How Do We Evaluate School Leaders? What Does the Research Say?

Dr. Toby Travis, Headmaster and leadership consultant, talks about the effective methods of evaluating school leaders, focusing on the research.

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Toby Travis

Headmaster – Arizona

Dr. Toby A. Travis serves as the Headmaster of Desert Christian Schools in Tucson, Arizona ( Previous school leadership roles include Head of School at Colegio Menor ( and Academic Director at the Alliance Academy International ( He is the creator of the TrustED 360 School Leadership Assessment (, which provides the foundational data for the TrustED School Leadership Training modules (

Dr. Travis also serves as an Executive Consultant with the Global School Consulting Group ( As a consultant, trainer, and presenter, he has assisted schools and universities throughout the USA, as well as in Canada, Mexico, England, Ireland, Wales, Poland, Germany, India, Sri Lanka, Guatemala, Belize, the Dominican Republic, Panama, Paraguay, Haiti, and Ecuador. In every setting, he endeavors to inspire and develop stronger research-based strategies for trusted leadership – so that schools are able to authentically and effectively accomplish their unique missions.

Learn more at the TrustED School Leader Blog:

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Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

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Teresa Rivas January 26, 2019 - 10:28 pm

I was intrigued by your comments on effective leaders. I do agree that the indicator for a successful school is trust and the question should be asked when discussing a leader: Do you trust him/her? In listening to you, I couldn’t help but think of the administrators I’ve worked with so far in my career. I’ve worked with four administrators and three of the four I can say I trusted. The entire staff trusted the first administrator and the school ran effectively. I was a brand new teacher and didn’t know much when evaluating a leader. When I transferred to my current site, I also trusted that administrator. She took me under her wing, and she helped me develop into an active teacher. I felt supported in all that I did. However, I had no idea some people neither liked or trusted her. I also didn’t realize, until the year she retired, that she had a lot stacked against her compared to the other administrators in the district. The people holding the higher positions denied a lot of her proposals, which caused our staff not to trust her. It was their way to for her out. Once she retired and we got her replacement, everything she had asked for and was denied was now granted to this new administrator. It was given with such abundance that it made those who did trust before blindly trust now. But this administrator was never visible, was not approachable nor available to the staff. She seems to pawn everything to the assistant principals because she decided, last minuted she was going to retire before the year was up. How then, can I as an educator who wants her school and students to b successful, trust in leaders who have no control and are almost like favored or not favored pawns by those in the district?

Vicki Davis February 4, 2019 - 9:11 pm

This is a hard one. I wish there was an easy answer, however, leadership is always a struggle. I’ve, sadly, lived this. Honestly, sometimes you have to truly examine your relationship with leaders and consider if there’s a better fit. I hate to say that, but I finally got to that point in my career. An amazing leader makes all the difference!


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Vicki Davis writes The Cool Cat Teacher Blog for classroom teachers everywhere