Being an inspiring school leader is a worthwhile pursuit for any administrator. How can it be done, though? Isn’t inspiration something that just “strikes?” Well, sometimes it is. It’s also something that can be given as a gift. School leaders can give it to everyone under their care. You just need to know how.

Inspiration doesn’t only just happen at random. It’s not only for the artist or visionary. It can happen in the most unlikely places, and can come from anyone. Our schools are places that uplifting experiences can become commonplace.

The fact is it’s never a case of “us” and “them.” This is true with any combination of relationships that students, teachers, and administrators have. Everyday, students and educators of every level work together to make the future better. It all begins in the present,

4 Approaches for the Inspiring School Leader

Education is a field in which spirits are built, not broken. Here are some ways to keep an being an inspiring school leader.

Give As Good As You Get

Giving back never fails to inspire and uplift. An inspiring school leader lives for these moments. There are so many ways it can be done.

  • Become a proactive listener. Strive to listen and be available to teachers and students.
  • Allow time for teachers to discuss matters of importance with you and colleagues.
  • Always be positive and enthusiastic.
  • Make use of humour where you can.
  • When discipline is necessary, be as constructive as possible. Focus more on proper guidance than on doling out punishment.
  • Visit as many classrooms as you can. Enjoy being involved in the day-to-day greatness happening in your school.
  • Be the voice of reason in all endeavours, situations, and conflicts.
  • Always give love and respect before thinking about getting it.
  • Welcome teachers and students when they arrive. Say hello when you see them. Say goodbye when they leave. Make little connections.
  • Never underestimate the power of these two words: Thank You.

Encourage Innovation

An inspiring school leader will always be looking at what’s possible. They understand the health of a school and its populace involves forward-thinking. This applies to things like community involvement, program design, the school environment, and  technology. It means listening to the ideas of teachers and students, all of whom are “in the trenches” of learning.

Teachers and students are creative people. They have ideas, dreams, visions, and opinions. They love to make great things happen. How can you bring that into a whole-school experience in positive ways?


In his article 5 Things Innovative Schools Do Differently, A.J. Juliani discusses great tactics for this. The first thing he guides us towards is to never fear change. Change is the very essence of innovative thinking and action. He also stresses things like transparency, willingness to make mistakes, and the smart use of technology.

Sometimes the words “innovation” and “technology” get swapped around. The truth is they are very different.

Technology is certainly an innovative thing in education. It’s a way of connecting with students and making workflows of all kinds easier. True innovation is so much more, though. The very concept suggests a whole-mind way of thinking. It’s about those minds unifying to make improvements on fundamental levels for all time, not just “meantime.”

Get Them Moving

What provides you with longevity, proper brain function, self-esteem, and a sense of well-being? Exercise does. It’s a proven fact that physical movement improves everything about our lives. This includes cognitive function, concentration, and retention.


John Medina discusses the importance of movement in detail in his book Brain Rules. We were born moving. We grew up moving. We were meant to keep moving. So get moving! Here are some suggestions:

  • Teachers get up and walk around the room while teaching
  • Students take stretch breaks during class
  • Use the 20-20-20 rule when at computers (every 20 minutes, get up and look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds)
  • Weekly activity days hosted by students or teachers

Movement breaks for teachers and students are essential to maintaining good health and focus. None of us are meant to sit at desks for indefinite periods of time. Providing some kind of regimen even a few times a week can work miracles.

Check out these movement resources for some inspiration of your own:

Start Some Sharing

It’s no secret that school is expensive. Some parents simply cannot afford many of the supplies students often need. This is an excellent time to encourage teacher-student donation campaigns. They are simple to set up and apply in any school setting. You can also donate to outside programs.

What extra supplies do students and teachers have they can donate to other students? Can you take up a collection and amass some funds for extra supplies? What could the community at large contribute? Sometimes it just takes that little bit extra. It will surprise you how willing people are to help out.

You can’t imagine what this can do for students who believed certain things—even the basics—were just a wish. When students get what they need by the generosity of others, it creates a real sense of trust and community. It creates a foundation for more acts of selflessness and altruism to take place. In time, this extends beyond the walls of the school. That’s when real change begins to happen.

Here are some good organizations to look at for ideas:

What do you think makes an inspiring school leader? What inspiring things are happening with leadership in your school?


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