What is it?
If we are serious about helping all students achieve at high levels, then principals must rethink the what, how and why of schooling, organized around high expectations and high standards. And they must be given the authority to hold people accountable for results. All policies, planning and decisions must be based on the belief that every child - quite apart from the accident of whether they were born in a low-income family, as a racial or language minority or with a physical or learning disability - can and will achieve at high levels. This fundamental belief is the driving focus of a school community committed to continuous learning and improvement. What would it look like if school communities were to act on the belief that all students could achieve at high levels?
Articulate a clear vision that reflects the beliefs, values, and commitments of the school community
Visions should help others understand what the people in a school believe and are committed to. Principals can and should make clear statements about what they, as school leaders, believe, which will set a direction for the beliefs the school community articulates.
A clear vision enables principals to come back to the fundamental beliefs that drive the actions of a school. This is an essential concept: If people in the school do not believe that all children are capable of learning at high levels, then some children will continue to fall through the cracks.
High expectations and performance-driven schools mock the notion of equity if students, teachers and principals are not given a legitimate opportunity to meet standards. The most fundamental opportunity-to-learn standards encompass the following areas:
Develop a school culture that is flexible, collaborative, innovative and supportive of efforts to improve achievement of all students
There is nothing routine about teaching and learning. Both require creativity, as well as know-how. If we are to succeed at having all children achieve at high levels, principals must insist that their school environments support continuous improvement. The best way to learn is to become actively involved in risky work. Open communication and sharing are the foundation for work that is collaborative and that requires risk. Joseph and Jo Blase write that principals support teacher development by:
To do so, principals need strong skills in providing open, constructive and accurate feedback and sensibility in creating the possibility of self-disclosure. Effective leaders know where they stand on particular issues and, at the same time, are committed to growth and change over time. Principals know that they do not have all the answers, but they are always thinking of new ways to build personal effectiveness and to help the people in their schools do the same.