This blog post is part of a series on how school leaders can become instructional change agents. In next week’s post, Adam Drummond will offer advice on how to determine ways to improve school culture.
I glance at the clock, and it reads 6:30 p.m. on a Friday night. I sigh heavily and return my focus to the dual screens at my desk. The screens show a teacher evaluation I’m working on, as well as the upcoming round of NWEA testing for students. Email notifications continue to chirp in with messages from teachers, district folks, and parents. My fourth-grade son is hanging out somewhere in the school while I stare at the countless “to do’s” piling up before my eyes.
Sound familiar? As I reflect back on my experiences as a school leader, I wish someone would have told me that the pile of “to do’s” has nowhere near the impact that I thought it did. Sure, evaluations and testing schedules have to be completed. But the real change comes from the day-to-day moments you experience with students in conversations, listening to their hopes, dreams, and fears. It’s the hallway conversations with teachers to help them problem solve, and the moments watching instruction and thinking, “What if we did this instead?” Leveraging these moments and countless others like these would have increased my capacity as an instructional leader in my school, which is why I’ve written The Instructional Change Agent: 48 Ways to Be the Leader Your School Needs.
Of course, we know there are many school leadership books to assist in school leadership development. So, why was I compelled to author another book on the topic? The answer is simple. I recognized in my day-to-day work a need for school leaders to embrace what matters—to understand how to rise above the noise and focus on instructional change agency to build successful learning environments for students and staff alike. I wanted to offer a real-life application resource that leaders can rely on to find a way to improve a particular part of the school and can implement immediately.
An instructional change agent does the following:
- Acts on decisions that are made in the best interests of students ALL the time
- Creates a powerful school culture that constantly assesses and acts on the needs of ALL stakeholders—so long as it is done through the lens of what is best for students
- Expects and monitors that instructional strategies are research and evidence based and used by teachers planning highly rigorous learning experiences to ensure that ALL students reach their fullest potential.
- Visits classrooms daily to observe masterfully facilitated instruction and the full engagement of each learner in all learning tasks
- Builds a network of community partnerships that connect in-classroom learning to real life, outside-the-classroom application
Use this leadership assessment tool and reflect on your journey in becoming an instructional change agent for your school.
All the work we do as school leaders falls into one of the four key areas:
- School Culture
- Instructional Planning
- Learner Engagement
- Community Partnerships
When we operate at high levels of competency and efficiency in each of these areas, we are truly being an instructional change agent for our schools.
Using your completed self-assessment, create a goal for each area. Each goal should be time based and manageable, and should enlist someone to hold you accountable. For example:
Once you have drafted a goal for each area, you are ready to act. Post your self-assessment and begin making strides in becoming the instructional change agent for your school.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of HMH.
Join the community of change agents at #LeadChangeEd on Twitter or visit our site.
Join more than 5,000 educators in 100+ sessions at the 31st Annual Model Schools Conference in Orlando, Florida, from June 25–28, 2023, where you can learn what steps to take to act for impact in your school or district.
Program Consultant, Into Reading and Into Literature
Dr. Suzanne Jimenez
Director of Academic Planning and Data Analytics at HMH
Chief Research Officer, HMH