Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Principal as an Instructional Leader

On Saturday, our PQP2 class listened to an LNS presentation by Anne Macdonald on the key leadership functions of a principal. These functions included: Building Culture; Leading Change and Managing Complexity. Interestingly, the Ontario Leadership Framework mimics some of these ideas as well. The idea of the principal as an Instructional leader in the framework was echoed throughout the presentation in various ways. The idea of a principal as co-learner with teachers was presented. Though a principal has certain knowledge and competencies, he/she does not know everything. Anne Macdonald included a great quote which summarized it nicely: “The expert in the room depends on the question being asked.”

So it begs the question: “Can the Principal be the Instructional Leader and a co-learner at the same time?” Despite the apparent contradiction, I believe that the answer unequivocally is: “Yes!” One of the competencies of the Framework state that a principal demonstrates “effective teaching and learning.” As a teacher, it is imperative to demonstrate to kids that though we may be teachers, there are many things that we don’t know. In effect, teachers can be co-learners in the classroom too.

According to the LNS, a good classroom instructional task is “connected to the world, has intellectual rigor, involves substantive conversation and multiple entry points.” The role of the principal as an instructional leader according to the framework is to develop professional learning communities for school improvement. In order to do so, a principal needs to incite shared collaboration and ask questions to facilitate discussion. Those questions should be “connected to the world, have intellectual rigor and involve substantive conversation and multiple entry points.”

Therefore, in terms of being an instructional leader in the school, the principal mimics the role of a teacher in a classroom as a co-learner, asking probing questions and facilitating discussion and reflection.

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