Principals Matter, A Lot

While there is obviously is a direct link between great teachers and student success, the importance of the building principal is often overlooked. Not only are they an essential part of what it takes to achieve growth, excellence, and needed change, but the best ones support and empower teachers to be better and to become teacher leaders.

A principal’s leadership, or lack thereof, can make or break a school.  As Indianapolis educator Shawnta Barnes put it, “teachers don’t quit schools. They quit principals.”

Here’s an excerpt of her piece:

This is why a strong leader is key.  School districts across our country need to invest more resources into developing their leaders.  Yes, teacher development is important, but a great teacher under a poor leader is a teacher who is likely to leave and a school that is not likely to succeed.

K-12 principals are the gatekeepers to the educational success of students. Administrators are tasked with wearing many hats, of those, the most important are supporting and creating an environment that is conducive to learning, welcoming for parents, and an environment that allows great teachers to facilitate learning. The climate of a school is a direct reflection of its leadership.

A recent New York Times piece shines a light on the importance of principals.

But principals can make a real difference. Overlooking them is a mistake — and fortunately, they’re starting to get more attention. The federal education law passed in 2015, to replace No Child Left Behind, puts a new emphasis on the development of principals. So have some innovative cities and states, including Denver, New Orleans and Massachusetts.

The ultimate goal of student success is attainable by providing both teachers and students with opportunities and support while eliciting the support and partnership of parents and other key community stakeholders.

Principals must set a vision for their schools woven into the daily work of each educator and teacher that will come in contact with students. That vision must not ignore the challenges the community or the individual student poses but must be rooted in finding solutions that allow for reaching outcomes that we all want for out students and communities. In a time where we are asking more from our students, parents, and teachers, strong leadership at the apex of our schools is essential; that starts with effective leadership from principals.