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Educator Shares Tips on Principal Selection

Educator Shares Tips on Principal Selection

Although the role of the principal has changed, according to Brandon Palmer, National Board Certified Teacher, schools and districts need to do more to get up to date on the principal selection process in order to select the most ideal leaders.

"Despite a principal’s significant responsibility as instructional leader, personnel manager, community leader, and facility manager, a résumé, interview, and reference checks are far too often all that stand between a principal candidate and the principalship," Palmer said.

Palmer blames a lack of research and effort for the process of principal selection being in its current uninspired state.

Early principal selection researchers catalogued methods that often supersede the most common methods used today. In addition to resumes, interviews, and reference checks, selection committees in the 1950’s would often visit the site of a prospective principal candidate and observe and score potential principal candidates. Principal candidates were rated by visiting selection committees based upon their performance of daily duties such as holding meetings or interacting with students, staff, parents, and/or community members.

Researchers at the time thought the principal selection process was seeing a revolution, to be improved upon and expanded on in future times. An article from 2007 titled article titled "Call to Action for Superintendents: Change the Way You Hire Principals" is what Palmer says proves that this is not the case.

In the article, the superintendents in question were not able to describe how the principal selection process in place in their schools resulted in principals with the qualities they desired from school leaders. For this reason, Palmer is calling on school administrators to actto make changes to the principal selection process that will result in the leaders their school needs.

"Two simultaneous approaches can be taken by district leadership to enhance principal selection processes. First, school districts can improve their current practices. Second, superintendents should encourage experimentation with methods not currently in use," he said.

He then expands on these two methods individually to give administrators an idea of how change to the process could work.

For improving current practices, Palmer suggests administrators determine selection criteria before the process and adhere to it, consider a wide geographic range for candidates, have a wide stake-holder involvement throughout the process, ensure interview questions are not vague and that candidate responses to meaningful questions can be measured with a rubric, and finally ensure decisions are "rendered based upon determination of the most-qualified candidate as measured by the protocol."

For some practices to experiment with, Palmer suggests giving candidates performance tasks to be scored with a rubric such as requiring a response to a prompt concerning a school issue/situation, developing protocols for site visits to the candidate's current school, and developing a principal induction/internship program to develop future principal candidates as seen in several nationally recognized schools.

"It is important for school districts to take it upon themselves to strengthen and experiment with principal selection methods for two important reasons. First, the call to place more importance on principal selection methods may not come from anywhere else. Second, the student achievement of school children demands it as principals are significant factor in determining the success of their schools."

Read more about Brown's tips and comment with your thoughts in the comment section below.

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor

07/09/2015

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