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Newmann and Wehlage in their 1995 work, Successful School Restructuring, firmly link student achievement tothe effective work habits of adults stating that the most successful school were those that used restructuring to help themas professional communities. Teachers and leaders collaborate and help one another achieve the purpose of student learning. Teachersand instructional supervisors in these schools help one another take responsibility for academic success. These schools whichmaintain a strong professional community are better able to offer authentic pedagogy and are more effective in promoting studentachievement.

School leaders who give their attention to establishing their school culture by addressing the question, whatis this school about, begin with a period of organization as the school initiates new collaborative processes that relates to norms,teams, vision, use of data, shared expectations, and ways of working together.

What do we believe in? why do we function the way we do?

In a successful school, the culture of the school focuses on establishing a climate where the alignment of values and beliefs are embedded. The idea of developing this type of community allows all involved to develop a sense of grouppurpose. A recurring theme throughout the literature on instructional leadership is that a leader must have a clear vision. Stephen Covey reminds us that good leadership comes from shared vision and principles. Good leaders must have a sense of what he or she values, something to be committed to, a compass to guide their true north principles. Honesty and integrity, according to Covey, are examples of a leader's true north principle which are not taught, but are laws of the universe. (Covey, 1990) For the most part, a school's shared vision can be found in its mission statement. The central goal of the mission statement is to improve student learning and achievement. Yet, there is an underlining goal as well, which is to align the beliefs and values of a school. McEwan (2003) states, a vision will incorporate the collective ideas of everyone and will be a consensus statement of where you want to go together. Mission statements are also important because they are a statement of the school's purpose. It is vital to remember that the mission statement must be a collective generated statement and not a directive that is forced upon its staff. Therefore, the job of the supervisor is to continually explain, teach, share, demonstrate, and model those practices which can move teachersforward (McEwan, 2003).

To encourage a school culture and climate that promotes individuals who are bonded together by natural will,and who are together bound to a set of shared ideas, and ideals then principals must strengthen their efforts towards improving connections, coherence, capacity, commitment, and collaborationamong their members (Sergiovanni, 2001).

The attributes of a supportive climate promoted in successful schools include:

  • Continual sharing of ideas- Teachers share ideas daily regarding vital issues of instruction, curriculum, testing, schoolorganization, and the value of specific knowledge.
  • Collaboration-Teachers become involved in team teaching and other collaborative efforts in program development, writing, andresearch.
  • Egalitarianism- Teachers dispense with formalities and anyone who takes an interest in a department meeting can vote. The notionthat the quality of ideas is more important than the source.
  • Practical application-Teachers ask themselves, How does what we are doing help students,teachers, and schools? What did we do this week to help?

Principals who desire to improve a school's culture, must foster anatmosphere that helps teachers, students, and parents know where they fit in and how they can work as a community to supportteaching and learning. Creating a school culture requires instructional leaders to develop a shared vision that is clearlycommunicated to faculty and staff. Additionally, principals must create a climate that encourages shared authority andresponsibility if they are to build a positive school culture.

References

Barth, R. (1990). Improving schools from within. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.

Covey, S. (1990). Principle-centered leadership. New York: Simon&Schuster, Inc.

Goldhammer, R. (1980). Clinical supervision: Special methods for the supervision of teachers.New York:Holt.

Greenfield, Thomas B (1984). Leaders and schools: Willfulness and non-naturalorder, in Thomas Sergiovanni and John E. Corbally (Eds.), Leadership andOrganizational Cultur. Urbana-Champaign: University of Illinois Press.

Hoy, W.,&Forsyth, P. (1986). Effective supervision: theory into practice. New York: McGraw-Hill Company.

Karp, S. (2005). The trouble with takeover. Educational Leadership, 62,(5), 28-32.

Lashway, L. (2003, July). Role of the school leader. Retrieved Feb 12, 2004, from (External Link)

Lambert, L. (1998). Building leadership capacity in schools. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

McEwan, E. (2003). 7 steps to effective instructional leadership. 2nd ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: CorinPress.

McQuarrie, F., Wood, F. (1991, August). Designs on the job learning. Retrieved Feb 12, 2005, from (External Link)

Newmann, F., Wehlage T. (1996). Authentic achievement: Restructuring schools for intellectual quality. San Francisco, CA:Jossey-Bass.

Patterson, W. (2003). Breaking out of our boxes. Phi Delta Kappan, 84, (8), 569-577.

Sergiovanni, T. (2001). The Principalship: A reflective practice. 5th ed. San Antonio, TX: Trinity Press.

Questions & Answers

Introduction about quantum dots in nanotechnology
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Source:  OpenStax, Introduction to school leadership. OpenStax CNX. Jul 24, 2005 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col10293/1.2
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