There is a consensus among astute observers of the world of education that school reform whether it is the area of curriculum, methodology, instruction, or assessment is more likely to occur in schools that possess highly effective principals whose strong leadership trickles down into the ranks of the staff that they lead.

The foundation that these highly effective principals build their success upon is a well-articulated vision that is resilient in the face of the myriad of challenges that the school administrator will face on a daily basis.  Just put, this vision needs, to begin with where the school is today and ends with the destination to which the principal would like to guide his/her “ship.”

There are certain habits that are found among these highly effective principals.  What are they?

1 – Inspire a Culture of Innovation

So where does the highly effective principal begin?  Usually with questions such as these:

  • How can I bring the school from where we are now to where it should be?
  • What’s the best way to change the time-heralded values and beliefs in the school?
  • How do we design a plan to create the kind of culture that promotes innovation?

A highly effective principal needs not only hire the best teachers available and provide optimal resources, but inspire the staff to innovate and create.  While the principal may not be a fountain of creativity, he/she could be a fountain of inspiration for that sorely needed creativity.

2 – Foster Collaboration

The view of teaching has morphed over the years.  Classroom teaching is no longer seen as an isolated profession but a matrix of collaborative efforts. This new “collaborative reality” has created new demands upon, and opportunities for, principals.  For some, it’s a simple application of “the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.”

Highly effective principals create collaborations where there were none before.  Teachers who barely knew one another and had little to no idea how they could work together are joined together by the insightful and creative principal. A fringe benefit of creating such an atmosphere is that the teachers are in a perpetual mode of learning and discovery.

3 – Be a Connected Learner Yourself

Highly effective principals understand that it is acceptable to admit their ignorance.  While some principals may be afraid of being seen as not knowing it all, this is entirely untrue and unhelpful.  Bottom line, it is not about the principal’s reputation but whether or not the school is performing to its max for the benefit of the kids.

The coronally to this admission is that highly effective principals are committed to a lifetime of learning. Aside from their edification, the benefits of such a quality go far beyond the enhancement of the principal’s knowledge and wisdom.  Very often the administrator inspires others on staff to adopt the same approach with continuous benefits for all.

4 – Openness to Innovation such as Online Speech Therapy

Highly effective principals also understand that they don’t need pride of authorship on every new and helpful idea. They are humble enough to realize that great ideas can come from anywhere and are always seeking them out. The principal needs to get everyone in the school involved and feel a vested interest in contributing to enhancing the school’s vision and success.

Take, for example, the exciting new phenomenon of online speech therapy or speech teletherapy as is commonly known.  The benefits are many, the value is excellent, and many schools across the country are grabbing it to the great satisfaction of those students that require speech therapy.

Anyone on staff could have suggested upgrading the speech therapy options for the students.  While the principal didn’t need to think of it, nonetheless it is it is the principal’s responsibility to follow up on it and see that it is implemented.

Principal’s Principles

The beauty is that any principal can become highly effective.  All that it requires is a sincere commitment to those principles delineated above.