I join a long line of educators who have written extensively on the qualities of instructional leadership. The quality that is emphasized in these descriptions is the commitment of school leaders to allocate the majority of their time to leading and participating in functions and tasks directly related to teaching and learning—curriculum development, teacher evaluation, staff development, mentoring, facilitating, and coaching.
The last paragraphs or chapters in these descriptions of instructional leadership lament the fact that in survey after survey school administrators admit to spending very little or no time on the tasks and functions of instructional leadership. The sources of this lack of time allocated for teaching and learning is a subject of a forthcoming blog.
What I do want to address are the tasks and functions that receive little or no attention in the literature on instructional leadership. The reason the tasks and functions listed below receive so little attention in the literature on instructional leadership are educator’s concentration on the substance of instructional leadership. What these educators leave out of their articles and books are the processes of instructional leadership. Yes, leading and participating in tasks and functions of teaching and learning are necessary, but not sufficient for actualizing those tasks and functions in the real world of classrooms.
What follows is a brief listing of tasks and functions that must become integral to performing role of instructional leader or what I term “Eclectic Leadership.” Although I will more fully address the reason school administrators opt out of the instructional leadership role in future blogs, the orchestration of the tasks and functions listed below demand a deep knowledge of the theories, concepts, and practices of new instructional models, and at the same time, the managerial acumen to assimilate new theories, concepts, and practices into already established organizational structures and instructional routines. It is the rare school administrator, who in their training and career experiences, have the knowledge and skills to perform both the substance and processes of instructional leadership.
Eclectic Leaders are POETS: (what we can imagine)
POETS express a strong discontent with the goals and practices of institutional schooling. They author a new story about teaching and learning that frees educators from metaphors and vocabularies that serve as obstacles to a quality educational experience: accountability, data driven, no child left behind, race to the top.
Eclectic Leaders are TEACHERS: (what we know)
TEACHERS translate abstract educational goals and values written into school mission statements into daily classroom practices.
Eclectic Leaders are POLITICIANS: (what we can get done)
POLITICIANS mobilize the community support for unfamiliar learning platforms. The assemble the organizational resources necessary for implementation of new learning models.
Eclectic Leaders are MANAGERS: (what we do)
MANGERS gather and allocates the right resources to the right places. They design systems—curriculum, employment, assessment—to support the theories and practices of new learning models.