Doing the Right Things

Published in SEDL Letter Volume XVII, Number 2, Leadership for Learning

The late, great management and leadership guru Peter F. Drucker once said, “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” In education, doing the right things means doing what is best for our students—doing whatever it takes to help them reach high levels of learning and achievement. In this issue of SEDL Letter, we discuss strategies that can help education leaders ensure that students are well served.

Mike Schmoker, a former principal who writes frequently about education reform and leadership, presents simple, team-based leadership practices that can help make a difference in student learning. Peter Hall, who is currently an elementary school principal, provides his advice for monitoring and promoting learning. To bring in another leadership perspective, Lesley Dahlkemper writes about how school boards are now concentrating more on student achievement instead of the three Bs—budgets, buildings, and buses. In addition, Pamela Porter reports on the importance of building a shared vision as the way to foster shared leadership while maintaining a focus on student learning.

Because doing the right things for our students includes paying attention to research findings, we’ve included a summary of a recent meta-analysis that examined research related to leadership and student outcomes. Even though leadership is a topic often researched and discussed, there still are not strong, experimental studies that demonstrate a causal effect between certain leadership practices and improved outcomes. The study we discuss, like many others, focuses on practices that are only associated with improved student outcomes and should be considered in that light.

In this issue, we’ve also included an article about Hurricane Katrina’s effects on education in the states SEDL serves. As we go to press, only one public school in New Orleans has reopened, and many of our colleagues and educators with whom we have worked remain uncertain as to what the future holds. One thing seems clear, though: to rebuild schools and communities, to provide the education and social environment that all children deserve, we must do the right things.

We at SEDL wish you a safe and happy 2006.

Photo of adult educators discussing at a table.

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