ASCD Whole Child Bloggers

What Makes or Breaks a Principal?

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.

The first skill to focus on is becoming an active listener—one who not only hears what staff, students, and parents say but also translates those statements into actionable strategies. Principals practice these skills through role play and practice consultations, which include peer feedback.

Next, principals should learn to support their staff by creating and leading collaborative groups. Because this is an area that many principals have little experience with, the authors pay particular attention to mediating conflict among adults. From there, the focus shifts to value systems and how principals' beliefs directly and indirectly affect their communities. Again, role play is a useful strategy for practicing interpersonal leadership skills.

Last, but not least, the authors outline a rehearsal scenario leaders can use to develop awareness and improve their inter- and intrapersonal skills.

Read the full article and learn more with ASCD Express.

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