Principals can establish strong instructional leadership with a few key actions, panelists said.

School leaders play an important role in guiding educators as they strive to improve student achievement. School principals, charged with so many tasks already, also must be confident instructional leaders who can help teachers organize instruction, comprehend standards, and develop curriculum.

During a Jan. 12 Education Trust webinar about how principals can be strong, positive, and effective leaders, three school principals shared their tips and strategies for creating a school atmosphere in which instructional leadership thrives.

“Instructional leadership is one of the hardest things for principals to bring about in their schools, because of the historical nature of teaching [as] a closed-door profession,” said Ricci Hall, principal of University Park Campus School in Worcester, Mass.

“I think the notion of instructional leadership being led by the principal and carried out and enhanced by teachers is one of the hardest jobs to really get into the culture of the school,” said webinar leader Kyla Wahlstrom, director of the Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement at the University of Minnesota.

Discuss beliefs, educational values

June Eressy, a founding teacher and former principal of University Park Campus School and the current principal of Chandler Elementary School in Worcester, Mass., said it’s important for principals to articulate their vision for their school in order to establish a strong instructional leadership model.

“The culture here was previously not collaborative … and teachers’ voices were not heard,” Eressy said. “The whole first year was spent building teacher collaboration … and establishing a culture of trust where teachers are my partners. This is such hard work, and I don’t think any principal would say they could do it in isolation.”