Rss Feed Tweeter button Facebook button Linkedin button Youtube button
           

The Importance of School Leadership for School Performance and Student Success

Wow!  This past week I (Dr. J) discovered The Wallace Foundation’s January 2013 Wallace Perspective,

<

“the first of a series of reports looking at school leadership and how it is best developed and supported.”

<

WallaceFndtnLogo The Wallace Foundation supports efforts to improve leadership in public schools, having funded projects in 28 states and numerous school districts within them for more than a decade.

<

Wallace has issued more than 70 school leadership research reports and publications, covering topics ranging from how principals are trained to how they are evaluated on the job, the nature of the school principal’s role, what makes for an effective principal, and how to tie principal effectiveness to improved student achievement.

<

<

The 2013 Wallace Perspective presents a culling of their lessons to describe what effective principals do.

<

This report and other resources cited in the report can be downloaded for free at www.wallacefoundation.org.

<

<

Major agreement and striking parallels can be noted between distillations and assertions of this Wallace Foundation report and Logo-BCS own distillations and assertions of current knowledge on this subject.

<

I (Norman) distill the major assertions from each source, starting first with the Wallace Perspective.

<

I then summarize our two perspectives, in unison.

<

Do you agree with the emerging perspective that we, in our schools, must draw lessons from contemporary corporate life?

<

<

WallacePerspective2013CoverPgThe Principal as Leader: An Overview

~ From the 2013 Wallace Perspective

_

Education research consistently shows that most school variables, considered separately, have at most, small effects on learning.

_

☞ The real payoff comes when the individual variables combine to reach critical mass.

<

Creating conditions — under which the many, sometimes seemingly competing, individual variables can effectively combine to reach and exceed critical mass — is what our most effective principals do.

<

A particularly noteworthy finding, asserted in the Wallace Perspective, is the strong empirical link between school leadership and improved student achievement.

<

“One explanation is that leaders have the potential to unleash latent capacities in organizations.”

<

A musical metaphor was used to describe three different leadership approaches by principals:

<

ONE-MAN BANDS – School leaders determined to do it all themselves

<

JAZZ COMBO LEADERS – those inclined to delegate responsibilities to others

<

ORCHESTRAL LEADERS – those who believed broadly in sharing leadership throughout the school, skilled in helping large teams produce a coherent sound, while encouraging soloists to shine.

<

Two points by the Wallace Perspective were that,

<

1) although in any school a range of leadership patterns exists – among principals, assistant principals, formal and informal teacher leaders, and parents – the principal remains the central source of leadership influence.

<

2) those principals performing best were those who believed in broadly sharing leadership throughout the school and who were skilled in helping large teams produce a coherent sound while encouraging soloists to shine (aka, “Orchestral leaders”).

<

Five Key Practices of Effective Principals:

<

1. Shaping a vision of academic success for all students.

<

Effective principals were found to take responsibility for establishing a school-wide vision of commitment to high standards and to the success of all students.

<

Effective principals promoted a school-wide learning improvement agenda that focused on goals for student success, to ensure that the notion of “academic success for all” would get picked up by all faculty.

<

2. Creating a climate hospitable to education.

<

Effective principals ensured that their schools allowed both adults and children to put learning at the center of their daily activities.

<

A “healthy school environment” was characterized by basics like safety and orderliness, plus less tangible qualities like a supportive, responsive attitude toward the children and a sense by teachers that they were, indeed, part of a collegial community of professionals who could continuously focus on improving good instruction.

<

3. Cultivating leadership in others.

<

The more principals were willing to spread leadership around, the better for the students.

<

A striking finding was that effective leadership coming from all sources – principals, influential teachers, staff teams and others – was associated with better student performance on math and reading tests.

<

These findings are consistent with a broad and longstanding consensus in leadership theory that leaders in all walks of life and all kinds of organizations, public and private, need to depend on others to accomplish the group’s purpose and need to encourage the development of leadership across the organization.

<

Schools are no different.

<

Clearly, school leadership is not a zero-sum game.

<

4. Focus persistently on improving instruction.

<

Effective principals worked relentlessly to improve student achievements by focusing on the quality of instruction.

