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How New-age Principals become Successful Leaders

By: Caroline Wynne Date: June 29, 2015

Office of the Principal

In a recent national survey, 69 percent of school principals said their responsibilities had changed in the past five years. Principals’ roles are shifting from building managers to instructional leaders. Additionally, principals are feeling more pressure as a result of accountability measures designed to ensure educator effectiveness and student achievement.

With a higher emphasis placed on teacher evaluations and personalized learning, principals are now spending much more time observing and coaching teachers, in addition to the traditional duties, such as student discipline, parent communications, and building maintenance.

The school principal as a leader guides schools to better teaching and influences student learning (The Wallace Foundation). In short, quality teaching demands effective principal leadership.

With these increased responsibilities and pressures, how can new-age principals become successful leaders?

Practical leadership

Practical leadership training gives principals the basics for leading, supporting and encouraging faculty, staff and students. An online professional learning community could be a valuable resource for collaborating and sharing real-world examples with other principals.

Technology Skills

Principals can save hours of time by becoming more tech-savvy. For example, collecting evidence on an iPad during classroom observations, rather than capturing it in a notebook, not only saves time but is a convenient way to ensure accurate records are preserved.

Today’s teachers are implementing technology into daily classroom instruction as never before. As a result, principals must stay current on educational technology in order to effectively asses its impact on classroom instruction.

Time Management

The ability to delegate responsibilities, leveraging team members’ talents and abilities, is a powerful skill. Assigning assistant principals or teacher leaders to assist with managing tasks frees up principals’ time to coach teachers or pursue their own professional development.

Professional Development

Principals can seek out different types of professional development. Traditionally principals sought out professional learning opportunities at in-person workshops, conferences and state meetings. Today, with an increased workload and a higher need to be on campus supporting teachers, it makes sense for principals to access online courses whenever possible. Rather than sitting through an all-day lecture, principals can search and register for self-paced courses that are applicable to their specific skills and areas of need. Another advantage of online courses is that they are available at any time, allowing principals the opportunity to continuously improve.


Like the saying goes “success starts at the top,” and a principal sets the tone for the entire school. In order for a principal to create a culture of achievement throughout the school, he/she must first learn how to be a successful leader.