Being a principal is not about a title. Being a principal is not about a pay increase. Being a principal is not about being in charge. Being a principal is about Instructional Leadership. The one key to principalship that separates the good from the great or the good from the bad is the role of Instructional Leadership. As a principal, you must know your role. Great principals know how to do the following:
Great principals know how to read data and make instructional decisions that meet the needs of students. Great principals know how to use the data to devise a roadmap for where the school is going and how he/she will get the school there.
Do you know how to read your state accountability report?
Can you identify the areas where students are struggling the most?
Can you identify the areas where students are excelling?
Can you look at formative data (throughout the year) and determine whether your students are reaching important milestones along the way?
Great principals know good instruction. Great principals know best practices for classroom management, the policies and procedures that set the teacher up for success. Great principals know to look for student engagement in classroom instruction in order to determine if the classroom instruction is effective.
Do you know what to look for while you’re in classrooms?
Do you know how to identify specific areas in which teachers may need extra support?
Do you know how to identify whether classroom instruction is effective or not while observing the classroom?
Instructional leadership is vitally important to the success of your students on campus. If you are in the principal chair and aren’t strong in instruction, get help. Attend all of the training you can find. Commit your time, energy, and effort on becoming a student of instruction. If you are not a principal yet, but aspire to be, learn as much instruction as you possibly can before you enter the position.
How do you strengthen your instructional leadership skills?
Paula Patterson is a former principal who shares practical points on the principalship.