School & District Management Letter to the Editor

Principals’ Leadership Is Critical in Fostering Effective Teaching

October 22, 2013 1 min read

To the Editor:

We want to add an important dimension to the points Mary Amato raised in her Commentary “What Are We Doing to Support Great Teachers?” (Sept. 25, 2013)—specifically, the critical role that school leadership plays in school reform. There has been much recent dialogue and debate about teachers and student learning. No one in the education system has a greater impact. But what is often overlooked is that teachers do not work in a vacuum.

A teacher’s most important educational partner is her or his principal. It is the principal who creates the climate that values effective teaching, supports teacher collaboration, and uses data and instructional systems to enable cohesion throughout the building. It is the principal who hires, trains, supports, and retains teachers. It is the principal who is ultimately responsible for implementing changes.

Twenty-five percent of student success depends on principal quality. Principals’ impact is second only to that of teachers.

We at NYC Leadership Academy, or NYCLA, support the idea of a Great Teacher Initiative, like the one Ms. Amato writes about. But we also believe that an initiative of this kind will succeed only if we develop a tandem effort to provide principals with similar supports.

The good news is that we know how to do this. Schools with NYCLA-trained leaders have shown extraordinary results: a 35 percent rise in math scores; an 18 percent rise in English/language arts scores; parent engagement up by 18 percent; teacher engagement up by 13 percent; and student perception of safety up by 8 percent.

Too often, efforts at school reform have failed because we make changes in one area without making changes in others. We cannot afford to repeat this mistake. If our students are to learn, teachers must receive more support. A Great Teacher Initiative is desperately needed, but it will be doomed to fail without similar programs for school leaders.

Irma Zardoya

Chief Executive Officer

NYC Leadership Academy

Long Island City, N.Y.

A version of this article appeared in the October 09, 2013 edition of Education Week as Principals’ Leadership Is Critical in Fostering Effective Teaching


Classroom Technology Webinar Making Big Technology Decisions: Advice for District Leaders, Principals, and Teachers
Educators at all levels make decisions that can have a huge impact on students. That’s especially true when it comes to the use of technology, which was activated like never before to help students learn
Professional Development Webinar Expand Digital Learning by Expanding Teacher Training
This discussion will examine how things have changed and offer guidance on smart, cost-effective ways to expand digital learning efforts and train teachers to maximize the use of new technologies for learning.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Student Well-Being Webinar
The Social-Emotional Impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic on American Schoolchildren
Hear new findings from an analysis of our 300 million student survey responses along with district leaders on new trends in student SEL.
Content provided by Panorama

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School & District Management Opinion Schools Faced a Massive Systems Failure During the Pandemic. How Do We Fix It?
Education leaders can (and must) find common purpose in the face of COVID-19, writes one superintendent.
Laura Kagy
2 min read
Hands hold up gears together.
Vanessa Solis/Education Week and Getty Images
School & District Management A View From the Hot Seat: How One District Leader Is Confronting COVID-19's Latest Twists
An assistant superintendent in Texas talks about how to keep the pandemic in check for the new school year even as the Delta variant spreads.
9 min read
Jeanie Johnson, assistant superintendent for administration, is a kind of the air traffic controller in Midway ISD, absorbing the glut of information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Texas education Agency, Tex. Gov. Greg Abbott, Waco-McLennan County, Public Health District and others, to help the Waco School District devise safety protocols and plans for students. She’s doing so amid rapidly changing and sometimes conflicting guidance. She talks about what she learned over the last year and that’s helping the school district prepare for the second COVID-19 school year.
Jeanie Johnson, assistant superintendent for administrative services, helps lead the COVID-19 response for the Midway Independent School District in Texas.
Eric Guel for Education Week
School & District Management Opinion Q&A Collections: Education Policy Issues
Posts on the key education policy issues from the past 10 years.
13 min read
Images shows colorful speech bubbles that say "Q," "&," and "A."
School & District Management Opinion Leaders, Your Communication Plan Needs to Start With Your Staff
Staff members are the point of contact for thousands of interactions with the public each day. They can’t be the last to know of changes.
Gladys I. Cruz
2 min read
A staff meeting around a table.
Vanessa Solis/Education Week and Getty Images