Who's the best principal you ever worked for? And why do you say so? Ask this question of educators from the classroom to the superintendent's office and the common denominator answer is quite consistent: he or she cared. Cared about what? Content? Pedagogy? Test scores? Well sure, those are a given. But in this case, the principal cared about them. They felt a connection with this principal, that he was more than just a supervisor. He made a difference in their day, much in the same way they made a difference in their students' day. It's all about the relationship.
In this Educational Leadership article, Gordon Donaldson, George Marnik, Sarah Mackenzie, and Richard Ackerman focus on the relational skills school leaders must use to build strong, sustainable, solid relationships and thriving schools—skills not typically taught in workshops or courses, so many principals have to figure them out on their own.
Many schools are making major changes in structures and professional development to make sure teachers are implementing effective project-based learning (PBL) schoolwide. I've been honored to be part of that journey with many schools. I have seen many different kinds of PBL schools, and with it, many kinds of PBL projects. This work has also reaffirmed the belief that the principal is one of the cornerstones to effective PBL implementation. We know this! This is not new news, but because PBL is a change in the paradigm of curriculum and instruction, it means that implementation has unique strategies and challenges as well. Here are some straightforward ways I have seen principals at PBL schools lead toward excellent PBL implementation.
Do you remember your first year in the classroom? It was an adrenaline rush everyday! We wanted to change the world, inspire students to become great, support struggling students, establish our own reputations as excellent teachers, and earn the respect of our colleagues. I would not trade my first year of teaching for other opportunities. Whether we recognize it or not, the first several years of teaching and administration focus on personal development.
A recent Metlife survey (PDF) found that 75 percent of principals feel that the role has become too complex and a third are looking to move out of the role within the next five years. The role of principal has changed dramatically in the last decade and has, to many, become overwhelming. So what is the role of a principal? Or rather, what are the roles of a successful and effective principal?
For the past five years, Fouke (Ark.) Elementary School has witnessed academic improvement in all K–5 grade levels. Attendance has also improved over the same time period. These accomplishments did not happen by accident, instead they are the results of the hard work by staff, students, and families. Not I as principal, not one teacher, nor one program alone is responsible for these successes. These achievements are a result of creating a collaborative and positive learning environment for all our stakeholders.
To achieve our essential goals, our school adopted elements from the Arkansas Leadership Academy and developed five areas to add more breadth, depth, ownership, and sustainability.
So you're actively working to implement the tenets of the Whole Child Initiative? Excellent! How about your whole tech initiative? What's your vision for technology in education? Not what you have in your inventory or what you're comfortable using, but your action plan for technology empowering the whole child. Why? Because in today's world, technology is not an add-on or a nice-to-have; it's an essential array of tools that support and energize every Whole Child tenet.
In times of increasing expectations, decreasing resources, and rigorous accountability, school principals are faced with complex challenges and a huge array of initiatives to implement. These realities have discouraged many principals from staying on the job. How can schools stop the revolving door of the principalship and energize principals to lead?
The April 2013 issue of ASCD's Educational Leadership addresses approaches that promote career-long growth, such as coaching and mentoring, collaborative learning, and principal peer groups.
Principals are the key players in developing the climate, culture, and processes in their schools. They are critical to implementing meaningful and lasting school change and in the ongoing school-improvement process. Principals who have a clear vision; inspire and engage others in embracing change for improvement; drive, facilitate, and monitor the teaching and learning process; and foster a cohesive culture of learning are the collaborative leaders our schools need to fully commit to ensuring each student—and school staff member—is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged.
There is also no doubt that the role—or roles—of a principal has changed dramatically in recent years and will likely change even more in upcoming decades. In this episode of the Whole Child Podcast, host Sean Slade and our guests discuss the qualities principals in today's (and tomorrow's) schools need to fulfill their roles as visionary, instructional, influential, and learning leaders. You'll hear from
Donna Snyder, manager of Whole Child Programs at ASCD;