Revolving Schoolhouse Door
An article in Chalkbeat Colorado by Kate Schimel focuses on the negative impact that high principal turnover has on student learning. Principals in Denver, CO are "thrust" into struggling schools without much (if any) support. In fact, the relationship between the principals and those that supervise them seems to be consistently counter productive and one of distrust. Feeling helpless and destined to fail, these principals often leave not too long after they take the position...that is, if district officials do not replace them first. Moreover, the principals who are often placed in struggling schools are relatively new to the position thereby creating conditions that are detrimental to promoting student learning.
Support for Principals
To address this issue, the city of Denver has developed a "principal-in-training" program designed to "grow their own" principals. While this is ambitious and logical, it does not address burnout and the fact that principals do not receive the necessary support while in the position.
Principals need ongoing support and professional development before and during their tenure as school leaders. One approach to providing this support is to assess school-wide instructional leadership practices and provide feedback that supports school leaders and their professional practice. Also, by focusing on the work of school leaders rather than the individual principal, incoming principals could use that data to understand their school's needs based on school-wide instructional leadership data. Principals need support, and those that supervise them need to do just that rather than apply unreasonable debilitating pressure.