School Leader's Role  

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School Leader’s Role


So how do you improve the professional development at your school?


As is often the case, you start with the data. This means you and your team look at data on both student performance and teacher performance and start asking questions. What areas need to be addressed? How might you allocate your PD resources differently so you can increase student performance (always your ultimate goal)? At this stage, it is also essential to get input from your teachers. What do they feel they need in terms of PD? Getting input from your teachers helps you tailor your PD to their needs and greatly increases their investment in the process. That said, it is still up to you and your team to ensure that your school’s professional development is aligned with the relevant teaching and learning standards and with your school’s improvement goals.


Some of the additional steps you can take include: 

The school leader's role

  1. Role model learning– participate in your school’s PD not just as a facilitator, but as a learner.
  2. Become a PD Promoter  by getting everyone in your school onboard regarding the importance of professional development; work with your team to make it an integral part of your school’s culture.
  3. As a PD Advocate, it is equally critical to get everyone in your school community onboard regarding the importance of professional development. If you use the professional learning community model and JEPD, you will need to build in scheduled time during the workday for implementation. This time may have an impact upon student and family schedules. It is essential that you and your team work with families so they are invested in and supportive of this process – they need to see the need for teacher learning as a means for enhancement of their children’s learning.
  4. Find ways to create the time necessary for your teachers to have both ongoing collaborative planning time and JEPD. Explore how other schools build this into their schedules. For example, the use of effective co-teaching practices requires collaborative planning time. Click on this link to listen to an archived webinar of elementary, middle, or high school Principals discussing their scheduling strategies. Brainstorm solutions with your team. Demonstrate that PD is a priority for you by giving teachers scheduling flexibility and perhaps even occasionally covering their classes.
  5. Develop lots of facilitators. Make sure that they have a solid grasp of the elements of adult learning. If facilitators need professional development themselves, ensure that it is provided. Give facilitators all the support they need to do their job effectively.
  6. Set clear expectations for PD for both facilitators and all of your teachers. When considering school-wide PD topics and be focused – concentrate on only one or two topics that will make a difference to everyone in your school.
  7. Use technology as often as you can. Professional learning communities can communicate virtually; coaching and mentoring might happen via email while collaborative planning could be done on a Wiki. Technology can help you foster communication and build a collaborative culture of learning. 

Qualities of Effective Principals - Stronge, Richard, & Catano

A learner among learners

To summarize, principals – that is, effective principals – support instructional activities and programs by modeling expected behaviors and consistently prioritizing instructional concerns day-to-day. They strive to become a learner among learners. Involvement in curriculum, instruction and assessment are crucial to the idea of instructional leadership.


From the Maryland Instructional Leadership Framework 2005:


6. Use Technology and Multiple Sources of Data to Improve Classroom Instruction

The principal is able to demonstrate that there is/are:

6.1 Effective use of appropriate instructional technology by students, staff, and administration

6.2 Regular use of the MSDE websites (Maryland Report Card and School Improvement)

6.3 Review of disaggregated data by subgroups

6.4 Ongoing root cause analysis of student performance that drives instructional decision making

6.5 Regular collaboration among teachers on analyziing student work


7. Provide Staff with Focused, Sustained, Research-based Professional Development

 The principal is able to demonstrate that there is/are:

7.1 Results-oriented professional development that is aligned with identified curricular, instructional, and assessment needs and is connected to school improvement goals

7.2 Opportunities for teachers to engage in collaborative planning and critical reflection during the regular school day (job-embedded)

7.3 Differentiated professional development according to career stages, needs of staff and student performance

7.4 Personal involvement in professional development activities

7.5 Professional development aligned with the Maryland Teacher Professional Development Standards


View entire Leadership Framework here 

Leadership Development - William Hall

Once again, leadership is a team sport

Powerful professional learning communities are inevitably characterized by widely-dispersed leadership. Leadership teams or guiding coalitions represent one important structure for dispersed leadership. Principals and superintendents in PLCs create and cultivate these guiding coalitions – people who trust each other and work toward a common goal. The critical tasks of implementing continuous improvement processes, while, at the same time, sustaining the core values of the culture, fall not solely to a designated leader but to the entire leadership team.

Leadership Development: The Critical Element in Sustaining the Cultural Changes of a Professional Learning Community

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