Rising academic standards, a new educator evaluation system, and a growing population of students in need of specialized support are increasing the need for school leaders to focus on instructional leadership.
However, many of the non-instructional duties prevent school leaders and principals from devoting the time necessary to be a strong instructional leader.
New America, a Washington-based think tank, released a paper last June from their PreK-12 Education Policy Program. The paper, From Frenzied to Focused: How School Staffing Models Can Support Principals as Instructional Leaders, examines new leadership models at three public school districts. The goal of each model is to improve the principal’s ability to focus on instructional leadership and supporting classroom teachers.
Jessica McLoughlin, a project manager with the Texas Education Agency (TEA), attended the New America event and shared TEA’s approach to this issue in Texas public schools. TEA partnered with the Relay Graduate School of Education, Teaching Trust, and New Leaders to introduce best practices in this area and is working collaboratively with the Education Service Centers (ESCs) to provide support to school leaders through the creation of a manager of instructional leadership.
Three pilots completed the program during the 2017–2018 school year. Each district assigned a manager of instructional leadership to provide support in four areas of the state—ESC 4, ESC 11, ESC 7, and ESC 8. The manager of instructional leadership works collaboratively with the third-party service providers and the ESC to provide training to district leadership with a focus on the principal supervisors. During the 2018–2019 school year, the program will expand to the Dallas area. Future goals include the development and implementation of support from TEA and the ESCs to all areas of the state.
The Holdsworth Center, an Austin-based nonprofit education leadership institute, partners with school districts providing opportunities to grow and develop school leaders. Last year, Holdsworth started campus leadership programs at seven Texas ISDs with a focus on superintendents and district administrators. This year, Holdsworth expanded support to principals and teachers.
Zach Hobbs is an assistant director at TASB HR Services. Email Zach.