School Leaders Best Practices
By Sandra Harris and Michael Hopson
The primary goal and mission of schools is student achievement. However, focusing on student achievement is a challenge for superintendents due to the time-consuming nature of the job. Yet, despite what the media and public school opponents might have us believe, many school districts are flourishing today with effective leadership.
We were curious. What did superintendents of these flourishing school districts consider their most effective leadership practices? In order to answer this question, we contacted 22 superintendents from 16 states who had been recognized for their outstanding leadership by national and state superintendent organizations. School sizes of the superintendents varied from a district of 1,105 students to one of 62,000 students. Collectively, these superintendents represented more than 250 years of experience.
All of the participating superintendents had been recognized with awards for their leadership, including two American Association of School Administrators National Superintendents of the Year and 17 who were national finalists, and state or regional superintendents of the year.
These award-winning superintendents shared more than 100 different best practices. We categorized them into five strategies:
• Leading to transform schools
• Building community
• Responding to the changing times
• Understanding school reform
• Acting on three basic beliefs: Student learning results in successful schools, people are more important than programs, and “we” is more important than “me.”
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