Skip to main content

What is instructional leadership and why is it important for educational leaders?

School leaders matter for schools success (Hattie, 2012). It is universally acknowledged that effective leadership is an essential element in achieving school improvement (Leithwood & Jantzi, 1998; Hopkins, 2001). “At the heart of school capacity are principals focused on the development of teachers' knowledge and skills, professional community, program coherence, and technical resources” (Fullan, 2002, p16).

“The old model of formal, one-person leadership leaves the substantial talents of teachers largely untapped” (Lambert, 2002, p.37). This one-person theory of instructional leadership that was promerate in the years previous to 2000 (Hallinger & Heck, 1998). It was an archetype where the principal would lead from the front being across all levels of leadership (Spillane, Halverson & Diamond, 2001). However, with the increasing complexities of schools, the development of other philosophies of instructional leadership, which can be defined as the guidance or management of curriculum and instruction by a key leader or team have grown (Hallinger, 2010).

This transformation sees the principal serve as the leader of leaders by guiding the organisations vision and building capacity within their staff and students (Timperley, 2005b) through distributing and empowering leadership of specific areas of curriculum (Ainscow & Sandill, 2010). Hallinger (2005) proposed the dimensions of instructional leadership were defining the school’s mission, managing the pedagogical programme and promoting a positive school learning climate.

Kouzes & Posner (2010) establish that any form of effective leadership can not be accomplished alone and should not be for the extraordinary few. Empowering teachers who have passion, purpose and the desire to challenge the status quo (Harris, 2003; Timperley, 2005a; Sherer, 2008) will establish learner focused interventions (Andrews, 1987). Fullan’s (2001a) stance is that teachers are the key to school change. In essence, the empowerment of teachers (Harris & Muijs, 2002) who have a sophisticated understanding of effective instruction is essential to drive curriculum and pedagogical changes (Devaney, 1987) that enrich students learning capabilities (Lambert, 2003; McLaughlin & Lee, 1988; Katzenmeyer & Moller, 2009). As such, instructional leadership sets a tone that supports continual professional learning and promotes the instructional climate.

Hattie (2009), identify instructional leadership as the most effective style of leadership; however, position’s himself by singling out that it is distributed and reinforce the priorities of the leadership team (Dinham 2005, cited in ACER 2008). In addition, the extent to which leadership can be distributed in a school will reflect the agility of a school’s circumstances (Breakspear, 2015) and its ability to incite change (Hallinger 2010; Schrum & Levin 2013). As this collaborative effort promotes academic growth (Danielson, 2007; Harris & Muijs, 2002a; Fullan, 2001b) it collectively draws on the teacher voice and parallel leadership, to build professional learning, mastery, collective efficiency, school-wide pedagogy and culture (Crowther, Hann & McMaster, 2001; Crowther, Kaagan, Ferguson & Hann, 2002; Sashkin & Sashkin, 1990). This aligns with Senge’s (1990) thoughts as he suggests a learning organisation only discovers how to tap the commitment and capacity of a team by continually nurturing expansive patterns of thinking.

There is an extensive correlation between instructional leadership (Snyder, 1983), collective or distributed leadership (Spillane & Diamond, 2007) and teacher leadership (Harris, 2003).

