This paper from the vice-president of the Southern Regional Education Board outlines what principals need to know and do to improve teaching. The paper identifies five major areas of competence for good instructional leadership:
- Knowledge of curriculum and instruction,
- Support for good instructional practice,
- Delivery of high-quality professional development,
- Organizational support for teaching improvements, and
- The ability to balance the demands of instructional leadership with other responsibilities.
Under each competency, the paper lists specific skills and knowledge principals need. In curriculum and instruction, for example, these include an understanding of the "big ideas" taught in core subjects as well as the standards for electives, such as those in the fine arts. To support instructional practice, principals also need to know what to look for in a classroom. Are the instructional strategies research-based? If so, are teachers deploying them effectively? Why are students learning more from some teachers than others? Principals should also provide ongoing professional development and follow-up support to allow teachers the opportunity to master new strategies. Leading instructional improvements isn't a job for the principal alone, however. Principals need to know how to delegate leadership to department chairs and school teams to improve what is taught, how it is taught and what is expected of students.