If there's one thing that anyone in any position of authority must be willing to provide in order to inspire action and achievement, it's leadership. In order to consider the role of teachers and administration who guide a school’s policies we must consider what are the most crucial best practices for school leadership. How can we make a school the most successful it can be?
Firstly, what would a successful school look like? Clearly it would mean different things to different educators, but a successful school places a priority on future-focused learning, seeks to guide its staff and students toward having a passion for learning, and for growing creatively and collaboratively. Additionally, a successful school endeavors to model and encourage best practices as something that doesn't just fall to executive staff to handle. In other words, a successful school realises that true leadership is the business of everyone under its roof—teachers, executive staff, and students alike working together to make their school exceptional. This is at the heart of the true meaning of success in any school setting.
Nevertheless, it is often the school's leaders who pave the way, and the truth is students and teachers perform better when directed by high-quality leaders. Part of being a good leader is being visible. Principals and other leaders shouldn’t be visible only to students or teachers who have done something wrong. They must inspire as many students and teachers as they can. Leaders should also demonstrate their concern for student and teacher achievement in many ways. They can’t expect students and teachers to care about their performance if they don’t show that they care.
Are you interested in some tips on school leadership best practices that make a difference? Here are 10 that we feel are the most crucial ones to consider, and to model for staff and students.
1. Attend Activities
Leaders should attend sports events, of course, but they must also attend events that would otherwise have low levels of attendance for example, debating, theatre and music groups, eisteddfods etc They need to show they’re interested in what all of the students do. If leaders have school pride, the students and teachers might too.
2. Be Accessible
Leaders, whether they’re principals or heads of departments, should always be willing and able to meet with teachers. People should be prioritized over paperwork. Leaders should be so personable that teachers are comfortable approaching them with their concerns. They should also introduce themselves to students and remember their names so students regard them as people, not just enforcers of discipline. The true mark of a principal who cares, is that they know the name of every student who attends their school. A challenging task, but one that builds relationships.
3. Be Posied
Dealing with an angry parent can be a huge challenge, leaders must do everything they can to make sure that teachers and students don’t let negative emotions impair their performance. That means they must be poised both in public and private even when there is bad news to be heard or a difficult decision to be made. In (difficult) situations, always stay calm and confident to maintain morale and confidence in the school community.
4. Be Positive
Constructive school leadership best practices include making people feel like they’re making a positive contribution to the school while simultaneously advising them how they can improve their performance. Leaders meeting with teachers and/or students should first tell them what they’re doing right. They should be able to say three positive things about someone’s performance before getting into constructive criticism. The goal is to get people to want to improve, and bad morale can cause adults to quit jobs and students to quit studying.
5. Formulate a Vision
Everyone in school leadership wants to improve the learners’ academic performance, but it takes a strong leader to formulate an achievable vision to accomplish that. The vision must be accompanied by a list of actionable steps needed to achieve the vision. The steps might include meetings with students and their parents to point toward the right courses, using more tutors, and training teachers in new instructional methods.
6. Communicate Effectively
Formulating a vision is inadequate if it’s not communicated well. The vision statement of a principal must be communicated to everyone impacted by the vision, including teachers, students, and parents. That means updating teachers, students, and parents regularly on the progress of the vision statement and the steps needed to achieve it. In addition, effective leaders prioritise returning emails, phone calls, and texts as soon as possible over paperwork and other administrative responsibilities that don’t have a pressing deadline.
7. Never Stop Learning
Leaders should attend conferences that are the most likely to improve their skills and knowledge. That might mean forsaking the traditional conferences and seeking out new ones. Leaders should apply the same logic to teachers. Show your employees that you’re also willing to learn, take input and change directions, if necessary.
8. Be Forthright
Forthright and candid are better words than honest because, of course, you never want to be dishonest. We’re talking about always telling teachers, parents, and school community the truth about the school. If you need more money to achieve your vision, tell the community the options you have. You might need to cut part of the budget substantially. If student performance regressed, be candid about this and seek a solution. If a previous decision was wrong, admit your mistake. Great leaders take responsibility for mistakes and bad news.
9. Train Future Leaders
Great leaders will inspire people who work under them if they give those who have grown professionally more responsibility and leadership roles. The school is better off if it has two great leaders instead of one, 10 instead of five. Great leaders also look for people who can fill future leadership positions. Great principals, for example, look for talented and dedicated staff.
Innumerable studies have shown that listening is one of the most important qualities of a great leader. If a teacher comes to you with a problem, listen and then ask the teacher what they think should be done. The Listen to your teachers and students. Learn their talents, interests and passions and then delegate accordingly.