4 Steps to Successful Leadership and Development for Schools
A recent article in Kaiser Health News discusses a recent study that found talented school leaders are vital to success for schools that want to implement new practices. The article cites the importance of hiring, developing, and retaining talented school leaders as one of four reasons effective school leaders are crucial for innovative practice.
The article goes on to explain that leaders should also be in a position to hire and compensate effectively. They should be challenged by the district by advancing its mission and perhaps particularly capable of being thought of as the most effective and qualified people to evaluate and develop teachers. Finally, effective leaders also receive feedback that correlates with a strategy to return results to the district.
Below are four ways schools can find and retain talented school leaders that not only fulfill the above goals, but also benefit the schools in the process.
1. Build trust. School leaders are more than taskmasters, they are key players in supporting districts.
Empowering and providing resources to school leaders is a key component to succeeding. Provide them with funding and equip them with the tools to do the job. Identify opportunities for them to improve and implement protocols to keep them accountable for meeting their responsibilities. They will be able to use their strengths to create thoughtful strategies that are directly connected to the overall mission of their school.
Trust can only exist when the trust of the school’s staff is established. Promote an environment that fosters trust by providing teachers and staff with opportunities to learn, grow, and connect with each other. Provide time to facilitate informal and formal peer advising conversations so that teachers have one another’s trust. Create a sense of community and openness by keeping schools community-based so that everyone feels an affiliation with the students and neighborhood as a whole.
2. Support the development of leaders. Developing and retaining effective school leaders is vital to school success, and the process of discovery and development can begin at an early age.
The most important factors in what ultimately makes a great leader are tenacity, knowledge, curiosity, and respect. The most important question to ask school leaders is, “How can I help you develop these qualities?” Support the growing of leaders across the curriculum by providing opportunities for leaders to be cross-trained in everything from administration to teaching and support training. Make developing leaders a priority by providing each leader the time, resources, and opportunities to continue learning, connecting with peers, and developing their skills.
3. Understand strengths and enable talents. Appreciating strengths that a leader may have can help them grow.
Self-awareness is integral to development. Help them find strengths in areas of their history that no longer fit the leadership style of the district. This helps them identify how their experiences have shaped their leadership skills so that they can better understand their ability to guide and develop students and staff members. Formalize and document the growth of leaders through the development of an organizational framework for empowering and developing leaders.
4. Discuss and measure effective strategies. Some strategies can be implemented based on results.
To develop innovative practices, schools should use best practices. Show leaders the strategies that have proven effective and scale them as quickly as possible. Identify the strengths that this strategies has proven effective and incorporate them into how the district collaborates and manages. Focus on providing data so that leaders can confidently implement strategies and teachers can easily determine which ones are most effective for their students. Make performance assessment a constant practice and ensure that it is based on effective and meaningful strategies.
Author N.R. Lambert is Vice President of MindShift Group, a leading provider of education and training programs for secondary and higher education to help leaders improve learning environments and faculty development. Find out more about MindShift programs at www.mindshiftgroup.com.