What is your impact on student learning outcomes?

by Sarah Bachman19 Feb 2015

It is a well-known fact that teachers are instrumental in guiding students towards academic excellence, but what about principals?

At the end of the school day, you might reflect on what kind of impact you’ve had, not just on your teachers, but on the students themselves. As principal, how you balance your daily administrative tasks with fulfilling the vision you have for the school and its students can be crucial to what kind of learning outcomes you help your students achieve.

Sometimes, you can fulfil the roles of administrator, diplomat, curriculum leader and a manager all within a day, but a school principal who focuses their leadership on teaching and learning is likely to have far more impact than those who don’t.

For instance, generic leadership models like that of transformational leadership can be adapted and implemented in ways that help students excel in the classroom.

The “instructional leadership” method, in which principals set clear goals, manage the curriculum and monitor lesson plans, has been shown to be highly effective over more traditional methods used by many principals.

In a paper titled The Impact of Leadership on Student Outcomes, author Viviane M.J Robinson wrote:

“The first meta-analysis indicated that the average effect of instructional leadership on student outcomes was three to four times that of transformational leadership.”

Challenging students to lift their current performance levels can deliver results. Likewise, espousing a noble cause by setting ambitious academic goals can activate the competitive streak in students.

Author, Kenneth Leithwood, detailed this in a 2004 book titled How Leadership Influences Student Learning, claiming that “leadership is second only to teaching among school influences on student success”.

The involvement of principals in a student’s learning outcomes is becoming increasingly evident, says author, Ronald Heck, in his book, ‘Principals' Instructional Leadership and School Performance: Educational Evaluation & Policy Analysis’

“Improved student learning outcomes can be attained through strategic school organisation and strong principal leadership,” Heck wrote, adding that “principals are increasingly being held accountable for school performance.”
 
The research shows that as a principal, you can make a profound difference as to how your students perform academically.

A question that might be worth reflecting on at the end of the school day is how – through the simple use of some of the above leadership methods – you could be boosting the learning outcomes of your students. 
 
 

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