Effective Education Leaders are Instructional Leaders
School leaders have a responsibility to be one of the best teachers in their building. They are responsible for ensuring that the instruction that each student is receiving is top-notch. Because of this, you have to know what effective teaching looks like, and be able to help teachers become the best that they can be. How can you do this if you are not an instructional leader?
What does an instructional leader do?
So what does an instructional leader look like in action? Instructional leaders do not spend all of their time in their office. They spend a large portion of their day, conducting informal and formal observations of classrooms. This allows them to evaluate the performance of their teachers and, if necessary, create corrective action plans that are meant to help a struggling teacher’s performance improve.
At the end of the day, the school and superintendent will hold you accountable for test scores and overall student achievement. It will be your job in jeopardy, not the teachers. Poor teachers can easily fly under the radar and outlast their principals, or they can easily transfer to another school inside of the district or move to a school outside of the district. Principals who do not make the grade may not be as lucky. A principal that does not perform may find themselves demoted to the assistant principal or fired altogether.
Do yourself a favor and make being an instructional leader your first priority. Sure, you can delegate this task to an assistant principal or instructional coach, but you need to be able to spot good and bad teaching and help good and struggling teachers grow. Also, you need to be able to train your leadership team to do the same, especially if you plan on delegating instructional leadership tasks to them.
As a concluding note, there has always been a tradition of placing coaches and other school staff without an understanding of instructional leadership in the position of principal. As far as discipline goes, they can get the job done without trying, because of the natural respect they have in the school community. However, if you hire them without requiring them to be or become trained as strong instructional leaders, you are setting your school district up for failure.