Professional Development for School Leaders

The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 has educators focusing attention on the professional development of school leaders. This movement is preparing them to lead a learning organization. Usually in public education, professional development has focused on the needs of teachers, not school leaders. For the school leaders the professional development should be directed at increasing the skills and knowledge of current principals, vice-principals, instructional specialists, or anyone in the school system that helps or directs teachers.

Most of the literature about improving public education has focused attention on school leadership and the professional development provided to school leaders. These school leaders play a huge role in the national movement toward accountability and instructional improvement in the public education arena. Many times school leaders lack the necessary knowledge and skill sets to manage school reform. Professional development needs to provide school leaders with know how they need to be successful instructional leaders.

Most of the professional development in public schools has traditionally been provided to teachers in the form of a one-day training. Like teachers, school leaders take professional development to satisfy state or district guidelines.

To ensure that school leaders meet the No Child Left Behind guidelines the school districts need to rethink how professional development is delivered. Professional development should be easily accessible and taken over time. If the courses are easily accessible and taken over time then the school leaders can produce positive outcome in student achievement. If the professional development program does not address student achievement then the people in charge of delivering staff development needs to rethink the way courses are delivered.

In the past professional development was geared toward learning about management and administration. The shift needs to be made to emphasize the role of the administrator as the educational leader concerned with teaching, learning, and school improvement. Research in the last decade has shown what a crucial role the school leader has in promoting quality in instruction and creating a society that promotes improved student achievement through better teaching practices.

Some of the standards for an effective school leader professional development are found in teaching and learning. They primarily need to focus on student achievement and ensure the success for all children. If these components are used throughout the school year then the real winners are the children. We should always be in search of finding effective strategies to ensure school leaders are better prepared to lead the instructional improvement in education.