Building Exemplary Campus Leadership
My organization, New Leaders, has studied and worked in high-performing, high-poverty public schools for more than a decade, in districts across the nation. We have learned that schools “beating the odds” typically share key characteristics, one of which serves as the cornerstone for all others: exemplary leadership. Principals at high-performing schools do not necessarily have outsized, charismatic personalities. Rather, they share a deeply held belief that all students can excel and they possess a key set of leadership skills that enable them to create thriving schools.
A critical priority among all these leaders is building a strong team of educators at their schools. Great principals create opportunities for teachers to collaborate and build their own leadership skills to help colleagues strengthen teaching and learning. Over time, these teacher leaders share responsibility with their principals for moving the school toward a collective vision of student success.
Culture of Confidence
Effective principals also work with their teams to create a culture in which adults believe all children can meet high academic standards and that they are not only accountable for helping students achieve those standards, but also for instilling a belief in students that they are capable of excellence. In these schools, teachers and administrators work with kids to help them see and plan for long-term goals like finishing a college degree and working in their dream career, while also helping them establish and meet concrete short-term goals.
Finally, principals of successful schools are strong instructional leaders. They ensure that high expectations are brought to life in every classroom through challenging curriculum and engaging instruction, and they work closely with teachers, providing feedback and coaching to help them implement effective instructional techniques and supports for students.