‘Talking Out of School’ podcast: Why authenticity is so important for Principal Kafele

"You remind them, you've got to make sure there's harmony in your life, there's balance, so you don't lose sight of the fact that you're not just that leader, you're also a human being away from the school."

Leadership and equity expert Baruti Kafele, better known as Principal Kafele, is a powerful speaker with an inspirational PD approach designed to drive educators toward their full potential. Since COVID first shut down schools in 2020, he has been asked countless times to fire up building leaders to continue leading their schools.

“You get them feeling like ‘You got this,’ and your students need you, and your staff needs you,” says Kafele, a former middle and high school principal. “But you remind them, you’ve got to make sure there’s harmony in your life, there’s balance, so you don’t lose sight of the fact that you’re not just that leader, you’re also a human being away from the school.”

He continues to stress authenticity and fervor as key traits for successful leaders. “If you allow certain situations, certain circumstances, certain politics, certain environments to undermine your being, then you’re going to be operating as something that would be a stranger to yourself if you saw it in a mirror,” he explains.

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But he also warns that stress burnout among principals and assistant principals remains a significant concern. The years since the return to face-to-face learning have presented many new challenges. “It’s like they’re learning all over again their craft of leadership, dealing with young people, adults, staff, community, parents—the world has shifted and it has implications for effectiveness as a school leader,” Kafele points out.

District Administration’s Talking Out of School podcast is where superintendents, principals and other key educational figures share their experiences, strategies and forecasts for K12. Hear what else Principal Kafele has to say to senior writer Matt Zalaznick and reporter Micah Ward about the principal’s increasingly important role of instructional coach, culturally relevant pedagogy and his latest book, The Assistant Principal Identity.

You can listen to the full podcast below, on Apple, Podbean or Spotify.

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