The Untapped Potential of the Principal Supervisor

The Untapped Potential of the Principal Supervisor

How Support for School Leaders Should Change

The research is clear: Principals can have a significant impact on student learning outcomes, accelerating annual student learning by more than two months. Yet many lack time to support teaching and learning, and principals often struggle with how to "do it all" while still collaborating with their teachers around how to best meet students' instructional needs.

NIET has found that when the role of the principal supervisor shifts from a focus on compliance to coaching, supervisors can be a key lever for change. In this report, The Untapped Potential of the Principal Supervisor: How Support for School Leaders Should Change, NIET provides four high-impact strategies to maximize support for school leaders:

  • Be a visible partner and model being a lead learner. Principal supervisors are uniquely positioned to support principals in reflecting on their mindset and their actions in ways that enable them to grow their capacity as instructional leaders and increase the learning happening in their schools. 

  • Develop a common vision and consistently use a shared language that describes expectations for principals around the instructional leadership aspects of their role. Principal supervisors can help school leaders create and reinforce their vision by strengthening connections between principal practice, classroom teaching, and student work. 

  • Establish a coaching, feedback, and support system that is aligned with expectations in evaluation. Supervisors can and should show principals what it looks like to be an effective coach. This requires being present in schools, observing principals in a variety of different settings, and tying feedback to leadership standards and curriculum. 

  • Create opportunities for collaboration and capacity-building. Principals need to identify, engage, and develop other members of their team as leaders in order to more efficiently address everyday challenges and focus on supporting teachers as much as possible. Supervisors can help their district align support to principals to meet these needs.

Read the blog from NIET CEO Dr. Candice McQueen, "Districts: The Time Is Now to Support Principals."

Read the blog from Dr. Jason A. Grissom, Patricia and Rodes Hart Professor of Public Policy and Education, Vanderbilt University, "Leveraging Principal Supervision to Drive Principals' Leadership Practice."

Read the blog from Learning Policy Institute Research Manager Dr. Stephanie Levin, "Principals Matter for Schools and Students."

Read the blog from Melissa Tooley, Director of Educator Quality for Pre-K-12, Education Policy Program, New America, "New Research Underscores Need for New Models of School Leadership."

Read the blog from Indiana's Perry Township Schools Assistant Superintendent for Career Preparation Bob Bohannon, "Why I Model Being a Reflective Learner."

Read the release: New Report Offers Solutions to Strengthen District Support for Principals and Increase Their Effectiveness.

Watch the recording of the panel discussion, "The Untapped Potential of the Principal Supervisor."

Read the April 2021 edition of ASCD's Educational Leadership magazine, "The Empowered Principal."