If your school already has a shared leadership team, take a careful inventory of the membership. You need to identify key players, supporters, and detractors. Begin by asking yourself the following questions: Who are the team members? Why are they considered leaders?
Are they considered leaders just because of their positions or titles? How were they originally given leadership positions? Based on what criteria? Do they really lead and have followers, or do they just belong to a team and possess a leadership title? If they don't have followers, how can they lead? Have they reached their leadership capacity? If so, is that a detriment to the team? The "powerhouse" of the leadership team can be found in two tiers. Tier one includes The principal. The assistant principal s. The athletic director. The staff development coordinator. The dean of students.
The administrative intern. The school resource officer. Tier two includes Department chairs. Team leaders. Lead teachers. The instructional coach. The technology specialist. A guidance counselor. The activities coordinator. Aspiring teacher leaders. Although your leadership team does not need to mirror this template exactly, these people form the base of the decision makers in your school, with the exception of the school resource officer SRO. SROs are local law enforcement agents who serve as liaisons between schools and the police.
They establish a presence in schools to deter infractions and criminal behavior, forge relationships with students and staff, and actively work with school leaders to ensure a safe learning environment for students and staff. Because SROs can have a direct influence on the quality of instruction, we recommend that they participate in meetings, although they are not voting members of the leadership team and should not be expected to remain for the meetings' entire duration. If your school has a safety specialist, then it would also be wise to extend to him or her the responsibility of attendance.
We break the leadership team into two tiers because there will be times when it is necessary or desirable to assemble only the first tier. Overall, however, the two tiers should work in conjunction. The members of this team act as leaders of the leader: they will help you monitor the pulse of your school's culture, strengthen your leadership through ownership, and advise on and implement change. Teachers sometimes feel threatened by their neighboring classroom teachers, especially when those neighbors excel. This feeling of threat is one of the principal causes of teacher isolation.
Often, the situation is no different for leaders. We have been in too many schools that have a good principal but mediocre supporting leadership. This deficit could be due to a lack of training and coaching, but many principals actually prefer this situation because it safely preserves their ego and pride. If the principal is strong, this situation may not have a particularly negative effect on the team's or the school's overall efficacy.
But what if the school has a mediocre principal? Consider how difficult it will be just to maintain school affairs, much less provide strong leadership. As John Gardner notes, leaders should choose high-caliber colleagues, but "all too often they recruit individuals who have as their prime qualities an unswerving loyalty to the boss" p. Gardner further explains that "what might have been a leadership team becomes, all too often, a rule clique or circle of sycophants" p.
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Although loyalty is admirable, it should hardly be the top consideration in making hiring decisions. When we discuss leaders surrounding themselves with equally strong or stronger leaders, we can't help but think of Joe Torre, the highly successful former manager of the New York Yankees, who captured a World Series title in his first year at their helm. During the baseball season in particular, he found himself working with one of the most talented coaching staffs ever assembled.
Effective leaders are secure leaders. Each of the coaches—from the bench coach to the pitching coach—could easily have been the manager for another professional team. Instead, they chose to work with Torre. In return, Torre, never threatened by the immense talent that surrounded him, shared his leadership with his coaching staff. Relying on the coaches' input and instincts, Torre guided the team to success during an injury-plagued season.
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His distribution of leadership and professionalism over the years helped him bring out the best in his coaches and in his team. An insightful, decisive leader who demonstrated an uncanny knack for making the right decisions, he will be remembered as one of the most successful managers in baseball history.
Principals also have the potential to be remembered as effective leaders if they display the same courage and build a cadre of strong leaders to work with. This is a strategy that should be used only in extreme cases. Although an ill school culture or ineffective leaders may make it necessary for you to consider this option, you should keep in mind that it could have a detrimental effect on morale and climate. We know one principal who saw the need to eliminate complacency in his large suburban school, so he removed all teachers from their leadership positions and asked them to reapply.
Although he was correct in assessing that something needed to change, this drastic move caused already-low staff morale to plummet even further. That said, you should not necessarily steer away from this option. You are doing this for other teachers, not for yourself, so some staff members might even appreciate such action. Starting from scratch might be necessary; you just need to find a way to sell it to the rest of the staff.
You might consider addressing your intentions at a faculty meeting as a means of fostering leadership growth, especially if you have leaders who have held their positions for a number of years. You might explain that people who sit in leadership positions for too long may be unwittingly inhibiting others' professional growth.
