There is no substitute for resilient leadership

Resilient people are often called upon to be leaders, a responsibility that both draws upon their resilience and cultivates it for future use.

Early in my career I did not understand the importance of leadership. Schools, I thought, would improve if teachers were simply given the tools to do their work and the freedom to use them.

But then I had an opportunity to closely observe a school whose teachers and parents were frustrated and dispirited. Students performed poorly, and everyone felt hopeless about the future.

Eventually a new principal came to the school. Over the next 3 years things got better. Staff and parent morale improved, as did teaching and student learning.

That principal eventually went on to another assignment, and the school’s new principal was more like the first one. Things spiraled downwards into a hopelessness that felt more profound because of the school’s rollercoaster journey.

Later on in my professional development work I spent a great deal of time talking with teachers about teaching and learning.

I enjoyed those conversations immensely except when teachers were angry and cynical.

Without exception, I observed that those teachers were poorly led by principals or system administrators or union leaders. Or all three.

My work came to focus on principals and teacher leaders because without their skillful leadership teacher professional learning and teamwork were unlikely to occur in ways that would benefit all students in all classrooms.

School leaders to a very large degree determine:

What is your experience—is it possible to continuously improve teaching and learning without skillful leadership?

4 Responses to “There is no substitute for resilient leadership”

  1. 1 rickrepicky May 31, 2017 at 5:57 am

    Really like this post – one key phrase is that great leadership requires blending [my caps] “PRINCIPALS AND TEACHER LEADERS because without their skillful leadership teacher professional learning and teamwork were unlikely to occur in ways that would benefit all students in all classrooms.” Every school has a culture. Good leaders work hard with a core team of teacher representatives to make that culture positive and focused on taking both staff and students to a better place – higher levels of learning.


  2. 3 Linda McFall May 31, 2017 at 6:56 am

    School leaders have to be trustworthy both in decisions at the school level and at the classroom level. The skills are important but trust is essential, trust that what is said and done can be relied upon over the long term. Leaders must be strong enough, selfless enough to resist decisions that promote his/her wellbeing or make his/her job easier.

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