The Many Roles Principals Play in Teacher Development

This quarter as part of Seattle Pacific University’s EDTC 6106 Educational Technology Leadership course, I investigated the question: “What is the Principal’s role in Teacher Development?” My goal was to find information on what responsibilities/duties Principals have on choosing effective 21st century professional development for their teachers. I was curious to learn more on the steps principals take when choosing/designing professional development opportunities for the teachers in their school. Through research, my focus for this investigation was to cover the following ISTE Coaching Standard:

4: Professional Development and Program Evaluation 

b. Design, develop, and implement technology rich professional learning programs that model principles of adult learning and promote digital age best practices in teaching, learning, and assessment. 

21st Century Principal Expectations

Principal responsibilities have surpassed the singular admin roles they have thought to have in the past. ( Sanfelippo & Sinanis, Page 18) In the past, many believed the Principals job was to sit in an office all day dealing with paperwork and being the leader of the front desk. ( Sanfelippo & Sinanis, Page 18) In modern times, Principals are being looked at as transformational leaders who are successfully changing schools by addressing the instructional needs, the administrative expectations, and need for current and relevant professional development opportunities. (Sanfelippo & Sinanis, Pages 18-19)

There are thought to be three dimensions to being an instructional leader:

  1. Defining the school’s mission. What common goals do you believe are important to the school and the community? What aspects of the school’s mission will be able to inspire, empower, and motivate both the teachers as well as the students and parents within your school? (Sanfelippo & Sinanis, Pages 21-22)
  2. Managing the instructional program. What is/isn’t working within the classrooms at your school? What types of professional development opportunities would benefit the teachers and your schools community? (Sanfelippo & Sinanis, Page 22)
  3. Promoting a positive school learning climate. Are you available to your staff and listening to their needs? How do you support your teachers and ensure student learning within the classrooms at your school? (Sanfelippo & Sinanis, Page 22)

While keeping these three dimensions in mind, here are a few expectations for Transformational Leaders (Sanfelippo & Sinanis, Page 23) :

  • Lead for learning—be the lead learner
  • Have a clear understanding of the strengths and needs of the entire school community
  • Be visible—be in classrooms and learning spaces throughout the day
  • Support staff in their efforts to be innovative risk-takers with their learning and teaching
  • Focus on student learning
  • Communicate a vision for the school that is embraced by all constituent groups

The Professional Development Cycle

Professional Development Cycle-Page 34
The Principal as Professional Development Leader  
Phyllis H. Lindstrom, Marsha Speck

Becoming a Professional Development Leader

In the 21st century, Principals take on many roles to create effective Professional Development Opportunities.

Professional Development Leader-Page 43
The Principal as Professional Development Leader  
Phyllis H. Lindstrom, Marsha Speck

The Different Roles


Building the Capacity of the Professional Learning Community

(Lindstrom & Speck Page 73)

  • Dealing with Mandates and Expectations
  • Collecting and using Data
  • Linking Teacher Knowledge, Professional Development, and Student Growth
  • Engaging in inquiry and current research


Developing Focus, Plans, and Resources

(Lindstrom & Speck Page 93)

  • Developing a vision and beliefs of the Learning Community
  • Planning opportunities for shared leadership
  • Implementing Pedagogy and Content Knowledge
  • Integrating models and tools
  • Action Research Cycle
Action Research Cycle- Page 84
The Principal as Professional Development Leader 
 Phyllis H. Lindstrom, Marsha Speck


Taking Action

(Lindstrom & Speck Page 127)

  • Creating a collaborative environment.
  • Giving educators time to learn, practice, implement, observe, and reflect on new resources and/or teaching strategies.
  • Providing resources for support, both inside and outside of the school.
  • Having a variety of incentives to support teacher efforts in professional growth.
Classroom Visitation Request Form- Page 118
The Principal as Professional Development Leader 
 Phyllis H. Lindstrom, Marsha Speck

Reflective Leader

Evaluating Results

(Lindstrom & Speck Page 149)

  • The Principal’s own professional development
  • Evaluation Focus: improving student learning
  • Results-Oriented evaluation
  • Assessing progress using the professional development rubric
Professional Development Rubric- Page 140
The Principal as Professional Development Leader – Phyllis H. Lindstrom, Marsha Speck


Joseph Sanfelippo and Tony Sinanis. Principal Professional Development: Leading Learning in the Digital Age. Thousand Oaks, California, Corwin A SAGE Company, 2015.

Phyllis H. Lindstrom and Marsha Speck. The Principal as Professional Development Leader. Corwin A SAGE Company. February 2004.

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