The roles of both the principal and assistant principal are constantly evolving. We are miles away from the idea that great leaders are one dimensional school managers. Famous playwright, George Bernard Shaw once said, “Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” To not evolve would be to risk stagnation. The roles have changed and we must transform as well in order to run the most effective schools for our students.
With this transformation comes a focus on instructional leadership. Instructional leadership in the simplest of terms is leading the charge for all stakeholders to be insistent about knowing who’s learning what, how, when, and especially how well in each classroom, building, grade level, content area, or capacity in which you lead. It’s not just the work of administration, though that is the focus of this post, but that of instructional coaches, curriculum support, teachers, and district staff as well.
Avoid the Management Trap
Any worthwhile change should be marked with fidelity and commitment. However, like most things there are pitfalls that may arise. As I continue this work, its become important for me and my administrative team to find ways to avoid the management trap. True instructional leadership should shape instruction, help challenge the status quo, and produce positive outcomes. Don’t fall in the trap of performing activities under the guise of instructional leadership without getting the full benefit of the work. Here are a few tips that have helped me as I continue to grow as an instructional leader.
- Lead with an instructional focus or set of foci.
- Ensure your group of instructional support understand the mission and goals, can help you reach them, and are committed to putting in the work necessary to reach success.
- Share your school goals, focus, and next steps as often as possible.
- Make staff meetings opportunities to grow staff as instructional leaders whenever possible.
- Check lesson plans and provide meaningful feedback.
- Train staff and facilitators in the professional learning community (PLC) process.
- Participate in PLCs to help facilitate strong quality dialogue.
- Complete classroom observations and share timely feedback.