School Improvement in Maryland

Leading the Process: Principal's Role

“As principal, I played an important role in initiating, facilitating, and sustaining the process of shifting our collective focus from teaching to learning. To make collaborative teams the primary engine of our school improvement efforts, teachers needed time to collaborate. Teachers, accustomed to working in isolation, needed focus and parameters as they transitioned to working in teams. They needed a process to follow and guiding questions to pursue. They needed training, resources, and support to overcome difficulties they encountered while developing common outcomes, writing common assessments, and analyzing student achievement data.” —The Learning-Centered Principal, Rick DuFour

What expectations should you set for staff?

Using a staff meeting time to set expectations ensures that all teachers are hearing the same message. However, using team time would allow for more “give-and-take” in the discussion. Your presentation of expectations should focus on outlining the critical importance of monitoring student progress on the indicators at the classroom level. You will want to address how teachers are expected to use the data and how you will be involved. Back up your oral presentation with a written memo re-iterating the same key points. After reading your memo, staff should be able to answer the following questions:

  • Why am I expected to monitor student progress?
  • How does it benefit my students?
  • What does my principal expect me to do?
  • Will my principal monitor that I have done this?
  • How does my principal demonstrate this work is of high importance?