To the Editor:
Alisha Colemen-Kiner’s essay “Leading With Love” (Commentary, June 8, 2011) gets to the heart of instructional leadership: Love the students in your school, and hire teachers who will also love the students. The result is improved student achievement. Surely this notion makes sense for school leaders. As a former middle school principal, I noticed that the 16 students who were often in my office for disciplinary measures became more engaged in their schoolwork after I built a relationship with them. By my showing care and concern for their welfare, these students and I felt a love for one another.
The psychologist Abraham Maslow’s “hierarchy of needs” articulates that psychological needs must be satisfied for self-actualization. If school leaders and teachers express love for their students, then they are meeting the basic social-emotional needs of the learners. Students perform better in environments where they feel valued and comfortable. The school leader sets the tone of the building and, as such, has an opportunity to impact student learning. Positive climate and management of a school informs instructional design and delivery, impacting student effort and achievement.
Associate Professor, Educational Leadership
Bridgewater State University
A version of this article appeared in the July 13, 2011 edition of Education Week as Commentary Makes Clear Love’s Role in Leadership