Finally, if you do have just one or two leaders whom you would like to replace, this process helps you avoid accusations of bias. More selling and less telling of new strategies will win buy-in. Your school's shared leadership team plays a pivotal role in effecting powerful, sustainable change. You should have high expectations of your leaders. The members of the leadership team are responsible for monitoring and adjusting their departments' or teams' instructional programs; for articulating these instructional programs to students and parents; for assisting in the selection of teachers and team members; for coaching teachers; for serving as liaisons between their teachers and the subject coordinators and administrators; and for managing allocated resources.
We have drawn on our extensive experiences in numerous schools to define and describe five main leadership areas for teacher leaders. The following sections will clarify expectations for anyone in a leadership role, including you to some extent.
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Because teacher leaders and leadership team members are sometimes unsure of what their positions entail, each section contains a bulleted list of expectations that can serve as a guide and an evaluative tool. Of course, you should discuss these items with your team members before adopting them as leadership standards for your school.
You will notice that there is some overlap among the items in the different sections because seldom do leadership duties fit into tidy little boxes. If you talk the talk and expect others to walk that talk, be sure to be willing to lead the way. One of the main responsibilities of team members, instructional leadership is key in improving academic achievement. Although this role does have some managerial aspects, knowledge of instructional strategies, current research, and literature as well as the ability to apply data are imperative.
Leadership team members Serve on the shared leadership team. Assume a main role in the development of their respective subject areas' school improvement plan. Meet periodically with the principal and the area supervisor of instruction to discuss program and instructional matters. Establish vision and direction for their respective departments.
Coordinate school-level diagnostic pre-tests and post-tests. Mine and use assessment data to develop goals and action plans for their departments. Hold departmental meetings to discuss instructional concerns of their departments and the school. Seek ways to involve students meaningfully in their education program. Adapt the county program to the needs of the local school community. Help plan the best program for each instructional group by adapting the curriculum to the needs of the individuals.
Review department members' midterm and final examinations for consistency and rigor and provide constructive feedback. Work with the department, the administration, the guidance department, and other academic and support departments in developing the schedule and placing students in appropriate classes. Assist classroom teachers in classroom organization and management; in locating, selecting, and securing instructional materials; and in interpreting test results to assess each student's abilities and performance.
Conduct self-evaluation, self-improvement, and evaluation of programs. Develop plans for daily work as well as long-range planning. Plan for the most productive use of paraprofessionals, aides, and volunteers. You should meet regularly with your instructional leaders to Help them identify powerful instructional strategies and effective elements of lesson plans.
Share what you look for when you conduct classroom observations. Discuss how assessments should look, how often teachers should be assessing students, and how assessments should be weighted. Discuss how they can support novice teachers by observing them, having them observe other teachers, demonstrating instructional strategies for them, and providing opportunities for them to practice these techniques.
Just as you help your teacher leaders grow, they in turn must help their teachers grow. Establishing goals and long-range plans and promoting professional development are essential responsibilities of any leader. Leadership team members Help plan staff development activities. Develop departmental goals that are consistent with school, school system, and county goals.
Adjust programs as necessary to meet changing demands. Assist teachers in developing long-range plans. Develop a professional library or set of resources for their respective departments. Help interview and select prospective teachers for their departments. Stimulate an awareness of research and curriculum development in their subject areas. Help teachers identify the most effective ways of using courses of study and instructional materials. Play a key role in matching new teachers to mentors. Keep informed of new trends and programs in their fields of responsibility. Participate in inservice activities related to their duties.
Act as members of relevant review and evaluation committees. Assist in writing curriculum materials. Confer frequently with members of their departments on an informal basis. To help your leaders develop their programs and promote teachers' professional growth, you should Look at standardized test data with your leaders to see where their teams or departments are excelling and where they are falling short with certain objectives or strands. Help them brainstorm staff development sessions for their departments that would address problem areas.
Assist in designing "getting to know you" activities for mentors and their mentees as well as mini-workshops for the novice teachers that address classroom management, building responsibilities, and lesson plans. This area is more managerial in nature than the other areas, but effectively carrying out administrative and clerical functions is an important part of leadership.
Organizational skills and the ability to complete tasks and meet deadlines in a timely fashion are crucial. Leadership team members Assist the principal in providing overall leadership and management of the school's instructional program. Provide the school's leadership with meeting agendas and minutes. Monitor and make use of data pertinent to student achievement. Coordinate departmental housekeeping and clerical duties.
Align the culture of their respective departments with the school culture set by the principal. Lead departmental team-building activities. Foster cooperative interpersonal relationships within the department. Keep classroom teachers informed on local school matters. Coordinate the use and maintain the care of equipment and materials.
Supervise the use of the clerical and instructional aides assigned to the department. Greet, orient, and monitor substitute teachers, providing support as needed. Arrange emergency class coverage when necessary. Pre-approve all departmental transactions e. To support your leaders in this area, you should Discuss with your leaders what makes meetings effective or ineffective and talk about how to facilitate a meeting; most teacher leaders have never received training or guidance in this area.
Share practices that will help them increase their departments' productivity, such as creating an agenda, taking minutes, and identifying leadership roles present in their departmental meetings. Introduce them to team-building activities to use throughout the year to develop trust and improve climate. Show them the school's master calendar and explain how their departments' instructional programs fit in with the overall operations of the school.
Communicating concerns and expectations and relaying information to pertinent and vested parties are a crucial part of leadership.
As a liaison, leadership team members Meet with the principal and the director of instruction to share and discuss concerns related to their instructional programs. Keep the school administration and the relevant area and county supervisors informed on departmental matters of curriculum and instruction.
Join team and department members in parent conferences when appropriate. Meet regularly with subject supervisors. Your responsibilities to your liaisons are to Coach your leaders on how to mediate and interact in a parent conference, especially if it involves a complaint about one of their teachers. Stress to them the importance of timely communication.
Share examples of memos for communication and documentation purposes. Advise them on the most effective ways to communicate information to department members while not overloading them. Leadership team members must lead by example. Their scope of professionalism is not limited to what happens in front of the chalkboard; the way they conduct themselves in carrying out their duties and in interacting with colleagues is also important.
Leadership team members Model expectations and appropriate behavior for department members. Arrive punctually to work and meetings. Display a professional appearance. Communicate in a professional manner. Forge and maintain collegial relationships across the school. Fulfill obligations and responsibilities in an effective and expeditious manner.
To help your leaders grow professionally, you should Share time management tips and explain ways you prioritize and juggle tasks. Attend meetings led by your leaders and meet with them afterward to discuss their verbal and nonverbal interactions and communication with their staff. Invite them to accompany you to functions where you demonstrate how you connect and interact with different people in different positions. The descriptions of these five leadership areas will help your teacher leaders understand what you expect of them.
In addition, they provide you with rich material to help your teacher leaders excel. Consider using regular leadership team meetings as job-embedded professional development opportunities. If you set aside time at each meeting to focus on certain areas, you will nurture leadership while modeling expectations for what should happen in department and team meetings. Solicit input and agreement on your school's leadership team standards, then clearly and consistently communicate and enforce the expectations. For these sessions, consider pulling articles related to some of the expectations for the team to review and discuss.
You might model some of the expectations and provide examples or conduct activities pertaining to them. You could also enlist the help of your leaders in providing training. For example, for the instructional leadership expectation of "mining and using assessment data to develop goals and action plans for the department," a knowledgeable team member could teach the rest of the team how to "slice" and apply data in this way. These members would then be able to train the staff in their departments and grade-level teams on how to use data, set goals, and create plans based on those goals.
As we mentioned earlier, leaders cannot be everything to everyone all the time. You should rely on your teacher leaders to help you whenever possible. In the following three sections, we describe ways your teacher leaders can take ownership of supporting your school's mission and fostering academic achievement. Good leaders don't just influence people; they monitor them as well. Mike Schmoker recommends that "principals and teacher leaders meet with teacher teams by month or quarter to review and discuss evidence of what is actually being taught" p.
Simply mapping out curriculum is not enough. Even with maps or sequence guides provided by district-level offices and textbook companies, there is still a good chance that teams and departments display a bit of what Kim Marshall calls "curriculum anarchy" As much as we encourage teachers to collaborate with one another, the bottom line is that once the bell rings, they are alone in their classrooms and able to teach whatever they like.
Other than a couple of classroom visits each year, administrators don't have a full picture of what is actually going on. This "'don't ask, don't tell' culture" , p. The notion of monitoring instruction and curriculum coverage may greatly disturb some teachers; they will exclaim, "We're professionals, so we should be trusted to do our jobs right!
