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1 Beacon Street
Boston, MA, 02108
United States


ANet is a nonprofit dedicated to the premise that every child in America deserves an excellent education and the opportunities it provides. We pursue our vision of educational equality in America by helping schools boost student learning with great teaching that is grounded in standards, informed by data, and built on the successful practices of educators around the country.

Distributing leadership across your team

Strategies to assemble and support a great instructional leadership team at your school

Distributing leadership across your team

Going further together

There’s an old proverb: "If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together." Great schools know this and behind every great school, you'll find a great team, where individual strengths are leveraged to create a diverse, dynamic force.

Leadership team members are responsible for implementing schoolwide initiatives for instruction, and they also model cultural norms. So it’s imperative that the members of the leadership team share the principal’s vision for the school.
— Ben Fenton, NLNS

How can you form a great team at your school? Start by talking to the people in your building about their strengths, and what motivates and inspires them when it comes to engaging in this work. When you understand the wide swath of talent and interest that exists within your building, you can connect the dots between individuals' strengths and the school's needs. This allows you to create a well-balanced and effective team. It's no surprise that taking an assets-based approach sets leadership teams up for success: people like doing what they do well.

Talk to members of your team to make sure everyone is clear about what they're "on the hook" for and the support they'll receive from you.

Once you develop a vision and chart a roadmap for achieving that vision, you’ll want to delegate responsibilities to leaders within your organization. Then, you and your leaders need to align on support: What  does each leader need to be successful in their role? Engaging in open dialogue with that leader, or a group of leaders with similar responsibilities, allows you to set clear expectations and identify opportunities for continued development. For example, a teacher leader might need to practice their peer facilitation skills in order to lead grade-level planning meetings; an instructional coach might need to practice using an observation guide ahead of observing and giving feedback to teachers.

In this video, Robbie Chisholm, principal at the James F. Condon Elementary in Boston, MA, explains how he engages teacher leaders in the work of the Instructional Leadership Team, Common Planning time and Professional Development. There's no doubt Robbie believes the time you invest in assembling and supporting a  leadership team is time well spent because, as he aptly observes, "there's just too much work to be done individually."