Strong leadership in schools not only motivates students, but encourages teachers and staff to perform at their best levels. This article will review some of the essential qualities of effective school leaders.
Guiding with Vision and Purpose
Effective education leaders build structures according to the principles outlined by district and state policy aiming to positively impact staff working conditions, students’ learning environments, and measurable outcomes. They achieve success for themselves and their schools from experience, scholarship, vision, management, communication, collaboration, continuous assessment and improvement, and passion. Leaders are expected to combine their professional expertise and management skills and apply them to all stages of school administration, from planning to implementation to systemization.
The Impact of Principals on Teacher and Student Performance
There is a connection between school leadership and student learning outcomes, according to research about “How Principals Affect Students and Schools.” Skills and behaviors linked to positive school and student outcomes include:
- engaging in instructionally focused interactions with teachers;
- building a productive climate;
- facilitating collaboration among professionals;
- managing personnel and resources strategically;
- supporting teachers’ classroom instruction.
Leadership, driven by principals and executive staff, can have a major impact on student experience and performance. Leaders set expectations about the school’s learning practices and outcomes.
Teachers also benefit from strong leadership and the professional development opportunities that leaders offer. Positive school leadership helps cultivate an engaged culture. By focusing on effective teaching strategies, schools send a message that they are committed to helping teachers meet student needs.
Professional Development for Educators
Just like teachers, administrators need to expand their knowledge and skills to implement effective educational practices. Professional development strategies strengthen educators’ performance.
Professional development can be formal or informal. Formal processes include workshops, conferences, seminars, and courses. In informal contexts, professional development includes discussions among work colleagues, independent research, peer-to-peer learning, and observations of colleague’s work. The names for professional development vary, including staff development, in-service training, professional learning, and continuing education.
According to a report from the National Association of Elementary School Principals and Learning Policy Institute, more than 80% of the principals who responded said they had participated in professional development on change management, how to create collegial learning environments, and school improvement.
Meanwhile, effective education leadership also includes engagement with community members and families outside of the school. Education leaders can develop community-based and culturally responsive solutions for the challenges students and their families face. The strategies involved in developing these solutions include:
- identifying goals to build partnerships between schools and community;
- connecting with families at places outside of the school, which may include neighborhood gatherings, churches, and sporting events;
- conducting community listening sessions to determine what issues matter to families.
Become a Leader in EducationIt is important for future leaders in education to understand what good leadership is and how they can create lasting change. Education leaders are required to have in-depth knowledge of operational best practices and focus on continuous development. William Woods University offers a Master of Education in Educational Leadership program for educators seeking to advance in leadership roles. This master’s degree program includes courses such as Visionary Leadership, which explores the multidimensional roles of the administrator as educator, leader, manager, and reflective practitioner.