Supporting and Strengthening School Leadership


“What’s something that you’re pleased with about the leadership at your school?” Jean Hamilton, Acknowledge Alliance Resilience Consultant, asks each principal this question when they meet for their monthly Principal Resilience Group.

Students need great teachers, and teachers need great leaders. Acknowledge Alliance facilitates a Principal Resilience Group to provide school leaders with the support and resilience they need through small group conversations. We offer a safe place for principals to build meaningful relationships with each other, feel listened to, learn effective strategies for dealing with stress, share strategies for better communication with colleagues, and break down some of the isolation of being a principal.

Principals are often the first one to arrive at school each day and the last ones to leave. No two days are ever the same and each day brings new challenges. They are responsible for every student, teacher, staff member, and program in their building. They work to fulfill the needs of both the district and the teachers and staff on campus, serving as the liaison between the school board and the school community. They focus on improving teacher quality and raising student achievement. They encourage parental involvement and address family concerns as well. On top of managing many relationships and completing daily administrative tasks, they also have to be available for every unforeseen crisis and every celebration. This pressure-filled job, while highly rewarding, can also be extremely demanding and isolating.

Those who have participated in our Principal Resilience Group have found it to be very beneficial. On our most recent survey, principals rated the statement “Overall this group was very useful to me” using a 5-point Likert scale that ranged from “not at all true” to “very much true.” The average score was 4.4 out of 5. These positive findings were echoed when they were asked whether the group met their needs. The answer was overwhelmingly “yes,” with everyone feeling that the group provided them a safe, supportive place.

Principals were grateful for the opportunity to discuss challenges, process emotions, and learn strategies with those in a similar position:

“The group provided an invaluable opportunity for me to share with my peers about the challenges we face as school leaders. I found the sessions to be very helpful as I was able to gain new perspectives, engage in meaningful conversation and, most importantly, feel valued and heard.”

“The group has met my need to collaborate with colleagues to solve larger problems. It has also built a community in which we can empathize with the struggles of our colleagues and offer support.”

This school year is off to a fantastic start! Our Principal Resilience Group is scheduled to meet soon and due to the demand from more schools, we hope to launch a second group this fall. We believe that our school leaders will continue to maximize their impact in effective and transformative ways.

Jean Hamilton shares, “My hope is that principals could really see how valuable they are. I encourage them to reflect on all of the positive things they have brought to their school communities, to see the incredible changes they have been able to facilitate, and to feel good about themselves in their role as principal.”

With the support of Acknowledge Alliance, principals are remembering to look for the positives, draw on their strengths, and build their own resilience to support the resilience of everyone in the school community.