Leadership can be described as an act of taking the front-line position in matters pertaining to situations. It is the ability to lead a group of people or an organization into doing something that has an outcome. Leadership is a role that an individual or a group of individuals is bestowed with as a form of authority that can be looked upon for guidance or instructions to a group of people. Leadership comes in different styles that can be used by different people under different circumstances. Some leadership styles can be combined to come up with the best leadership decisions because one of the basic responsibilities in leadership is decision-making, which is the ultimate function of headship. The type of decisions that a leader will make defines what type of leadership the person is exercising ranging from democratic, laissez-faire, autocratic, participative, and instructional among other categories. The paper focuses on the instructional leader.
The Role of an Instructional Leader
The world today has seen a rise in many contemporary leadership styles that have been added to the basic leadership styles. These contemporary leadership styles can be described as specialized in that they follow a certain way of making decisions and managing situations. One of these leadership styles is the instructional headship. Instructional leaders acquire their name from the word instruct, which can be defined as the leadership of giving directives. Giving orders to other people is simply giving them guidance on what to do though not involving the leader participating in doing it. Therefore, instructional leadership can be described as leadership through guidance. It can as well be viewed as hands off style of leadership. The role of the instructional leader can therefore be described as a guide on the management of situations. Jenkins (2009) states that an instructional leader is believed to be knowledgeable in the area that he or she is supposed to guide the subordinates on (p.35) because, for a person to assume a leadership role, the person is believed to be in a position to provide the last solution to a situation either by authority or knowledge.
Instructional leadership has mostly been found in schools being exercised especially by the school principal. Under these circumstances, the instructional leader has been bestowed with the role of allocating duties to people besides supervising those around them to make sure that the instructions issued have been followed to the latter. Instructional leaders have a role in setting standards and ensuring that they have been achieved. They therefore have to put in place parameters that would be used by all the people within the organization to achieve the set goals (Hoerr, 2008, p. 84). Instructional leaders have a role in the allocation of resources that are needed for work with because, for people to work and achieve certain organizational goals, they need resources to use. It is therefore the role of the instructional leader to provide these resources to their subordinates and allocate them according to the needs and tasks ahead.
Instructional leaders have a role in supervising the staff working under them to ensure that they follow the path to the set goals according to instructions. The supervisory role comes in as a way of providing checks and balances against deviation from the set objectives. With it, the leader is able to follow up on the performance of each individual member of staff. In schools, the role of the instructional leader has been played by the school principals with the belief that they are the most experienced members of the teaching fraternity within the school setup (Bielaczyc & Collins, 2003, p. 4). They are therefore bestowed with the responsibility of ensuring that the right curriculum is taught in schools and that it is within the educational calendar. Although school principals have taken up managerial and administrative duties, they are best suited for the instructional leadership role within the school as a guiding factor. Therefore, the role of the school principal as an instructional leader is to ensure that teaching in schools that he or she runs happens accordingly and that teachers perform all their duties as allocated. They also have a role as instructional leaders to ensure that learning takes place for students besides catering for their needs in their quest to learn.
How the Instructional Leader Should Implement the Learning Community Theory to Improve Education
The learning community can be described as a mode of learning that uses collective knowledge to advance the knowledge of an individual. Learning community can further be described as a group of people who have come together in an effort to share knowledge thus making learning a communal affair that is achieved through communal effort. In a learning community theory, it is assumed that not everyone knows everything. Thus, there is the need to share knowledge. Dufour (2002) finds that learning under this theory has some characteristics. Firstly, members making up the group must have expertise in different fields thus forming a form of knowledge bank. The group must have a common purpose in the need to advance knowledge continuously and collectively. Thirdly, the group must have a focus that draws them towards learning how to learn. It has to put in place a system or a platform that would allow it to share what has been learned (Dufour, 2002, p. 13). The above conditions provide a good environment for the instructional leader to work properly in a community environment. Instructional leaders should also present some skills that should be used in the implementation of proper learning. For instance, they should have interpersonal planning, instructional observation, and research evaluation skills. The instructional leader can therefore use these skills to implement the learning community theory.
The heads can use their interpersonal skills to bring a group of people together so that they work as a team in achieving the set-out objectives. To develop a community-working group, there is the need for a voice that will be listened to and one that will bring people together (Dufour, 2002, p. 13). Interpersonal skills in this case can be used to provide leadership to the diverse group. In addition, instructional leaders should use their planning skills to prepare a work program for the group so that all available duties and responsibilities are distributed concerning people’s abilities. Jenkins (2009) observes that, in a school environment, different teachers have different abilities in terms of what they teach in terms of subject and other co-curriculum abilities (p. 35). Planning will enable the instructional leader to distribute the available resources to all groups according to needs.
