About the book

Schools are complex organizations, each one with its own set of spoken and unspoken norms, rituals, power players and sacred cubs.  Every school has its share of lions: those dedicated, hardworking, fiercely protective individuals who have worked intensely to put into place some of the very institutions and programs that make the school special.  When a new principal enters the community as an outsider, there is often a slow sniffing, familiarizing period, followed by an “eat or get eaten” phenomenon.  One sudden misstep from the school leader and the wrong initiative or program gets threatened, the lions react, trust gets broken and someone ends up as another individual’s steak dinner.  The number one piece of advice offered to all new school principals is to spend their first year observing and “just listening.”  New leaders are advised to earn trust and listen to key stakeholders before taking on large decisions or initiatives.  But on a really practical level, what does “just listening” look like in action?  How can new school leaders approach this first year of listening into something that is systematic, strategic and will set them up for success over the long haul?  What can a new school leader do if things have already gone south and it’s time to pull back and even start over?  Is there hope?  In this book, author Jennifer Kuhr Butterfoss uses the latest research on principal retention and advice from hundreds of school leaders across the U.S. to lay out a plan for new principals to conduct effective “listening tours.”  Weaving her own personal story as a school principal and then later supporting other principals across a large urban school district, Jennifer offers honest personal testimony with concrete tools and advice to help any school leader.  Veteran and new principals alike will leave with ideas and skills to lead confidently, thoughtfully and with the ultimate ability to survive and thrive during their first year inside the lion’s den.  Expected Release: Spring 2019

Free Resources

Sample Introductory Letter

Questions to Ask Your Predecessor

Sample Transition Plan Timeline