Opening Up a New Frontier of Exemplary Instructional Leadership

-by Phil Butterfield, Assistant Principal

Instructional leadership has been getting a lot of buzz in educational circles these days. It seems challenging enough to gain consensus on a definition for the role of an instructional leader without venturing into the potential minefield of strict adherence to a set of guiding principles designed to provide a framework for exemplary instructional leadership. Well…strap on your helmets and forge boldly ahead for a few minutes as we take the first tentative steps toward finding alignment between the seven Professional Practice Competencies for School Leaders and the frameworks for exemplary teaching and learning that have been developed at the Calgary Science School.

Over the course of the past few months I have been examining the role of instructional leadership through a lens of inquiry that will foster exemplary practice and demonstrate success through improved teacher and student engagement and ultimately through enhanced student learning outcomes. Staff input into this process revealed a belief that the 16 dimensions of exemplary teaching and learning should remain as the foundation of an exemplary instructional leadership framework as they accurately reflect the mission, vision, values, and beliefs of our school (see The Winding Road to Exemplary Instructional Leadership posted on April 13, 2012).

Within the four overarching inquiries of exemplary practices (Who Are We?, What Do We Do?, How Do We Do It?, and Why Do We Do It?) rest the specific dimensions related to the establishment and sustainability of a culture of mutual respect that permeates the fabric of the school. Two significant challenges emerged in developing a draft of an Exemplary Instructional Leadership Framework: first was the attempt to find appropriate alignment between leadership dimensions and the professional practice competencies outlined by Alberta Education. Looking for a clean and precise fit became an exercise in frustration and it was soon apparent that overlap, repetition, and some version of a Venn diagram would likely best illustrate the relationship between the two documents. The second challenge in this initial phase of development involved reframing the exemplary practices statements into leadership terminology that reflected the professional practice competencies.

The result of this process is the first iteration of an Exemplary Instructional Leadership framework that will now be revisited by staff, the school leadership team, and anyone else with an interest in developing a succinct and comprehensive model of leadership that can serve as a template for further dialogue. Below is the draft version of the Exemplary Instructional Leadership framework. Any and all comments or feedback are appreciated.

To view the Exemplary Instructional Leadership Framework as a PDF click here.