|Intensified Leadership: Principals can't do it alone!|
|Susan Risius, Ph.D.|
Susan Risius, Ph.D.
Vista View Elementary
we have time in a day, week, month, or school year to be an effective leader
and to give 100 percent, 100 percent of the time?"
In this age of high accountability with NCLB, AYP, SES, Free
Choice, and Restructuring sitting on our doorsteps, our role as instructional
leaders has become extremely essential and necessary. We are inundated with responsibilities as we move toward:
raising student achievement; using a data driven decision making process;
creating school improvement plans; building strong, safe school cultures;
supporting the home-school connection; and forming professional learning
These responsibilities directly align with the six standards
that characterize effective leaders of learning communities as outlined by
NAESP (Leading Learning Communities, 2008):
schools in a way that places student and adult learning at the center.
high expectations for the academic, social, emotional and physical development
of all students.
content and instruction that ensures student achievement of agreed-upon
a culture of continuous learning for adults tied to student learning and other
data and knowledge to inform decisions and measure progress of student, adult
and school performance.
engage the community to create shared responsibility for student performance
At times, we have all become overwhelmed with the magnitude
of what these six standards entail. How can we do it all? How do we have time
in a day, week, month, or school year to be an effective leader and to give 100
percent, 100 percent of the time? How do we balance school and our personal
lives? (What personal life you might be thinking!)
Sharon Kruse, author of Building
Strong School Cultures (2009), encourages us to become “intensified
leaders,” leaders who know that we don’t need to be, nor can we be “heroic” and
do it all ourselves. Intensified leadership expands the narrow view of
one-person leadership to the “interaction and networking of many organizational
members,” including teachers, parents, and the wider community. By following
this leadership model there is a combination of a group of individuals’
knowledge and expertise, which results in greater outcomes, with more being
I would add that this networking and interaction also takes
place, and is necessary, among the
principals who we work with in our districts, principals who participate in our
MESPA division activities, and the overall MESPA membership. Without networking
with our colleagues, we work in isolation, depending on ourselves to solve all
the problems that come our way.
As I am coming into my 30th year in education, I realize
that now more than ever, I need the support, viewpoints, and guidance of those who
I work with and those who I know I can contact through MESPA, to assist me in
my role as an instructional leader. I can’t do it alone!
I am presently reading Karin Chenoweth’s books, It’s Being Done (2007) and How It’s Being Done (2009). I was drawn to Chenoweth’s books since
my school is a member of our district’s “AYP Club,” and I am constantly focused
on how we can raise student achievement. One of the elements that Chenoweth has
found in her research that fundamentally changes how we educate all students is
teacher collaboration. The focus of teachers collaborating is to improve
instruction for all students and to guarantee that all students learn. She
writes that learning from colleagues is not something that is “built into the
field of American teaching” (2009).
Learning from colleagues has not always been built into the
field of being principals either. In order to be instructional leaders, we need
to collaboratively work with other principals for support, for encouragement,
for reflection, for professional development, and for fun! One way to do this
is to be involved in MESPA!