There’s a concept being tested in districts around the country to open teacher-run schools. Instead of a building principal in charge of the intricacies of leading a school, the teachers work together to address instruction, budgets, discipline, and other traditional aspects of a principal’s job. Consequently, the My Two Cents question for the January/February issue of Principal is: What do you think are the risks of teacher-run schools?

Norma E. Rodriguez, principal of A.J. Dorsa Elementary School in San Jose, California, argues against teacher-led schools. “A great team cannot exist without a great coach. Similarly, a great coach cannot exist without a great group of team members,” she says. “The risks of having teacher-run schools will be poorly run schools with overwhelmed, burned-out teachers having little time to prepare and execute powerful, engaging and meaningful lessons. I’m a believer that everything and anything is possible, but someone needs to be the ultimate decision-maker and hold the big picture.”

On the other hand, Paul R. Bohn, principal of Portal Elementary School in La Vista, Nebraska, proposes suggests reviewing the research before making a decision about the model. “As with any idea for improving schools, evidence of success must be carefully examined,” he says. “If such an approach can show results, using agreed-upon authentic measures, then it should cause us all to pause and consider it.”

What are your experiences and thoughts about teacher-led schools?

I agree to the view that

I agree to the view that Principals are necessity for the schools. Because teachers are busy with the students and their academics throughout the day then who will look after the adm section which has to deal with finance, admission policy, security policy for children as well as the the other staff. Someone is required to to deal with the local administrative bodies, parents and transporters(for easy commuting of the students).

Teacher-run Schools

The default organization of our public schools needs to move away from its rigid top-down military-type hierarchy. Principals need to do two things: 1) they need to take care of the day-to-day management of the school so teachers don't have to wonder if the schedule will work, if the supplies will be available, if the busses are running on time, and if recess will be outdoors, and 2) they need to be process leaders, experts in forging consensus, involving teachers as decision-makers in curriculum, goal setting, hiring new faculty and other key leadership areas. Schools can benefit tremendously from the collaborative input of teachers, and from the energy and intrinsic motivation of the staff as they pursue models of excellence which they helped to create. The divide between faculty and administration can be bridged via recognition of their collective interest in the success of the school's educational endeavors with priority decisions made on the basis of what will be of the most benefit to students. So I would agree with those who recommend keeping a "principal," but I would endorse a move towards a site-based shared leadership model.

Ken Cooper
Principal (Emeritus) Paul F. Doyon Memorial School
Ipswich, MA

Principal Leadership and Communication

Your reply is SO on target. My twin sister and I deliver professional development to teachers and also work with kids around the country. I am a retired Director of Language Arts for an Educational Service Center in Cincinnati; my sister is retired from AT&T and IBM where she designed curriuclum, facilitated courses, and built instructional models for coaching and fact-based feedback. We are currently working in Akron, OH. In searching for an article regarding principal's leadership, I came upon yours and you said it with beautiful prose! Thank you so much.

We have a meeting tomorrow with the principal and assistand principal; your insight will be shared and I will certainly give you credit.

Take good care.
Pat

I agree with this gentleman's

I agree with this gentleman's comments. I am seeing more principals being hired at an earlier age of 25-35, and with 10 years or less experience in the classroom. Their staff is the same age, or older than them. Their staff has more teaching experience than they do. They are then forced to make leadership decisions they are not ready to make yet, and I can't say it's their fault. They shouldn't have been put in this position to begin with. But, if the trend is going to be hiring younger principals, then we need a system where a more experienced teaching staff can be in a position to get the school district through. I personally would like to see us go back to the days where a principal was in the classroom at least 12-15 years before taking on the principal's role. Not only do they have more experience, but they have a few more life experiences under their belt.

I believe that leadership

I believe that leadership comes from a central figure that coordinates leadership from all levels of the organization. Some of those essentials that each successful principal tackles include vision, mission, values, school culture, evaluation, empowering others, recruiting effective staff, managing and coordinating school performance data, instruction, curriculum and perhaps most importantly creates a professional learning community that values learning more than teaching.

Patrick Duffy
Principal
Hesston Elementary School
Kansas

I feel that a teacher’s job

I feel that a teacher’s job is instruction! If you want to have success in academic growth we need to focus on just that. A teacher’s job is endless and we all know that. Now to have teachers run the school and worry about student discipline, attendance, communicating with parents, budgeting, etc., that is so time consuming.
Lucille Keaton
Halle Hewetson Elementary/Las Vegas

Research that identifies the

Research that identifies the attributes of effective schools have affirmed that a licensed and highly trained principal is the key to leading schools and their teachers to educate “world class” students. Teachers are trained to teach. Principals are trained to recruit and lead highly trained teachers. This powerful combination has proven to be the formula for success times after time.

Sanford Nelson, Principal, Rossman Elementary School, Detroit Lakes, Minnesota

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