References:
Ainscow, M., & Sandill, A. (2010). Developing inclusive education systems: the role of organisational cultures and leadership. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 14(4), 401-416.
Andrews, R. (1987). On leadership and student achievement. Educational leadership, 45, 9-16.
Breakspear, S. (2015). Video: What is an agile leadership mindset. http://simonbreakspear.com/video-what-is-an-agile-leadership-mindset/
Crowther, F, Hann, L & McMaster, J (2001). Parallel leadership: a new strategy for successful school reform, Practising Administrator, 23(4), pp12-14.
Crowther, F., Kaagan, S., Ferguson, M., & Hann, L. (2002). Developing teacher leaders: How teacher leadership enhances school success. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
Danielson, C. (2007). The many faces of leadership. Educational leadership, 65(1), 14-19.
Devaney, K. (1987). The lead teacher: Ways to begin. New York: Carnegie Forum on Education and the Economy.
Dinham, S. (2013). Connecting clinical teaching practice with instructional leadership. Australian Journal of Education, 57(3), 225-236.
Fullan, M. (2001a). The new meaning of educational change (3rd ed) London, RoutledgeFalmer.
Fullan, M. (2001b). Leading in a Culture of Change, San Francisco, Jossey Bass.
Fullan, M. (2002). The change. Educational leadership, 59(8), 16-20.
Hallinger, P., & Heck, R. H. (1998). Exploring the principal's contribution to school effectiveness: 1980‐1995∗. School effectiveness and school improvement, 9(2), 157-191.
Hallinger, P. (2005). Instructional leadership and the school principal: A passing fancy that refuses to fade away. Leadership and policy in schools, 4(3), 221-239.
Hallinger, P. (2010). Developing instructional leadership. In Developing successful leadership (pp. 61-76). Springer Netherlands.
Harris, A. (2003). Teacher leadership as distributed leadership: heresy, fantasy or possibility?. School leadership & management, 23(3), 313-324.
Harris, A., & Muijs, D. (2002). Teacher leadership: Principles and practice. National College for School Leadership.
Hattie, J (2009). Visible learning: A synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses relating to achievement, Routledge, New York.
Hattie, J. (2012). Visible learning for teachers: Maximizing impact on learning. Routledge.
Hopkins, D. (2001). School Improvement for Real, London Falmer Press.  
Katzenmeyer, M., & Moller, G. (2009). Awakening the sleeping giant: Helping teachers develop as leaders. Corwin Press.
Kouzes, J. M., & Posner, B. Z. (2010). The truth about leadership: The no-fads, heart-of-the-matter facts you need to know. John Wiley & Sons.
Lambert, L. (2002). A framework for shared leadership. Educational leadership, 59(8), 37-40.
Lambert, L. (2003). Leadership redefined: An evocative context for teacher leadership. School Leadership and Management, 23(4), 421– 430.
Leithwood, K., & Jantzi, D. (1998). Distributed Leadership and Student Engagement in School.
McLaughlin, M. W., & Mei-ling Yee, S. (1988). Whose culture is it anyway? In A. Lieberman (Ed.), Building a professional culture in schools. New York: Teachers College Press.
Sashkin, M., & Sashkin, M. G. (1990). Leadership and Culture-Building in Schools: Quantitative and Qualitative Understandings.
Senge, P. (1990). Thefifth discipline. New York: Double Day.
Schrum, L, & Levin, B. (2013). Leadership for twenty-first century schools and student achievement: Lessons learned from three exemplary cases, International Journal of Leadership in Education, vol. 16, no. 4, pp. 379-398.
Spillane, J., & Diamond, J. (2007). Distributed Leadership in Practice. Teachers College Press, New York: NY.
Spillane, J.P., Halverson, R., & Diamond, J. B. (2001). Investigating school leadership practice: A distributed perspective. Educational researcher, 30(3), 23-28.
Snyder, K. J. (1983). Instructional leadership for productive schools. Educational leadership, 40(5), 32-37.
Timperley, H. S. (2005a). Distributed leadership: developing leadership from practice. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 0, 1-26.
Timperley, H. S. (2005b). Instructional leadership challenges: The case of using student achievement information for instructional improvement. Leadership and Policy in Schools, 4(1), 3-22.

Popular posts from this blog

What does a post-industrial class look like? Part 2

This post is the second part of a series that I have been working on to identify what does a post-industrial class look like? In my previous post, I looked at using video, collaborative discussion, grouping and student-centred learning.


Why a large display and one to one? The large electronic display is used as it offers many benefits to a given lesson; these include demonstration and modelling as the teacher could showcase the application or video from the board (Moss, et al, 2007). It is easy to show the important features of particular web-based activities and have students interact with the material on their own devices. The board can accommodate different learning styles (Herrington & Harrington, 2006). Interactive boards can help tactile learners by touching and marking the board. Audio learners can have the class discussion and auditory multimedia, visual learners can see what is taking place as it develops at the board and it offers multimodal learning which can be tailored …

What can Western Education Learn from the China's History?

Sitting travelling at 307km an hour travelling from Beijing to Suzhou for 5 hours with a group of 80 gives me time to reflect on some of the engineering, architectural, fashion and acrobatic feats of China. This trip our group have been give the privilege of walking on the Great Wall, cruising through the canals of Suzhou and riding on the high speed train. What I have noticed is all of these engineering marvels were completed with amazing efficiency, are structurally sound and have aesthetic appeal. Our tour guides said this is because of the time taken to plan and execute, taking into consideration the natural beauty of the region and working with it. They suggested the public only sees the rate in which something is built; however, highlighted that it took long term vision to create something that was radically new for their culture. This idea resounds with me!
As educational change agents and leaders we need to see the budding talent encompassed within our students and support them…

How can Change Management be Enhanced by Reflective Practices?