<

They helped define and promote high expectations; they attacked teacher isolation and fragmented effort; and they connected directly with teachers and the classroom.

<

Effective principals encouraged continual professional learning. They emphasized research-based strategies to improve teaching and learning and initiate discussions about instructional approaches, both in teams and with individual teachers.

<

They pursued these strategies despite the preference of many teachers to be left alone.

<

5. Managing people, data and processes to foster school improvement.

<

“Schools may be relatively small organizations, but their leadership challenges are far from small, or simple.“

<

To make good use of available resources and get their job done, effective principals had to be GOOD MANAGERS of their people, data, and processes.

<

Regarding PEOPLE, effective principals nurtured and supported their staffs, while facing the reality that sometimes teachers don’t work out.

<

They hired carefully, but – adhering to union and district personnel policies – they also engaged in “aggressively weeding out individuals who did not show the capacity to grow.”

<

Regarding DATA, effective principals tried to draw the most from statistics and evidence, having learned to ask useful questions of the information, to display it in ways that told compelling stories, and to promote collaborative inquiry among teachers.

<

They viewed data as a means not simply to pinpoint problems, but to also understand their nature and causes — as a team.

<

Regarding PROCESSES, effective principals approached their work in a way that got the job done.

<

They used six key steps – or “processes” – when carrying out important leadership responsibilities: (1) planning, (2) implementing, (3) supporting, (4) advocating, (5) communicating, and (6) monitoring.

<

<

☞ Each of these five major tasks (above) must interact effectively with the other four for each part to optimally succeed.

SeeProfileInLdrshp,DeweyHensley

For example, it’s hard to carry out a vision of student success, if the school climate is characterized by student disengagement, or teachers don’t know what instructional methods work best for their students, or test data are clumsily analyzed.

When all five tasks are well carried out, however, effective leadership is at work.

<

Principal Effectiveness Does Not Occur Overnight

<

A rule of thumb, asserted in the 2013 Wallace Perspective, is that a principal should be in place about five to seven years in order to have a beneficial impact on a school.

<

Principals – and the people who hire and replace them – need to be aware that school improvement does not happen overnight.

<

Effective principals tended to stay put.

<

In 80 schools studied, the average length of a principal’s stay was, in fact, 3.6 years.

<

They found that higher principal turnover was associated with lower student performance on reading and math achievement tests.  Turnover takes a toll on the overall climate of the school.

<

“Schools experiencing exceptionally rapid principal turnover, for example, [were] often reported to suffer from lack of shared purpose, cynicism among staff about principal commitment, and an inability to maintain a school-improvement focus long enough to actually accomplish any meaningful change.”

<

SchllPrncplAsLdr(BoxedQuote)

<

It is the 2013 Wallace Perspective assertion is that:

<

Ten years ago, school leadership was noticeably absent from most major school reform agendas, and even the people who saw leadership as important to turning around failing schools expressed uncertainty about how to proceed.

<

Today, improving school leadership ranks high on the list of priorities for school reform.

<

In a detailed 2010 survey, school and district administrators, policymakers and others declared principal leadership among the most pressing matters on a list of issues in public school education.

<

Teacher quality stood above everything else, but principal leadership came next, outstripping matters including dropout rates, STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education, student testing, and preparation for college and careers.

<

For full report, visit the Wallace Foundation Knowledge Center.

<

Whew!  Thank you, Wallace Foundation, for your investments and hard work, culminating in your empirical report and sharing of what you have learned!

<

<

Let’s compare this, now, with the Logo-BCSprimary assertions in “The Importance of the Principal for School-wide Program Success,” published September, 2015:

<

<

☞  Involved and committed school leadership is THE MOST IMPORTANT INGREDIENT for a successful school-wide approach to SEL.

<

Ten years of research on factors related to successful whole-school change and improvement identifies the school leader’s engagement and active support as the single biggest predictor of whether school change efforts take hold and yield benefits to students.

~ Berends, M., Bodilly, S.J., & Kirby, S.N. (Eds.) (2002).

Facing the challenges of whole-school reform: New American schools after a decade.

Santa Monica, CA: RAND, as cited by CASEL.

