Sunday, July 3, 2016

Grow Your Leadership

National Association of Elementary School Principal PRINCIPAL MAY/JUNE 2016Grow Your Leadership

It is summer and I have had time to catch up on some much-neglected reading.  The National Association of Elementary School Principals’ magazine Principal has been at the top of my reading pile for a couple of weeks now. The articles are for both elementary and middle school principals and they are incredibly insightful to support our leadership responsibilities. The overall theme I took away from the May/June issue was building my own capacity for service leadership.

Sandra Trach’s article Lifeline gives new principals a list of “ways to grow and learn” during their first year and offers “supports that can help new school leaders stay afloat in the principalship.”  Her recommendations include continuing to support your own professional growth as well as reaching out to like colleagues for insights and wisdom. Looking back on my own first year, I do not recall much from that first year as a building principal other than sheer joy and exhaustion.  Knowing I could look to others for “mutual support” could have alleviated some of my biggest concerns and fears.

Russell J. Quaglia & Peter DeWitt’s article, Make an Impact, reminded me the affect I can have as a building leader to simply listen. “Listening is not a passive act; it is more than hearing someone. Listening requires planning, openness, and a genuine interest in understanding the thoughts and ideas of those around you.”  The author’s list of actions we should do less of, to what we should do more of, helps the “Principal Voice Volume Control” in our conversations as powerful suggestions to our leadership practices. A few of their recommendations include moving away from canned speeches to meaningful dialog, negotiation to collaborating, and managing to encouraging, which requires more active listening on our part.

Donna Anderson-Davis and Diane Smith’s article, Celebrating the Power of Coaching, shared what their school leaders, principals, supervisors, and instructional coaches have been undertaking using job-embedded coaching and an inquiry cycle process, “to identify the most pressing school improvement needs and to provide structures for support.” This shared ownership practice not only enhances a principal’s leadership skills but has created a feedback framework “to support teachers to improve instruction for all students.”

These articles are just a few examples of actionable take-away items for reflective school principals. Other articles include insights from current classroom teachers, building leaders, district heads, and superintendents.  Note: Principal magazine is also available in digital format with the ability to search by content and bookmark for future reference. 

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