Teitel. Sarah is also contributing author to Data Wise in Action: Stories of Schools Using Data to Improve Teaching and Learning, edited by Kathryn Parker Boudett and Jennifer Steele (Harvard Education Press, 2007), and Data Wise: A Step-by-Step Guide to Using Assessment Results to Improve Teaching and Learning, edited by Kathryn Parker Boudett, Elizabeth A. City, and Richard J. Murnane (Harvard Education Press, 2005). She received her EdD from Harvard Graduate School of Education in Administration, Planning, and Social Policy.
“Fiarman’s Becoming a School Principal represents a powerful vision of professionalism for school principals.” —Elizabeth Zumpe & Heinrich Mintrop, Teachers College Record