We spend lots of time talking about principal leadership in education. We dissect principal workload, discuss how important instructional leadership is and concur on the impact a principal has on a school. And I agree! The principalship is a key element of every school’s success, as I discussed here.
But we need much more than formal leaders! School improvement, that is, improving our effectiveness to meet student need so that every student achieves and succeeds at a high level, is the foundation for every educator’s work. And we can’t do it without leaders in the classroom.
Who knows students inside out? Who builds the trusting relationships with students so they want to do their best work? Whose passion and enthusiasm ignites colleagues’ moral purpose? Yep, you got it: classroom educators (teachers, educational assistants, early childhood educators).
I’ve talked to many classroom educators who don’t consider themselves leaders. They can’t always see how the innovative, thoughtful work they do every day with each other on behalf of students means they are changing education and student achievement. Carol Scaini, a former leader in our district, put together an excellent tool to help teachers understand the impact of their work and where to focus for growth as a leader. It’s called the Self Assessment Tool for Aspiring Leaders. It can be used for more formal leadership roles, but it is equally useful for teachers who want to explore their vital role as classroom leaders.
District leaders can set the strategic directions. Principals and vice principals can lead the instructional program and make sure the school runs smoothly.
None of it matters without leaders in the classroom.