Wednesday, September 17, 2014

5 ways to better support Principals

A national study on The Future of the Principalship in Canada takes a thoughtful look at what is happening to principals across Canada.

The study identifies five ways forward for principals to overcome the challenges they face and move toward their ultimate goals for their schools and students.

Way Forward 1: Teach and Learn for Diversity

“Diversity” encompasses an enormous array of cultural backgrounds, needs, interests and opportunity structures for Canadian students. Schools work to recognize and meet the needs of all kinds of diversity, and three key “ways forward” emerged from the comments of school leaders:
  • Support new Canadian families, particularly in English language learning 
  • Strategically engage and teach First Nations, Métis, and Inuit (FNMI) students and develop better partnerships with families 
  • Strategically address growing mental health issues in children and young adults 

Way Forward 2: Collaborate and Build Professional Capacities in School Staff

Although some principals in this study discussed the importance of collaboration in their schools, many more appeared to carry the leadership burden alone. Participants noted the following strategies related to collaboration:
• Implement mentorship programs
• Foster leadership development to encourage school principals to draw on the strengths and talents of their teaching staff, moving toward distributive leadership models 

Way Forward 3: Build Family and Community Relationships

School principals and teachers need new ways to connect with parents and communities. There are both short-term and long-term “ways forward” to foster family and community relationships:
  • In the short term, support professional development that will help school leaders with negotiations, dispute resolutions, and boundary-setting 
  • In the long run, work to build community-level partnerships 
  • Advocate for integrated service models that house an array of family services in the school to benefit students and families directly, as well as to strengthen relationships in the community 

Way Forward 4: Use Technology for Creative Learning and Good Citizenship

School principals and teachers see both opportunities and social costs in the growth of information and communications technologies. In society and mass media, technology is largely taken up in an uncritical manner. This inspires the following “ways forward”:
  • Recognize and assume a significant leadership role in teaching children and young people to use technology responsibly and thoughtfully 
  • Continue professional development for school leaders and staff regarding technology in the classroom 
  • Balance technical skills with sensitivity to the pedagogical and social consequences of technology for students’ learning, social development, and well-being 

Way Forward 5: Promote Continuous Leadership Learning

Participants mentioned the need for more reflection and more collaboration with colleagues and clearly desired opportunities to work with their teachers to improve practices. Despite this, a specific vision for leadership development was not evident in these findings. Nonetheless, researchers drew the following “ways forward” from the participants’ responses:
  • Continue articulating leadership frameworks and competencies for school principals 
  • Advocate for conditions that will not crowd out leadership learning with managerial competencies

1 comment:

  1. That last strategy is going to be key to success for any Principal. Leadership in learning is a core role that requires us all to continue to develop and grow our capacity to lead change. Good luck with the journey, mate!


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