Successful instructional leaders empower those around them to step up and lead rather than simply following the same path. No one staff member in a school has mastered every skill to the same proficiency and, as a leader, it is his or her responsibility to identify individual staff member’s strengths and passions and provide avenues for these to be utilized in a manner that betters the teaching and learning occurring within each classroom, school, and district. This empowerment cannot happen unless the instructional leader is purposeful in his or her goal selections for the year.
A professor of mine once said, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any path will lead you there.” As a leader, if you do not take time to identify short and long term, or “what’s next” goals, for your organization, not only will you miss out on opportunities to support teachers in stepping up to lead, but you, your staff, and your students will not have a common focus to strive for. Although some goals will be surpassed at the end of the year, there will be times that not every goal was met. In these times, and throughout the year, the instructional leader needs to be reflective and willing to adapt practices in order to reorient the organization toward the goal. Being able to reflect and model a growth mindset by acknowledging that not meeting a goal on the first attempt is not a failure, but a learning experience, allows the instructional leader to be viewed as the “lead learner and collaborator” by his or her staff. Ultimately, this environment, established by the leader, will contain teachers with a common vision and mission. These teachers are open to stepping up, taking risks, and going into uncharted waters in search of teaching and learning practices that achieve the ultimate goal of impacting student learning.