Section IV—An Environment of Shared Responsibility among Teachers and Principals: Strong Principals and Distributed Leadership

Today's schools are still places where, by and large, a set number of students and one teacher work at individual desks behind a closed door. Too many teachers remain in isolated classrooms, lacking collaboration and feedback from their peers and school administrators. We envision a shift in philosophy away from the closed-door approach and toward greater communication and cooperation. Similarly, the NEA Commission on Effective Teaching and Teachers (CETT) proposes a change in the culture of teaching and calls for teaching professionals to boldly challenge the status quo by teaching, collaborating and leading in new ways.iii

Strong Principals. Effective principals will recognize the potential they have to create a school environment where teachers want to work and where effective teachers can thrive. They maintain a constant presence in the school and in classrooms, listening to and observing what is taking place, assessing needs, and getting to know teachers and students. They will mobilize the school around a clear mission and shared values. With the aim of meeting clear performance goals, principals will find creative ways to maximize the time and productivity of their most precious resource: their teachers. They will create spaces in the workday for teachers to collaborate, to view each other's classrooms, to solve problems as a team, and to build their expertise. Sometimes teachers will be encouraged to reach outside of the school's walls to build community partnerships and seek additional professional learning to help students succeed. Principals will recognize effective teaching and know how to facilitate educator professional development and career paths. Principals will be evaluated based in part on how well they recruit, nurture, develop, and retain effective teachers and teacher leaders, just as superintendents will be measured partly by how well they support effective schools and principals.

Distributed Leadership. A handful of effective educators in a dysfunctional school cannot make a sustained difference for children. Instead, a culture of shared responsibility will require principals who bring together coalitions of teacher leaders who have the skills to meet the school's objectives and create a culture of continuous learning and shared decision-making. Teams of teacher leaders and principals will work in partnerships to identify challenges, propose solutions, and share in distributed leadership and decision-making at all levels, including hiring, structuring the school day and school year, and designing professional learning.


iii. NEA Commission Report

Comments

increased communication and cooperation among teachers– excellent – I am a better teacher because of this

This is a wonderful thought and has the potential to make significant impacts if implemented well. Unfortunately, that will not be possible unless we return autonomy to the principals. When local, state, and federal legislatures (and departments of education) attempt to micromanage the classroom through mandates, regulations, and policies as they currently do in many locations, it is unfair to hold the principal accountable for the outcomes - particularly when the different levels disagree.

Positive work environments lead to positive learning environments, especially in regard to the culture of respect created staff to staff and staff to student. It is essential to creating this culture of respect that the principal and staff are open to constructive feedback as well as new ideas that will improve the learning environment for the student body. The administration must foster professional learning communities where teachers are groomed based upon both their needs and interests. The leadership team should serve as professional leaders who are willing to go above and beyond to assist their coworkers.

In the current economic situation, principals should be creative with the ways in which they allocate funding to try to maintain the current staff members and create a more positive outlook for teachers as they transition from school year to school year. Putting teachers at ease that every option will be explored before making staff cuts are made will lead to a more positive work environment and allow solid relationships to develop. A more stable teaching roster will in turn allow students to develop and maintain teacher to student relationships, which are vital in all school communities.

Wow! What a tremendous idea! Principals tend to forget about what it is like to be in the classroom; however, with this concept, they will remain knowledgeable on classroom procedures and there environment. Teachers will commit to what they feel they have had an equal part in the decision-making process; however, most of the time, ideas are handed down from the top and teachers have little to no say about it.

This idea is long overdo!

One of the problems with administration is that the only requirements one must have to be an administrator is extra college courses. Those degrees don't always correlate with good teaching, which results in individuals going into this aspect of education who may not have been the best classroom teacher. This requirement to have "an admin degree" does more harm than anything. At the very least, the requirement to be an administrator at any level should demand that the individual have a minimum amount of years in the classroom proving their effectiveness as a classroom teacher BEFORE becoming an administrator. These positions should not be the "ticket out" of the classroom as they so often are for so many people. In fact, those individuals seeking administrative roles should still be required to teach in a classroom, even if that means only one class a year. I know enough about what administrators do to recognize that they could teach a class and still be able to fulfill their administrative duties as well. That way the next time they put more paperwork on classroom teachers are create some new requirement for teacher to fulfill, they'll be able to judge the effectiveness of their programs firsthand. I've always said, "If you know a better way, then come show me how. If it works, you have me."

The Good Force be with you!

A New Environment of Shared Responsibility among Teachers and Principals with Strong Principals and Distributed Leadership is the best solution for the problem encountered by the educational institutions.

Live forever and prosper!