Hands-On Instructional Leadership
Thinking of how should I start this article I came across this beautiful and awe inspiring quote by John Quincy Adams, 6th U.S. President. ‘If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.’ Instructional leadership in the literal sense of the term has taken a very inclusive ground in the education world.
Recent researches in the field of school progress and development have proved that instructional leadership is another comprehensive tool to redesign and restructure school success.
Why Instructional Leadership:
We live in a world where the teaching–learning scenarios are taking giant steps forward to meet the current educational challenges. Moreover, competitiveness, skill development exigencies, improving teaching –learning strategies, too, need the scope of developing space for instructional leadership in schools. In many settings, school administrators remain in their positions for only three to four years, whereas teachers stay far longer. Teachers often hold the institutional memory; they are the custodians of the school culture. Schools that want to improve make a wise investment when they cultivate and encourage teacher leaders, because they are in a position to take the long term view and carry out long-range projects.
Developing Personal Mastery and Skills:
In our school being the administrative leader, I regularly put our teachers in healthy competitive routine by giving them challenging tasks to develop and improve teaching-learning strategies. I ask them to develop lesson plans, perform outdoor teaching learning activities, do team teaching, conduct allied classes and prepare instructional presentations. Each teacher in his/her specified field brings out something new. It not only helps in improving teaching skills but also develops leadership skills.
Shared Instructional Leadership in Classrooms:
Our school classrooms now are the platform where the teacher and learners perform their roles in different perspectives. Changing from teacher centred instruction we are shifting gears towards student centred programmes and activities. Preparing instructional content, our learners too play their roles and there is a lot of scope of reciprocal exchange of leadership roles. Teachers, as instructional leaders, must transform learning to develop leadership among learners. So, very often, I find students making presentations on given topics and taking care of classroom activities.
Personal Growth and Skill Development:
In any progressive school instructional leadership offers tremendous scope for personal growth and professional skill development of teaching community. Leadership is a distinguishing characteristic of those who stand ahead in the field of their work and/or community. Instructional leadership is learning-focused, learning for both students and sub school leaders, and learning which is measured by improvement in instruction and in the quality of student learning.
Increased Internal Accountability:
Our school management recognizes the need to reduce instructional leadership burden on principals. They have tried in recent years to create more leadership capacity through a wide variety of initiatives such as engaging teachers in leadership roles. A teacher leader inside the classroom has the power and potential to influence his followers eagerly sitting in front of him/her. Instructional leadership as a tool of school management generates accountability and improves the school system. If a teacher is given a definite role he focuses more on it and paves the way for school success.
Change in Teacher-Pupil relationships and Academic Progress:
Instructional Leadership in any form paves the ways to a democratic system of teaching-learning. Well guided and well monitored instructional strategies make teachers and learners more independent and stress free as each group carries on its programmes with more lucidity and freedom. In our school, teachers work in different groups under their team leaders sharing a common core programme; we have Clubs, School Houses, Academic Management teams and Societies. Each group is led by team leaders in hierarchal order. This leads to improved school relationships and enhances academic progress.
These days our school is preparing the learners for the next term. Recently we have formed new school teams. A new School Traffic Club has been formed under the leadership of a dedicated teacher and a group of teachers and students are a part this club. To improve our academic achievement, we have teachers who all the year round build and design instructional tools; and our efforts are focused on the goals we have to achieve by the end of school term.
To conclude, I would like to share with my fellow teachers the following concluding lines of a poem written by American poet and short story writer, Douglas Malloch
If you can’t be a highway then just be a trail,
If you can’t be the sun be a star;
It isn’t by size that you win or you fail —
Be the best of whatever you are!
Ashok Singh Guleria, a teacher of 21 years standing is a post- graduate in English Literature. He writes on pedagogical issues and children’s behavioural concerns. He has worked as Head of Department of English, Curriculum Planner and Academic Coordinator cum Teachers’ Trainer at the Akal Academy Group of Schools run by the Kalghidhar Education Trust, Baru Sahib, at Kajri in Uttar Pradesh. Currently he works as Principal at Akal Academy, Gomti. He strives to develop and facilitate the building of a robust and sustainable teaching-learning fraternity endowed with a strong sense of work culture. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org