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What does a “good principal” focus on?

July 18, 2012

As I noted recently in a blog post the typical role of a school principal in Saline and across the country has been to be the “manager-in-chief”.  They needed to make sure boilers were working; the busses ran on time and handled student discipline.  However, the last few years, expectations for that role have shifted greatly.  Recent school reform efforts, along with access to data have pushed to hold everyone responsible for student achievement (as defined by standardized assessments).

This expectation requires a skill set that is different than in the past.  It also requires an allocation of time and focus.  This begs the question, “What goes into providing the needed focus on classroom and building level achievement?”

My concern this summer has been that the idea we have as a community about what a “good principal” looks like is different than the expectations we have as educational leaders.  Being responsible for achievement means being in classrooms, meeting with teachers, researching curriculum, etc.  This takes them out of the school office (away from their phone and computer) and at times away from students.  In Saline, we have expected principals to be extremely responsive and available to the community.

While quality service will always be a cornerstone of our expectations, it may look and feel different as we move forward as a District.  As a community we need to understand that the role of the principal has changed and what we remember from our youth is no longer the model for success.

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