School leaders play an important role in schools. While effective teachers contribute most to student learning, effective leaders have been identified as having the second greatest impact on student achievement (Blase & Blasé, 2004). The following selected assumptions, drawn from extant research on the principalship, as the most visible representation of a school leader, underscore the importance and vitality of a leader:
The latest research as reflected in extant literature on educational leadership indicates that school leaders cannot take instructional improvement for granted (see, e.g., Shaked, 2018). These leaders must directly, or at the very least, indirectly, through delegating responsibility to an experienced and competent instructional leader (with close oversight by the principal), focus on helping teachers teach and thus, improve student achievement.
Research in Jewish Day Schools in the USA and Israeli religious schools indicate, though, that many school leaders do not view instructional improvement as their top priority. Rather, they view their role in terms of promoting student midot or character traits (see, e.g., Glanz et al., 2017). Although such a priority is noble, it does not have to be an “either-or” choice. Rather, both are critical.
The questionnaire that follows is meant to help you reflect on your role as instructional leader. The survey items contain the major principles reflected in the latest research and literature in instructional leadership. As noted in the brief introduction to the questionnaire that follows, the goal here is self-reflection and assessment. I encourage you to take pride in the items that reflect your current practice. But I also hope the survey instrument can help you identify areas to focus on in the future. Upon reflection and analysis of your responses to the survey, I’d recommend a conversation with a mentor or principal-colleague whom you respect and displays, in fact, a keen understanding of instructional leadership.
Charlotte Danielson, in a 2007 work titled Enhancing Professional Practice: A Framework for Teaching published by the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, developed a framework or model for understanding teaching based on current research in the field. She identified “components” clustered into four domains of teaching responsibility: planning and preparation, classroom environment, instruction, and professional responsibilities. I adapted and developed this questionnaire based on her framework.
Your honest responses to the various items below will best serve as reflective tools to assist you in becoming an even better instructional leader. At the end, you will find a brief self-analysis to encourage reflection on your role as an instructional leader.
Planning and Preparation
SA A D SD 1. Teachers should be offered guidance in planning and preparing for instruction, and I feel comfortable in doing so.
SA A D SD 2. Good teachers should display solid content knowledge and make connections with the parts of their discipline or with other disciplines.
SA A D SD 3. Good teachers should consider the importance of prerequisite knowledge when introducing new topics.
SA A D SD 4. Good teachers actively build on students’ prior knowledge and seek causes for students’ misunderstanding.
SA A D SD 5. Good teachers are content knowledgeable but may need additional assistance with pedagogical strategies and techniques, and I feel comfortable about providing such assistance.
SA A D SD 6. I am familiar with pedagogical strategies and continually search for best practices to share with my teachers.
SA A D SD 7. Good teachers know much about the developmental needs of their students.
SA A D SD 8. Principals are familiar with learning styles and multiple intelligences theories and can help teachers apply them to instructional practice.
SA A D SD 9. I do not fully recognize the value of understanding teachers’ skills and knowledge as a basis for their professional development.
SA A D SD 10. Goal setting is critical to teacher success in planning and preparing, and the principal should offer to collaborate with teachers in this area.
SA A D SD 11. I am familiar with curricular and teaching resources to assist teachers.
SA A D SD 12. I know I can help teachers develop appropriate learning activities suitable for students.
SA A D SD 13. I can help teachers plan for a variety of meaningful learning activities matched to school/state instructional goals.
SA A D SD 14. I would encourage teachers to use varied instructional grouping.
SA A D SD 15. I can assist teachers in developing a systematic plan for assessment of student learning.
SA A D SD 16. I can provide professional development for teachers in planning and preparation.
The Classroom Environment
SA A D SD 1. I realize the importance of classroom management and discipline.
SA A D SD 2. I expect that teacher interactions with students are generally friendly and demonstrate warmth and caring.
SA A D SD 3. I expect teachers to develop a system of discipline without my assistance.
SA A D SD 4. I will play an active role in monitoring grade/school discipline plans.
SA A D SD 5. I support the classroom teachers in matters of discipline.
SA A D SD 6. I always communicate high expectations to all my teachers that they are the critical element in the classroom.
SA A D SD 7. I expect teachers to have a well-established and well-defined system of rules and procedures.
SA A D SD 8. I expect that teachers are alert to student behavior at all times.
SA A D SD 9. I can provide professional development to teachers on classroom management.
SA A D SD 10. As a teacher, I was a competent classroom manager.
SA A D SD 1. I expect that teachers’ directions to students are clear and not confusing.
SA A D SD 2. My directives to teachers about instruction are clear.
SA A D SD 3. My spoken language as a teacher was clear and appropriate according to the grade level of my students.
SA A D SD 4. I believe that teacher questioning techniques are among the most critical skills needed to promote pupil learning, and I feel comfortable in helping teachers frame good questions.
SA A D SD 5. Teacher questions must be uniformly of high quality.
SA A D SD 6. From my experience, teachers mostly lecture (talk) to students without enough student participation.
SA A D SD 7. I encourage teachers to encourage students to participate and prefer for students to take an active role in learning.
SA A D SD 8. I can provide a workshop for teachers on giving assignments that are appropriate to students, and that engage students mentally.
