From the Editor: The Multifaceted Principal
Principal May/June 2014
Principals have long juggled complex responsibilities. What’s different today is that school leaders are doing it under largely different circumstances.
A cursory look at the Principal archives illustrates how frequently the issue has come up over the years. Consider these titles: Juggling Hats: How Principals Survive (2008), The Flexible Principal (2003), How Much More Can Elementary Schools Do? (1992), and, reaching back to 1989: Redefining the Principalship. One of the lead articles in that 1989 issue provides a superintendent’s perspective on the distinction between principals as managers versus instructional leaders. “The pendulum mentality implies one role or the other for principals, either instructional leader or manager,” argues author Robert Spillane. He goes on to point out a tension that remains: “I haven’t heard anyone telling today’s principals to forget about good management.”
Few today contest that one of a principal’s most significant roles is as instructional leader. And while today’s principals are still being called on to be flexible and to “juggle hats,” the difference today is what they’re juggling and the high-stakes atmosphere in which they must perform. Principals are expected to achieve new levels of success for themselves, the teachers they lead, and the students they serve. The articles in this issue of Principal magazine address the principal’s ever evolving— and expanding—role. The lead article addresses what’s on every principal’s mind: getting teacher evaluation right. Arkansas principal Maribel Childress makes suggestions to strengthen teacher evaluation. Childress sat on NAESP & NASSP’s Teacher Evaluation Committee, which produced the brief, Supporting Principals in Implementing Teacher Evaluation Systems. Her article outlines recommendations for policymakers and district leaders, connecting the dots from policy to practice.
Author Mark Terry continues the discussion of ways that principals can get involved in policy discussions. In “From Educator to Advocate,” Terry breaks advocacy into digestible bites, providing seven simple steps principals can use to get involved in advocacy and make their voices heard.
Kristine Gullen and Martin Chaffee’s contribution to this issue addresses another important leadership skill: communication. They provide guidance on how to talk to multiple audiences about Common Core Standards. This section on The Multifaceted Principal ends with a case study of how tech-savvy Maryland principal Peter Carpenter transformed digital learning at his school.
From managing teacher evaluations to communicating the Common Core— this magazine issue was developed to be a resource for you in your varied and numerous roles. But the leadership nuggets don’t stop there. There are also articles on improving ADHD behaviors, engaging families online, and staying on the right side of the law with school resource officers, to name a few.
Finally, I want to turn your attention to the special conference section that starts with an interview with Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. Cain is a 2014 NAESP Conference plenary speaker, who will present among a stellar lineup of the nation’s top educational professionals. This Q&A is just a glimpse of what you will experience in Nashville— I hope to see you there!
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