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Free Learning Guide for Developing Great Principals

Frederick Brown image
Frederick Brown

A few weeks ago, Learning Forward launched a free resource on our website: The Principal Story Learning Guide. The online learning guide highlights excerpts from the critically acclaimed PBS documentary film, The Principal Story, and incorporates knowledge from 13 years of work with school districts and from research on education leadership funded by The Wallace Foundation.

The Learning Guide's online units center on five key practices of effective principals, described in Wallace's The School Principal as Leader: Guiding Schools to Better Teaching and Learning

Shaping a vision of academic success for all students. Any hope of closing the achievement gap between advantaged and less-advantaged students begins with the school principal setting clear and rigorous learning expectations across the board.

Creating a climate hospitable to education. Effective principals ensure that their schools allow adults and children to put learning at the center of their daily activities through basics such as safety; orderliness; and a sense of community that is upbeat, welcoming, solution-oriented, and professional.

Cultivating leadership in others. Effective school principals empower those around them.

Improving instruction. Effective principals work to get the most out of the teaching staff by promoting high expectations, attacking teacher isolation and instituting research-based strategies to improve learning through professional development.

Managing people, data, and processes to foster school improvement. Effective principals must be strong managers, able to support and nurture staff as well as make the tough decisions when teachers are not successful. They make decisions drawing from statistics and evidence.

The guide uses scenes from the film to explore and demonstrate these five actions. Each unit can either be imported into existing lessons or become the basis for entire lessons or workshops to help aspiring and current school leaders probe these essential practices. Additionally, instructors, facilitators of principal preparation, professional development programs, individuals, and teams can use these to focus on improving their own practice. 

If your work in any way supports developing great principals, I urge you to take a look at these free resources. 

Frederick Brown
Director of Strategy and Development, 
Learning Forward

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