Five Features of Effective K12 and School Education Leaders

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Five Features of Effective K12 and School Education Leaders. A principal is the primary leader of a school; the face of all that an educational institution represents. Creating conditions under which learning for students can remain a joy as they prepare for the future is the job of a principal. How do effective K12 and school education leaders make their institutions great?

Successful K12 leaders are often positive, enthusiastic, and make sure they are available to their teachers, staff, parents, and students. Though always busy, she steps-up when needed, no matter if it abrupts their daily routine.

According to a report by Wallace Foundation, it broadly boils down to five key lessons.

5 Features that make Effective K12 Principals

They balance their roles as managers and leaders.

Notwithstanding the fact that they may have higher management to answer, successful school principals recognize their position as both a manager and a leader.

They ensure the process is put in place and discipline is ensured, at the same time having a clear vision and mission for their K12 institution. They go beyond to ensure that the policies they make survive the test of times.

Strong visions generally focus their priorities on instructional leadership, student growth, and teacher success. This includes determining the model for schooling (in terms of the percentage of vocational/career-oriented courses), a curriculum that is apt for the demands of the global economy, a method for assessment, among other things.

The biggest challenge is to be able to align the demands of management, teachers and other stakeholders while keeping the score of the big picture. Heads and leaders of K12 institutions are increasingly familiarizing themselves with the ins and outs of management with school leadership programs at the world’s top universities. One such is offered by the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania exclusively for school leaders. The program is called Global Fellow of School Leadership and Management, marked by Wharton Online learning resources and two-day residential MasterClasses at the Wharton campus. Executive leadership programs are also offered by other universities; however, they are open to people from all industries and sectors.

They create a hospitable environment.

What do you do with weak students? Do you punish them or put performance pressure on them or something else? Dr. Pan Robbins, the co-author of The New Principal’s Fieldbook, tells,

A principal noted few months before graduation that certain children were at the risk of not graduating. To work on the problem, he ordered graduation robes early, took pictures of those kids in those robes, got them framed, and gave it to the kids. It inspired most of them to complete school.

Another principal was reviewing referrals to his office. He noted that kids were being referred to him only for negative reasons and took it on himself to change the environment.

This is how leaders change the climate and make it more hospitable. It is ever more so necessary in schools, where malleable hearts and minds are prepared for the future.

They cultivate leaders in others.

Leaders of all kinds consciously realize the value of developing leadership across the organization to accomplish their vision. In schools, successful K12 and school education leaders count on the groups of administrative staff, teachers, parents, and students, to lead their institutions. The Wallace Foundation report suggests,

If the test scores are to be believed, the more principals are willing to spread leadership, the better it becomes for students. This comes down to empowering teachers and giving them a voice in decision-making.

They maximize instructional time.

More instruction time in classes is directly related to improved learning outcomes. K12 leaders are doing this by decreasing the time taken for assessments and in some schools automating assessments, to give more buffer time for both students and teachers to focus on learning. Continuous assessment of teaching and assignmenthelp also forms a part of the spectrum. 

One can, for instance, observe the first 5 minutes of the class. If a teacher loses the first 5 minutes a day, it rounds to about 15 hours of instructional time lost.

They walk through the school and leverage research.

They do not only point out the problems in meetings but understand the nature and causes of those problems. It is brought to practicality by walking through the halls of their schools and managing people and processes through real data. The study by Wallace Foundation shows,

Low scoring K12 and school education leaders have a very different concept of observations. Often, they plan even their informal visits. Teachers and students knew in advance when their school principal would walk by. As an obvious result, the principals received little to no feedback on their school environment.

Little boys and girls in schools trust their adults to show them what the world has in hold for them. Are you as K12 leaders prepared to nurture these seedlings for the world of tomorrow?


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