What Are Your Key Imperatives for Leading Schools?

Recently I was asked what are the key imperatives for school leaders. This is a great question, and one that deserves some thoughtful consideration.

My response was as follows:

I am committed to achieving our school’s vision through a student-centered approach that encourages best practices and a learning culture of continual improvement. I believe in the power of education to transform lives, and I am proud to lead a school that is making such a difference in the lives of our students.

In all the schools I have lead I worked on:

  • Fostering a culture of excellence in everything we do
  • Creating an environment where every student can succeed
  • Promoting best practices in teaching and learning
  • Encouraging a growth mindset in our students, staff, and community
  • Celebrating the diversity of our school community
  • Building relationships of trust and respect with all stakeholders
  • Acting with integrity in everything we do.

There are a few truths that underpin education. Firstly, that every child can learn. Secondly, that education is the great equalizer. And thirdly, that the quality of an educational institution depends on the calibre of its leaders.

I believe that:

  1. Teachers make a big difference in a child’s education. It is simple and difficult at the same time. Schools know that if they want to achieve their goals, they need to keep and develop good teachers. Only teachers understand how valuable the things schools provide for kids learning are.
  2. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. When schools use collaboration learning teams, the students in those schools get better grades and learn more.
  3. It is important that we focus on the most important things. The less important things can distract us from what is really important. On a scale, the most important things are closest to student learning and well-being. They require our focus and time.
  4. Tomorrow’s world will be dominated by people who can learn on their own. We must teach students how to be innovative, creative, and self-directed learners. This is important because sometimes there are no easy answers to problems in the traditional way.
  5. Being accountable is very important. You need to find the facts and then take action. Leaders must rely on data more than ever before in order to make judgments. Make decisions based on cold, logical evidence instead of feelings or opinions.
  6. You can have anything you want, but you can’t have everything you want. Trying to do too many things at the same time will make you fail. You need to set priorities and create a “stop doing” list if necessary.
  7. You can’t just have good judgment and not do anything about it. You also need to act on your good judgment. People who wait often don’t get what they want, and success is not guaranteed without taking some action. Sometimes you need to set fires (take risks).
  8. Every stage of school life features two options: growth or death. Developing a learning organisation must be done on purpose, not by accident.

What are your thoughts? What would you add to this list?

Share in the comments below!

Author: Dr Jake Madden

Jake Madden (Dip Teach; B.Ed; Grad Dip: Leadership; M. Ed: Leadership; EdD; FACEL; MACE) Dr. Jake Madden is currently the Principal, St Edward’s Primary School, Tamworth. He has enjoyed a successful teaching and principal leadership career over the last thirty years building teacher capacity through the development of learning in the contemporary world, the promotion of flexible learning spaces to meet the needs of the 21st century learner and curriculum for global mindedness. Jake is a leader in the notion of teacher-as-researcher and is widely published in this area, authoring and co-authoring books and a number of journal articles showcasing his experiences and research into leading educational change.

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