Two foundational ideas guide our work at the Center for Educational Leadership. First, we believe that quality teaching matters: if students are not learning, they are not being afforded powerful learning opportunities. Second, quality instructional leadership matters: if teachers do not afford students powerful learning opportunities, this is ultimately an issue for school leaders.
The key question is this: How do we know what quality teaching and quality leadership look like? Earlier in the year, we focused our newsletter on teacher evaluation. This newsletter edition will focus on what we are learning about principal evaluation and effectiveness.
It is important to state our belief that in the spirit of reciprocal accountability a quality evaluation system must embody the concept that if we are going to hold you accountable for something, we have an equal and commensurate responsibility to ensure you know how to do what we are asking of you. In short, district central office leaders have a responsibility to develop principals’ instructional leadership capacity before holding them accountable for the quality of their leadership. As with high-quality teaching, high-quality instructional leadership requires a deep body of expertise.
We think of this expertise in two parts:
- The extent to which principals have a shared vision and deep understanding of high-quality teaching is the extent to which they can lead for instructional improvement. The corollary here is that leaders cannot lead what they don’t know.
- The extent to which principals learn how to seize upon their emerging understanding of quality teaching to differentiate support to teachers and orchestrate teachers’ professional learning is the extent to which they can help teachers improve their practice.
We know that successful principals must draw on a wide range of knowledge, skills, and attributes that include both instructional leadership and management. With respect to instructional leadership, we hope that any evaluation system addresses the following: