Instructional leadership refers to the specific and focused practices that school leaders engage in to intentionally support the development of effective teaching and learning in schools. What sets it apart from other forms of leadership is that it is primarily connected to the work of improving learning for students.
Syntheses of international research on educational leadership concur that instructional leadership has demonstrated the strongest impact on student learning. This is because it supports effective teaching and learning and provides guidance and direction for instructional improvement. It has a strong focus on learning and involves developing teaching and learning objectives, coordinating curriculum, providing instructional support, and promoting teacher learning.
Substantial and detailed research undertaken over many years by many scholars and researchers demonstrates that instructional leadership has a consistent positive influence on student achievement across diverse and changing contexts. However, understanding specifically how instructional leadership impacts on student achievement is a challenge because leadership typically has an indirect effect on student achievement.
While instructional leadership was originally thought just to be the role of the school principal, it is now seen as being distributed through networks of influence in and across schools. While the principal and senior leadership team have an important role in instructional leadership, middle leaders and other teachers with responsibility for teaching and learning beyond their own classroom also play a key role in instructional leadership in schools. Instructional leadership is an important concept for schools because it provides a framework that can be used to evaluate current approaches and practices of leadership.
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