Leader of Content Knowledge: Public Journey

            Although it would appear that the personal journey of a leader of content knowledge is primarily a contemplative process that proceeds at a distance from the instructional problem under consideration, the ultimate success to solving an instructional problem and building a consensus for the solution demands that the leader of content knowledge spend considerable time thinking about how to implement a response to the instructional problem. Teachers will resist any change initiative that is high on ends and low on means. Teachers are, and will always be, pragmatists—they want to know what will work on Monday morning. Leaders of content knowledge must be able to provide teachers with a framework that not only explains why something will work, but the kinds of classroom particulars that make things work. In other words the personal journey informs the public journey and the public journey continually informs the personal journey.

            Administrators-as-managers approach implementation as a problem of capacity —the capacity to fund, to schedule, to purchase, to employ, to assign, and to assess. Leaders of content knowledge approach implementation as a problem of teaching and learning —knowing about the subject matter; knowing about how children learn the subject matter; knowing about how teachers can assist students in learning the subject matter; and knowing how to hold teachers accountable for changing their practices to accommodate new theories, ideas, and practices.

            When thinking about the implementation of an instructional change initiative, the leader of content knowledge first begins with a picture of what should be happening in the classroom. When this picture is clear to the educational leader, then, almost simultaneously, the leader executes the managerial steps that will align the leader’s vision with the appropriate resources and personnel. A staff, for example, may reach consensus on the establishment of a personalized learning environment that catered to the learning styles and interests for a group of disaffected students who are failing all of their subjects and not attending school. The role of the leader of content knowledge in the design process is to maintain a faithful commitment to the learning principles developed during the “personal journey” and then to provide the logistical and monetary support to accomplish the goals of the program. Throughout the implementation process, as with all other instructional improvement efforts, the leader of content knowledge must assume responsibility for both providing the proper mix of resources for furthering the change initiative and creating an environment where there is constant dialogue about the program’s response to the fundamental questions of learning.

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