A good leadership is one of the most indicative qualities of a good school. Take a look at the good schools around you, and what is evident is a startling correlation between school leadership and student achievement. Call him the headmaster, head teacher, chancellor, dean or simply the head, the job of the principal is a pretty busy one. He is at the helm of school affairs holding the greatest responsibility for even the minutest detail of management. It is a challenging and multi-faceted role that involves dealing with teachers, students and parents.
But above all he is the central force of influence in cultivating an environment for effective learning through its most critical resource – teachers, support staff and/or parents.
With many hats that a principal has to wear, one would wonder if he has a bag of tricks to sweat the small stuff. But the truth is that just like any other leader, a principals’ role is not easy, which is why one of the most important jobs of a principal is to distribute leadership at all levels of the school. Today, creating a collaborative leadership with a collaborative growth mindset is right at the top of a successful principal’s to-do-list.
Look for potential teacher leaders
Identifying teachers with the right potential is the first step in creating a leadership team. Someone who works well in a team, has a strong academic record, exemplifies flexible behaviour, and has the right attitude to guide others towards success. The principal, who understands each of its teachers well, should keep his eyes open for credible teachers that are good at setting and demonstrating high standards, lead academic achievements and earn respect.
Include teachers in decision making
Schools that empower its teachers with higher levels of autonomy report better student performance. When teachers feel empowered, they feel motivated, confident and competent which directly translates into better classroom instruction. As an administrator, the principal should create a setting of shared decision making and include teacher’s voice in the curricular decision-making process.
Provide teachers new experiences to grow
Teachers that are offered opportunities to grow, develop and lead are more committed towards the vision of the school. A principal should allow teachers new experiences on an everyday basis, freedom and control and bestow trust upon them, in order to maximise their strengths. When teachers are recognised and empowered, they become more vested and involved which in turn makes them creative and willing to take risks. Their drive to succeed multiplies manifold. They will try new methods of teaching, show flexible behaviour and offer more assistance to students.
Encouraging collaboration among teachers through Professional Learning Communities (PLC)
The principal should encourage a culture of collaboration and teamwork among teachers by creating situations where they can learn from each other. A popular practice is by providing experiences during school hours that enable teachers to meet discuss and reflect upon staff performance, institutional practice, school issues, student learning and curriculum related matters and at the same time monitor results. Professional learning communities (PLC) a popular term tossed around in education circles is a proven method that provides staff collaboration during school hours. If done correctly, PLC results in increase in student performance as proven by research.
The need for shared leadership is not just an urgent necessity but also a ripe opportunity. Allowing teachers to grow as leaders requires a fine balance of sharing responsibility without giving up authority. But a wise principal views it not as a power shift but rather a widening of his power, because what can be achieved together as a team is far greater than what he or anyone can achieve alone.