Overcome Obstacles to Prioritize Your Own Professional Learning

Principals need the time and resources to lead learning throughout their schools.

Topics: Professional Learning

Principals are the lead learners for their buildings; they bear responsibility for ensuring the growth and development of students and the professional growth of teachers and staff. But despite the supreme importance of prioritizing their own learning, data from the Learning Policy Institute reveals that a significant majority of principals—84 percent—face difficulties in this area. The top three reasons cited include a lack of time, insufficient coverage for leaving the building, and limited financial resources. Notably, principals serving schools with high percentages of students of color are more likely to report a lack of funds for professional development.

Gracie Branch, who leads NAESP’s professional learning program, emphasizes the need for principals to carve out time for professional learning as an essential element to effective and impactful school leadership. “By nourishing our souls and honing our craft, we can better serve those within our sphere of influence,” she writes. Read her article, “Personalize Your Professional Learning,” on page 16 to learn the key features you should seek in your own professional development, such as problem-based and context-specific experiences and individualized supports such as mentoring and coaching.

In planning for buildingwide professional learning, consider investing in teacher leadership, which can minimize pullout supports while leveraging federal Title funds, writes Theresa Hamilton. See her article, “Get More Bang for the Buck From Professional Learning,” on page 32 for strategies to identify resources for teacher leadership in school-based, job-embedded professional learning.

In this issue of Principal, you’ll also see Part 2 of a series from the Benjamin Banneker Association on culturally responsive math leadership and an article on leveraging arts integration to improve student engagement. We hope that this issue will inspire and empower you to leverage professional learning for school success.

—Kaylen Tucker, Ph.D.