Principal Leadership: The Truth About Reclaiming Your Purpose with Guest Todd Whitaker

by | Jan 8, 2022 | 0 comments

6 min read

About Todd Whitaker

Dr. Todd Whitaker has been fortunate to be able to blend his passion with his career. Recognized as a leading presenter in the field of education, his message about the importance of teaching has resonated with hundreds of thousands of educators around the world. Todd is a professor of educational leadership at the University of Missouri and professor emeritus at Indiana State University. He has spent his life pursuing his love of education by researching and studying effective teachers and principals.

Prior to moving into higher education he was a math teacher and basketball coach in Missouri. Todd then served as a principal at the middle school, junior high, and high school levels. He was also a middle school coordinator in charge of staffing, curriculum, and technology for the opening of new middle schools.

One of the nation’s leading authorities on staff motivation, teacher leadership, and principal effectiveness, Todd has written over 50 books including the national best seller, What Great Teachers Do Differently. Other titles include: Dealing With Difficult Teachers, Ten-Minute Inservice, Your First Year, What Great Principals Do Differently, Motivating & Inspiring Teachers, and Dealing With Difficult Parents.

Todd is married to Beth, also a former teacher and principal, who is currently a faculty member of educational leadership at the University of Missouri and professor emeritus at Indiana State University. They are the parents of three children; Katherine, Madeline, and Harrison.

What You’ll Find In This Episode with Todd Whitaker 

Todd’s insight on how people act and react during crises is enlightening. His comment, “people always look to leaders but in times of change they stare” is spot on. He reminds us that the difference that we can make in our schools and districts always resides within the people.  

He candidly reveals that a crisis exposes weakness and that certain people have the skills to figure it out, while others don’t. 

Todd tells us to stop being defensive. COVID19 revealed that schools are needed more than ever. Our purpose is to make a difference, that simple. Embrace it and believe it!

He spends time talking about our best teachers and their willingness to ask others for help. This deeply resonated with us as we often discuss the power of a #learningculture.

You don’t want to miss how he describes how some people use their moods as a weapon and that the reward for negative people is that we never ask them to do anything. 

Todd talked about Twitter–how the knowledge of one becomes the knowledge of all. 

He takes a few minutes to illustrate the difference between a leader teaching and a leader telling and how it diffuses disagreement. 

His example of everyone “getting a trophy these days” and how it creates a scapegoat mentality is something that you want to hear, possibly more than once. His explanation of the difference between placing blame and embracing responsibility is powerful. 

Todd talks about learning from great people by finding the sharpest people in the room and spending time with them versus any mediocre person he might come across. Again, Todd shares an incredible story about a principal’s goal and what she can control. 

We spend an enormous amount of time on the concept of  improving schools and education in general, and he tells us plainly: hire better people or improve the ones you have. How he breaks down superstars, backbones, and mediocres will empower any principal leader. 

What doesn’t Todd believe anymore? Tune in and find out. You won’t be disappointed. (Hint: What’s a blanket monkey?)

As always, let us know what you think of this with a like, a follow, or a comment. Find us on Twitter, YouTube, iTunes, Facebook, & SoundCloud. And, again, if you want one simple model for leading better and growing faster per month, follow this blog by entering your email at the top right of the screen.


TheSchoolHouse302 is about getting to simple by maximizing effective research-based strategies that empower individuals to lead better and grow faster.


Joe & T.J. 

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