I’ve decided to call this page “About my Professional Practice” as opposed to “About my Classroom” for the simple fact that I have not been in the classroom for four years! This seems unbelievable to me, as the classroom is definitely my first love, so allow me to qualify by saying, I have not had my own classroom for the past four years! Of course as a curriculum consultant I was in many different classrooms at all grade levels and as an administrator, I am in all classrooms of all disciplines! This has been the most gratifiying aspect of my role as a school-based leader and instructional leader.
In a recent class I did a paper in which I explored the most effective leadership styles and based on my research made some recommendations or “to do’s” in my quest to be a successful administrative leader:
- Establish a clear goal or vision which places high achievement for student and teachers at the center of all activities in the school. This cornerstone of the transformational model of leadership helps create confidence in the leader (everyone wants and needs to know the goal) by demonstrating focus, vision, and self-confidence.
- Create an action plan for greater student achievement by sharing or distributing the leadership and assigning responsibility or tasks to each and every stakeholder; this includes administration, teachers, parents, and students.
- Build capacity school capacity. Focus on instruction as the priority for teachers. Administrators must be involved in establishing and participating in professional learning communities. They can demonstrate the model of “life-long learner” by keeping up with the latest educational research, and by learning alongside the teachers. To discuss formally and informally the work of professional learning communities reinforces this as a priority and engenders collegiality, teamwork, communication, and rapport, ultimately contributing to a positive work environment proven to increase teachers’ personal self-efficacy. In fact, by building instructional capacity a leader is building teacher self-efficacy and indirectly impacting student learning.
- Be an agent of cultural change. Culture can only be changed with patient, but persistent efforts. Placing well-respected staff in leadership roles, and creating pairings and staff groupings for planning that are familiar and collegial before venturing to non-traditional or less-comfortable groupings will help alleviate initial reservations. Open communication, clear vision and obvious agendas will also help build trust which might be the biggest factor in determining whether a paradigm shift will occur.
- Be a risk taker.
- Be a compassionate and moral leader. Regardless of how busy you are, always make time for staff to “pop in”. Create opportunities to know your staff outside of their classrooms. Create time and opportunities to know the students outside the classroom and outside the school. Be patient and understand that change takes time, but try and convey that message that everyone is learning and making mistakes together.
This list is posted on my bulletin board in my office and I refer to it almost daily, a touchstone to keep me grounded and directed!
In my quest to be an instructional leader I still conduct workshops on content area literacy, and reading comprehension strategies. Click on the link to visit my Wiki , an on-line workshop I designed to be utilized by English departments in my school division during their PLC time.