What makes an effective principal? A decade of Wallace Foundation-supported research and work in school districts and states suggests that five practices are key to helping principals improve teaching and learning in their schools:

  1. Shaping a vision of academic success for all students, one based on high standards;
  2. Creating a climate hospitable to education so safety, a cooperative spirit and other foundations of fruitful interaction prevail;
  3. Cultivating leadership in others so teachers and other adults assume their part in realizing the school vision;
  4. Improving instruction to enable teachers to teach at their best and students to learn at their utmost; and
  5. Managing people, data and processes to foster school improvement.

This Wallace-sponsored feature article appeared in the February 2012 issue of JSD, the journal of Learning Forward, an association for those who work in professional development in education. There is much principals must do to help their students succeed. But these five practices can give principals “a fighting chance of making a real difference for students,” the article says.

 Points of Interest

  • Effective leadership begins with the development of a school-wide vision of commitment to high standards and the success of all students. The principal helps to spell out that vision and get all others on board with it.
    An effective school #principal spells out a vision of success of for all students & builds support for it. #education
  • The more open a principal is to spreading leadership around, the better it is for student learning. Effective leadership from a variety of sources—principals, teachers, staff teams and others—is associated with better student performance on math and reading tests.
    A central part of being a great #school leader is cultivating leadership in others. #principal #education
  • Effective leaders focus laser-like on the quality of instruction in their schools. They emphasize research-based strategies to improve teaching and learning and initiate discussions about instructional approaches, both in teams and with individual teachers.
    Effective #principals pursue research-based strategies to help #teachers improve their classroom work. #education