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