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Learn the Management Practices of a School Principal With an MS in Educational Leadership

It’s hard to overstate the importance of principals, as they are the leaders of their schools. After all, they influence every facet of a school’s operations, including academics, culture, finances and grounds. To that end, studies show that principals may be even more crucial to a school’s functions than previously believed.

A study from the Wallace Foundation attempted to synthesize two decades’ worth of research on the effects of principals on their schools. The findings reinforced and even exceeded assumptions about the importance of effective principal leadership. According to the study, “it is difficult to envision an investment in K-12 education with a higher ceiling on its potential return than improving school leadership.” This assertion emphasizes the immense value quality principals can offer to a school community.

Through the online Master of Science (MS) in Educational Leadership program from St. Thomas University (STU), school leaders learn to manage school communities and fulfill the critical role of principal.

The Management Roles of School Principals

Given the broad scope of a principal’s responsibilities and influence, the potential return on investment makes sense. They are responsible for many different areas of operations, including leadership, teacher evaluation and student well-being.

This means taking on an almost astonishing number of roles: leader, coach, trainer, mentor, disciplinarian, confidant, and parent and community liaison, to name a few. As this post from ThoughtCo. notes, principals are the head of the school, and everyone takes cues from them.

Principals work with faculty and teachers to foster continuous professional development. They also coach and evaluate teacher performance. Plus, as managers of their faculty, they’re expected to take on all the typical responsibilities of a manager. On the student front, principals are responsible for disciplining students and assessing and monitoring their well-being.

In many cases, this goes simply beyond enacting discipline. For example, principals must often make risk assessments and work with school social workers to ensure students are safe. They also communicate with parents about student issues to cultivate a strong feedback-learning loop between school and home.

Principals are deeply involved in schools from a systematic, organizational perspective. They have heavy input on school budgets and finances and strategically manage other resources. Managing faculty is also a major part of the job, not only from a hiring perspective but also for maintaining morale and creating an enriching teaching environment. In fact, the Wallace Foundation study supports that principals directly affect staff retention and growth.

Habits of Effective School Principals

A strong principal can clearly have a major positive effect on their school, but what makes an effective principal is difficult to define. Principals face various challenges in fulfilling their goals and building a healthy school environment. Time management is perhaps the most daunting of all, given the number of daily needs that require a principal’s attention.

The Wallace Foundation identifies four key areas where quality principals focus their work:

  1. Engaging in high-leverage instructional activities, such as teacher evaluation and feedback
  2. Establishing a productive climate
  3. Allowing for collaboration and professional learning communities
  4. Finding strategic ways to manage personnel and resources

Findings showed that principals who effectively cultivated these facets of their schools showed the greatest outcomes.

Finding the Perfect Educational Leadership Program

STU’s online MS in Education in Educational Leadership program gives aspiring principals the necessary skills and knowledge to function as successful school leaders in today’s fast-changing education industry.

Coursework such as Leadership in Education, Applied Research Methods, and Applied Leadership Theory for Educational Leadership teaches students how to apply research-backed instructional techniques, build clear and diverse learning standards and assessments, and understand the holistic role of teaching.

Learn more about St. Thomas University’s online Master of Science in Educational Leadership program.

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