Thinking Out Loud About Instructional Leadership

What does Good Instructional Leadership look like?

It’s a question that has come up often in the past year. As a leadership team in our district we’re reading through Hacking Leadership by Joe Sanfelippo (#gocrickets) and Tony Sinanis, which has great practical ideas for education leaders. But what does that look like when applied to instruction?

During one of our back and forth brainstorming discussions, this came up:

“It comes down to regular formative assessments (not just 3 benchmarks) and a leader who can ask guiding questions, inspiring teachers to do better”


That’s a pretty powerful concept right there. Powerful in it’s simplicity and powerful in it’s focus on student learning. This got me thinking about what’s really important for learning and how do we make sure we’re focused on supporting that as instructional leaders.

Supporting learning really comes down to building a culture around a common vision for what learning looks like. We aren’t all fortunate enough to build a school culture from the ground up (like @jcorippo & @mwniehoff) but we can all strive for a student centered vision of learning for our own schools and districts that can help frame (or re-frame) the current culture. A vision where everyone believes in success for all children, where we have high expectations like:

  • Every child will read at grade level by 3rd grade.
  • Every 5th grader will make an impact in their community for the better.
  • Every 8th grader will be part of a team that problem solves world challenges for a better future.

Where we come together around action statements that look like:

Students will – Be present and engaged, ask tough questions, explore big ideas, have fun and change the world for the better.

Teachers will – Create engaging learning experiences for all students, assessing early and often, using the data to provide individualized student support towards standards mastery.

Principals will – Support teachers through reflection and guided questions that inspire teachers to move all students towards standards mastery.

Staff will – Provide support, inspiration and guidance while removing obstacles to learning along the way.

I guess for me, good instructional leadership looks like building/supporting/promoting/growing a community of dedicated educators, support staff and parents around doing what’s best for kids.

So what would your definition of Good Instructional Leadership look like?