School leadership is the key to the success of a student’s education, and often the success or failure of a school falls on the shoulders of the principal. School leaders are responsible for establishing high expectations for teaching and learning. They must also measure and monitor student achievement, create a proactive and positive school-wide approach to behavior, and encourage parent engagement.
According to an article published by the University of San Diego and authored by Joseph Lathan, Ph.D., a school leader plays a crucial role in creating a safe, orderly, inclusive, and conducive school for teaching and learning to improve the outcomes for all students. When the school leader and community have a shared vision and values about student achievement and how everyone plays a part in the school’s success, everyone is eager to roll up their sleeves to do whatever it takes to meet and exceed the school improvement performance targets. However, without effective school leadership and a shared vision for student achievement, the lack of clarity contributes to some students falling through the cracks, and others may not reach their full potential.
What actionable steps can you take to ensure your school is on track for student success?
Establish clear goals – School leaders must define and effectively communicate the priority goals and actionable steps to achieve them. When the team understands the objectives and how they will be achieved, it is easier for them to understand their role in accomplishing the goals.
A Gallop poll discovered that 33 percent of U.S. teachers are engaged in their work, while 67 percent are not engaged or are actively disengaged. This means an overwhelming majority of American teachers are simply going through the motions, and the students are paying the price.
Lead by example – If you want your school leadership team to be successful, model success. If you want your staff to be positive and enjoy the roles, they play in the success of your school, share motivational and inspirational words of encouragement so that your staff knows that you appreciate and value them. Remember, when you want to implement new changes or reinforce proactive and positive research-proven strategies that you want your staff to implement with fidelity, you need to model them and praise staff and students when you see them doing the right thing. The principal sets the tone for the school, so whatever you want to grow, you must monitor and measure it on an ongoing basis. What gets inspected gets respected!
Delegate – School leaders who have the characteristics of being the hero who wants to run the school without any input from others, micromanaging and controlling every decision, will eventually find that majority of the staff will only comply and never add value or contribute/share innovative ideas that could propel the school forward.
Highly effective school leaders have mastered the art and science of distributed leadership and the importance of delegating and sharing responsibilities to get results. Relational trust is a core component of a shared vision and values that your staff own and are willing to go above and beyond to ensure that every student has access to an equitable and excellent school environment. When school leaders have effectively established infrastructures, processes, and systems that support the continuous school improvement process, everyone benefits, and more importantly, student achievement soars.
President John Quincy Adams once said, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader.”
As an effective school leader, when you put student success ahead of personal achievement and are willing to create an environment that fosters personal and professional growth, which empowers and inspires your staff to show up and do their best to ensure every student is successful. The success or failure of your school may appear to fall squarely on your shoulders, but you must remember that when you work together toward a shared vision that is laser-focused on improving the outcomes for all students, everyone succeeds.