However, the stark reality is that today's stakes are high. Conducting curriculum reviews is an important way to "ensure that standards are actually taught " Schmoker, , p. As Schmoker argues, "In many schools, such reviews would have more impact than all the initiatives we have ever launched, combined. Leadership team members should conduct these reviews quarterly, meeting with their respective teams and departments to review evidence that teachers are delivering the approved curriculum. Whereas most leaders focus on data results , curriculum reviews force them to examine delivery and content process.
Your leadership team members are your content experts, so they are the natural ones to conduct these reviews. How do you know your teachers are regularly teaching and doing what is best for students? Therefore, during the curriculum reviews, team or department members should bring not just test results and other data but also lesson plans, projects, and assessments. The teacher leaders should ask such questions as, "How did your students fare on this assignment, and why do you think that is?
Leadership team members should review grade books and lesson plans, but they also need to reassure teachers that these reviews are neither punitive nor evaluative in nature although they could be used as evidence to support an unsatisfactory evaluation of a consistently underperforming teacher. Although the obvious purpose of these reviews is to monitor what is occurring in teachers' classrooms, the reviews also provide struggling teachers with opportunities for collaboration and support.
Then, at leadership team meetings, teacher leaders can discuss issues from the curriculum reviews, assess their teams' progress, brainstorm ways to refine the curriculum review process, and keep the administration updated on what is occurring throughout the building. Some might view this as micromanagement, but it is not.
The leadership team and the administration are not telling teachers what to do; the curriculum guides determine that. Rather, they are simply ensuring that the right things are being done. Again, because your leadership team members are your instruction and content experts, you should tap into their knowledge base by having them perform classroom observations. In some schools, teachers are not used to being observed by teacher leaders, so they might demonstrate some initial resistance to this idea. However, if you and your teacher leaders clearly explain that these observations are not in lieu of the formal observations that make up their evaluations, you should be able to allay their concerns.
These observations indeed won't formally be factored into evaluations, but they will be another source of information for you. They offer a cost-effective way of having another set of eyes and ears observing what is occurring in your school's classrooms, and they provide another resource for teachers who might need assistance. If a single leader cannot perform all the complex tasks necessary to lead a school, then he or she certainly won't be able to solve the plethora of problems that inevitably rise up alone.
Instead, you should encourage and even require your leaders to actively engage in problem solving. Leaders should expect team members to bring not just their problems to the table but also their solutions , even if they aren't always viable. You can also demonstrate your faith and trust in your leaders by bringing your own problems to the team.
Together, the team members bring a variety of leadership styles and strengths to the table, making the collaborative problem-solving process that much more effective. As a leader, you have responsibilities to students and staff to maintain the health of the school and its culture. But you also have responsibilities to your leaders—your current ones as well as your future ones. Specifically, you need to ensure that building leaders are adhering to expectations and make sure that you have a pool of future leaders to draw from.
As we mentioned before, you can use the five leadership areas we described to make your expectations and values clear. If one of your leadership team members is not fully meeting expectations, you need to have a professional conversation with that leader. For example, say one of your teacher leaders demonstrates a lack of professionalism by routinely arriving late for work and meetings. This leader is conveying the message that her time is more important than the team's time and that she is not accountable to expectations.
We have seen how this kind of behavior, left unaddressed, can erode respect for teacher leadership and, by extension, the school's leadership. Therefore, we recommend opening a dialogue with something along these lines: "Natalie, I notice you have not been arriving to school on time. You know that is not consistent with being a leader in this building, and you know you are expected to be a role model for the others. I feel confident that you can fix this. Would you agree? How can she respond? If she says "yes" and is able to rectify the behavior, then the team benefits.
If she says "no," then she is admitting not the failures but her inability to rectify them, which implies that she needs help in doing so. In fact, it almost sounds as though she is asking you to place her on a work plan for improvement if the behavior continues. See Resource 4. If the behavior continues, we recommend formal documentation that includes your efforts to support her and to clarify behavior and performance expectations. If she is unable or unwilling to change her behavior, then you have already initiated a dialogue on why she should not return in a leadership capacity.
The above approach works because you are ultimately affirming your leader's ability to rectify a problem. However, sometimes a conversation is not enough. If your leader does not consistently meet expectations, you need to explicitly state the disconnect between the expectations and the behavior and then outline a more formal plan. Offer some support, such as having him or her observe more effective leaders. Confer with your leader regularly about his or her progress or lack thereof , and be sure to document your efforts to help.
