When John Hattie, Professor of Education and Director of the Melbourne Education Visible Learning Research Institute at the University of Melbourne, Australia asked over 3000 school leaders what skills they thought they needed to improve, six features arose…how to handle accountability, how to “keep getting better”, how to cope with personal challenges such as “wearing many hats,” how to be an “effective” administrator, and how to better use the infrastructure in their school (J. Smith & R. Smith, 2015, pp. vii). What was surprising to Hattie and the Visible Learning researchers was that there was almost NO reference to enhancing instructional impact or building collective efficacy among staff to deeply know and grow their instructional impact in regards to student learning.
Hattie and his researchers acknowledge that while “yes” school leaders need to be good at people management and ensuring an orderly flow and sense of fairness in the school, research studies share that these baseline school leadership skills are focused ONLY on running a school but NOT on leading a school. What research would instead have school leaders focus on as their “true north” is to create and sustain pathways for collective collaboration among all adults in the school, to have an agreed understanding of what student learning impact means in their school, agreed understanding of the sources of evidence about the magnitude of this impact, and an equity focus on ensuring all student share in this impact.