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August 4, 2011


What do principals need?

by Chris Lindholm

I received a complimentary copy of Leaders of Learning, by DuFour and Marzano, at the Solution Tree PLC conference in Minneapolis, MN about a month ago and have finally begun digging into it.  Chapter 2 of this book describes the district’s role in creating a PLC culture district-wide and points out specific steps for superintendents and district administrators.  Chapter 8 of Learning By Doing highlights several key components regarding the alignment of district and school processes and structures, but chapter 2 of this new book gets into more detail.  Some key points:

District leaders:

  • Both direct and empower
  • Articulate fundamental goals, strategies for achieving the goals, and the indicators used to monitor progress
  • Clarify what is non-negotiable
  • Expect PLC processes in every building
  • Direct on expectations but give sites considerable autonomy on how they will meet those expectations
  • Create common language and deep understanding of that language
  • Monitor the PLC process in each school as they develop the capacity of principals to lead it
  • Create a culture of reciprocal accountability
  • Limit initiatives – make the work of a professional learning community THE initiative
  • Communicate priorities effectively

For school principals reading this, I am interested in putting more narrative behind the district work that sets principals up for success.  What steps have district leaders taken in your district that have helped you lead effectively?  What can district leaders do to cultivate growth in your leadership capacity?




Read more from ISD 191, Leadership
1 Comment Post a comment
  1. Will
    Aug 4 2011

    What I appreciate most is the opportunity to take chances in the name of ‘what’s best for kids’. Not being careless with their education, but having district leaders show faithin their people by providing that support, finding opportunities to coach me, celebrating with me and my staff when there is success, but holding me accountable when there isn’t.


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