From his analysis of exemplary middle school and high school prinicipals Len Foster has created a list of the characteristics great that administrators share.
“We need to study what they do in order to see what we need to do to prepare future principals, since the contemporary challenges for this position are astronomical,” he explained.
Foster lists the following qualities needed by school principals today:
· Visionary leadership. Principals need a conviction that all students can learn at high levels and an ability to inspire others, both in and out of school.
· Commitment of time. Principals commonly work 60 to 80 hours per week to remain involved with their community and school. The challenges of the No Child Left Behind legislation have increased this requirement.
· Entrepreneurial spirit. Principals must collaborate with the community to get the funding and support needed.
· Instructional leadership. Principals need to bridge the student achievement gap by assuming a collaborative role with teachers and parents and by fostering the professional development of teachers.
· Accountability. Principals must work with teachers to raise test scores by using data-driven evaluation.
· Culturally-proficient leadership. Principals must respect the diversity of students, welcome all students with a culturally-inclusive curriculum, and reach out to all parents.
“Principals need to embody all of these qualities,” Foster summarized. “It’s a huge challenge, and that may be causing talented people not to choose this job. It requires a high level of commitment.”
“We need to better support and reward principals,” he continued. “We are facing a severe shortage of principals. School districts are finding that it is a constant job to find good candidates.”