When a new leader inherits a campus, they also inherit the campus staff. This may be true for new managers and supervisors in private sectors as well. Success in these private sector organizations is often measured by profit, meeting timelines, and or customer happiness. For a new campus principal, measuring the success of an educator is not quite as a cut and dry. There are several factors that “muddy” these waters, such as differences in classroom demographics and student starting points, ineffective standardized assessments, and previous opportunities for growth. Campus leaders find themselves in a unique situation requiring a unique skill set. I like to call this skill set a “leaders sense of self-efficacy.” Efficacy is defined as the ability to produce a desired or intended result. When I refer to leadership efficacy in education, I am referring to the campus leader’s ability to support the growth and professional learning of all staff. This sounds succinct and simple but its implications are really very complex and difficult. Consider the diversity of teacher training programs, emergence of alternative certification programs, and past opportunities/expectations for professional learning.
A leader’s sense of self-efficacy could be defined as a leader’s confidence in their ability to grow, support, advocate for, and measure the professional learning of each of their staff members. This is vastly different from sending a team of teachers to a conference and expecting that they each come back ready to positively impact student achievement. It is about the leader’s confidence in their ability to assess the instructional needs of the educator, effectively communicate these needs to the educator, collaboratively engage the educator in developing a plan for their professional learning, and measuring success. Slapping at whole campus initiatives while pretending the needs of all educators on campus are the same is no different than teachers teaching to the middle and expecting all students to assimilate.
My thinking is if campus leaders have a weak sense of efficacy (or desire) to grow, support, advocate for, and measure the learning of their teachers, the campus runs the risk of condoning less than high yield instructional strategies, the presence of complacency is evident, and uninspired learners (staff and students) create a status quo culture. Research shows that when educators believe they can’t reach certain students, they don’t. When leaders believe they can’t reach certain teachers, they don’t and won’t. As a result students suffer and teachers are not given the opportunities for growth they deserve. The question then becomes how do we grow a campus leader’s sense of self-efficacy? How do we ensure learning continues for our campuses’ lead learners?