Keeping the Best and Brightest in our Classrooms

Teachers in today’s complex and ever-changing school system are under constant pressure to meet high academic standards, raise test scores, and prepare students for an uncertain future. The increased use of social media tools by both students and parents has intensified the scrutiny and criticisms of teachers at the same time as greater demands are placed upon them. The results, understandably, are that 50% of new teachers leave the profession in their first five years. In order to combat that trend and to keep the best and brightest teachers in the classroom, educators need to feel supported and valued as important contributors to the school environment.

Here are 13 behaviors from Reginald Green’s The Four Dimensions of Principal Leadership that school leaders must exhibit to promote a supportive instructional environment for teachers.

Visionary Leadership: Effective leaders demonstrate energy, commitment, and an entrepreneurial spirit; they communicate values and a conviction that all children will learn at high levels and inspire others with that vision.

Unity of Purpose: Effective leaders collect and utilize data to develop and clarify a purpose that focuses on student learning; praise teachers’ efforts; convey high expectations for teacher and student performance; actively involve teachers in decision-making, and provide teachers with the autonomy to try creative approaches.

Learning Community: Effective leaders demonstrate a dedication and willingness to assist teachers in improving their instructional skills by furnishing needed resources to teachers; create a school climate where the primary focus is on teaching and learning; place emphasis on instruction, and view parents as partners in their children’s education.

Instructional Leadership: Effective leaders facilitate the application of current knowledge in learning and human development; they use data to make instructional program decisions that meet the needs of all students.

Curriculum and Instruction: Effective leaders keep school personnel focused on student learning and are able to put into practice curriculum that contains research based strategies to meet the needs of all students.

Professional Development: Effective leaders demonstrate a commitment to their own professional development and the professional development of others.

Organizational Management: Effective leaders skillfully implement procedures and processes to govern the workflow; establish clearly defined, school-wide academic and behavioral standards to promote high expectations, and hold teachers and students accountable for learning.

Assessment: Effective leaders conduct assessments and identify needs of students, as well as strengths and weaknesses of teachers.  

Reflection: Effective leaders set aside time to think about their professional practices and decisions with a focus on improvement.

Collaboration: Effective leaders engage teachers in dialogue about instructional strategies and student performance; they allow teachers and other stakeholders to participate in decision making.

Diversity: Effective leaders create an environment in which the ethical and moral imperatives of schooling are valued; they recognize and eliminate unfair treatment and inequalities.

Inquiry: Effective leaders conduct inquiry into effective school research; acquire a deep understanding of change and know how to initiate, lead, and sustain the change; examine current research to identify leadership best practices, and align their actions with the goals and visions of the school.

Professionalism: Effective leaders are diligent in implementing ethical standards of the education profession through their daily activities.

The stakes have never been higher. In order to raise student achievement, maintain an effective teaching staff, and prepare students for their futures, leaders must develop and support collaborative relationships with their teachers. Keeping the best and brightest teachers in our classrooms is vital to building effective schools.