Now that I am studying for my administrative license through Johns Hopkins, I have a very distinctive philosophy of instructional leadership and administration. You can view my administrative philosophy below with the sources and articles referenced at the bottom of the page. Enjoy!
Instructional Leadership (Administrative Technology)
Instructional Leadership is more than just school management and administration – it is about being a critical change agent in Education Reform. As an Instructional Leader it is imperative that you support students and educators in four distinct areas: Visionary Leadership, Digital Stewardship, Capacity Building, and Encouraging Creativity. Many sets of standards and guides try to define these actions, but in practice Instructional Leaders are knowledgeable, approachable and dependable in all aspects of curriculum and instruction. Rather than meeting standards, Instructional Leaders must strive to model and define what is in the best interest of students. By adhering to the practices outlined below, an Instructional Leader can continue to promote systemic improvement and move a school from Good-to-Great!
Instructional Leaders cannot content themselves by being effective managers. Instructional Leaders must provide, support, and maintain the school-wide vision and mission. As the steward, it is important to embody the vision and mission of the school and provide leadership with purpose. In order to effectively lead and ensure that all students grow, Instructional Leaders must use innovative methods to: build capacity, steward vision, comprehensively support education, and program with the end in mind. Effective Leaders must activate the leadership potential of those around them and support them as they grow and develop new social, professional, and academic capacity. By activating the staff and students under their supervision, Instructional Leaders can create effective learning engagements to ensure that all students succeed.
It seems that increasing numbers of Administrators are finding it difficult to ensure that they visit and observe the education that they supervise. Throughout my career, I have always been inspired by those leaders that push their leaders to continue to develop themselves. Through developmental observations, coaching, and scaffolded professional development, Instructional Leaders develop a collaborative atmosphere that supports the growth of both students and teachers. Activating a growth based model of development can allow an entire school to improve by the actions of all its members.
Teaching begins and ends with the educator. By effectively teaching and engaging educators, we can reach students through technologies and methods that were unavailable to previous generations. A 21st Century educator is more than just a technologist, they are an activator and an innovator to the students and teachers around them. Education technology is a powerful tool to engage, and re-energize both teachers and students but must go hand in had with Professional Capital building and change leadership. This re-energization through technology leads to increases in social, professional, and academic capital for teachers, students, and the community at large.
In our current times, where increasing numbers of young educators are leaving the profession (or actively seeking employment elsewhere), it is not enough to simply engage students, we must capture the attention and passion of the teachers and community in order to fully support those students. By focusing on building professional capital both inside the school building and out, we give educators an opportunity to develop a passion for teaching and learning. It is impossible to engage students in effective classroom practice and technology integration if their teachers are disengaged by that same practice. Disengaged educators can cripple an entire generation of students. As an Instructional Leader it is vital that we engage and activate our teachers which will engage and activate our communities.
I used to say that technology was both the first and last line in education: a tool that can engage and re-energize a classroom. As my own technology practice has grown, and my body of experience along with it, I have found that in all of the classrooms where technology has made a difference in the lives of students, you can find the same characteristics. Each educator that successfully integrates technology does so by meeting an instructional need through integrating technology, pedagogy, and content (commonly referred to as TPACK). This Problem of Practice approach has led to significant breakthroughs in technology integration at the schools I have had the fortune of working with. Instead of being the first and last line, technology is effective instruction and should be nurtured in the school culture and reinforced by the community and parents.
Change is, and will always be, constant in education. By initiating change from the ground up, we ensure that each initiative is spearheaded by an engaged educator or community member who is trying to meet an instructional need in a school setting. Engagement is contagious and innovation can spread like wildfire through a school if conditions are right to do so. This leads to an increased level of collaboration and teamwork among the staff, students and community thereby building the professional capital of all.
Everywhere I go, I see that educators are in need of training in methodology and pedagogy to become effective 21st century educators. To ensure that each teacher is supported, it is important to develop professional growth plans that map out the initiatives and passions of the staff and align them to the needs of the students and the community.
My philosophy of instructional leadership is simple:
Successful instruction can only be accomplished by engaging, activating, and supporting all aspects of teaching practice to meet the instructional needs of students.
In order to accomplish these goals, we must focus on increasing the professional, social, and academic capital of all those involved in the education industry. By putting in place the methods and ideas I mention, my philosophy can become a reality.
Effective school administrators use technology to manage and promote student learning.
