The following paper will highlight important skills that are required in the school principals in order to make improvements in school systems that ensure academic achievements in the students. Introduction One of the most important US laws that have given most importance to education is the No Child Left Behind Act that was presented in 2001 and it has been regarded as the most comprehensive legislation that addresses the needs of students and demands utmost responsibility from the teachers and principals of schools.
The aim of this law has been to increase the analytical skills in children along with an increase in the trend of accountability in teachers and principals of the schools. Accountability in this case is important as there will be a realization among the teachers and principals that there are laws that test the level of performance exhibited by them in relation to the betterment of education levels in the children (Harris, 2005, p. 12). It has been realized that most important roles in the success of schools are played by the school principals.
In relation to accountability and an increase in the educational standards of the students, it has been realized that studies are needed in order to find a link between the principal-ship and students’ educational standards. This has been regarded as a complex procedure. A study has indicated that principal-ship does not have any direct effects on the educational levels and levels of achievements of the students but indirect effects have been seen when school climates are made more influential and positive by the principals (Sapp, 2000, p. 34).
More research carried out on the effects of leadership principles followed by the school principals indicates that principal leadership directly affects the students and school staff in a positive or a negative way. In addition to this it has been argued that the leadership principles that are undertaken by the principals have a direct relationship with achievement levels of the students. An important fact that needs to be added here is that teachers’ instructional level and leadership level is much more effective on the achievement level of students that makes the effect of principal leadership secondary.
In many studies , superior schools with successful leadership based principal-ship have been highlighted that have developed strategies that are important in the development of family and supportive environment within the schools that is more conducive for learning. With this it is seen principals of successful and leading schools also focus on strategies that can develop better curriculum. Increased expectations and demands are being faced by the school principals as the trend towards accountability increases (Gootman, 2008, p. 23). Skills of Successful School Principals
Five key practices in principals have been identified by the studies that can help in increasing the achievement levels of students by incorporating skills of leadership that can help in making them better leaders of tomorrow. 1. Making Decisions Based On Data Principals these days are more aware of the accountability that has been implicated on them with the NCLB act. Thereby actions are being taken that can show increased improvement in educational standards of the students. These actions and strategies are thereby based on the data that these principals collect from time to time from the teachers.
This data reflects grades, test structures, teachers’ contributions, and response and interest levels of the students. This data is then analyzed for improvement in educational standards in students and if the instructional strategies are helping the children in achieving their educational goals. Thereby from here it can be seen that the principals were being more logical and rationale in decisions making ignoring any gut feelings and intuitions thereby exhibiting leadership skills (Crum, and Sherman, and Myran, 2009, p.
51). 2. Relationship With The Staff In order to implement the leadership skills and see the changes in educational systems principals need to build an environment of trust among the staff in order to maintain a competitive environment in the school. In some studies it has been realized by the principals that treat their staff and school teachers in a compassionate manner can help in implementing the required changes in schools (Boynton, and Boynton, 2007, p. 34). 3. Balancing Ownership And Cooperation
One of the most important leadership based skills needed in the principals facing challenging conditions of accountability includes the art of balancing cooperation with the staff. This cooperation helps the principals in planning changes and strategy implementation with the staff and teachers in order to bring better changes by including advices from staff of every grade and every educational scale. This cooperation can help in a large scale implementation of pragmatic strategies.
It has been seen that the principals who take their responsibilities as a mark to owning the school produce schools that are not very well known and neither are they able to gain the trust of students’ parents. The staff working for such principal is not cooperative with the students and there is a lack of interest in the teachers in instructing their students in ways that can increase analytical skills with an improvement in academic achievements (Crum, Sherman, and Myran, 2009, p. 54). 4. Leadership Development And Recognition
Principals of the schools are required to develop strategies that can help in developing leadership skills in the teachers. Thereby there is a need that the teachers develop individual leadership capacities in order to bring required changes in the schools in multi-dimensional ways. Principals are required to change the environment of schools in a way that can help teachers develop strategies themselves and on their own to implement better changes. Principals should ask the teachers if they feel the need of changes in different areas of the schools.
Thereby the strategies developed by the principals can help teachers in exploring their leadership capabilities (Blank, and Kershaw, 2008, p. 40). 5. Instructional Involvement And Awareness Of Needed Changes Involvement has been regarded as the most important strategy required by the school principals. It has been argued that the principals are in a need to keep their involvement in the activities that occur inside the classrooms in order to see through the major kinds of changes that are required.
On the other hand these kinds of involvements are also important in analyzing the interest of students in their studies which is very much influenced by the level of interest that the teacher shows. Thereby here an important point that needs to be understood by the principals is that they need to remain involved in the school activities in an intimate manner (Crum, Sherman, and Myran, 2009, p. 57). Critical Analysis of My School’s Principal The school where I am currently employed is a high school. Based on experiences teaching in this school, academic fulfillment is not being achieved by the students at the required levels.
These are not reflecting a good impression on the federal level authorities that hold the accountability of different schools in different states. Thereby based on my observations following are some of the critical drawbacks in the leadership of the principal that are not letting the school achieve the level of a better school; neither are the students showing any academic achievements. High schools require special attention as students studying in the high schools are the ones that are preparing themselves to leap in the practical life, where they enter colleges and high schools.
Thereby I consider high school as the center where leaders are built as school environments polish the skills that they have by giving them the opportunities to talk and communicate their problems with the teachers, school staff and their parents. In order to bring up leaders of the future starting from the high schools, there is a need that environment of the school is conducive enough for proper academic achievements and skill development in students that can help them in gaining more than just education (Harris, 2005, p.
