Hechinger Report: “What teachers want in a principal”

This report came to us through the Hechinger Report:

A recent report compiled by Public Opinion states that, when given the choice between a a higher salary or a more supportive principal, over 70 percent of first-year teachers would prefer the more supportive principal.  Said one expert: good principals can influence the whole culture of a school building and create a “set of norms, values and beliefs, rituals and ceremonies, symbols and stories that make up the persona of a school.” On the other hand, principals can also play a role in creating what the authors called a “toxic” culture, or schools that “reinforce inertia, blame students for lack of progress, discourage collaboration, and often have hostile relations among staff.”

What were some of the most desirable attributes according to experts?  According to this article, the best principals provide resources and training, create environments that strive toward improvement, and reward teachers who are working particularly hard.  A quality of a not-so-inspiring administrator?  “Lots and lots of schools reward incompetence so that the least effective teachers get the easiest class … whereas if you’re good, you get more piled on your plate,” according to a staff developer for the Writing and Reading Project.

Our favorite part of the article came from a teacher in Whitman, Massachusetts: “a good principal is a lot like Gore-Tex, the lightweight, waterproof material frequently used in outdoor clothing.  Effective principals … allow you to move freely to do what you need to do, while filtering out the bad.”

To read more about this report, click here.  What do you think?  What are the most important qualities of an inspiring principal?