School leaders gain clarity and influence through writing

Dennis Sparks

Only when students can articulate in writing the basic principles they are learning . . . can we be sure they are internalizing those principles in an intellectually coherent way. – Richard Paul

As with students, writing is an essential means by which school leaders can gain clarity and deepen their understanding of important ideas and practices. It is also a way  to share with others what they are thinking and learning and to increase their influence within the school community.

Even a few minutes of writing can help principals and teacher leaders clarify:

• their goals for an upcoming meeting or conversation,

• what they understand and don’t understand about an important issue or problem, and

• their next actions after professional learning or a decision-making meeting.

Writing is also a tool leaders can use in faculty meetings or other settings to give participants an opportunity to determine what they think about an idea, an article, a set of data, or a potential solution to a problem before brainstorming or engaging in small group conversation.

Question: How do you or others you know use writing for these purposes or others that I did not mention?

3 Responses to “School leaders gain clarity and influence through writing”

  1. 1 G. Michael Abbott February 1, 2013 at 6:07 am

    I liked meetings where participants were asked to write down their ideas before we talked about them. Your essay tells why it was important. I remember my students telling me that they continued their journal writing long after they graduated. I found workshops where ideas from participants were listed on an easel in front of them were more productive. Writing focuses the mind.


  2. 2 Jamie Neibling @jamieneibling February 1, 2013 at 10:49 am

    Our building has taken on a writing focus for the next several years, but we have primarily focused on our students. I love the idea of embedding the writing into the professional development experience. The reflective piece of learning is so important for learning-for students and adults. Thank you for your insight, my brain is already generating ideas…time to start writing!

    • 3 Dennis Sparks February 1, 2013 at 11:37 am

      Thank you, Jamie, for your affirmation of the importance of writing as a way to gain clarity and to learn. I hope you found some time to write, even if for just a few minutes.

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