To Develop a Vibrant Faculty Culture The Responsibilities of the Division Head Must Adjust

The primary responsibility of the division head needs to shift from mechanical operation of the school day/quarter/year to that of “leadership of adult faculty in a manner designed to enhance the capacity of the faculty to deliver the mission with excellence. As evaluating, coaching and mentoring faculty are crucial elements of enhancing faculty capacity they are integral to the administrator’s role and exactly the place in which significant effort and focus is worthwhile and required. Less essential tasks need to be pushed to the margins or delegated.” (Ideas & Perspectives Vol. 37 No. 2, Independent School Management) This requires rethinking the division head’s job description, matching the right people with the job, providing the necessary training, and making the necessary adjustments to the operation over time to free up the time. This will take both a shift in perspective and financial backing.

The Case-Study School observed has an evaluation/feedback approach in place that takes much division head time. But it has achieved limited results because of weak professional teacher expectations, mechanical execution of the process, and lack of funding for customized professional development. Rather, the process should be full of a vibrant enthusiasm for growing teacher performance by applying best practices. The School needs to power up through the professional development of division heads and make sure they have more time and support to observe/evaluate and coach teachers. This is a job of the head of school.

Division heads need to have the time to emphasize faculty leadership. ISM recommends that administrators directly supervise no more than fifteen teachers to maintain an effective coaching and mentoring relationship with each. This has several practical implications regarding time, money and other resources. In one school I consult I found division heads with about the right span of control over full time teachers to allow time for coaching and mentoring. However, they were loaded with so many part time teachers, volunteer coaches, new student admission duties, curriculum development and acquisition, and risk management that little time remained for the observation/coaching/improvement cycle.

To develop and sustain a vibrant faculty culture the school administration will need to fund, develop and retain division heads that lead faculty, reduce the span of control to give time for coaching and mentoring and fund professional development.

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