Our best school leaders all have one thing in common: They develop and support the teachers in their schools. The principals featured in these videos work to ensure their teachers routinely reflect on their practice, receive meaningful feedback, and connect student learning to their own practices. These principals regularly observe teachers, lead evaluations that identify strengths and areas for improvement, and provide support and feedback. You’ll see that these school leaders are planners. They build in time and create structures for teachers to learn from each other in ways that directly help kids learn. And strong principals, like those featured here, don’t think they have all the answers. They make sure teachers are meeting with and observing one another and offering the support and feedback that all professionals need and that improve student learning.

Watch the videos below to see how great leadership leads to great teaching. Afterwards, please read the New Leaders policy recommendations to see suggestions for how to support effective school leaders in your state or district.

America Achieves has partnered with New Leaders, a national nonprofit focused on developing transformational school leaders, to produce this series of videos focused on school leadership. The principals featured were identified by New Leaders’ Effective Practice Incentive Community (EPIC) awards program as exemplar leaders of high-poverty schools that have demonstrated impressive gains in student achievement.

Merrill Middle School — Teachers Teaching Teachers. Merrill Principal Stacy Miller has created “Learning Labs” at her Denver middle school — not for children but for teachers. The labs are designed to bring teachers together so they can observe and learn from one another. A teacher giving a lesson identifies a specific area he or she wants to improve upon, and peer teachers offer their advice and feedback. Principal Miller provides regular training to teachers on the guidelines they should use for offering meaningful feedback. The result: a schoolwide culture of learning and development and, critically, a culture of success for Merrill students.

YES Prep North Central — Everyone Growing Together. School Director Mark DiBella and instructional leaders at YES Prep North Central lead a teacher evaluation process focused on helping all teachers excel, so they can in turn encourage student success. YES Prep leaders are in classrooms daily, so all teachers receive frequent feedback on their work with kids. But mid-way through the year, and again at the end of the year, the YES Prep leadership team meets formally with each teacher to review all those observations and student achievement data. Then, the group identifies goals for teachers as well as students. The end result, DiBella says, is everyone grows together.

Using Data and Leaning on Coaches. Like the school leaders at YES Prep North Central and Merrill, the principals here have developed consistent and common sense practices that allow teachers to learn from one another and excel. At Raymond Education Campus in Washington, DC, Principal LaShada Ham inspires a staff of mostly veteran teachers to review student achievement data and examples of student work in every team meeting. The group then connects instructional practices and lesson plans with student learning outcomes. At Oakhaven High School in Memphis, TN, Principal Tisha Durrah pairs every new teacher with a mentor, who observes the new teacher several times a week. The mentor explicitly serves as a coach, not an evaluator, to the new teacher — creating a secure and nurturing environment for peer collaboration and instructional success.

Additional Resources:

School Profiles

Support in Implementing Teacher Evaluations

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