Level-Up your Instructional Leadership

7 sure-fire ways to make a difference with your staff.

By Brad Gustafson
July 2015, Volume 38, Issue 11

There are speakers. There are presenters. And then there is Todd Whitaker. Todd brings the thunder (thunderous applause) wherever he presents. His session with Annette Breaux at NAESP’s recent conference in Long Beach was no exception. The “Ten-Minute Inservice” session focused on building teacher effectiveness. For those who were not lucky enough to squeeze into Todd and Annette’s PACKED session, I offer you several of my take-aways based on what they shared:

7. Stop sucking the life out of teachers with sucky PD. Teachers should be more energized to be working with kids after a staff meeting than before the meeting. Make meetings meaningful and uplifting.

6. Principals are like supermodels without runways. We need to model the way and walk the walk because our actions speak approximately 50 billion times louder than our words. For example, if we tell our staff to embrace meaningful technology integration without delving into social media or learning about podcasting, the joke is truly on us.

5. No one has ever stopped learning to teach. This should serve as a call-to-action for principals everywhere. Our best teachers are still yearning to learn and grow, and other teachers need to learn and grow. How are we supporting growth for all teachers? For ourselves?

4. Simplify things. You can drastically improve teacher effectiveness in a ten-minute staff meeting. Keep it simple, engaging, and ultra-clear. (Whitaker and Breaux’s book, The Ten Minute Inservice, will teach you how!)

3. Kids don’t want failing grades—they want help. However, some students don’t know how to ask for it. Great teachers already know this; great principals help other teachers understand it.

2. Principals need to do more teaching than telling. Model. Coach. Explain. Show. There is a difference between telling about effective classroom management and rolling up your sleeves to teach it.

No. 1. Leadership through osmosis is not effective. People need to be taught what’s expected. Be careful not to mistake insubordination for ignorance. Great principals influence through modeling, collaboration, and being very clear about expectations. Osmosis is overrated and people really can’t read your mind!

BONUS: Treat ALL people like they are good. Lead a school with your best teachers in mind and you’ll never go wrong.

Brad Gustafson is principal of Greenwood Elementary School in Plymouth, Minnesota. You can connect with Brad on Twitter via @GustafsonBrad or on his blog, “Adjusting Course.”

Visit NAESP’s Conference News Archives to see more highlights from this year’s conference.

Copyright © 2015. National Association of Elementary School Principals. No part of the articles in NAESP magazines, newsletters, or website may be reproduced in any medium without the permission of the National Association of Elementary School Principals. For more information, view NAESP’s reprint policy.