From the Editor: What’s Care Got to Do With It?

By Kaylen Tucker Principal, March/April 2019. Volume 98, Number 4.

By Kaylen Tucker
Principal, March/April 2019. Volume 98, Number 4.

Because principals are responsible for leading instruction in their schools, they are intimately knowledgeable about the domains, elements, and standards that constitute effective teaching. Subject matter expertise, a commitment to students and their learning, and use of feedback and research to improve learning, for example, form the basis for National Board Certification standards.

Although essential, more than these competencies come into play when it comes to student learning. We might look to the language included in the revised Professional Standards for Educational Leaders (PSEL), published by the Alliance for Advancing School Leadership (of which NAESP is a member), for an explanation of the significance of care in teaching and learning.

A major difference in the 2015 PSEL rewrite is that the standards are more student-centric and focus more on care than the previous version. The standards “recognize the central importance of human relationships” and “stress the importance of both academic rigor and press, as well as the support and care required for students to excel.”

The educators and researchers who contributed to this issue of Principal magazine also point to care as an essential element of effective teaching and a key component in a principal’s leadership as they supervise teachers. Put simply by fourth-grade teacher Melissa Romano, who contributed to “What It Takes to Be a Top Teacher” (page 16), principals can get the best out of teachers by listening, creating a culture of respect and appreciation, and showing that they care.

Modeling Care

The impact of teachers of color on all students—not just students of color—can’t be overlooked, either. A recent report from The Learning Policy Institute reveals that teachers of color boost the academic performance of students of color, and the benefits don’t end there. Students of color and white students alike report “having positive perceptions of their teachers of color, including feeling cared for and academically challenged.” This perception of care leads to greater academic achievement and higher graduation rates, increased aspirations to go to college, and a lower chance of chronic absenteeism and suspension.

But teachers of color are underrepresented in the teaching force: While students of color make up more than 50 percent of students, only 20 percent of teachers are of color. See “Diversifying for the Duration” in this issue for strategies administrators can use to recruit and support teachers of color (page 20).

Finally, I want to turn your attention to our latest installment of Leading Lessons, presented by Principal magazine. This supplementary guide, brought to you in partnership with The Wallace Foundation, doubles down on getting the best out of teachers by exploring best practices in managing people, data, and processes.

— Kaylen Tucker, Ph.D.

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