The Passion Files


Passion-Driven Leadership/ The Passion Files

The following Passion Files are provided to promote thoughtful insights into Leading and Leadership Development. The implied goal is to cause the readers to think and rethink their positions regarding the Leadership Process. As each topic is presented I will make an effort to provide the latest research on the matter and my position on it. Please feel free to add your comment(s) or critique!

What is the responsibility of the Principal regarding Professional Development?

(The Research)

The importance of principals in the professional development process cannot be overlooked. Principals can be the key to creating optimal conditions for teacher learning and student learning. According to Ann Liberman (1995), principals should collaborate with teachers as partners, support teachers and “create opportunities for them to grow.” The principal is not the sole leader of professional development. According to Lambert (2002) the days as the principal as the lone instructional leader is over (p.37).

The value of teacher professional growth, the important role of principals in fostering that growth, and the techniques that are most often used by principals to assist in teacher growth and development have been examined by a number of education scholars in the past (Berube, 2004; Cochran-Smith & Lytle, 1999; Darling-Hammond, 2000, 2005; Drago-Severson, 2007; Dufour, 1995; Glickman, 2002). Most of these studies focus on new and beginning teachers (Jueves, 2011).

Findings from these studies point to the principal sharing decision making with teachers and involving them in planning professional development to meet their goals. Teachers tend to demonstrate high self-efficacy when communication with the principal is regular, open and honest (Gimbel, 2003; Jueves, 2011).

Existing literature on teacher growth and leadership suggests that effective principals develop strong relationships with their teaching staffs through both formal and informal evaluations, coupled with ongoing positive dialogue between principals and teachers (Cochran-Smith & Lytle, 1999; Danielson, 2002; Glickman, 2002; Kaplan, 2001; Pancake & Mollier, 2007; Zimmerman, 2006; Jueves, 2011).

Principal leadership that supports adult development makes schools better places for teaching and learning. Several studies suggest that principals realize that most teachers expand their teaching range only with carefully designed support and assistance (Berube, 2004; Blase & Blase, 1998; Gimbel, 2003; Halfacre & Halfacre, 2006: Sergiovanni, 1992; Zimmerman, 2006; Jueves, 2011).

Formal and informal opportunities that principals provide for teacher collaboration yield vast positive results for teacher growth. In schools where teachers frequently talk to each other the most about practice and where principals stayed in touch with the community, students had noticeably higher academic achievement (Blase & Blase, 1998; Cochran-Smith & Lytle, 1999; Drago-Severson, 2007; Leanna, 2002; Wenglinsky, 2000; Jueves, 2011).

An integral component of sustained school improvement has been the willingness and ability of principals to assume the role as staff developers. To do this, principals must have clear and open communication with teachers and create opportunities to build relationships (Halfacre & Halfacre, 2006; Youngs & King, 2002). These principal behaviors increase principal-teacher trust, a necessary ingredient in helping teachers reach their professional goals (Gimbel, 2003; Jueves, 2011).

A study was published in the American Association of School Administrators (AASA) Journal of Scholarship and Practice that investigated teacher and principal perceptions of the role of the principal in fostering teachers` professional growth (Vol.7. No.4 Winter 2011).

(My Position)

“As is the Principal so is the school”, is a phrase that I learned while attending one of the many professional training sessions that we have to attend as Principals. I thought it was rather cliché` at first but the more I reflected on it the more it made sense. If in fact, we are to be the change that we want to see in others, then it must start with us.

When I train leaders, we discuss their role as thoughtful change agents in modules 1 and 2. I believe Principals can be thoughtful change agents if the following things are in place and done daily.

  • Engage in Thoughtful Reflection daily to ascertain whether your professional and personal goals were met for the day, with a willingness to make the necessary corrections the next day.
  • Be willing to own the process of change by modeling the change the you want to see in others daily.
  • Communicate clearly and regularly your expectations for the company`s mission, vision and goals.
  • Intentionally build bridges of trust with all stakeholders.

Surely there are more things that could and should be done by Principals as they serve as catalyst for effective teacher professional development and change, but these are my thoughts. I would love to hear your thoughts on the topic: What is the responsibility of the Principal regarding Professional Development?





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