SA A D SD 9. I don’t know how to groups students appropriately for instruction.
SA A D SD 10. I am very familiar with grouping strategies to promote instruction.
SA A D SD 11. I can advise teachers on how best to select appropriate and effective instructional materials and resources.
SA A D SD 12. My demo lessons to teachers are highly coherent and my pacing is consistent and appropriate.
SA A D SD 13. I rarely provide appropriate feedback to my teachers.
SA A D SD 14. Feedback to my teachers is consistent, appropriate, and of high quality.
SA A D SD 15. I expect my teachers to rely heavily on the teacher’s manual for instruction.
SA A D SD 16. I consistently encourage teachers to seek my advice on teaching and learning matters.
SA A D SD 17. I encourage teachers to use wait time effectively.
SA A D SD 18. I feel competent enough to give a workshop to teachers on effective use of wait time.
SA A D SD 19. I consider myself an instructional leader.
SA A D SD 20. Teachers perceive me as an instructional leader.
SA A D SD 1. I have difficulty assessing the effectiveness of teachers.
SA A D SD 2. I can accurately assess how well I am doing as an instructional leader.
SA A D SD 3. I really don’t know how to improve teaching skills.
SA A D SD 4. I am aware of what I need to do in order to become an effective instructional leader.
SA A D SD 5. I rarely encourage parents to become involved in instructional matters.
SA A D SD 6. I actively and consistently engage parents to visit classrooms.
SA A D SD 7. I feel comfortable giving workshops to parents on curricular and/or instructional matters.
SA A D SD 8. I have difficulty relating to my colleagues in a cordial and professional manner.
SA A D SD 9. I collaborate with my colleagues in a cordial and professional manner.
SA A D SD 10. I avoid becoming involved in school projects.
SA A D SD 11. I rarely encourage teachers to seek to engage in professional development activities.
SA A D SD 12. I seek out opportunities for professional development to enhance my pedagogical skills.
SA A D SD 13. I am rarely alert to teacher’ instructional needs.
SA A D SD 14. I serve teachers.
SA A D SD 15. I am an advocate for student’s rights.
SA A D SD 16. I am an advocate for teacher’s rights.
SA A D SD 17. I rarely encourage teachers to serve on a school-based committee.
SA A D SD 18. I enjoy working with teachers collaboratively on instructional matters.
Note that the items above draw from research that highlights good educational practice. Review your responses and circle responses that concern you. For instance, if you circled Strongly Agree for “I am rarely alert to teacher’s instructional needs,” ask yourself, “Why is this is a problem?”, “How can I remedy the situation?”, and “What additional resources or assistance might I need?” If you agree, share and compare responses with another educator. The dialogue that will ensue will serve as a helpful vehicle to move towards more effective practice.
In summary, review your responses for each of the four domains as noted below:
Domain 1: Planning and Preparation. This domain demonstrates your comfort level in working with teachers on content and pedagogical knowledge, knowledge of students and resources, ability to select instructional goals, and the degree to which you help them assess learning.
SA A D SD 1. My ability to work with teachers on planning and preparation is satisfactory.
Domain 2: The Classroom Environment. This domain assesses the degree to which you encourage and create an environment of respect and caring and establish a culture for learning related to many aspects of classroom environment.
SA A D SD 1. I am satisfied that my ability to work with teachers on the classroom environment is satisfactory.
Domain 3: Instruction. This domain assesses the ability to work with teachers to communicate with clarity, use questioning and discussion techniques, engage students in learning, provide feedback to students, demonstrate flexibility and responsiveness to student’s instructional needs
SA A D SD 1. I am satisfied that my knowledge and skills of instruction are satisfactory.
Domain 4: Professional Responsibilities. This domain assesses the degree to which you encourage teachers to reflect on teaching, maintain accurate records, communicate with parents, contribute to the school, grow and develop professionally, and show professionalism.
SA A D SD 1. I am satisfied I am professionally responsible.
Rabbi Dr. Jeﬀrey Glanz is former Silverstein Chair in Professional Ethics and Professor of Jewish Education at Yeshiva University, and currently, living in Eretz Yisroel, serving as Head of the Master’s Degree Program in Educational Administration at Michlalah Jerusalem College. firstname.lastname@example.org
Blase, J., & Blasé, J. (2004). Handbook of instructional leadership: How successful principals promote teaching and learning (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.
Glanz, J., Shaked, H., Rabinowitz, C., Shenhav, S. & Zaretsky, R. (2017). Instructional leadership practices among principals in Israeli and USA Jewish schools. International Journal of Educational Reform, 26(2), 132-153.
Hallinger, P., & Lee, M. (2016). Mapping instructional leadership in Thailand: Has education reform impacted principal practice? Educational Management, Administration and Leadership 42(1), 6-29.
Shaked, H. (2018). Why principals sidestep instructional leadership: The disregarded question of schools’ primary objective. Journal of School Leadership, 28(4), 517-538.
Waters, T., Marzano, R., & McNulty, B. (2003). Balanced leadership: What 30 years of research tells us about the effect of leadership on student achievement: A working paper. Aurora, CO: Mid-Continental Regional Educational Lab.
Zepeda, S.J. (2012. Instructional supervision: Applying tools and concepts (3rd ed.). Larchmont, NY: Eye on Education.