Welcome to the Charter Leadership Institute Discussion Board.
Charter Leadership Forum
Effective Instructional Leadership
Examples of Effective Instructional Leaders
Who would you consider as an effective instructional leader and why?
Dionne, thanks for this question. I hope others choose to respond to it. In addition to the comments made by Rynnett, I think an effective instructional leader has at least two qualities that might not always end up in a research article. First, an effective instructional leader spends far more time visiting/monitoring classrooms than he/she spends in his/her office. This point was referred to in one of our readings. Such a leader has figured out a way to avoid being bogged down with the paperwork and disciplinary matters that normally accompany school leadership. Second, an effective instructional leader has an elaborate system of rewards for students, faculty, and staff. You might recall from one of the dissertation notes that we read, the Level Five principal place tremendous emphasis on rewards for the students. There was no mention of rewards for faculty and staff, but this is also very important. This system of rewards can be described as an "INTERNAL PROCESS" that was designed by the instructional leader.
I agree with your first point! It is critical that an instructional leader is visible before school, at lunchtime, during recess, and at dismissal. However, the primary goal of an instructional leader is to be in every classroom every day. It is much easier to address parent concerns since you have firsthand knowledge of instructional strategies, time on task, and discipline. It sends a strong message to faculty, establishing the importance of instruction. It provides informal observation of classroom climate, culture, and respect. Formalized observations are not as stressful for teachers. They know that you have the big picture from these drop in visits. It also establishes your "servant leadership" role. Teachers are more willing to come to you to discuss issues in their classroom. They view you not only as their evaluator but also as their advocate and mentor.
Thanks for all of the input. Based on your experiences, is an effective instructional leader one who spends more time dropping-in the classroom rather than requiring teachers to turn in lesson plans on a regular basis? The only reason I ask is that I considered my building principal an effective instructional leader, but she never requested our lesson plans. She expected them to be done and available if she wanted to see them, but she never required us to turn them in. On the other hand, she was famous for dropping by our classrooms unannounced...smile. She also provided wonderful instructional development opportunities for us.
What are your thoughts about teachers being required to turn in lesson plans to the instructional leader?
I think this issue is reflective of leadership style with some principals collecting lesson plans weekly while others randomly check them. Personally, I prefer a combination of making short drop by visits with longer unannounced monitoring where a teacher receives immediate written feedback. During these unannounced visits, lesson plans are always checked. When I was a classroom teacher, one of my principals required color coded modifications on each lesson for students who were above, on, or below grade level. It required a tremendous amount of time and effort. She always checked lesson plans during unannounced visits and collected lesson plan books without notice. This staff had a huge turnover of teachers initially. However, the teachers that remained rose to her expectations.
Dionne, usually behind every good lesson is a good lesson plan. Even if the instructional leader does not SEE the lesson plan, he/she still SEES it through the implementation of the lesson. Agree?
I definitely agree. Both of your responses have given me a good idea about how to balance the two. Thanks.
Leadership is not just about checking lesson plans or being visible in the building. Leaders are keepers of the "vision". It is important for leaders to live the vision. The vision is what determines what the mission will be and what direct actions one will take to bring the vision to reality. Leaders make sure that the decisions that are made are all directly related to realizing the vision. Leaders also actively practice the art of reflection.
Leaders must write the vision and articulate it. An effective leader must sell the team on the vision so that everyone will focus and strive for the same goals. The entire building will only make those decisions that square with the vision.
Lesson plans will fall in line with the vision. Leaders will not just check to see that lesson plans are complete. They will check to see that plans are in line with the vision and teachers are teaching with them as a guide. Leaders dialogue with teachers through active reflection to improve the delivery of the lessons and check for relevance to the vision and mission.
Leaders also have the task of getting the community and parents to buy into the vision. They must identify the processes the will support the vision. They must also identify which tasks will be assigned to each role. Leaders, teachers, staff members, parents, students, and the community, must actively participate in realizing the vision. Leaders evaluate the progress of the assigned task. They also determine what works and what must be discontinued or modified. They establish realistic timelines for task completion. Leaders are the first to go to the mountain top. They find the best path in which to take the team. They make sure everyone gets there.