This post is part of TeachBoost's new series called "From Vision to Reality: Pulling the Right Levers for Transformational Instructional Leadership." Check out all the posts in our series, then subscribe to our blog to have posts delivered to your inbox as we publish new pieces.
Chapter 1: Set the Stage
Let’s say you’re ready to embark on the work of transformational instructional leadership. That’s great! But where do you start? Thankfully, educators are always happy to share with their peers the lessons they learned. Over the next few blog posts, we'll cover the following topics:
“Make sure someone on the ground is monitoring success of implementation,” says Nataki Gregory, head of schools at Achievement School District.
Nearly all the educators we speak with agree that there must be a system of checks and balances in place to ensure that you are implementing an instructional leadership program with fidelity. This is the best way to confirm that your activities align to your theory of action, which stems from your culture, which is driven by your vision.
To enforce accountability, spend time putting pen to paper about procedure:
How will school leaders will build time in their schedules to visit classrooms everyday?
What is your frequency target for classroom visits?
How do factors like teacher seniority affect frequency?
This is a great summer planning activity for your team, but it isn’t necessarily a simple task. “There’s always a big learning curve,” adds Kate Sugarman of Oakland Unified School District.
But here’s why it’s so important.
“Instructional leadership requires participation from everyone in the district—from teachers, to school leaders, district leaders to administrative staff,” says Peggi Charlesworth, who oversees the day-to-day management of the observation and evaluation program at San Luis Coastal Unified School District. “This is a group effort.”
Another benefit to establishing an accountability system is that you can save time and reduce administrative frustrations. Gregory shares:
Last year we didn’t have someone responsible for managing our system at district level, and hoped principals would manage the work themselves. This created a bottleneck that could have been avoided, and teachers did not receive feedback in a predictably timely manner. Now, our district added a simple step of reviewing observation progress reports on a monthly basis, then following up with principals to provide the support they need.
We attract teachers to our district by promising that they will receive frequent feedback that is focused on growth. To make good on this promise, we must all be accountable for the roles we play.
In order to instill a sense of accountability in every stakeholder, it’s helpful to find the data, the literature, and the research to support your instructional leadership initiatives.
Put pen to paper and draft an accountability tree:
Write down the components of your instructional leadership program.
Under each component, list the names of the critical individual or group stakeholders. For example, if your program includes peer observations, you may write down “teachers,” “department chairs,” or “teacher leads” under that component.
Assign levels of accountability to each individual or group you listed. Using our example, can you identify the person or group responsible for ensuring peer observations are completed on schedule and with fidelity?
Bring your accountability tree to your next staff meeting. Do your stakeholders agree with your accountability tree? Does everyone understand their roles and responsibilities?
Based on feedback from your staff, reassess, refine, and revisit often!