Reflecting on performance is an important skill that effective leaders possess in order to improve their schools and teachers. While many people reflect on their performance individually, at times it is important to receive feedback from others that are involved in order to be able to assess the situation and to manage and divide the tasks that need to be accomplished.
In the article, “A CALL for improved school leadership,” by Richard Halverson, Carolyn Kelley and James Shaw, the authors discussed a survey created by the U.S. Department of Education that focused on certain key elements of educational leadership. This article is supposed to be given to all players in the school in order to evaluate the effectiveness of distributive leadership and the overall school. The survey is composed of 100 questions that cover five specific domains: a focus on learning, monitoring teaching and learning, building a professional community, acquiring and allocating resources and maintaining a safe and effective learning environment. The domain regarding the focus of learning identified how the school leader engaged the staff in ongoing conversations about learning, and inspired everyone in the school to work together and focus on education. The second domain, monitoring teaching and learning, discussed how the leader created a culture of peer to peer observations and continual learning for the teachers. According to the authors, the most difficult domain is building a professional community, in which they initiate professional development, school improvement and curriculum design in the school and for the teachers. The fourth domain, acquiring and allocating resources, discussed the importance of acquiring resources for the school that will benefit both the teachers and students in order to improve their performances. Finally, domain 5, maintaining a safe and effective learning environment, focused on the importance of school environment and culture in order to foster and promote education.
The CALL domains are very beneficial and provide a solid understanding of what qualities an effective leader should have. It is very beneficial to have all the teachers and administrators in the school involved in the survey because then the leader will receive honest feedback in regards to the domains and everyone will feel accountable for the school. Each domain should also be identified and evaluated by the leader so they are aware of which domains need to be more thoroughly addressed. Since the goal of the CALL survey is to not rate the leader themselves, but to identify who else in the school can assist the leader in achieving all of the domains, it is an effective way of addressing specific domains, where the school is lacking and who in the school can support the domain. This is extremely beneficial because the leader has many tasks that need to be accomplished, and through the survey they are able to identify key issues and receive help in ensuring that all of the domains are covered in order to help the school improve and hold everyone accountable.
It is important to understand that all of the domains need to be effective and ongoing in order to have the school performing optimally. While a leader and the teachers might foster a collaborative community and focus on learning, if the overall school environment is not safe, the students will be negatively affected. Therefore, it is important that all five domains are effective in order to maintain a positive school environment which promotes education and a collaborative environment. Having a check list of the domains and the components that comprise each domain is an efficient way for the leader and those involved to be constantly reminded of what they need to do in order to have an effective school and environment.
It is important for school leaders to reflect on their practices and how well they promote learning, collaboration and school environment frequently. By doing this, they are constantly reminded of important aspects that they need to promote in their school, and how others in the building are able to help them. By sharing the responsibilities of the domains, the leader is not only reducing their case load, but is also empowering teachers and others in the building and helping them take ownership of the school, students and learning.
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