You should also document ways in which your leader continues to fall short to prepare for the worst-case scenario of removing him or her from the leadership position. As a school leader, one of your main responsibilities is developing the leadership capacity of others. In On Leadership , Gardner relates a conversation he had with the chair of a well-known corporation. This executive bemoaned the fact that the industry's culture rewarded people for "keeping their noses to the grindstones, doing their narrow jobs unquestioningly.
Then when a top post opens up, we look around in frustration and say, 'Where are the statesmen? Schools are no different. Schools often fail to produce "statesmen" because administrators tend to focus energy and resources on enhancing teachers' instructional practices rather than their leadership abilities. Admirable and necessary as it is to improve what occurs inside classrooms, however, school leaders need to pay equal attention to what teachers can be doing outside them.
Too often, schools have no plan for filling future leadership vacancies other than pulling up the applicant database. This lack of a plan might not be purposeful; rather, leaders are just happy to have good teachers in their classrooms so they can focus their energy and attention elsewhere. We hope that you are able to identify a person who was instrumental in your career, someone who encouraged you on your path toward leadership. This person might have spotted something in you that no one else had seen before and taken an active role in your development.
Maybe he or she provided guidance and support to you along the way, listening to you and building you up when you needed it most. Unfortunately, mentoring potential leaders is not a norm in most schools. Yet mentoring a staff member who has leadership aspirations—what we call "growing a leader"—is an effective way to get the most out of your future leaders. Mentoring a potential leader is a time commitment on the part of both mentor and mentee, so you should be sure to identify someone who is interested in developing this kind of relationship.
You should meet regularly with your mentee. Ideally, you should dedicate 30 minutes a week. We know that might be a considerable time commitment, but as the relationship progresses, the mentee will invariably encounter situations that he or she will want to discuss as soon as possible. If you delay the conference by a week or two, you run the risk of losing a "teachable moment" and the mentee's excitement. One of the best strategies you have at your disposal is simply sharing stories.
Yours are a valuable source of information, so we encourage you to relate leadership anecdotes. Once you have built up a level of trust, you can share with your mentee how you have addressed situations with difficult parents, difficult students, and even difficult teachers, and your decision-making process along the way.
As your relationship progresses, encourage your mentee to share his or her own stories about handling difficult situations. Coach your mentee by asking probing, open-ended questions about how else he or she might handle scenarios while enlarging his or her view of the school and how its different areas are interconnected. When you meet with your mentee, you are not necessarily there to evaluate or judge; you are there to build up his or her skills and confidence. On occasions when you must be critical, try to make sure that your mentee leaves the meeting feeling good about his or her potential and excited about pursuing the leadership path.
You should also encourage your mentee to take on new challenges and get outside his or her comfort zone. Finally, help him or her build networks with other potential leaders as well as official leaders inside the building, in other schools, and at the central office. Potential leaders learn by doing. It's a good idea for administrators to groom their teacher leaders to serve in their absence and for teacher leaders to coach their teachers to lead in their absence.
In this way, the principal, assistant principals, department chairs, and team leaders all have backups to act on their behalf. According to Gardner , this practice activates "widening circles of supplementary leadership. Such an extended network reaching out from the leadership center carries messages both ways. It can be equally effective in letting the intentions of leadership be known or in tapping a broad range of advice and advocacy" p. In addition, providing teachers with new challenges helps stem job stagnation and turnover.
We recommend that you set up some learning opportunities for your teacher leaders during their planning periods. They could observe you handling discipline issues or meeting with a parent, for example. Follow up these observations with a discussion on choices you made, words you used, and nonverbal behavior you employed.
Once you believe your backup has soaked up enough information, assign him or her some minor responsibilities and follow up with further discussion and reflection. When you're comfortable with having your backup act independently, have him or her fill in on your behalf the next time you are absent. Leave a "lesson plan," just as a classroom teacher would for a substitute teacher.
If you are an assistant principal, for example, leave a list of referrals to address student discipline issues. This will broaden the substitute's knowledge of how the different areas of the school function. You could have your backup draft a memo to the staff, develop an agenda for or facilitate a leadership team meeting, or organize an event to further build his or her skills. You create your life story, so know that which you want to paint on the canvas of your life.
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