Over the past few years, I had the pleasure of talking with Michael Fullan about the role that administrators play in a school environment. During our conversations, and the subsequent reading of his book (Stratosphere), I came to the conclusion that building level administrators can only be truly effective if they model the characteristics they want to see in others. In order to successfully integrate technology into a school or building, administrators need to be comfortable with, and model effective use of that technology both for instruction and communication. As an administrator, it is important to communicate with stakeholders as often as possible. Current technologies allow for a rapid form of communication and feedback to ensure that technology is being successfully integrated. By modeling effective use of technology, the administration team sets a standard which all educators, stakeholders, and students will rise to. If administrators rise to the challenge of modeling technology, effective integration will follow.
Effective school administrators evaluate and appreciate diversity.
It is important to promote diversity in the school setting both in the hiring process and through overtly sustaining a culture of diversity. In my experience, administrators are the stewards of the school culture and climate and must make diversity a priority. Each administrator has the option to overtly develop the culture and climate of the building they are in, and one of the easiest ways to effect change is during the hiring process. During hiring, I have seen administrators pay close attention to the needs of their building from both a diversity and climate perspective. A recent administrator in my teaching career decided to exclude teachers from the hiring process in the school. This inadvertently led to a drop in the diversity of the school staff, and created a hostile climate for those incoming teachers. Administrators should keep in mind the school culture and climate by trying to fill instructional and cultural needs during the hiring process. Creating a culture of diversity is an overt act, and administrators need to work hard to create and constantly maintain that culture in a school. Effective administrators also create a school environment that is safe for the constructive expression of individual culture and diversity. Constructive expressions of diversity need to be modeled to all stakeholders to ensure that the culture and climate of the building is appreciative of differing perspectives and opinions. It is the administrator’s job to facilitate this interaction, and to ensure diversity is respected in all aspects of the school culture.
Effective school administrators use assessment data to inform practice.
It is important that every decision is backed by some concrete evidence or data. Several administrators in my past have tried to administer their buildings by quick decision making and non-existent evidence. By creating successful data-teams, administrators can involve stakeholders in analyzing school data to inform teaching practice and can ensure that their decisions have staff buy-in. As administrators implement decisions on a daily basis, they need to understand how those decisions affect the school and the effective use of data is an important component of those decisions. Effective administrators use data-driven decision making to support each administrative decision. Through effective data team creation, administrators can work with educators to modify and support their teaching practice to best meet instructional needs. Using data is the most effective way to monitor and evaluate learning and always grounds instructional decisions to ensure they effect positive classroom change. Data-driven decision making ensures that educators have the necessary backing to support changes in all aspects of a school.
Effective school administrators consult research to guide their practice.
By constantly integrating modern techniques and research based ideas, administrators can ensure that they are meeting the needs of a diverse range of students in the most effective means possible. It is important to stay on top of recent changes in the education landscape, and critically reflect on how those changes can influence and improve your school. One of the best ways I have seen to stay abreast of changes in research is to constantly monitor educational research organizations (such as McREL). By monitoring these organizations, administrators can follow current trends and acquire new strategies and processes to help teachers. It is increasingly valuable that administrators have the tools and resources to help a wide range of teachers and learners. Administrators can find and implement effective tools and resources by following current research trends and implementing them into their administrative practice.
Effective administrators use varied strategies and models to lead educational institutions.
Education Leaders need to be well versed in a wide variety of leadership strategies so that they can help and support the widest range of teachers and students. By having access to a larger set of leadership strategies, administrators can effectively code-switch when dealing with various groups of stakeholders. As each group changes, and the administrative roll with it, it is increasingly important that administrators become versatile to meet the needs of their constituents. Through study of leadership styles and strategies, an administrator can add valuable resources to their tool-kit. In administrative positions, challenging and new situations occur. By studying a variety of leadership strategies and styles, an administrator can then draw from a wider base of knowledge making them more adept to handle a wide range of situations.
Effective school administrators articulate policy and have broad knowledge of systems which impact education.
Seasoned administrators need to be effective communicators. One of the best administrators I know has the knowledge and real-world experience to relate policy information to stakeholders using simplistic terms and examples. Having the ability to effectively communicate about education to a wide range of community and pubic persons is a valuable skill for administrators. Being able to effectively communicate allows each administrator to seek out and develop strategic partnerships with organizations that can support the needs of learners in their school. It is important that administrators can effectively articulate policies (school/district/state/national) in a manner that is open and allows for interpretation from stakeholders involved in the project. Communicating openly is a great way to involve a large number of people in the process of school change, and can often lead to better results and partnerships than isolated communication would.