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Principals Discuss Effective Leadership Practices

From guest blogger Alyssa Morones

Principals from across the nation give firsthand accounts of Great School Leadership in Action in the latest series of videos from the Wallace Foundation.

The video series is a follow up to the foundation's report, The School Principal as Leader: Guiding Schools to Better Teaching and Learning, released earlier this year. It identified and outlined five key practices of effective principals:

•Shaping a vision of academic success for all students,
•Creating a climate hospitable to education,
•Cultivating leadership in others,
•Improving instruction, and
•Managing people, data, and processes.

Each of the 13 videos features a principal speaking on his or her experience with one of the five practices, telling how these practices were applied on the job. These individuals each come from a district receiving a grant given to improve school leadership from the Wallace Foundation. (A word of disclosure here: Education Week also gets a grant from Wallace. It supports coverage of leadership, expanded learning time, and arts learning.)

The participating principals were identified by local district administrators for their efforts to boost teaching and learning in their schools.

The role of principals is transitioning to an ever more challenging one. A recent MetLife Survey of 500 principals found that principals must learn to work in their rapidly changing jobs while lacking control over what is being taught, how, and by whom. At the same time, at least 9 out of 10 of the principals surveyed owned responsibility for everything that happened in the school.

The principals featured in the video series embraced their role as leaders, providing anecdotes from their personal experiences as principals to reveal how they developed and improved their practices and the practices of their schools.

When Principal Kevin Tashlein, of Peachtree Ridge High School in Gwinnett County, Ga., sought to improve the success of his school, he knew he'd first have to create an environment conducive to success.

"The success of our school and the trajectory of that school is really dependent on building a school the right way," he said in his video on shaping academic success.

Principal Debra Scott, in her video on management, said, "I think it's very important that teachers and staff know that I care about them, that I care about their students, that I care about the successes they have in their classrooms. As a professional community, we are there to help and grow our students."


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