Often the principal in the building is referred to as the instructional leader; however, as my colleague over at the Tempered Radical recently posted, that’s not always the case, nor is it necessary, when there are many other educators in the building who can be instructional leaders, educators who have expertise to share with one another.
As teacher librarians, do we see ourselves as instructional leaders? Do we see ourselves as an expert in teaching and learning? What about as a leader in the inquiry process or the integration of instructional technology? Do we share our toolbox of instructional strategies with new school librarians and beginning teachers? Do we help lead the instruction in our buildings?
In the ASCD published book, Qualities of Effective Principals, the first chapter addresses the idea of the principal as instructional leader and the goals to be an effective leader. While these researched-based goals on instructional leadership guide principals, these goals can also help us as school librarians in our work with teachers, students and other educational partners.
We have to build and maintain a vision of our library media and technology programs and that vision should fit into the larger school vision. Our work as teachers and instructional experts must be embedded in that vision and the teaching and learning that happens every day. We should communicate our goals with teachers, students and administration.
We need to lead our learning community. Whether that is growing ourselves professionally or leading staff development for others or engaging other teacher librarians in conversations around media and technology issues, we need to be participatory learners with our core and elective teachers and other instructional support personnel.
We should use data to make instructional decisions. Our regular classroom teachers inform instruction with the assessments, data on how well their students performed or mastered a concept or standard. We use data to plan for enrichment and remediation and intervention programs for students. In collaboration with our teachers with whom we may be team-teaching, we need to use data for assessment and future teaching and learning.
How will we accept and improve our role as instructional leaders in our schools?
Author: Deanna Harris
I have spent my career in education as a middle grades language arts teacher, a middle grades teacher librarian, and a coordinating teacher at the NC Department of Public Instruction. During my twenty-three years, I have focused on teaching and learning, student achievement, and teacher leadership. I have worked with beginning and veteran teachers through mentoring, internships, staff development, and professional learning teams.