Leadership and management have very different definitions and roles. John Kotter (What Leaders Really Do) defines leadership as being involved with change and movement, while management addresses order and consistency. He further describes leadership activities as setting direction, aligning people, and motivating people. Management tasks include budgeting and planning, organizing and staffing, controlling, and problem solving.
The principal’s managerial duties are described in the section on management.
Principals have a profound effect on what is valued in the school. The principal must embrace and act upon a set of internal, consistent beliefs and principles that will help him/her to:
The principal should build a team that understands and establishes a program to implement the vision, mission, and goals of the school. The principal will lead the school board and staff in implementing the goals of SDA education as identified by the NAD’s Journey to Excellence:
The principal is the spiritual leader of the school. While many aspects of spiritual leadership may be delegated to others, the personal influence of the principal as a positive role model to students, teachers, and parents cannot be underestimated. It is the pervasive influence of the principal’s actions and concerns that inspires and encourages others to be drawn to Christ.
The primary function of a principal is to ensure that students achieve. Research (Gallup) indicates that the fastest way to make a difference in student achievement is to change the principal of the school. Effective principals engage in work that supports teachers in improving their instructional practices. This type of support occurs in classrooms, not the principal’s office. Effective principals are instructional leaders because they make a commitment to learning, and they connect the work of improved student learning and teaching by building strong teams of teachers.
While some aspects of instructional leadership may be delegated, it is the principal who makes the difference in the quality of the teaching and learning process. Instructional leadership includes several components:
Each component will be discussed further below. Further explanations can be found in the Supervision Handbook.
Supervision of instruction is the process for helping teachers grow. It is generally accomplished through:
It is easy to allow one’s calendar to be filled with activities not directly involved with instructional leadership. Effective principals will make a commitment to regular and frequent classroom observations. When appropriate, find someone to hold you accountable to your commitment. To assist during the observation process, the following suggestions are provided:
The principal should assume an active role in providing professional growth activities for the faculty and staff individually and collectively. These activities should be planned and provided to help teachers:
Teachers should be encouraged to join national professional organizations in their respective disciplines and provide opportunity to attend the national conventions and local workshops.
Evaluation is an ongoing process consisting of a number of events and activities. Summative evaluation takes place at the close of some period of time, generally relating to the prescribed requirement for teacher evaluation, and results in some sort of evaluative document. It covers the full range of the evaluative criteria and the teacher’s experiences relative to those criteria.
Many unions and local conferences provide schools with a document to be used in the evaluation of teachers. These forms constitute the performance standards to be met. Such evaluation instruments generally include the following areas:
Teacher evaluation includes various facets. Following are the three most common:
1. Planning Phase — The faculty should be oriented regarding:
Each teacher should also be part of planning their own evaluations. A planning conference should include:
2. Data-Gathering Phase — A variety of sources may be used while gathering the necessary information for teacher evaluations:
3. Summative Phase — This phase includes completing the evaluation document and having a conference with the teacher to review the findings. The teacher must have the opportunity to respond to the evaluation document and to indicate, by signature, its receipt.
The principal is primary in establishing the climate of the school. The school climate reflects the effectiveness of the spiritual and scholastic growth taking place in the school. The climate, good or bad, is determined by the school spirit demonstrated by the students, by esprit de corps on the part of the staff, and by the communication program between administration, staff, students, parents, and the local community.
Because school climate affects teacher productivity, the instructional quality received by students will generally be affected. Following are some of the effective principal’s roles in fostering and sustaining a positive school climate:
One certainty in the role of school leadership is that there will be change. Many books have been written on the leadership of change, specifically school change, and an effective principal will become knowledgeable about this subject.
Change may come about as a result of:
When leading change, the principal will be most successful when including various stakeholder groups. Specifically, the board should be involved and should vote support for changes when appropriate.
The school board is the governing organization for the school. The individuals serving on the board can be a great blessing to the school and principal in providing support, encouragement, and as a sounding board. Having a positive perspective of the board will help the principal to work more effectively with the school board.
It is imperative that the school board members, school board chair, and principal understand and respect the responsibility and authority assigned to each. If any exceed or relinquish their assigned responsibility, effective administration of the school will be compromised. The LCOE can be a valuable resource to the principal in board relations, particularly in providing regular board training sessions. The LCOE representative must be present when the board is addressing personnel issues.
The school’s constitution and bylaws, the Union Education Code, and LCOE policies define the roles and responsibilities of the school board and generally include the following:
The principal serves as the executive secretary of the school board and should communicate regularly with the chair in establishing the agenda. The principal is responsible for the development and distribution of board minutes. Additionally, ongoing communication between the chair and the principal will enhance the effectiveness of the governance process.
The principal is also the school leader and spokesperson on topics under consideration, Board meetings will be more productive if preparations include:
Good to Great — Jim Collins
What Great Principals Do Differently — Todd Whitaker
The Principal — Michael Fullan
What Leaders Really Do — John Kotter
The One Thing You Need to Know — Marcus Buckingham
Books on Leadership
Who are the Stakeholders?
Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership — Ruth Barton
Spiritual Leadership Book
Professional Dev Links
Shaping School Culture —
Terrence Deal and Kent Peterson.
Book on Cultivating School Climate
Board Training Courses
The principal should remember that the school program exists to serve the needs of students. In planning the program, the following considerations are to have high priority:
Why Are We Doing This?