Instructional Leadership

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Instructional Leadership
Teresa Hammond
Marshall University

Dynamic instructional leadership requires a focused leader. A successful instructional leader inspires those who work with them. Leaders in the field of education must facilitate growth, encourage risk, and explore new ideas. The skillful use of collaboration improves education for the students in the school, while promoting professional growth. Dedication to the mission and the vision of the school are the guiding forces for an effective leader. Promoting a Positive School Culture

Responsible instructional leadership requires attention to the climate and culture of the school. Instructional leaders who want to facilitate change know an assessment of what is working, what needs improvement, and what needs to change is vital to “buy in” for all the stakeholders in a school. The first type of assessment is to create interpersonal relationships with those who are involved in the school. Communication is a direct line into the heart of any organization. An astute leader can gauge the climate of a school just be listening carefully to what the stakeholders are saying. Effective communication with the stakeholders is necessary to make positive change in a school. To insure “buy in” it is wise to have evidence supporting the need for change. Collecting meaningful data is a key element in guiding the process of change. Surveys are an excellent way to collect and organize information pertinent to the success of the school. It is important to remember the survey must be intended for a certain purpose, and the questions must address the needs of the school. Therefore, it is important to have objectivity when designing the survey. A generic survey may not hit the mark, so utilizing the information gathered from interpersonal relationships and researched best practices can help create a reliable and effective tool for assessing the culture of the school. I feel that each school’s culture is like the quilts my grandmother used to make for my siblings and me. She would ask my mother to donate our old clothes, blankets, and bedding, and she would fashion beautifully unique designs from the fabrics of the discarded items my mother had collected. Each beautiful quilt was fashioned for the individual by utilizing that person’s clothing, and each had a special significance to the person for whom it was made. School culture is much like those beautiful quilts. The traditions, rituals, routines, ceremonies, and beliefs of a school all work together to make an environment that is unique to the particular school. Working with people who think differently, or have diametrically opposed viewpoints can be tricky and akin to walking in a mine field. The school population where I currently work is drawn from a socially and economically diverse neighborhood. There are families from all walks of life. Many are poor, and some are over-privileged. We have first generation families from all over the globe, and families so rooted in the community they have streets named after their predecessors. There are families who live in public housing projects, and those who live in mansions. Yet, with all the diversity, there is a cohesive and cooperative culture at my school. This can only be attributed to the relationships my administrator has built with parents, students and teachers within our school population. She has a way of finding commonalities among people and pairing them together to accomplish important tasks. She builds on these relationships by praising accomplishments and celebrating success. The positive energy derived from these interactions builds strong foundations for future collaboration. As a principal, I would follow in the footsteps of my principal forging effective relationships with all the stakeholders in the school. Making connections and networking through established channels such as LSIC and PTO committees is a great place to start....
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