Leadership: Instructional, Transformational or Both?
- Published: Friday, 28 June 2013 14:19
Leadership is a key element to any organization’ success; rather effective leadership is key. As with most such statements, that seem so simple, there is often an underlying discussion of what actually constitutes effective leadership. These discussion can be polarizing as each side or different sides explain their position. Ironically, effective leadership usually brings people together, not apart; unifies, doesn’t polarize; and draws from the best to address issues; doesn’t restrict itself to one set of skills.
There are at least two camps (or people create two camps) when it comes to school leadership: Instructional and Transformational. Instructional leaders focus creating a learning climate free of disruption, a system of teaching clear objectives, and high teacher expectations for teachers and students. Transformational leaders are tied to such actions as engaging with their teaching staff and inspiring them; creating high levels of energy and commitment; creating a sense of moral purpose; and establishing an environment in which people can collaborate together to overcome challenges and reach goals.
In Visible Learning, John Hattie identifies those instructional leadership skills that most impact student achievement (increased student achievement is the primary rubric used to evaluate schools, teachers and leadership):
“The evidence from the meta-analyses supports the power of the former over the latter in terms of the effects on student outcomes. It is school leaders who promote challenging goals, and then establish safe environments for teachers to critique, question, and support other teachers to reach these goals together that have the most effect on student outcomes. School leaders who focus on students’ achievement and instructional strategies are the most effective (Connell, 1996: Henchey, 2001; Teddie & Springfield, 1993). It is leaders who pay more attention on teaching and focused achievements domains (Hallinger & Murphy, 1986) who have the higher effects.” (Visible Learning, John Hattie, page 83) (Highlights added)
“Specific dimensions of instructional leadership that had greatest effect on student outcomes were promoting and participating in teacher learning and development (d = 0.91; planning, coordinating and evaluating teaching and the curriculum (e.g. direct involvement in the support and the evaluation of teaching through regular classroom visits and provision of formative and summative feedback to teachers, d = 0.74; strategic resourcing (aligning resource selection and allocation to priority teaching goals, d = 0.60; establishing goals and expectations (d = 0.54); and ensuring an orderly and supportive environment such as protecting time for teaching and learning by reducing external pressures and interruptions and establishing an orderly and supportive environment both inside and outside classrooms (d= 0.49). “
Hattie also shares information about transformational leadership:
“In Chin’s (2007) meta-analysis, it is not clear if instructional leadership studies were therefore excluded. For example, she defined transformational leadership as including shaping and elevating goals and abilities to achieve significant improvements. The effects on teacher job satisfaction are very high (r = 0.71) and while lower, the effects on student achievement are also high (r = 0.48).”
“Other correlates with achievement included the extent to which the principals were aware of the goals in the school that needed addressing (r = 0.66), the way they ensured that teachers were intellectually stimulated about current theories and practices (r = 0.64)., whether they were willing to actively challenge the status quo (r = 0.60), whether they monitored the effectiveness of school practices and their impact on student learning (4 = 0.56), the extent to which they communicated and operated from strong ideal and belief about schooling (r = 0.50), and whether the principals were knowledgeable about current curriculum, instruction, and assessment practices (r = 0.48).
The research is clear that instructional leadership has a greater impact on student achievement than transformational leadership. That does not mean there is no place for application of the transformational leader’s skills. As a matter of fact, an application of transformational leadership skills to advance the objectives of the instructional leadership foci when properly applied enhances the process. The effective leader focuses on the issues identified above, while using transformation skills to inspire staff to follow him/her, create teams, and establish a culture of collaboration and cohesiveness. We are talking about a transformational instructional leader.