From the Editor: The What, How, and Why of Leadership

By Kaylen Tucker Principal, May/June 2018. Volume 97, Number 5.

By Kaylen Tucker
Principal, May/June 2018. Volume 97, Number 5.

Sit in a room full of veteran principals—as I recently did when I participated in NAESP’s national mentor training program—and the conversation will inevitably turn to a reflection of the first day, month, and year of the principalship. Principals in my cohort described scenarios of misguided perceptions and of challenges such as inher­iting someone else’s legacy project.

The fact is, it can take up to five years for principals to truly own their seat in the principal’s office, change a school’s culture, or to have a lasting impact on student achievement. During that time, principals need a sup­portive culture that includes mentoring and continuous, job-embedded professional development.

What Works

There is a strong research base for what works; effective strategies for support­ing school leaders aren’t new. They are echoed in the Learning First Alliance’s new compendium The Elements of Success: 10 Million Speak on Schools That Work, in NAESP’s Leading Learning Communities standards for principals, in the Professional Standards for Education Leaders (formerly ISLLIC), and in The Wallace Foundation’s five key practices of effective principals, which we drill down on in the accompanying supplement to this issue of Principal magazine. All call for distributed leadership, continuous learning, and a strong, supported teaching force and staff. Other common elements include a focus on the total child, a commitment to equity and access, family and community engagement, and a relationship-oriented school climate—all of which require demonstrable guidance and support from principals as well.

How and Why

This issue of Principal magazine explores “how” principals leverage formal and informal models of support to execute the leadership principles out­lined in the foundational documents listed above. The issue presents best practices for mentoring and coaching, and shines a light on the growing impact of social media networks.

Nationwide, principals are using custom, digital PLNs to establish their leadership “why.” For some, it’s advocating for what kids deserve in a public education. For others, it’s about principals getting into classrooms and “into action.” And yet, for others, the passion is about excelling in both educational leadership and their very important role as parents. Regardless of your “why,” I hope this issue of Principal magazine positively impacts your leadership jour­ney, and helps you connect to your leadership tribe.

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