School Principal as Curriculum Leader: An Overview of Responsibilities

Read Time:5 Minute, 6 Second
EVELYN A. PANGILINAN, PhD
Jaen Central School, SDO-Jaen South Annex

Apart from administrative leadership, teacher evaluation, and learner discipline, curriculum leadership is another one of the many facets of a school principal’s responsibilities, which demand considerable time and effort. Though it is already a given that they are expected to have the abilities in time management, planning, and organization while maintaining equilibrium in all of their obligations and exerting considerable effort to behave in the best interests of all parties, what needs to be understood further is the fact that aside from time and effort, school principals are expected to address the challenges of new accountability measures, 21st century learners, and the demands of digital transformation in education.

To successfully lead a group or an individual is the essence of leadership. The term “curriculum” is used to refer to all of the learning experiences that are required of learners in a given program or field of expertise. It is believed that the University of Wisconsin-Madison was the first institution to have used the word “curriculum” in reference to educational offerings. Now, Curriculum Leadership is characterized by its functions and goals. First and foremost, it is the job of a curriculum leader to ensure that all goals are met. Effective curriculum leadership, then, is the carrying out of responsibilities that enable a school to fulfill its mission of providing learners with high-quality education. The ultimate aim is to maximize learning by supplying them with superior course materials. Educational policymakers are primarily concerned with the content and delivery of the curriculum.

One of a principal’s primary responsibilities is to ensure that the school’s curriculum is consistently implemented and improved upon. The goal of schooling should be to turn out successful adults. This goal can only be reached if the principal takes a proactive role in shaping the curricula. It should be noted that both operational and logistical demands have increased thus school principals as educational leaders must also focus on supporting teachers so they can take on roles as curriculum leaders rather than just content providers.. School principals need to lead their schools toward becoming intentional learning communities where they are active leaders of the curriculum who work with all the other stakeholders to create more dynamic learning experiences for each learner.

A school principal should be bold, strategic, curious, and collaborative in order to lead the curriculum effectively. This translates to them having to interact with teachers about the learning goals for students and come up with ways for teachers to meet those goals. They should be the first line of defense when it comes to meeting the instructional needs of learners and should take an active role in communicating the importance of curriculum design to teachers and the school as a whole by holding regular meetings to discuss curriculum topics, hosting professional development sessions on curriculum, and inviting curriculum experts to visit the school.

A school principal must invite feedback from parents, teachers, and learners and solicit input from stakeholders in order to be successful in leading the curriculum. They should also lead the decision-making process for the school’s core curriculum, electives, and extracurricular activities to ensure that all are aligned with the school’s vision and mission. They must be strategic about when and where to implement changes to the curriculum, making sure that any modifications benefit the majority of learners in the school. And, they should also hold regular meetings with parents to receive feedback and ensure that parents are engaged and informed about their children’s academic and extracurricular activities.

Bear in mind that curriculum leaders are open to new ideas and are willing to try out new approaches, even if they were not successful in another school. They are also curious about how and why other schools have had success with their curriculum designs, and they actively seek out information from other schools, curriculum experts, and research on effective practices in education.

While there are many benefits to school principals taking on a more active role in curriculum leadership and design, there are also a few potential pitfalls that school leaders like them should be aware of before they take on this new role. One is the lack of support from teachers. If teachers feel that the work they are being asked to do is not commensurate with the reward they receive, they will be less likely to take on more responsibilities. Another is the lack of time. Principals already have their hands full with many different responsibilities, such as managing finances, overseeing facility operations, and supporting teachers. Adding the responsibility of being an active curriculum leader could stretch these administrators too thin and lead to unfunded mandates from the district. And last is the lack of understanding from parents. Parents might not understand why their child’s principal has suddenly become more involved in the design of the curriculum and be less likely to trust the school’s curriculum as a result.

 

Schools are tasked with preparing learners for a rapidly changing workforce and society — one in which technological innovation has created both new career opportunities and new challenges. In order to prepare learners to succeed in this new world, schools are adopting new approaches to curriculum design and implementation. Principals must take the lead in supporting this transformation toward curricular co-construction, integration, and indigenization.

Curriculum leaders are essential to the success of any school. They are responsible for ensuring that the curriculum is designed in such a way that all students are challenged, engaged, and achieving at their highest potential. Every school leader has the potential to be a curriculum leader, but it takes a lot of time and effort to become proficient in this area. School leaders must have solid administrative and instructional skills, a strong understanding of their local district curriculum and assessment strategies, and an authentic desire to best serve the needs of the learners in their school.

If you are a school leader who is interested in taking on a greater role in curriculum design but feel overwhelmed by the challenge, take heart. ##

[Photo courtesy: PTVNews]

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