Instructional Leadership: Whose Role Is It Anyway?

Instructional Leadership: Whose Role Is It Anyway?

Bryan S. Zugelder (James Madison University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-6500-1.ch002
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While principals are ultimately accountable for instructional leadership, they also are burdened by the increasing demands of the administrative job and, therefore, must rely on the capable teaching professionals to help carry out the instructional mission of the school. Indicators of instructional leadership for teacher leaders include coaching and mentoring, collaboration, and understanding the context of school and community. This chapter addresses the constructs of instructional leadership, including 1) understanding effective instructional practices, 2) alignment of school-wide instructional systems, 3) use of data to improve instruction, 4) the fostering of collective continuous improvement, and 5) inclusion of collaborative professional development for school personnel to build professional capacity and leadership in all. The intersection between principal and teacher leader roles, as a premise for distributive leadership, will be explored and proposed with recommendations for future research.
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Main Focus Of The Chapter

The theoretical paradigm presented in this chapter is based on the belief that principals who develop instructional capacity in their teachers empower them to serve as teacher leaders, either through formal or informal roles. Therefore, it is essential that principals develop systems that allow for teachers to deeply understand effective instruction, but also understand how to collectively build their leadership skills. This method of distributive leadership creates a culture of problem solving and a shared organizational vision. In turn, instructional leadership is a matter relevant to teachers and principals, leading to a culture of collaboration, engagement, empowerment, and high-quality teaching and learning (Garmston & Wellman, 2016; Hoerr, 2015; Tschannen-Moran & Gareis, 2015; Zahed-Babelan et al., 2019).

Teacher leadership has often been defined as teachers who hold some level of positional significance in a school-based setting (Harrison & Killion, 2007; Wenner & Campbell, 2017; York-Barr & Duke, 2004); however, teacher leadership is not confined to formal roles only (Zugelder et al., 2018). Tensions in role ambiguity for teacher leaders often are complicated not only by systemic lack of understanding the critical functions teachers perform in formal or informal roles but that teachers themselves are leaders by virtue of their classroom positions alone (Ingvarson, 2011; Mangin & Stoelinga, 2008). Lotan, Burns, and Darling-Hammond (2019) specifically reported that the education field must create a culture of leadership among its teaching force, as teachers are the owners of the profession.

This chapter will:

Key Terms in this Chapter

Teacher Leadership: Teachers who hold the professional identity as an educator who demonstrate leadership within the classroom, school, community and beyond, either through formal or informal roles.

Instructional Leadership: A vested oversight of and influence over effective instruction in a school that includes curriculum, instruction, and assessment.

Competencies: Desired qualities aligned with desired functions.

Distributive Leadership: Empowering stakeholders at all levels and experiences to engage in decision-making and inquiry to make improvements.

Professional Capacity: The continuum of professional learning that results in increased knowledge, skills, and application of leadership.

Standards: Minimum expectations that define a common set of functions for a profession.

Continuous Improvement: The act of determining the effectiveness of a program or initiative and creating intentional plans to improve, grounded in data.

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