School leadership matters. During the past decade, there has been a growing recognition
among educators and policymakers that school principals must be instructional leaders
who ensure that high-quality teaching occurs in every classroom. This view is backed
up by a solid body of evidence
showing that leadership places second only to teaching
among school-related influences on learning.
In culling lessons from 13 years of research that describes
what effective principals do well, The Wallace Foundation
has found they perform five
- Shaping a vision of academic success for all students
- Creating a climate hospitable to education
- Cultivating leadership in others
- Improving instruction
- Managing people, data, and processes to foster school improvement
Learning Forward has developed this web-based professional learning guide using excerpts
from the award-winning PBS documentary film, The Principal Story
, to illustrate
the five practices. The guide is intended to help those who prepare and support aspiring and current principals probe these essential practices. Use this facilitator guide
to explore options for using these tools.
Watch excerpts from the film here and explore each practice below.
The five units below, each based on a key practice of effective principals, guide learners so they will be able to read the research, discuss the practices, view the film clips, and complete a range of activities as individuals or in groups.
| || Researchers who have examined education leadership agree that effective principals are responsible for establishing
a schoolwide vision of commitment to high standards
and the success of all students. This unit gives
participants an opportunity to assess their own attitudes,
identify relevant principal behaviors, and apply that
Research suggests that effective principals ensure that
adults and children can focus on learning every day.
These activities guide participants in identifying relevant
principal behaviors and reviewing research through the
lens of their own experiences. |
| || Research tells us that when principals share leadership,
workplace settings and relationships improve and student
achievement increases. These materials give participants
an opportunity to examine research and their own experiences
to identify relevant principal behaviors and apply
that knowledge. |
| || We know from research that learning-focused principals
help teachers improve their practice either directly (e.g.
walk-throughs, formative evaluation) or with the aid of
other school leaders such as department chairpersons.
These tools allow participants to draw on their own experiences
and review research to identify essential actions
and apply that knowledge. |
| || Researchers who studied effective principals found they
are prudent managers who make the most of their resources,
including time. They also use data to ask useful
questions, tell compelling stories, and encourage collaborative
inquiry. This unit guides participants in considering
the research about relevant principal behaviors, and in
applying that knowledge. |