The educational system has constantly been developing while conducting new research, testing new theories, and implementing new approaches to learning. Nevertheless, one truth is unchanged: an effective school should have an effective leader. To be such, a modern principal should develop their working principles and procedures and be apace with current educational concepts. A modern school’s principal should supervise and support the teachers and introduce learning methods and initiatives to enhance the student’s performance. However, while it seems clear and simple in theory, in practice, many principals are confused about what exactly would make them effective, and teachers admit they feel no support or feedback from their instructional leaders.
Various studies were conducted to improve the situation, including the one described by Leech et al. (2009). One of the questions it addressed was: “How do teachers perceive their principal’s supervisory activities in instruction?” (Leech et al., 2009, p. 87). The study included a survey carried out among the teachers of different school levels (elementary, middle, and high). The four survey items focused on the question stated above, and their results are presented in Table 1.
The activities that principals are expected to perform as instructional leaders include visiting classes, providing feedback, and talking to the teachers about educational concepts and their performance. According to the study’s results, most principals do not seem to fit the role of an effective supervisor. First of all, some of the principals never perform these functions. While only 8% do not visit the classes and 13% never discuss topics concerning learning and teaching, the figures demonstrating the lack of performance evaluation and feedback are drastically higher (Leech et al., 2009). If one combines these results with those from the “Rarely” column, one would see that only about 18% of the respondents stated they get frequent assessments (Leech et al., 2009). In brief, the principles’ engagement in learning and teaching procedures does not seem to be satisfactory.
A comparatively positive trend can be noted in terms of the principals’ engagement in general conversations about teaching and learning. Over 42% of the teachers frequently talk about learning and teaching with their instructors, and about 45% do so at least rarely (Leech et al., 2009). In my opinion, it can be a starting point for the principals’ further development as effective instructional leaders. At first, they can increase their contact with the teachers and talk more about new educational concepts and methods in general. While discussing them in theory, they would slowly proceed to evaluate the possibility and effectiveness of their practical implementation. Thus, the principals would learn more about the ideas prevailing among their subordinates and the atmosphere within their team and have more opportunities to influence both of them as a true leader should. Ultimately, they would have a better understanding of what problems exist in the instructional procedures and what can be done to stimulate the students.
On the whole, these results do not present the principals as effective leaders. Moreover, the respondents are aware of that and admit they are dissatisfied with the current level of instructional leadership. However, the situation is not beyond repair, and the results can show the principals their weak points and suggest ways to improve. One recommendation that I can provide is to have more contact with the teachers to monitor the learning environment in the school.
Leech, D., Pate, J.L., Gibson, N.M., Green, R. & Smith, R. (2009). Teacher perceptions of the instructional leadership practices of principals. School Leadership Review, 4(2), 80-102.