A new Wallace Perspective was released by the Wallace Foundation last month, titled “The School Principal as Leader: Guiding Schools to Better Teaching and Learning.” The Perspective highlights the most important role of the school principal: creating the conditions in which the other variables known to improve student outcomes can come together and “reach critical mass.”
This Perspective is meant to be the first in a series about school leadership and how it can be best developed and supported. In this issue, the research showed that effective principals are able to perform five functions well:
1. Shape a vision of academic success for all students.
2. Create a climate hospitable to education.
3. Cultivate leadership in others.
4. Improve instruction.
5. Manage people, data and processes to foster school improvement.
Each of these functions is discussed in detail and includes specific research to support its importance. The report also includes a case study of Dewey Hensley, a principal at J.B. Atkinson Academy for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (in Louisville) from 2006-2011. His practice of the five key functions above are highlighted in vignettes to illustrate how the research can be put into practice.
The report concludes with a reminder to all that effective school leadership cannot exist unsupported. Districts and states must support school leaders in their efforts to improve their own practice and that of their teachers. “Central offices need to ‘re-culture’ themselves so they focus less on administration and more on supporting principals to improve instruction.”
To read the report, please visit http://www.wallacefoundation.org/knowledge-center/school-leadership/effective-principal-leadership/Documents/The-School-Principal-as-Leader-Guiding-Schools-to-Better-Teaching-and-Learning.pdf