Questions for New and Future School Leaders

The Aspiring Principal 50: Critical Questions for New and Future School Leaders 
By Baruti K. Kafele
(ASCD, 2019 – Learn more)

Reviewed by Stacey Knighton

After listening to Principal Kafele’s YouTube video titled Thoughts to Consider for the Assistant Principal Job Interview, I was intrigued by his viewpoints and wanted to learn about other resources he could provide an aspiring assistant principal such as myself.

His newest book, The Aspiring Principal 50: Critical Questions for New and Future School Leaders, was released in May of 2019. His inspiration for writing the book was the outpouring of support from educators who viewed his YouTube videos.

If you are thinking about transitioning from a classroom teacher to assistant principal or principal, then The Aspiring Principal 50 is a must read. This book is written in what Kafele calls a “reflective format” that allows the reader to think about themselves in the position of instructional leader of the school.

Resource Layout

The Aspiring Principal 50 is divided into five chapters that focus on various aspects of principal leadership. (You can read the introduction here.)

Chapter 1: Principal Leadership Nonnegotiables

Chapter 2: Principal Leadership Determines Outcomes

Chapter 3: Principal Leadership Requires Making Tough Decisions

Chapter 4: Principal Leadership Requires a Commitment of Self-Care

Chapter 5: Thoughts to Consider for the School Administrator Job Interview

This 110-page book considers 50 critical questions; 25 reflective questions are within the first four chapters and 25 questions are in the last chapter.

Principal Leadership

Kafele states that reading The Aspiring Principal 50 should “help you determine whether or not you really want to enter the ranks of school leadership in general and ultimately one day become a principal of your own school.” Along with the 50 critical questions posed throughout the book, there are also many follow-up questions and points to ponder following each question.

When reading this book, you should remove your teacher hat and put yourself in the mindset of being the leader of your school.

Even though the spine of the book is small, the amount of valuable information it contains is vast. The Aspiring Principal 50 is a book that makes you think, reflect upon past experiences, and envision yourself as a future leader. I found myself re-reading sections, placing Post-it notes between its pages, and thinking about how I would respond to various questions.

The Job Interview

In Chapter 5, Kafele provides aspiring principals 25 questions to think about when preparing for the job interview. These questions are not interview questions that will be asked at the actual interview, but are designed to push your thinking before you sit in the interview chair.

The 25 questions are divided into five sub-categories that are related to your preparedness for the interview, student achievement, overall school environment, parent and community engagement, and how to finish the interview strong.

I found the category titled “Are You Ready for Your Interview?” extremely helpful to read after you send in the application and are awaiting a phone call from the district. Learning everything you possibly can about the school that you are applying for is essential to standing out to the interview team. You may have only one opportunity to make a lasting impression by showcasing what you know about the school and what assets you can offer to the school and district.

Final Thoughts

After reading The Aspiring Principal 50, you will feel empowered and more prepared to continue your transformation from teacher to instructional leader. I would highly recommend this book as a great starting point in that transition. As Principal Kafele states, “If you are going to be an effective principal, part of the process is to begin to think like one as soon as you are committed to becoming one.”

Recommended Online Links

Attached are a few links to Principal Kafele’s YouTube videos for aspiring school leaders. The YouTube comments below this first video show how many educators have secured job interviews and landed the job after listening to his advice and reflective questions. Principal Kafele also mentions in his book that “at least 500 people have contacted me to inform me that they got hired as a result of the information presented in the video.”

Aspiring Principal 50 is for YOU!

Thoughts to Consider for the ASSISTANT PRINCIPAL Job Interview (PART I)

MORE Thoughts to Consider for the ASSISTANT PRINCIPAL Job Interview (PART II)

Thoughts to Consider for the PRINCIPAL Job Interview (PART I)

MORE Thoughts to Consider for the PRINCIPAL Job Interview (PART II)

Stacey Knighton has been a 7th grade math educator for the past seven years. She has also held the position of middle school team leader for five years. Stacey earned her Master’s degree in Administration through Concordia University Chicago’s Principal Preparation Program in 2018. In addition to her classroom experience, she attends and presents at national and local conferences. Her most recent speaking event was at the Association for Middle Level Education (AMLE) conference.  




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