The 10 Books Every School Administrator Should Read

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UPDATED 2/23/2018: This post has been updated to reflect pricing changes, rating changes, and an added synopsis for each title.

Running a school is no easy task. Administrators can run themselves ragged managing teachers and students, building the foundation for a productive environment, and choosing school administration software.

In many ways, working as a school administrator can feel like parenting. You’re responsible for dozens of children, including teaching them, feeding them, and making sure they’re where they’re supposed to be.

While many of these responsibilities can only be truly learned on the job, there are a host of resources out there to help you flourish in your role.

Books Every School Administrator Should Read

In your rare periods of downtime, you can’t afford to lose precious minutes combing the internet for help. That’s why we’ve done the work for you, and collected ten books that cover topics including bullying, rescuing failing schools, change adaptation, and school leadership.

These books were chosen from the most relevant and frequently rated titles on AmazonEducation World, and Goodreads. Happy reading!

(Books are listed in alphabetical order.)

1. Beginning the Principalship: A Practical Guide for New School Leaders

This step-by-step guide will help any new principal build their career by walking them through best practices for managing a school, students, and staff.

Price: $50.00

Amazon user rating: 3.5/5

Amazon reader review:

“This is an excellent book for potential, new, and experienced school administrators. Its value goes beyond classroom walls as it can be used to help make the adjustment to being a new principal or gaining perspective about being a principal. It is a must read for all school administrators and teachers would benefit from it as well.”

2. Being a Successful Principal: Riding the Wave of Change Without Drowning

This book is a collection of stories, tips, and anecdotes written by principals, for principals. It’s perfect light reading for any school administrator (think Chicken Soup for the Soul for educators).

Price: $26.85

Amazon user rating: 5/5

Amazon reader review:

“This book was written with humor and insight. It makes you realize that being a principal with heart and humor is possible. It’s not a high-handed theory book; it’s a book that you can read and put into immediate practice for success. The situations used in the book strike home with “every principal” realism. I enjoyed it tremendously and found it very useful.”

3. The Bully Free Classroom

Bullying is an ongoing, persistent problem that educators are (and should be) taking seriously. Allan L. Beane provides various tips, guides, and strategies to help you combat bullying in the halls and classrooms of your school.

Price: $8.33 (used)

Amazon user rating: 4/5

Amazon reader review:

“I enjoyed this book! Great ideas, tips and strategies. I used many of the strategies in this book for classroom guidance lessons at the upper elementary level, didn’t offer much for the younger ones as a school counselor, but a great book overall.”

4. If You Don’t Feed the Teachers They Eat the Students!: Guide to Success for Administrators and Teachers

It sounds like the title of teen horror-comedy novel, but Neila A. Connors has an important story to tell in her cautionary administration guide. This book helps school administrators build a healthy climate for teachers, students, and parents to facilitate collective success.

Price: $1.29 (used)

Amazon user rating: 4.5/5

Amazon reader review:

“Fashioned literally as a menu for administrative success, Neila Connors’ If you Don’t Feed the Teachers They Eat the Students, is a straight talking street smart triumph that is a must for the library of every school administrator.”

5. Motivating & Inspiring Teachers: The Educational Leader’s Guide for Building Staff Morale

This book goes through the ins and outs of motivating your teaching staff, including staff meeting tips, teacher orientation ideas, and ways to reward high performers.

Price: $9.99

Amazon user rating: 4.5/5

Amazon reader review:

“This book is full of ideas that I have either currently implemented into my administrative plan or will implement next year. Many of these ideas were simple, easy-to-use, common sense ideas that I wish I would have found earlier in my administrative career. The bottom line is that if you don’t have motivated teachers, you most likely don’t have a “good” school – this book will help you motivate your teachers and create a positive environment.”

6. Results Fieldbook: Practical Strategies from Dramatically Improved Schools

Mike Schmoker’s collection of strategies is great for any principal struggling to improve the standards of their school, from student behavior to academic performance.

Price: $6.99

Amazon user rating: 3.5/5

Amazon reader review:

“Not one of Schmoker’s best books but a useful read nonetheless. His practical approach to improving the way we educate our children is refreshing. Many schools and districts around our country are already implementing many of his suggestions.”

7. School Leadership That Works: From Research to Results

Robert Marzano, Timothy Waters, and Brian A. McNulty use a data-driven approach to propel school administrators toward effective leadership.

Price: $14.82

Amazon user rating: 4.5/5

Amazon reader review:

“Robert Marzano and his colleagues translate the knowledge base on effective school leadership into a clear and precise format applicable to 21st century schools. It is a great gift to both successful veterans and aspiring leaders. Students and the nation are better off for this work. Education professors and school board members will use Marzano’s meta-analysis to understand and articulate the qualities we need in today’s leaders.”

8. The Schools Our Children Deserve: Moving Beyond Traditional Classrooms and “Tougher Standards”

Alfie Kohn uses real life classroom examples and a data-driven approach to make the case for abandoning the “teach to the test” mentality that has dominated education for the better part of two decades. Kohn offers her own ideas for a more effective education system that any teacher or school administrator can embrace.

Price: $9.25

Amazon user rating: 4/5

Amazon reader review:

“Alfie Kohn brings a lot of good points, backed by science. He shows how grades negatively affect student learning. He shows that phonics-only training hinders students’ reading development. He, between this book and his others, also shows how rewards and punishments in the classroom damages students emotional development, and that student autonomy is indeed significant.”

9. Whatever It Takes: How Professional Learning Communities Respond When Kids Don’t Learn

“Whatever It Takes” provides new intervention strategies for teachers and school administrators to use when students are struggling to learn. This book uses real life examples to provide tangible advice on how to overcome these struggles and students’ barriers to learning.

Price: $11.08 (used)

Amazon user rating: 4.5/5

Amazon reader review:

“Good ideas, well presented with real life examples and explanations for some of the easy criticisms. As stated in the book, this is not a new math or reading program, it is a strategy for reaching all students.”

10. What They Don’t Tell You in Schools of Education About School Administration

This best-selling book on school administration blows through the purported smokescreen of what it means to be a school administrator, and walks you through how to make your career all about improving your school and the health of your student body.

Price: $47.79

Amazon user rating: 4/5

Amazon reader review:

“I wish I read this 10 years ago. I would have had much more clarity on my professional landscape. It synthesizes many things I had to experience to understand, see through the BS and smokescreens, bring clarity to career advancement and ways to simply refocus on students.”

Other school administration resources

Have you read any of these books? Are there any we missed that we should include in future updates? Let us know in the comments below!

If you enjoyed this list and want to learn more about education and school administration, be sure to check out these other posts on Capterra’s school administration blog:

Looking for School Administration software? Check out Capterra's list of the best School Administration software solutions.

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About the Author

Nick Morpus

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Nick Morpus is a Content Writer for Capterra, a free resource that matches buyers and sellers of business software. He has a background in politics, economics, and journalism, which he dedicates his off-time to contributing his thoughts to other political sites. In his free-time he enjoys reading, drawing, photography, playing guitar, writing, and cooking.

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