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Professional Development
part of the Education Reform Network
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Leadership Rationale

Download: Leadership.doc

Quality teaching in all classrooms necessitates skillful leadership at the community, district, school, and classroom levels. Ambitious learning goals for students and educators require significant changes in curriculum, instruction, assessment, and leadership practices. Leaders at all levels recognize quality professional development as the key strategy for supporting significant improvements. They are able to articulate the critical link between improved student learning and the professional learning of teachers. They ensure that all stakeholders � including the school board, parent teacher organizations, and the business community � understand the link and develop the knowledge necessary to serve as advocates for high quality professional development for all staff.

Staff development leaders come from all ranks of the organization. They include community representatives, school board trustees, administrators, teachers, and support staff.

Principals, superintendents, and other key personnel serve as instructional leaders, artfully combine pressure and support to achieve school and district goals, engage parents and other caretakers in the education of their children, and establish partnerships with key community institutions that promote the welfare of all students. They are clear about their own values and beliefs and the effects these values and beliefs have on others and on the achievement of organizational goals. As primary carriers of the organization�s culture, they also make certain that their attitudes and behavior represent the values and practices they promote throughout the school or district.

Skillful leaders establish policies and organizational structures that support ongoing professional learning and continuous improvement. They ensure an equitable distribution of resources to accomplish district goals and continuously improve the school or district�s work through the ongoing evaluation of staff development�s effectiveness in achieving student learning goals. They make certain that employee contracts, annual calendars, and daily schedules provide adequate time for learning and collaboration as part of the workday. In addition, they align district incentive systems with demonstrated knowledge and skill and improvements in student learning rather than seat-time arrangements such as courses completed or continuing education units earned.

Principals and superintendents also distribute leadership responsibilities among teachers and other employees. Distributed leadership enables teachers to develop and use their talents as members or chairs of school improvement committees, trainers, coaches, mentors, and members of peer review panels. These leaders make certain that their colleagues have the necessary knowledge and skills and other forms of support that ensure success in these new roles. These leaders read widely, participate in learning communities, attend workshops and conferences, and model career-long learning by making their learning visible to others.

All leaders make use of various electronic tools to support their learning and make their work more efficient. They use e-mail, listservs, bulletin boards, Internet, and other electronic means to communicate, locate research and other useful information, and seek assistance in problem solving. They enlist other electronic tools to organize and schedule their work, produce and share documents, and increase their accessibility to colleagues, parents, and community members. Skillful leaders are familiar with the strengths and weaknesses of various electronic learning processes for themselves and others and make certain these processes are appropriately matched to individual and organizational goals.

  • Cataloged: Sept-28-2003
  • Contributor: David Gibson
  • Country: USA
  • Author/Creator: NSDC

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