56). 1. Lack Of Principal’s Interest One of the main reasons of the school not performing at its level best is the lack of interest from the principal. It is seen that activities within the building do not interest the principal and only the school admin is held responsible for the management of activities. There is a need of the interest from the higher authorities in order to make better changes in teaching strategies and extracurricular activities that take place inside the schools.
Increased interest of the principal is needed in the analysis of academic achievements of the students, the issues and problems that they face, and in analyzing the strategies that are adopted by the teachers in order to communicate the course to the students. 2. Lack Of Communication With The Staff As there are no activities that share common interest with the principal thereby there is a complete lack of communication between the staff and the principal. Staff includes teachers, game instructors, playgroup teachers and administration.
In order to be aware of the changes that are needed in the school, there is a need to increase levels of communication with the school staff. An important point that is not being realized at the principal’s end is that constant communication with the staff, especially the teachers is needed in order to gain an insight into the level of education that is being provided to the children in the classrooms. Some changes, minor or major, are thought to be brought about by the teachers in schools.
Teachers are the ones who remain in direct contact with the classrooms, students, other school staff and most importantly; the parents. Thereby any issues that are being faced at the students’ end are more visible when they are communicated by their parents. Thus the source of changes is the parents and teachers. Thereby if there is no communication with the teachers there is no possibility of creating better changes in the school environment that can help to solve students’ issues. 3. Lack Of Communication With The Students
Deficiencies of principal’s interest towards the activities that take place inside the school have also caused a complete lack of communication of the principal with the students. Thereby the main issues being faced include a lack of awareness of the principal towards the issues being faced by the students in case of their educational achievements. Thereby there is no data collection in relation to the educational achievement of the students based on the teaching strategies designed and implemented by the teachers themselves.
In order to improve the educational achievements of the students there is a need at the end of higher authorities that the data collection takes place that can give an insight into the required changes in teaching and instructional strategies. Certain set of problems are daily faced by the students within the school building and these issues and problems are mainly concerned with the kind of environment that is being provided to the students in the schools.
These include the set of extracurricular activities that are offered in the schools along with the frequency with which they are offered. It is a well-known fact that there is a direct relationship with the extracurricular activities being offered at the schools and academic achievements of the student. Thereby there is a need to take these facts into mind in order to implement the changes that can provide better environment to the students that can directly enhance their learning experiences and academic achievements.
Students are generally afraid of communicating with the principals as general image of the principal in almost all schools is that of someone who only knows how to ring parents telling them about the mischievous acts of their child, about the failing grades of their child in studies, and someone who knows how to make these students hold the expulsion letter. These images are associated with a lack of communication of the principal with the students that creates an even increasing amount of fear in the students as is the case in my school.
It has been mentioned that there is no communication on an engaging level by the principal that has created such an image in students’ minds. In order to negate such an image from the students’ minds it is required that the level of communication is increased with the students, increased participation is shown in the activities that are related with academic achievements in the students along with the development of analytical skills thereby students feel easy and confident in sharing their issues with the principals.
It is to be realized that provision of table tennis tables, basketball courts and better looking classrooms are not the factors to better academic achievements but there is a need to incorporate confidence in these students so they feel free to share the issues that they face in the schools along with the many problems that are a hurdle for them in performing at their level best in academics. 4. Data Gathering
An important strategy to make changes in the school is by being aware of the success rates achieved by the students and indirectly by the teachers. Students showing higher academic achievements is indicative of the fact that the teachers are working hard and talent and skills are being incorporated in the students. Thereby there is a need that data in relation to the student test scores, grades, classroom performance, extracurricular activities performance and final assessment performances is collected.
This data can be helpful in many ways. It has been seen that the data itself is a refection of the leadership skills and analytical skills that a student has and of the levels of analytical skills incorporated in the students by the teachers and school environment. Moreover any subject based weaknesses that are being faced by the students are in open that can reflect any possible lack of interest from the instructor’s side, the parent’s side or need of developing skills to learn better in students.
The data can be a reflection to the need of changing the course curriculum, changes in the class time period, changes in the instructional strategies, changes in communication patterns with the students, changes in communication strategies with the parents and changes in way students study and learn in order to enhance productivity. Conclusion No Child Left Behind Act attempts to hold the school principals accountable for students show lesser academic achievements with no improvements in the analytical skills.
Studies have been conducted that show that leadership skills in the principals can play important roles in success of schools and in the improvement in academic achievements of students. It is realized that the interest and the level of cooperation being shown by the principal in what goes on inside the classrooms and outside the classrooms, plays an important role in the success of schools, along with having an impact on the interest level of the teachers in changing their instructional strategies. Some of the most important factors include increased cooperation with the students, staff of the school and most importantly the students.
Students are the stakeholders of the educational institutions and any issues and problems in the management of the school directly effects the students thereby in order to bring fruitful changes in the management, students are to be included and consulted in any important decision making process. Confidence of the students in the management and principal has to be high as this increases the trust of the students that can help them in sharing the issues that they face in schools. References Blank, A. M. , and Kershaw, A. C. (2008). Mentoring as collaboration: lessons from the field for classroom, school, and district leaders.
Corwin Press. Boynton, M. , and Boynton, C. (2007). The educator’s guide to assessing and improving school discipline programs. ASCD. Crum, S. K. , Sherman, H. W. , and Myran, S. (2009). Best practices of successful elementary school leaders. Journal of Educational Administration 48: pp. 48 – 63. Gootman, E. M. (2008). The caring teacher’s guide to discipline: helping students learn self-control, responsibility, and respect, K-6. Edition 3. Corwin Press. Harris, S. (2005). Best practices of award-winning elementary school principals. Corwin Press. Sapp, E. S. (2000). Guide to best practices for new school administrators. Scarecrow Press.
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