Can Coaching Help Prevent A School Leadership Crisis?

Alyssa Gallagher, BTS Spark and Tara O’Brien, BTS Spark • Principal Leadership Article

The job of a school leader is relentless. A typical school principal needs to be skilled in instructional leadership, human resources, conflict resolution, child development, and psychology, while also needing to be able to play the role of inspirational cheerleader. Not only does the job of a school leader come with long hours and high stress, but it’s also often a job that is misunderstood.

It’s no wonder that a December 2021 survey by NASSP signals a looming exodus of principals. According to the survey, job satisfaction is at an ultimate low, with almost 4 out of 10 principals (38%) expecting to leave the profession in the next three years. Principals cited the lingering effects of the pandemic, political tensions, and limited guidance and resources as major factors. How can we reverse the trajectory?

Focusing on Support

School leaders consistently cite a lack of support and development as a top concern, with many saying they are unable to access high-quality professional development (PD) that meets their needs due to the quality of the PD, time constraints, and/or cost of programming. However, almost all principals indicate a desire to grow as leaders. Given these unmet needs, we must design learning opportunities with school leaders in mind and remove the top three barriers to professional development that they cite: