This report examines the efforts of school administrators and teacher leaders to improve instruction at 15 well-functioning, high-poverty schools in four urban districts. It describes how effective school leaders react to external demands (including district expectations and state and federal policies) and external supports (such as district professional development) in pursuing instructional improvements. It also details the efforts of administrators to improve instruction, such as their approach to hiring skilled teachers, removing incompetent ones, supporting teacher leadership and promoting teacher collaboration. The report then examines the variety of roles for teacher leaders, who may serve as classroom coaches or professional development leaders. It also looks at challenges they face as non-supervisory leaders and as go-betweens for school administrators or the district. Based on the evidence, researchers describe ways administrators and teacher leaders can best pursue their work. Principals, for instance, need to create a school culture where teachers feel safe in having their classroom practices critiqued. Teacher leaders, meanwhile, must know how to build trusting relationships with colleagues in order to guide them towards improvement.

 Points of Interest

  • Principals who are effective instructional leaders incorporate state and school district demands into their own agenda, rather than viewing them as obstacles.
    Effective #principals adopt state and district demands as their own rather than viewing them as obstacles. #education
  • The managerial work of principals is often viewed as a distraction from instructional leadership. But researchers found that principals who were skilled at improving facilities, managing discipline and safety, and handling other managerial details created an environment that supported better teaching and learning.
    Instructional leadership is crucial to the work of #principals, but managerial skills are important, too. #education
  • Data is a powerful school leadership tool, and principals need to know how to use it. Data on student learning allows principals to plan and monitor instruction, diagnose problems with student learning and professionally develop staff. Data can stimulate conversation and spur collective action.
    Data is a powerful leadership tool and #school #principals need to know how to use it. #education