By Felicia Smith, Vivian Mihalakis, and Amy Slamp

What makes successful schools tick? We know that great schools need great teachers, and great teachers in turn need skilled school leaders who can create the conditions within a school that enable teachers to help their students learn and achieve. Here are four ways that strong school leadership teams create these conditions for success in their schools.

Strong leadership teams enable teachers to work with their peers and focus on improvement rather than evaluation. When teachers work together in teams, they coach each other, learn from one another, and become experts in specific areas. This team dynamic—in which everyone plays a role and is valued—provides them with a safe space to refine their practices to improve student outcomes. It also boosts teacher morale, making it more likely that good teachers will stay in the profession longer. In these collaborative environments, transparency of practice and data are expected to help drive improvement.

Strong leadership teams involve teachers in decisions about curriculum, assessment, instruction, and professional learning. Great leaders understand that teachers know what their students—and what they themselves—need to succeed. When teachers are involved in examining data and making important decisions based on data that inform how they continuously improve their schools, leadership teams can ensure that everyone in the building is focused on the core business of the school—improving student learning outcomes.

Strong leadership teams engage families and communities. They understand that their school is embedded in the community, and that their school can be both a reflection of and a resource for that community. When leaders reach out to the community—and especially parents—to involve them in the day-to-day life of the school, these community members and parents are more likely to support teachers and students and help them succeed. Reaching out to engage families and communities also strengthens the school’s ability to network within the community to find new supports and resources to partner to meet the needs of students

Strong leadership teams create a safe, nurturing learning environment for students. When students feel comfortable and supported in school, they are more likely to be engaged in and take ownership for their learning—skills that will help them succeed in school and beyond. Leadership teams creating these environment help develop student agency.

For last month’s article on high-impact ways leadership teams use data to improve their schools, click here.