- Michael Niehoff, the founding principal of Minarets High School and Charter High School, shares his professional opinion on what it takes to lead a school centered around a project-based learning model in District Administration.
- Successful implementation of project-based learning depends on the expectations, culture and collaboration facilitated by district leaders, Niehoff says.
- Project-based leaders also need to consider four factors: what it means to be an icon of innovation; what it takes to live the professional lifestyle, how to publicize the school, and what practices and protocols to follow.
Some say that project-based learning is the leading new form of pedagogy while others claim it is just a revamping of a much older educational framework. New or old, project-based learning seems here to stay, and now entire schools are based on the model. Developments in technology have only further served to give it a whole new spin.
However, project-based learning requires a new style of leadership. It is more collaborative, for one thing. Some schools incorporate whole-school design projects, which require coordination and collaboration on a wide scale. Project-based learning is still a new concept to many parents, as well, so leading a project-based school requires a lot more explanation by school leaders. And the amount of voice PBL gives students also goes against the grain of many individual leadership styles.
Administrators at project-based schools must guard against staff burn-out, as well. Once the initial enthusiasm for an innovative idea has waned, some teachers feel they have bitten off more than they can chew. Good leaders can provide the guidance and strategies that teachers need to implement PBL more successfully.