Instructional Leader or Building Manager?

By Justin Baeder

“Faced with this question, most of us know the “correct” answer (especially in a job interview): instructional leader, of course.

But do we really have a choice? Can you choose to be an instructional leader and not a building manager?

Instructional leadership involves creating the conditions for instruction, not just directly supervising it.”


Instructional Quality is a function of the following:

  1. Teacher Skill
  2. Student Readiness
  3. Context

Leaders can work to improve teacher skills, but if they neglect the context, no learning will take place. Attendance impacts teachers. Behavior impacts teaching and learning. Unless school leaders create a safe, orderly, and inviting school environment, and provide the resources teachers need, learning will not take place.

As one national leader said to me ‘We did a great job teaching our principals to work with teachers, but we forgot to teach them how to prevent fires in the bathrooms.’

Principals have to work on the three factors–teacher skill, student readiness, and context–all at once.

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