Traditional Autonomy Isn’t Necessarily Supportive
In Huffington Post this week I write about how most teachers think “supportive leadership” is very important to retaining good teachers.
But what is supportive leadership? The term means different things to different people.
For example, I know a high school principal who thinks he is being supportive by being what he calls “respectful of teachers as professionals.” He hires teachers he thinks will be good and then allows them to work however they want to work. He doesn’t look at lesson plans, he doesn’t study exam results, he doesn’t ensure that teachers work together to plan instruction, and he doesn’t observe classrooms or ensure that department chairs visit classrooms.
This is a very traditional model of school management, and many teachers often say they want such “autonomy.”
But his school’s results track how schools have done for decades: Some students do very well; some do abysmally; most muddle along in a mediocre way. Teacher turnover is high and rumors of grousing in the teachers lounge indicate low morale.
So if that kind of traditional hands-off autonomy doesn’t help create high achievement and good morale, what does?
That’s a question without an easy answer, but it’s one I explore in an article in Educational Leadership: How Do We Get There from Here? The magazine recently made the full article available on line. It is going to block readership to non-subscribers next month, so I wanted to alert you to this temporary opportunity.