“There are two ways of spreading light; To be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.” - Edith Wharton
Minister Abbott recently visited our district and I was so proud of our educational community. The active engagement of the Minister with our community in professional dialogue was exciting and productive. Teachers, students, support staff, parents and administrators discussed our intentional and articulated approaches to “Learning Without Boundaries” and outlined their own core beliefs and orientations in helping find success for every learner. Part of the discussions focused on the future of education, particularly the role of “leaders”, broadly defined, in our district and its importance in the outcomes of our “Dream”.
In a recent book on Educational Leadership, NASSP has published a very prescriptive and articulated set of skills for leaders in the 21st Century. The book divides skills into four themes and describes the associated skills and behaviours of each theme. The authors discussion of each skill is further organized into four subsections.
• Definition of term
• Behavioural indicators
• Personal development tools and activities
• Examples from other school leaders
The breakdown is clearly articulated and well laid out for self analysis and selection of areas of growth should a leader be looking for such growth strategies.
Further in the book a description of these 21st Century Principal Skills is articulated:
• Setting instructional direction. Implementing strategies for improving teaching and learning including putting programs and improvement efforts into action. Developing a vision of learning and establishing clear goals; providing direction in achieving stated goals; encouraging others to contribute to goal achievement; securing commitment to a course of action from individuals and groups.
• Teamwork. Seeking and encouraging involvement of team members. Modeling and encouraging the behaviours that move the group to task completion. Supporting group accomplishment.
• Sensitivity. Perceiving the needs and concerns of others; dealing tactfully with others in emotionally stressful situations or in conflict. Knowing what information to communicate and to whom. Relating to people of varying ethnic, cultural, and religious backgrounds.
Resolving Complex Problems
• Judgement. Ability to make high quality decisions based on data; skill in identifying educational needs and setting priorities; assigning appropriate priority to issues; and in exercising caution. Ability to seek, analyze, and interpret relevant data.
• Results orientation. Assuming responsibility. Recognizing when a decision is required. Taking prompt action based on data as issues emerge. Resolving short-term issues while balancing them against long-term objectives.
• Organizational ability. Planning and scheduling one’s own and the work of others so that resources are used appropriately. Scheduling flow of activities; establishing procedures to monitor projects. Practicing time and task management; knowing what to delegate and to whom.
• Oral communication. Clearly communicating. Making oral presentations that are clear and easy to understand.
• Written communication. Ability to express ideas clearly and correctly in writing; to write appropriately for different audiences – students, teachers, parents, and others.
Developing Self and Others
• Developing others. Teaching, coaching, and helping others. Providing specific feedback based on observations and data.
• Understanding own strengths and weaknesses. Identifying personal strengths and weaknesses. Taking responsibility for improvement by actively pursuing developmental activities. Striving for continuous learning.
This is a very useful book for stimulating discussion, self analysis or examples of practice. and is a very good mirror for us to reflect our individual and collaborative leadership practices.
For more information refer to 10 Skills for Successful School Leaders; NASSP, 2010
“The greatest thing in this world is not so much where we are, but in what direction we are moving.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes