The Changing Role of Principal Supervisors
Change has always been a constant in education as we continue preparing our students to be future-ready so they can respond to the ever-changing societal shifts around them. For several years, Frisco ISD worked diligently on a framework that guides our work to actualize the vision of preparing our students for success in the futures they create for themselves. Unfortunately, the pandemic disrupted the educational landscape and required us to make unanticipated shifts in how we thought and worked. This change forced us to pivot in ways that challenged us and made us uncomfortable like never before.
Research tells us school leadership matters significantly and is second only to teachers among all factors influencing student achievement. Now more than ever, school leaders must possess the necessary knowledge, skills, and disposition to grow and adapt to shifting expectations so they can lead those who work with students in this new educational environment. Therefore, our district committed to reconceptualizing the principal supervisors’ role to exclusively work with principals and partner with other central office departments to develop and support principals’ leadership capacity to meet the increasing demands of our complex educational expectations.
The district committed to redefining and reframing the principal supervisors’ role by making these changes:
- Creating the Leadership Department based on the recommendations of current research studies on the role of principal supervisors.
- Limiting the principal supervisors’ span of control by reducing the number of diverse responsibilities and oversight to focus on developing the leadership capacity of principals through coaching, supervising, and serving as a bridge between schools and the central office.
- Collaborating with other central office departments and serving as a liaison and broker to ensure principals have the knowledge, skills, and resources to lead their schools effectively.
- Utilizing the Model Principal Supervisor Professional Standards to clarify our role, guide our work, and engage us in continually developing and improving ourselves as district leaders.
- Committing time as a leadership team to learn together and develop a shared understanding of the standards and leadership behaviors to provide consistent and differentiated support for principals.
Historically, the central office existed to support and guide the work of school leaders and staff with curricular, instructional, and compliance needs. However, due to the unforeseen effects of the pandemic, the academic, social, and emotional needs of our students intensified, which required us to adjust the way we worked with principals and other district leaders with urgency and innovation. The following activities highlight our new way of working as principal supervisors:
- Visiting schools to observe classrooms regularly alongside principals to reflect on celebrations and areas of refinement. Campus visits are personalized based on individual principal needs.
- Partnering with principals to analyze and monitor student performance data, identify needs, and assist in developing strategic plans.
- Coaching and supporting principals in all aspects of their role as school leaders.
- Partnering with other departments in identifying leadership needs, planning for professional learning, and differentiating the learning for principals to the extent possible.
- Protecting principals from distractions and serving as their advocates so they can maximize their time to work with staff and have the necessary resources to impact student outcomes.
The changes needed to principal supervisors’ roles are complex and multifaceted. However, our district is committed to making the necessary changes to better support school leaders navigating the uncharted educational environment. In addition, we continue to work diligently to develop our collective efficacy and increase our collaboration with other departments to maximize our impact on student outcomes. Our objective is to work purposefully and interdependently to ensure alignment and actualize the shared goal of preparing students to be future-ready and live meaningful lives.
Dr. Mia Bennett is Managing Director of Elementary Schools in Frisco ISD. She is a long-time TEPSA member and her career in education spans 32 years, serving as a teacher, assistant principal, principal, and principal supervisor. For the last 16 years as a principal supervisor, her primary purpose has been to serve campus principals as a coach, a mentor, and a partner.