Principals have a difficult job, one that requires them to be instructional leaders, managers and mentors.
How can school districts provide principals the support they need to excel in this challenging position? A new video and article explore how a small number of school districts are responding to that question by remaking the job of the principal’s supervisor.
The idea — to shape a job focused squarely on helping principals improve instruction — represents a dramatic break with the conventional notion of the principal supervisor as a bureaucratic enforcer of compliance with regulations.
The video and written account profile efforts in two districts, Tulsa and Washington, D.C., that have rethought the supervisor’s job, in part by giving supervisors fewer schools to oversee. The result is that supervisors now are fixtures in Tulsa and D.C. schools, doing things like classroom walkthroughs to observe what’s working and what isn’t — then sitting down with principals to discuss solutions.
Changing the supervisor’s job is no easy task, however. Among other things, district leaders need to fund the new position, overcome wariness from both principals and central office staff members, and be prepared to offer significant professional development to the supervisors to help them be effective in this new role.
Both Tulsa and Washington, D.C., school districts receive Wallace support as part of the foundation’s Principal Supervisor Initiative, which seeks to help participating districts and to generate lessons for the broader field.