We are constantly reminded that administrators must be instructional leaders. We read blogs, articles, job descriptions, and even tweets that insist every leader in every school must be an Instructional Leader. While I do agree that leadership in instruction is paramount to the success of a school, what do you think this really means?
Does it mean that the Principal of the school has to be the expert in content and pedagogy in every subject and every grade that is taught in his/her school? Does it mean that the Principal must stay abreast of every new educational trend and piece of legislation that may effect his/her school or students or teachers? OR Does it mean that the Principal must be the “Lead Learner” of his/her building and always focus on getting and being better?
While the first two are interesting, they are certainly not completely attainable. As an Elementary Principal, I could never be an expert in music class (I am completely tone def and sing like a stuck pig) OR could never keep abreast of every new trend (our field changes daily with many conflicting views), but I certainly can and will try! However, I do feel it is my duty as a Principal to be a Lead Learner: to be open and willing to learn DAILY (if not hourly), seek out professional development for my self and those around me, take LOTS of risks and encourage others to do the same.
To be a true “Lead Learner” one must never settle for the status quo and truly work to make school the best it can be for every child! You do not have to know everything or be the expert, but you must be able to listen, learn, and apply what you have heard and know to be better.
I have been home a week after attending and presenting at the National Council for Supervisors of Mathematics Conference (NCSM) in Boston. Wow! What a chance to become a better Lead Learner. The content knowledge that I obtained from hearing Deborah Ball speak about Explicit Teaching in Mathematics and chatting with Greg Tang (@gregtang) during a Hot Topics session, the camaraderie that I built with a team of teachers from my school by presenting with them, and the pure information and even change in thinking that happened just by having some conversations with some amazing math minds, has empowered me to continue my journey as a lead learner. I want to differentiate my own PD and to not only focus on leadership opportunities and sessions, but also content. I need to continue to make sure I am learning about math, language arts, and even music, so I can continue to lead my school to the best of my ability. I don’t have to be an expert on everything or the knower of all; I just have to keep learning and modeling learning ! As a result, I am even more than an instructional leader…. I am the Lead Learner!!!