“One of the most difficult organization’s to lead and create deep change within is education and school…since everyone has been through it, everyone believes they know best on how it should be done and look.”
Changing the culture of a school and be a very traumatic and difficult proposition. Especially when trying to implement anything that is different or cutting edge. Whether that be technology, strategies, structures, systems, or the environment.
An easy answer to the difficulty of the change in school comes in two parts; time and stakeholders. Both of which are formidable in their own right. However, they are two points that school leaders must face if they are going to create change and move our schools forward.
Let’s tackle time, first. Very few, if any, organizations have employees who enter the profession with at least thirteen years of experience. Thirteen years of ingraining practices and ideas of how school should be done. Let alone, the other stakeholders that have most likely received those very same thirteen years of experience. All of which make it very difficult to tackle issues of change around classroom environment, grading, homework, and/or infusing technology when people have a very set ideal on how school should look and be. Neither easy or quick to overcome.
Second, very few, if any, other organizations have as many stakeholders that schools and school leaders are beholden too. Most organizations and businesses have employees, customers, and investors. And their product. Three to four tiers of focus and input.
Whereas, schools and educational organizations respond to an ever-expanding range of stakeholders and input…which would include, but not be limited to: students, parents, teachers, the community, district office, board of education, county offices of education, and city, state and federal agencies. Just to name a few.
Not an easy task. Rather, quite a formidable proposition on a daily basis.
Which is why it is crucial for a modern day principal to be multilingual. Let’s look at ten of the different forms of discourse that a principal must be able to enact and employ, daily:
- Leader: A principal has to be able to lead change and serve as a change agent for their school. This requires a principal to understand and express the path forward with clarity.
- Vision: A vital job of the principal is to articulate and paint a picture of the future. Of where the school is and where they want to go, and what they want to become…one that focuses everyone on that goal.
- Community: A principal has to be able to communicate effectively with the community; students, parents, and the variety of other stakeholders. Creating wider alignment by bringing understanding to the mission, vision, and goals of the school.
- Political: The principal has to be able to understand their audience. Whether that be the district office, the city, county, state, and federal officials, or the board of education. Knowing your audience is crucial.
- Instruction: A principal has to be able to not only understand instruction and curriculum, but relay that understanding and the mission-critical goals as the instructional leader of the school. To a variety of different audiences.
- Evaluator: A principal’s role also requires them to evaluate the work and progress of those within the school, both in a certificated and classified capacity. Both verbally and in writing. No easy task.
- Statistician: Today’s principal has to have a strong understanding of data and how to effectively utilize that data to support progress and next steps. Including how to effectively relay that data to promote progress.
- Business: Like any organization, a school has fiscal responsibilities, which fall under the role of the principal. Requiring the principal to have a strong understanding of budgets. Principals have to create sound decisions around the use of their resources. A principal has the responsibility to articulate the use of those funds to a variety of stakeholders.
- Coach: The principal is the coach. They have to be able to inspire and support those they lead. Motivation. Feedback. Support. All very necessary for a successful principal.
- Innovator: Not only does the principal have to articulate the vision, they need to keep the pulse on those innovative strategies and technologies that might serve their school and school community well. To be able to discuss and share what is on the horizon and how to possibly implement those innovations for the betterment of students and learning.
Just a few examples of why a modern day principal needs to be multilingual. Their discourse must continually match their audience, which is no easy feat or task. It takes skillful leadership. Which is why…
Today’s principal must be equipped with an extensive leadership tool belt to meet the demands of their position. One that requires great capacity for their ever-expanding roles and duties.
And while those duties and roles may be extensive, the rewards of serving and supporting such a vast array of stakeholders remains without compare.