Thursday, May 26, 2011

Responsibilities of the Instructional Leader

There are many factors that contribute to the instructional program of a school. It is the responsibility of the leader to make a positive impact upon the instructional program of the school through knowledge and involvement with the factors that most directly impact curricular design, classroom instruction, instructional practices and professional development.

The factors that have the most impact on the instructional process are broken into three categories: School-level factors, Teacher-level factors, and Student-level factors. Leaders must realize that they have the ability to actively influence each of those factors for increased teacher instruction and student learning.

As it applies to School-level factors, the school leader has a direct influence upon the outcome of the factors. When it comes to curriculum, the leader can guarantee a viable curriculum through their knowledge and involvement in the establishment and application of the curriculum. Ensuring time for teachers to map grade-level curriculum and establishing vertical teams between grades can determine the scope and sequence of curriculum. Through visibility in the school the leader has the ability to have knowledge of teachers instructional practices, and they can provide instructional based goals for the school to increase achievement and seek and provide feedback upon the progress towards achievement of the goals. Using various means of communication, the leader solicits parent and community involvement in the school, either through volunteering in the day to day activities of the school or serving on decision-making committees. The leader formulates efficient processes and procedures for a safe and orderly school environment through the development of positive behavior and character development. By developing a culture of trust and distributed leadership, the school leader fosters a sense of collegiality and professionalism. These are all factors where the school leader is directly responsible.

When involving Teacher-level factors, the school leader has more of an indirect influence. By demonstrating and communicating knowledge of instructional strategies, the school leader can encourage teachers to use effective instructional strategies, either through professional development opportunities or through the use of mentoring with effective teachers. Principals can also encourage proven classroom management procedures that provide an effective learning environment in the classroom. The principal can also establish an environment where teachers serve in professional learning communities to design consistent curriculum design for the grade. These are factors where the teacher must have direct influence to be effective, but the leader needs to exert their influence towards proven practices.

The school leader has a complimentary influence on Student-level factors. By complimentary influence, I mean that the leader can encourage and influence, but how neither direct nor indirect control of the outcomes. The leader can communicate factors related to a home environment conducive to student learning, but it is essentially the parents responsibility and efforts that determine whether it gets done. Learned intelligence and background knowledge is respective of students all coming to school with different backgrounds and contextual knowledges. The leader can compliment this experiential knowledge by providing extra-curricular opportunities for students and providing technologies that have the modal ability to provide context to the curriculum. The leader also has the ability to influence a student's motivation by providing opportunities for students to contribute to the community or society through service learning, or other forms of extension of their schooling, so that they have awareness of society beyond the school walls and how the student will participate and contribute to that society. Even without the direct or indirect influence towards the outcome, it is still the leader's responsibility to use the influence they have to encourage the outcomes needed for positive student experiences.


  1. Sergiovanni's vision of "leader of leaders" has changed my perspective on instructional leadership. Through building teacher leaders, we can build the collegiality to grow our schools.

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