The Changing Role of the Principal
Although teachers are at the heart of leadership capacity, principals hold a special position in schools. They have access to the larger school system, a claim to organizational and historical authority, and the pressure to meet teacher, parent, and student expectations. They build trust, focus the school, convene and sustain the conversation, and insist on the implementation of policy and practice. As long as we have schools that need to be improved or improvements that need to be sustained, the role of the principal will be important.
By following the chapter on teacher leadership with this chapter on principals, I hope to imply that the major undertaking of the principal is working with and through the adult community in the school. Because teachers, not principals, teach all the school's students, it is vital that the principal's interactions with teachers enable the school to focus purposefully on student learning.
However, in some regions of the country, the role of the principal is undergoing a profound change. We now know that a principal who is collaborative, open, and inclusive can accomplish remarkable improvements in schools and deeply affect student learning. In this chapter, I will describe the many challenges principals face on the road to building leadership capacity. This is a lifelong journey, and will require a shift in perspective for many
Capacity-building principals align their actions to the belief that everyone has the right, responsibility, and capability to work as a leader. Such a perspective requires that principals be clear