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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Instructional Leader


Instructional leader — a new role in schools


GONE are the days when the head of a school was trapped within administrative processes, signing bills and recommendations, and had little time for facilitating and promoting learning within classrooms. With the upsurge of 'instructional leadership' in the 1980's, many progressive institutions began promoting instructional leaders in school. 

   An instructional leader has several roles to play with his/her primary task being the promotion of learning within classrooms. Thus, he or she is a policy maker, mentor, facilitator, resource-provider, action researcher, decision maker and a curriculum developer in a school. Let's examine this multi-tasked profile of an instructional leader. 

• Policy/decision maker: 

He or she frames policies that promote and directly affect learning. Such policies can be about decisions regarding the curriculum and assessment process, teacher-pupil ratio, teaching-learning material, recruitment and induction of teachers and so on. An instructional leader does not form policies in isolation but involves other stakeholders like teachers, parents, community members and students as well. A leader ensures that the policies are revisited from time to time and efforts are aligned keeping the organisational vision at the centre. 

• Mentor: 

An instructional leader has an important role to play as a mentor to students, teachers, parents, and the wider community. For example, an instructional leader would understand a teacher's teaching and learning style, appreciate his/her strengths and accordingly provide opportunities to augment weaknesses. Similarly, he/she acts as a mentor to students who see him/her not as a figure of authority but someone who is approachable, humane and considerate. A leader also has the responsibility of engaging the parents and the community with the process of learning. So, parents are not viewed as mere paying customers but as partners in their child's learning. 

• Facilitator: 

He/she also plays the role of a facilitator of learning at all levels, evaluates learning within classrooms through observations, helps teachers lay down the curriculum and draft assessment processes. Another important task is delegating responsibility and sharing leadership with teachers. Instructional leaders are those who make themselves invisible while making processes of learning more visible, thus fostering a democratic environment. 

• Resource Provider: 

An instructional leader must generate and sustain resources. Generating resources pertains to helping individual teachers learn, observing children's learning, maintaining assessment records, discussing pedagogical issues and helping teachers experiment new ideas and carry out action research in classrooms. 
   Sustaining resources implies offering personal and professional growth opportunities to teachers and other resource persons within the organisation. This entails nurturing a positive learning environment, helping teacher's set their own learning goals and harnessing their strengths. Only a leader who is well informed and understands his/her teacher's needs can sustain resources. 
   In a nutshell, instructional leadership is not just about control, power, authority, management and monitoring processes. It focuses on empowering all stakeholders and aligning all endeavours towards the processes of learning. 

Sunil Sharma


Dil Se Desi Group


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