- AASA, The School Superintendents Association, and Advancement Via Individual Determination on Thursday announced the launch of the National Instructional Leader Academy, focused on building a thought leadership community for district leaders in charge of instruction, assessment or technology.
- The National Instructional Leader Academy aims to connect these leaders so they can share best practices and enhance one another's professional development. In a press release, AVID Chief Executive Officer Sandy Husk said, “As we strengthen quality and equity in our current programs, we are certain this new initiative will provide pathways for district leaders to collaborate collegially and allow innovation to thrive.”
- The first event hosted by the academy, titled "Leading Student-Centered, Equity-Focused Culture," is set to take place in San Diego, California, from Jan. 27-29, 2022, with an application deadline of Dec. 15, 2021. Meetings are currently planned to take place both in-person and virtually.
Instructional leadership approaches place greater emphasis on curriculum and instruction, creating a culture of learning and providing feedback to teachers. Their adoption has trended most notably in recent years at the principal level, where research published by New America in 2017 found 26 states explicitly identified "instructional leadership" as a standard for principals, and the other half expressed it via a term like "teaching and learning."
The approach has been a central component of the changing role of the principalship, going beyond management and compliance duties to require more hands-on support of teachers, while also requiring a shift in principal professional development and building management at the district level, where roles have been created in some cases to alleviate some of the burdens of non-instructional duties.
But the push for more innovative learning models and transformational schools has also necessitated the growth of instructional leadership in district administration. This can be seen most notably in the breaking down of silos between central office departments in recent years.
A district's IT chief, for example, is now more likely to have to consider the implications their decisions have for classrooms and pedagogy as the leaders in charge of a school system's curriculum and instruction or assessment offices.
Along these lines, the announcement for the National Instructional Leader Academy laid out several objectives for administrators involved in district-level instructional leadership:
- Establish professional learning communities focused on district instructional leadership's role in supporting equitable opportunities for all students.
- Consult with leaders in an examination of current district goals, practices and instructional systems from a perspective of leadership, culture, instruction and systems.
- Introduce processes to support district-level culture, provide leadership, guide instruction, and align and integrate systems that ensure college-and career-readiness for all students.
- Empower leaders to address change, troubleshoot challenges, and identify what's needed to plan and create a foundation that supports equitable opportunities for all students.