March 24, 2015
On January 12th, administrators attended the third training in our Principal Leadership Series. The topic for the day focused on cultivating leadership in others. The participants were given the opportunity to identify principal behaviors essential to building leadership capacity in others. There were two critical questions for them to deliberate throughout the day:
1. What does it mean for principals to cultivate leadership in others?
2. What examples or results of cultivating leadership can you share from your own experience?
The participants reviewed the research by reading an excerpt from The School Principal as Leader: Guiding Schools to Better Teaching and Learning (The Wallace Foundation, 2013), 9–10. The key points detailed in the reading revealed the following findings: 1) Principals who get high marks from teachers for creating a strong climate for instruction in their schools also receive higher marks than other principals for spurring leadership in the faculty, 2) effective leadership from all sources — principals, influential teachers, staff teams and others — is associated with better student performance on math and reading tests, and 3) good leadership improves both teacher motivation and work settings which strengthens classroom instruction.
Cinde Wendell, superintendent at SEM and Michael Herzberg, principal at St. Libory were guest panelists during a panel discussion. They addressed the following questions:
• How do you create a culture of shared leadership?
• What have you done to develop leadership skills in others?
• How do you honor the diversity of thoughts, ideas and people?
• What have you done to honor and celebrate others who lead in your district.
The panelists shared some great insight which helped to stimulate meaningful conversations amongst the administrators in attendance.
We then asked the participants to spend time linking research with practice. Three groups were formed and they considered the leadership responsibilities of different school role groups: grade-level department chair, teacher leader and school decision-making team. Their task was to identify responsibilities for leaders, opportunities that leadership offers, and the contributing impact on school effectiveness. The activity was designed to help answer the following questions about their own leadership:
• What is essential to know when attempting to cultivate leadership in others?
• What can I do to address varied expectations and concerns about leadership developed and distributed among school group members?
• When should I seek external support and assistance to cultivate leadership among faculty and other staff members?
Our goal for the day was to provide them with background knowledge and examples of how to cultivate leadership in others. We are hopeful they will reflect about the practices and conditions that are necessary for developing leadership skills in others and the implications they have for them as school leaders.
-by Dallas Lewandowski, Teaching and Learning Coordinator