Advice for principals of struggling schools.

Often struggling schools feel powerless and think that they cannot improve. This kind of thinking is damaging. I work with many poor schools and I can see how they are rising above their circumstances, albeit slowly at times.

There are FIVE lessons I can draw from school principals who are transforming their schools by making dramatic shifts personally and at classroom teaching level.

Lesson 1: Acknowledge the gaps you have as a leader and as a person and commit to self-growth.

This is the most empowering step. Once you acknowledge to yourself that you need to develop your emotional intelligence and your leadership skills set, you will feel a sense of relief. Now you can reach out for help from your circle of peers, mentors and your supervisor. You will learn fast on the job and apply what you have learned because there are no longer those paralyzingly fears of insecurity. People want to help.

Lesson 2: Ensure that all teachers are on time at school, in class and teaching what they should be teaching.

Getting this right, is stellar. There will be a calmer atmosphere at the school and deeper relationships develop. Staff morale improves and more teaching gets done.

Lesson 3: Know at all times what is happening inside and outside all classrooms.

Principals who are visible at the school, get to know their students better and pick up where they can support their teachers meaningfully.

Lesson 4: Do regular, robust analysis of learner performance data and hold everybody accountable.

Know your students' performance like the back of your hand. Student progress must be tracked throughout and not only when schools have to report per term. Teachers become more attentive to their students' needs and develop interventions that are personalized.

Lesson 5: Develop your SMT team and hold them accountable as Heads.

Heads of department and deputy principals are increasingly being held accountable for the learner performance.

I hope these actual examples will inspire you to greater heights as a school leader, wherever you are serving our children.


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