The 5 Best Communication Books for Assistant Principals

Effective communication is the most important skill an assistant principal can possess. Fortunately, it is a skill that we can learn and develop. It doesn’t have to come naturally. Putting the work into becoming effective communicators will pay off as we develop relationships with teachers, students, parents, and other stakeholders. Anytime we are developing a new skill, it can be hard to know where to begin. That is why I am happy to share this list of what I consider to be five of the best communication books for assistant principals.

Communicating with Parents

Although we are “instructional leaders,” a large portion of our time is spent working with parents. That is why it is important to develop our ability to navigate these conversations. These two books will help you develop your ability to communicate effectively with parents, and they will help you develop your teachers’ ability to do the same.

Dealing with Difficult Parents by Todd Whitaker and Douglas Fiore

I have recommended this book to every new and aspiring administrator I know. It is foundational to understanding how to communicate effectively with parents. It is great for teachers and administrators alike.

The School Leader’s Guide to Dealing with Difficult Parents by Todd Whitaker and Douglas Fiore

This is a supplement to the previous book I recommended. It is designed to help you with the specific challenges you will face as a school leader. This is a great addition to your shelf.

Communicating With Teachers

Most new assistant principals have little to no experience with difficult or constructive conversations. They are likely to have been good classroom teachers, and as such, they are rarely, if ever, on the receiving end of one of these conversations. That means they have never had one of these conversations modeled for them, which leaves them “winging it” the first time they have a struggling teacher sitting across the desk from them. These three books will help set you up for success.

Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity by Kim Scott

This is not an “educational leadership” book, but it is a must-read for leaders. Kim shows us how to care personally and challenge directly when working with the people we evaluate. I cannot recommend this book enough.

Shifting the Monkey: The Art of Protecting Good People From Liars, Criers, and Other Slackers by Todd Whitaker

Todd explains that the critical issue at the heart of most dysfunctional organizations is a culture and workflow dominated by the complaints, excuses, and poor performance of a few people. Don’t let your worst employees dominate your time. This is one of the best books for assistant principals who want to focus on supporting and cultivating their best employees.

Communicating With Other Stakeholders

Most of your communication with teachers, parents, and students has been covered in the four previous recommendations, but we also have to be mindful of the ways in which we communicate with our community. I have one excellent book recommendation to help you address this.

Messaging Matters: How School Leaders Can Inspire Teachers, Motivate Students, and Reach Communities by William D. Parker

Tell your story, or someone else will tell it for you. We are seeing this play out all over the United States right now. You have a responsibility to share the great things that are happening in your school with the rest of your community. Will does an outstanding job of showing us practical and effective ways to do this.

Looking for more book recommendations? Check out my Top 5 Leadership Books for New Leaders.

“I Don’t Have Time to Read…”

Leaders are readers. There’s no getting around that. However, if you are like me, finding time to read can sometimes be challenging. When I find myself in the middle of some of our busiest seasons, I try to stay sharp by listening to audiobooks on Audible. This allows me to learn during my drive to work and during my workouts. It’s been a great way for me to make time for learning when there is little time to be made. If you haven’t used Audible before, you can try it free for 30 days. I have a “Premium Plus” subscription, which gives me one credit per month to be used on any title Audible offers. I have found that to be just about right for my needs. It has helped me take away the excuse of “I don’t have time to read.”

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