Beyond Instructional Leadership: Towards Pedagogic Leadership

Year: 2003

Author: MacNeill, Neil, Cavanagh, Rob, Silcox, Steffan

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

In the wash-up of the school effectiveness research and a growing disenchantment with the lack of change in schools, instructional leadership was promoted as the harbinger of change and the salvation of schooling. While the concept of instructional leadership has been predominant in theorising about school leadership and is supposedly widely applied in schools, it has inherent limitations. These limitations centre firstly upon instructional leadership, typically concerning principal- leadership and not teacher- leadership. This is inconsistent with contemporary leadership approaches that emphasise the need for multiple leadership throughout the school. Secondly, the notion of instruction implies focus on teacher actions rather than on student learning.

The notion of pedagogic leadership is proposed as an alternative to instructional leadership. Pedagogy concerns enabling the learning and intellectual growth of students in contrast to instruction that treats students as the object of curriculum implementation. Successful classroom pedagogy requires that teachers understand how students learn and have the autonomy to design, implement and assess educational activities that meet the needs of individual and all students. The role of pedagogical leaders circumscribes informed teacher practise and reflection, empowering teachers to exercise professional responsibility and discretion, and demonstrating credible knowledge of learning and teaching processes.