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SAM I Am: Making the Time for Effective Instructional Leadership

Duration: 11:35

Principals have a tough job, and it’s only going to get tougher. It is a serious challenge to balance leadership and management duties. There is not enough time in the day for a single person to provide the leadership in the school as well as handle operations responsibilities. How can principals focus on what’s really important: that is, shaping and realizing the schoolwide vision for improving teaching and learning? Often principals must respond to central office, school staff, students and parents before they can even think about instructional leadership. What if that were different? What if principals could focus more than half of their time on leading effective instruction, rather than just a third? What if we could transform schools simply by changing how principals spend their time?

The national School Administration Manger (SAM) Project helps principals understand how they use their time, gives them a staff person (the “SAM”) to help carry out operations responsibilities and works with the principal on strategies to lead instruction. This vignette explores how the SAM Project helps school leaders focus more of their time on teaching and learning and features a principal/SAM team in Louisville, Kentucky.

THE PRINCIPAL STORY follows the journey of two elementary school principals throughout a school year as they strive to improve student achievement and implement school reform. Featured are novice principal Tresa D. Dunbar of the Henry H. Nash Elementary School in Chicago and veteran principal Kerry Purcell of Harvard Park Elementary School in Springfield, Ill. Their stories unfold in an hour-long documentary film that illustrates the struggles and successes these leaders encounter. In addition, a 23-minute clip reel, available on the film’s supplemental outreach DVD and website, draws from the documentary to highlight four themes critical to effective school leadership:

1. Stewardship of a vision;
2. Leading instructional improvement;
3. Creating the instructional environment; and
4. Holding people accountable.


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Post Date: July 21, 2009