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In a 10-column series in ASCD Express, New Leaders for New Schools' cofounder Ben Fenton writes about the leadership practices, structures, and attitudes that are helping a number of challenging urban schools forge a new school culture that can foster higher student achievement.
To offer readers a full overview of New Leaders for New Schools' innovative approach for training school leaders, ASCD Express will be adding the columns below as they are published.
#1 First, Believe in Students
Those leading urban schools need an unwavering belief that the children they serve can succeed at high academic levels.
#2 Seeing the Big Picture
Pursuing school improvement requires that school leaders recognize change occurs over multiple stages—not overnight. Each stage demands a different set of actions that build on prior work to move a school from chaos to excellence.
#3 Supporting Teachers
Teachers matter. Research has repeatedly verified that teacher quality has a greater effect on student achievement than any other school-based factor.
#4 Forming Aligned Instructional Leadership Teams
Principals cannot lead schools to make breakthrough achievement gains on their own: the support of an aligned instructional leadership team is crucial.
#5 Hiring an Aligned Instructional Staff
Highly effective principals treat the recruitment and selection of teachers as a uniquely powerful opportunity and a sacred responsibility to effect change in students' lives.
#6 Building a Culture of High Aspirations
Effective principals, especially in high-poverty schools, usually take the lead in ensuring that teachers, parents, and students themselves make the crucial connection between students' day-to-day schoolwork and their long-term aspirations for college and careers.
#7 Living Codes of Conduct
Turnaround schools can promote a culture of high expectations and high achievement by first developing a schoolwide code of conduct that adults and students consistently count on and live out.
#8 Data-Driven Instruction
Many schools are using data to drive instructional practices. But what exactly does data-driven instruction look like, and how can schools use data effectively to increase student achievement?
#9 The Most Valuable Resource Is Strategic and Creative Use of Time
Principals who've made dramatic improvements in student achievement give special attention to how they use the school calendar and weekly schedules: they allot time to support their school's most important learning goals.
#10 Successful Principals Promote a Shared Vision of Education
Innovative leadership rests on solid relationships—between principals, teachers, students, and their families—so that principals can foster a school culture that leads to breakthroughs in student achievement.
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