- While many principals say they see their supervisors a couple times a year, usually for evaluative or compliance purposes, principal supervisors should also serve as coaches and sources of support, according to a report by the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching. Supervisors are "well-positioned to marshal the district's resources" for this purpose, the report explained.
- Principal supervisors take on roles that include being a visible partner through in-person time with principals to understand their needs; developing common vision and language using research-based leadership standards to support growth in addition to effectiveness; establishing a job-embedded coaching and feedback system aligned with evaluation expectations; and creating professional learning that includes teachers.
- To support this work, districts can set expectations for principal supervisors and their time spent in schools, create common language around principal leadership standards, define the role of principal supervisor as focused on coaching and growth, provide resources for school-based professional learning, and facilitate relationships between principal supervisors and other district offices, like curriculum staff.
The report also cites research showing effective principals can have a significant impact on student outcomes, potentially raising learning gains by more than two months in a school year.
However, principals report being slim on time as they undertake instructional leadership, despite spending as much as 17% of their job on actions related to teaching and learning. Principals also report not knowing what to look for when observing and giving feedback to teachers, and have expressed a desire for professional learning themselves, which they sometimes do not have access to.
Now may be a better time than any to boost principal professional learning and coaching, NIET suggested.
"Given the urgency of addressing student learning needs in light of the pandemic, there has never been a better time for principal supervisors to lean into their role as the head coach of principals,” said NIET CEO Candice McQueen in a press release. “Principals need support and coaching that enables them to use the high-impact strategies that research shows have the biggest impact for students.”
While principals value coaching, it is one of the less common ways they receive professional development. According to a 10-year study by the National Association of Elementary School Principals, 66% of participants reported taking part in the model, out of which 36% found it effective.
“Like anything that takes place in a school, it’s about establishing trust with the principal and getting them to recognize that it’s a partnership,” said Latatia Johnson, federal programs supervisor for Ascension Public Schools in Donaldsonville, Louisiana, in a press release.