Just One Principal Can Completely Alter the Trajectory of an Entire School

Session Notes from "Just One Principal Can Completely Alter the Trajectory of an Entire School," Presented by Baruti Kafele.

What was the speaker’s main message?

It takes one and one principal can completely alter the trajectory of an entire school. Therefore, I am the number one determinant of the success or failure of my students.

What was the speaker’s best quote?

“I’m not waiting for someone to tell me how I’m doing when I have a mirror. I’m going to engage in self-reflection.” I can do that through self-assessment, self-adjustment, and self-improvement.

“We are not talking about the all, we are talking about the each!” I love this reminder that it’s not the aggregate that matters—it is kid by kid, skill by skill!

What were the Top 5 ideas from the session?

If I knew then, what I know now, how would that have altered my trajectory? What would 8-year-old me say to my principal (and teachers) if I knew then what I know now?

  1. Believe in me…with everything you’ve got.
  2. Get to know me…beyond who I am in the classroom
  3. Prove to me…and that you’re committed to me.
  4. Challenge me to reach my potential…help me become who I can be
  5. Expose me to my history…let me know the shoulders I stand on.

Principal, am I at an advantage because you are my principal? Well, that youngster is part of your school community. “Principal, don’t give up, don’t lower standards, and don’t give up on me, because who knows?” Is my school better because I lead it?

What is one strategy that will help you with instructional leadership?

One key question principal Kafele asked that will motivate my instructional leadership is, “Who was impacted by my instructional leadership today?” If my school is going to be better because I lead it, I have to monitor instructional leadership in order to move academic need and progress.

Notes by Todd L. Brist, Watertown Middle School, Watertown, South Dakota