Moreover, the ability to have observational skills will enable the instructional leader to make observations on the progress of the program and make any changes if there is a need for any. This strategy should be mixed with a good decision making sense that the leaders should also have. After an observation is made, there is the need to make good remarks that should complement the observation and give instructions afterwards. The instructional leader should be able to use his or her evaluation skills to find out if the learning program is effective and or determine the changes that need to be made. In this regard, the leader should find out the needs of a given community in terms of education and learning and then go ahead to come up with a solution that will enable members of the community to learn according to their needs. However, it is crucial to note that different members of the community have diverse learning needs despite the middle ground that accommodates all the needs.
The Role of the Instructional Leader in Successful Implementation of these Theories
Instructional leaders in community learning can be described as resource providers in different ways. They are generally responsible for providing resources that would make the learning successful to the latter. Hoerr (2009) argues that, to achieve this goal, as resource providers, instructional leaders are supposed to be widely knowledgeable on the kinds of resources that would make learning successful (p. 85). They should be educated in both old and contemporary resource needs that can make learning a success. Thus, they are responsible for providing resources in terms of material and human. Therefore, they need to have knowledge on the kind of human resource they need to put in place for the program to be successful. They need to know what teachers need to facilitate their teaching. The need to know and provide material resources should be found in the call to provide teaching and learning resources that are relevant to the learning program.
The role of an instructional leader is to monitor the progress of the program to ensure that its execution goes on without problems. Monitoring will allow the instructional leader in the school who in this regard is the school principal to follow up and ensure that instructions given are achieving their intended purpose (Dufour, 2002, p. 13). Monitoring goes hand in hand with evaluation. Therefore, while doing the monitoring, the principal should perform an evaluation of the system at the same time to make sure that the curriculum is run as it should be and that all sectors perform as intended. To achieve the monitoring and evaluation objectives, the instructional leader should prepare relevant tools that will help in achieving the goals. The staff under this leader should be trained in preparing and using these tools so that they become part of the process to make the work achievable.
Motivation of staff
One of the big roles of an instructional leader is to motivate. Motivation comes in different forms. It is up to the leader to find out what mode of motivation is the best for his or her staff. Dweck (1986) points how motivation can improve the performance of staff when it is low. It can be used to appreciate the performance of staff when they excel (Dweck, 1986, p.1043). Therefore, instructional leaders have a role in motivating staff under them as a way of maintaining good standards.
Instructional leaders have a role as cohesive factors. Being at the apex of the organization, they have a role in uniting all the different people in the department and ensuring that operations are executed in harmony. Different members of different departments might have different interests, which at the end of the day might lead to conflicts. Jenknins (2009) concludes that the role of the instructional leader therefore is to bring people together and ensure that they have a common purpose in the work that they do (p. 35). At the same time, the purpose of being a cohesive factor is to iron out differences whenever they occur. The leader should be able to act as a bridge between two colleagues who have had differences within the organizational set up. The head should be looked upon to provide leadership where differences have occurred. However, the leader has to be neutral when dealing with conflicting groups.
Conclusion-Tools, techniques, and strategies that will support the leader throughout implementation
The instructional leader should always lead from the front as an example to others. This positive technique will motivate the staff members to perform their duties diligently. They can accomplish this role by taking some lessons in the community-learning program as a way of being in touch with the proceedings. By leading from the front, the instructional leader is able to paint a picture of being one of the staff members. Thus, when the instructors give out orders, they are believed to be realistic. The leader should also be an inclusive leader in planning and implementing the programs at hand. By involving other players in planning the program, it becomes easy for all to take up their roles because they will be in a position to understand what is going on in the program as well as what is expected of the program. Therefore, an all-inclusive planning and execution of the program can be good for the intended outcomes.
Bielaczyc, K., & Collins, A. (2003). Learning Communities in Classrooms: A Reconceptualization of Educational Practices. Instructional Design Theories & Models, 2(1), 1-21.
Dufour, R. (2002). The Learning Centered Principal. Educational Leadership, 59(8), 12-15.
Dweck, C. (1986). Motivational Processes Affecting Learning. American Psychology, 41(10), 1040-1048.
Hoerr, T. (2008). The Principal Connection: What is Instructional Leadership? Educational Leadership, 65(4), 84-85.
Jenkins, B. (2009). What it Takes to be an Instructional. Principal, 1(1), 34-38.