“We need to keep the best teachers in the classroom”.
How many times have you heard that? OK, so who do we have then as our principals and school leaders? The worst teachers? People with no school background? The mediocre? No. Inevitably schools need to be led by people with good understanding of teaching and learning. And the best place to learn this is in the classroom.
So if you’re considering someone’s capacity to be a good school leader, have a look at what they’re like as a teacher.
Do they engage students and build good relationships with them? Because they’ll have to engage their colleagues if they want to lead and obtain their trust and respect.
Do they understand how students learn? Because they’ll need to lead the learning of teachers if they want to lead a school. And they have to select teachers capable of teaching students well, which is pretty important don’t you think?
Do they display empathy for students? Do they treat them fairly? Because that’s what teachers need as well.
Are they organised? Do they plan well? Think strategically? The demand for these qualities increases as people move into leadership positions and they become more time poor.
There’s a good body of work around about the capabilities of school leaders. None of them that I’m familiar with reference the connection between good teaching and good school leadership, but it’s there alright. That’s not to say that some of capabilities are exclusive to teachers. But they have to be applied in a school setting. And the best preparation for good school leadership is good teaching experience. The start of that journey is perhaps the most interesting for some, because good classroom practitioners need to apply the same skills they’ve developed with students in the classroom to people who they’ve previously regarded as their peers. That’s quite a step up.