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Principles for Principals

Educational research has shown us that school principals and administrators have a major influence on the success of teachers and students. Effective schools share many similarities that are directly related to how the schools’ principals do their jobs.

  • Effective schools have principals who make clear, consistent, and fair decisions. Although teachers and students may not always agree with the principal’s decisions, they know that he makes his decisions with their best interests at heart. He does not change his decisions based upon who was the last person in his office.
  • Effective schools have principals who emphasize discipline and a safe and orderly environment. It is largely the principal who sets the tone for what type of behavior will be tolerated within the school.
  • Effective schools have principals who protect the school day for teaching and learning. The principal limits disruptions, ranging from intercom announcements to sports teams missing class time when traveling to games. He decides whether academics or sports comes first.
  • Effective schools have principals who encourage a focus on scholastic success. The principal looks for ways to honor academic excellence, including award ceremonies and announcements. Schools that encourage scholastic success have higher student and teacher morale and lower turnover.
  • Effective schools have principals who build teacher morale. They make opportunities available for teachers to improve their teaching and management skills. Research shows that when teachers share ideas, cooperate in activities, and assist one another, their students do well.
  • Effective schools have principals who take time to supervise teachers. Teachers welcome professional suggestions about improving their teaching, but seldom receive it. Good supervision includes agreement on what constitutes effective teaching, requires frequent observations and meetings with teachers to discuss observations, and involves specific plans for teachers to improve their teaching.

Adapted by Don Jacobs from What Works: Research About Testing and Learning. U.S. Department of Education, 1987.

Reprinted from Teacher to Teacher.

 by Don Jacobs. Updated October 21, 2015.

© 2016