This approach appears to be similar to "management by walking around" in the business world, but it appears to provide some profound results in educational settings. The principal in question was able to begin helping teachers identify activities and assessments that were more challenging and provided more substantive feedback for faculty concerning student performance, and there was the added bonus of additional opportunities for this educational leader to work one-on-one with the school's teachers to help formulate professional growth plans that address their specific needs and interests. The author concludes that the principal.".. also gets to know students well by being in classrooms so often. She asks them probing questions and extends their thinking because she has an intimate knowledge of what they're studying. - She knows the kids academically as well as personally" (quoted in Holland, 2008 at p. 5).
There are alternative models for teacher collaboration. In the Japanese model, it is the teachers themselves who initiate and maintain the process. However, a supportive administration would be required to create the proper development environment. As Mcghan (2002) advises, "Groups of teachers routinely and voluntarily undertake projects to improve the way they teach various subjects. This process of continuous improvement (called kounaikenshuu) takes place in virtually every elementary and middle school in Japan" (p. 538). Educational institutions are not dissimilar to other types of organizations in that almost all substantive achievements are accomplished by groups rather than individuals is isolation from others. In this regard, O'Neill and his colleagues advise:
Teams, not individuals, change schools. Universities and leadership academies have worked exclusively to prepare individual leaders and have ignored research indicating that school-based leadership teams are the best way to improve student learning. Programs that cultivate school leadership teams create more voices for change in the schools. Whether the programs prepare teams in academy settings, work with them in the schools or both, the goal is to establish knowledgeable groups within the schools that will lead others to improve student achievement. By focusing on teams, rather than on individuals, these programs help sustain long-term improvement. If principals leave, other school leaders can step up and continue the efforts. (O'Neill, Fry, Hill and Bottoms, 2003, p. 24)
The effective use of a principal's time is not as the "do-er" but rather as the facilitator. Again the concept of the principal as a leader / collaborator / facilitator can be seen in from this excerpt: "Teaching and learning are viewed as highly individualized and fluid processes that require teachers to make hundreds of decisions each day. And decision makers can and gladly do accept responsibility and accountability when they are free to provide learning experiences that make sense in their individual classrooms and that best fit learners' individual needs" (Mcghan, 2002, p. 538).
Additionally, effective leadership and collaboration skills are required in a different fashion when seeking the agreement and support of teacher unions. Some of these approaches might be formal and require open meeting notices or other special consideration; however, some effective approaches might involve highly informal techniques that are based on longstanding arrangements. In this regard, Mcghan (2002) advises, "Other approaches can be found within the existing hierarchy. These usually involve special arrangements between superintendents and union officials. Teachers in such districts as Cincinnati and Rochester, New York, have also entered into agreements in recent years that allow them to alter the leadership dynamics of their schools and so create more home-grown, school-based reform projects" (p. 538).
Whatever its milieu, educational leadership is universally applicable within the school environment. Encouraging faculty, staff, and student involvement is just the beginning of collaboration. Schools must begin to work more effectively with parents, the business community, universities, and the wider profession (Fullan & Hargreaves, 1996). Since the improvement programs initiated by a district are often influenced or mandated by the external environment, insight and ideas provided by local groups is essential to understanding, addressing, and supporting programs that will serve student needs. Efforts in the development of educational programs that reflect community values and are, in turn, supported by the local community can make a difference in the relationship of the student to the school and ultimately in student achievement (Beyer & Ruhl-Smith, 1998, p. 116).
The need for effective educational leadership today speaks directly to the mission of the nation's schools. Leaders inspire others to lead themselves. America's future is sitting in today's classrooms. Just what is it we want them to learn? It is clear that educational leadership is required to promote student achievement. Yesterday's model, developing sound administrators, no longer serves our best interests. To adequately prepare and sustain a strong future, we need to improve the today's process of developing educational leaders. The changes required ripple through the entire life cycle of educational leadership development practices, including: identifying potential, improving training with exposure to "real life" classroom situations, enhancing the licensing process, mentoring principals where they work, and finally, ensuring non-teaching tasks are reassigned to non-teachers. Taking these steps will bring an enriched and steady stream of principals into the system so that future leadership needs can be successfully managed.
Berg, a.C., Melaville, a., & Blank, M.J. (2006, October). Community & family engagement: Principals share what works. Coalition for Community Schools.
Beyer, B.M. & Ruhl-Smith, C. (1998). The principal's role in school restructuring and reform: An examination of self-perceived leadership styles; Journal of Leadership Studies, 5, 116.
DeMoulin, D.F. (1997). Accountability in leadership training for school administrators acquiring competency in decision making pattern use. Education, 117, 97.
Farkas, S., Johnson, J., & Duffett, S. (2003). Rolling up their sleeves. Public Agenda, the Wallace Foundation.
Fullan, M., & Hargreaves, a. (1996). What's worth fighting for in your school? New York: Teachers College Press.
Holland, H. (2008). Out of the office and into the classroom: An initiative to help principals focus on instruction. Center for the Study of Teaching and Policy, University of Washington, the Wallace Foundation. Retrieved January 29, 2008 at http://www.wallacefoundation.org/NR/rdonlyres/796A9D46-50DD-4179-884C-0D06EAAC82AF/0/storiesfromfield_outoftheoffice.pdf.
Kelley, R.C; Thornton, B., & Daugherty, R. (2005). Relationships between measures of leadership and school climate, 126, 5.
Mcghan, B. (2002). A fundamental education reform: Teacher-led schools. Phi Delta Kappan, 83(7), 538.
Murphy, J.T; (2006). Elephants or dinosaurs? A call to action for…