<

School-wide solutions are the most effective.

<

Solutions attempted need no longer be simply piecemeal, with only limited results.

<

We now have evidence-based programs that, if implemented with “sensitivity for the natives,” clearly work for school districts, individual schools, and individual classrooms.

<

The results for our children (plus our teachers, administrators, support personnel, and families) are SOLID

<

— with enhanced performance and peace of mind —

<

and are SUSTAINABLE.

<

School-wide solutions require principal buy-in, clear values-based leadership, planning and implementation, with effective inclusion, data-based feedback, and support.

<

School-wide culture change efforts require three things of principals:

<

• A clear focus on performance

<

• Collective identification and prioritization of 1 to 3 specific value / behavior shifts

<

• A clear alignment framework to collectively leverage the school’s unique culture and to support the principal’s desired behavior shift

~ See The Culture Advantage

<

This is about moving from a reactive, to a functional, then a collaborative, and finally to a high performance learning culture, by learning to work with rather than against participants, in an aligned manner and across functions.

<

School administrators are among the stakeholders most responsible for creating a school culture that supports change.

<

Culture change efforts fail for three primary reasons

<

• Inadequate leadership for securing a clear & collective focus on performance

<

• Lack of isolating 1 to 3 value / behavior shifts

<

• No clear alignment framework to leverage the unique culture and to support the behavior shift

~See The Culture Advantage.

<

To be successful in this effort, school administrators, beginning with the principal, must

<

• work with staff to establish a shared vision and concrete goals for children’s healthy academic, social and emotional development

<

• allocate resources (e.g., for professional development and staff time) that reflect these priorities

<

• model the behaviors they seek to develop among the students.

<

School leaders are responsible for establishing social and emotional learning, in any of it many forms, as the integrative “Big Idea” for positively transforming school performance.

<

>> Read what other principals are saying.

<

Read more at http://businessculturesolutions.com/school-wide-sel-solutions/

<

Ah, Ha!

Summarizing and integrating the Wallace Perspective with that of Logo-BCSconcerning the importance of the principal for school success:

<

<

PerformanceFocusCNSOur emerging understandings of exceptional public school performance, on behalf of all students, derive from integrated

empirical, multi-disciplinary, STEM-based, and meta-analytical,

human development-and-performance research,

plus experience.

<

☞ Emerging understandings of exceptional public school performance need to and increasingly are becoming more mainstream. ☜

<

Emerging understandings are defined explicitly in terms of social and emotional achievements as a foundation for academic achievements — by all students.

<

Exceptional public school performance occurs within a school climate that can be accurately defined as safe and responsive on behalf of all students, as well as by a sense among teachers that they are, indeed, part of a community of collegial professionals, continuously focused on adaptive learning by their students.

<

There is a very strong empirical link between school leadership, in particular, and improved student achievement.

<

This link is second only to teacher classroom effectiveness and student achievement.

<

Although a range of leadership patterns exists in every school – among principals, assistant principals, formal and informal teacher leaders, and parents – the principal remains the central source of leadership influence.

<

For students to fully blossom, teachers require the supportive engagement of a principal and of effective principal delegates

<

to encourage teachers’ own collegial

<

that is, values-based, cooperative, academic, and behavioral

<

learning with constructive feedback from their peers,

<

consistent with the school’s vision and mission, and consistent with continuously evolving academic standards.

<

Creating conditions — under which the myriad and sometimes competing variables at play are effectively combined to reach and exceed critical mass — is what an effective principal does.

<

In particular, effective principals take responsibility for

<

☞ establishing a school-wide vision of commitment to high standards for the success of all students, and

<

☞ using this shared vision, focus on goals for students’ success, as part of an inclusive, school-wide, learning improvement agenda.

<

This is to ensure the notion of “academic success for all” will get picked up, with buy-in, by all faculty and staff.

<

Doing so enables effective principals to ensure that their schools allow

<

both adults and children

<

put learning at the center of their daily activities.

<

<

School leadership is not a zero-sum game!

<

The more willing principals are to spreading leadership around, the better for the students.

<

<

Effective principals focus relentlessly on promoting teachers’ quality of instruction to improve student achievements.

<

They help define and promote high expectations.

<

Effective principals attack teacher isolation and fragmented efforts; they briefly and frequently connect directly with teachers in the classroom.

<

They encourage continuous professional learning, emphasizing research-based strategies to improve teaching and learning.

<

Effective principals initiate discussions about instructional approaches, both in teams and with individual teachers.

<

They pursue these strategies despite the preference of many teachers to be left alone.

<

To make best use of available resources to get their job done, effective principals are also good managers of their people, data, and processes.

<

Regarding PEOPLE, effective principals nurture and support their staffs, while facing the reality that sometimes teachers don’t work out.

<

They hire carefully, but assertively weed out individuals who do not show capacity to grow, strictly adhering to union and district personnel policies.

<

Regarding DATA, effective principals will draw maximum use from statistics and evidence, encouraging the learning among staff to ask useful questions of the information, to display it in ways that tell compelling stories, and to promote collaborative inquiry among engaged parties.

<

They will view data as a means not simply to pinpoint problems, but to also understand their nature and causes — as a team.

<

Regarding PROCESSES, effective principals will approach their work in a way that effectively gets the job done.

<

They are likely to utilize seven key steps – or “processes” – when carrying out important leadership responsibilities: (1) inclusion, (2) planning, (3) implementing, (4) supporting, (5) advocating, (6) communicating, and (7) monitoring.

<

<

☞ All major principal tasks must be integrated effectively with the other tasks for each part of the school, and for the school as a whole, to optimally succeed.

<

<

The challenges and tasks confronting public school principals today can no longer be accomplished by means of “business as usual.”

<

Compartmentalized, fragmented, sometimes angry and punitive, “command-and-control” hierarchical structures of the “old days” are being replaced or transformed.

<

Transparent, inclusive, collaborative (indeed, collegial), accountable, data-informed and value-driven enterprises are what work to meet today’s challenges and opportunities.

<

These enterprises more effectively engage the “respect effect” on behalf of all parties,

<

students and teachers alike,

<

as well as administrators, support staff, parents, and community stakeholders,

<

on behalf of enhanced peace of mind and sustained peak performance.

<

What is involved is nothing less than

<

enhanced, well-grounded, peace-of-mind-in-action,

<

supporting optimized individual discretion among parties,

<

affirmative recognition of all parties, and

<

support of each party to fulfill their responsibilities — as individuals and as a team,

<

who are highly accountable and supportive of each other.

<

<

This, interestingly, also includes integration, with peace and security,

<

of nothing less than (gulp!) a “loving” attitude,

<

along with the required support to embrace “conflict as opportunity” for mutual learning,

<

leading to enhanced clarity, cohesion and mutual support within the school system,

<

among teachers, all other school staff including administrators, students, parents, and other community members.

<

<

The results are, once again, positively transformational, for all parties involved.

<

<

Drawing lessons from contemporary corporate life, we now understand school leadership must focus with great clarity on

<

what is essential,

<

what needs to be done,

<

how to get it done, and

<

how to do it as a team, with support,

<

building upon values-based and accountable performance.

<

>> Learn more at our Logo-BCSPublic Schools, How to Begin page.

<

<

OUR QUESTIONS FOR YOU

<

To what extent do you agree that effective public school performance today requires a “whole person” perspective that must include ourself?

<

Do you agree with emerging perspectives that effective public school principals are no longer like “middle managers overseeing buses, boilers and books,” but are, more accurately, akin to — not status quo, but top performing — business leaders today?

<

How much do you agree with the notion that we, in our schools, must draw lessons from contemporary corporate life?

<

Do you think school leadership must now focus with greater clarity on what is essential, what needs to be done, how to get it done, and how to do it as a team, by taking advantage of our newer leadership paradigms that are founded on values and collegial empowerment, more than upon command-and-control?

<

If so, how might this happen?  What has been your experience?

<

We welcome your comments.

<

Sincerely,

~Norman

Norman Jentner, Ph.D.
Peace of Mind for Peak Performance
Bridges to Culture Advantages
Conflict as Opportunity
(All grounded in Respect)

<

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


*