Campus Support Curriculum & Instruction Professional Development Texas Leadership Standards Uncategorized

Gaining Insights into the Essential Skills of a Leader

Principals are not only charged with a variety of responsibilities to lead their staff but also with the need to shift the direction of the school in order to improve student learning. The accountability level placed upon the administrative teams has risen and caused a need for principals to move from a managerial role to that of an instructional leader. During an interview to two dedicated, and passionate Garland ISD principals, I learned how they have shifted the focus of instruction to teaching and learning having as result a better school culture, where teachers feel comfortable taking risks. Their leadership style, their collaborative decision-making process, and vision for school are aligned in such a way for teachers and leaders to work together towards a common goal.

The two instructional leaders I interviewed have a collaborative leadership style that allows teachers to use a common language moving from a “my kids” perspective to a more of a “our kids” lens. This work takes time, persistence, effort, planning, but above all, a leader who digs in the work with teachers. When the actions of leaders match their words, leaders develop teachers and the latter feel supported along the way.

When doing such a collaborative work, differing viewpoints and personalities might become a challenge. Dealing with conflict is hard. However, both instructional leaders agreed that one of their goals is to develop individuals, resulting in not solving problems for their staff. When there is a sign of a not collegial relationship among teachers, a coaching conversation should take place to map out a plan to solve the conflict. Although this process is uncomfortable for some people, it allows leaders and teachers to establish expectations of having professional conversations.  An infinite number of situations can exemplify how to deal with conflict, but not one situation will be the same to another. Leaders and teachers face these unique situations daily, which in turn, when dealt appropriately, develops a culture where the differences among the staff become strengths that can be used to reach campus goals. This is an area of improvement for me as a leader. The approach I have used in the past has been more of avoiding the conflict resulting putting the goal of the campus on a second level of importance. In the last two years, I have gotten better at evaluating people and adjust my interactions with them. In a collaborative environment, there is a need to be able to understand and respect others’ perspectives creating a culture where it is okay to push other’s thinking, have conflict, and grow as a community of learners.

Having a clear vision aligned with the needs of the campus is a third aspect that I would like to highlight. Embraces teaching and learning is at the heart of the work my two interviewees do daily. Their actions and work they do with teachers and students serve as evidence of their words. Having a more collaborative culture where everyone improving each individual will have a positive impact on student learning allows for teaching and learning to be at the heart of everything each campus does. The message they communicate weekly, the way they approach students and students, the initiatives they have in place, the strategies used to motivate each staff member create a path to achieve their ultimate goal: student learning and developing teachers.

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