Research summary"Learning is the core purpose, the quintessential mission of schools and schooling" (Parker and Day 1997, 83). The principal, as instructional leader, needs to promote an instructional school climate that ensures teachers and students know what is expected of them (Parker and Day 1997).
Administrators are, now more than ever, in the spotlight facing the challenges of improving student achievement. To increase achievement school leaders need to play an integral role in the design and implementation of professional development available to their teachers and staff. The teachers are the foundation of any school, to increase student achievement teachers' abilities need to be increased (Knipe and Speck 2002).
To provide appropriate professional development aimed at increasing student achievement principals need to ask themselves, "Are students learning the intended outcomes of the lesson?" Instructional leaders need to evolve their thinking from that of a teaching-centered perspective to a learning-centered one. This line of thinking allows principals to shift their focus from teaching and evaluating individual teachers to helping teams of teachers focus on the intended outcomes of their teaching while, hopefully, increasing student achievement (DuFour 2002).
Professional development activities need to be aligned between the principal's and the teachers' expectations while ultimately geared to benefit students and increase student achievement. School leaders need to find a balance between giving teachers academic freedom and requiring them to teach to the standards. Principals need to merge teachers' interests and participation in professional development with standards-based teaching (Knipe and Speck 2002).
"Principals are the guiding force behind creating adequate professional development for their staff members" (Knipe and Speck 2002). By placing importance on professional development activities, principals ensure faculty and staff of the significance the activity has on the entire school culture (Seller 1993). Principals can place importance on these activities by offering substitutes to cover classrooms, freeing up teachers for professional development during the day. This also shows teachers that their participation and input are valued by the administration (Hoerr 1996).
Professional development should be an ongoing, continuous process required of the entire school community.
Barth, R. (1996). The principal learner: A work in progress. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Barth's essay on shared personal learning experiences from principals participating over several years in the Principals' Center for the Garden State.
Blase, J. & Blase, J. (1999). Principals' instructional leadership and teacher development: Teachers' perspectives. Educational Administration Quarterly, 35(3), 349-378.
Describes everyday strategies of principals practicing exemplary instructional leadership and how these principals influenced teachers, drawing on survey data from a qualitative study of over 800 teachers.
Blase, J. & Blase, J. (1998). Handbook of instructional leadership: How really good principals promote teaching and learning. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
This book is written for practicing and prospective instructional leaders who want to develop reflective, collaborative, problem-solving contexts for dialogue about instruction.
Elmore, R.F. (1999). Building a new structure for school leadership. American Educator, 23(4),6-13.
Standards-based educational reform helps educators reconsider how schools should help students learn, but public schools are not equipped to meet the demands of such reform. It is necessary to determine how to improve teaching and learning in whole systems rather than isolated schools or classrooms. This requires dramatic change in how leadership is defined and practiced in public schools.
Hipp, K.A. (1997). Documenting the Effects of Transformational Leadership Behavior on Teacher Efficacy. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Chicago, IL.
Principals play a unique role in school and student outcomes. This paper presents findings of a study that explored how principals' leadership behaviors influenced teachers' sense of efficacy. Specifically, the paper describes how principals in three middle schools influenced teachers' sense of self-efficacy and affected instructional and school improvement from a teacher perspective.
Larsen, M.L. & Malen, B. (1997). The elementary school principal's influence on teachers' curricular and instructional decisions. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Chicago, IL.
This paper presents findings of a case study of two elementary school principals. The study examined the congruence between principals' aims and teachers' decisions; the statements regarding who or what influenced teacher's actions; and the principals' efforts to influence teachers' decisions.
National Staff Development Council. (2000). Learning to lead, leading to learn. Oxford, OH: Author.
This report describes some of the new demands on school leaders and identifies what schools, districts, states, and the federal government can do to strengthen the ability of principals and other educators to become instructional leaders.