Professional Learning and Instructional Leadership During COVID-19
Pires, Mario. “Professional Learning and Instructional Leadership During COVID-19”, Boston College, 2022. http://hdl.handle.net/2345/bc-ir:109591.
The COVID-19 global pandemic has had major implications on the work educational leaders do on a daily basis, including frequently attending to health and well-being matters as well as operations in order to ensure the safety of all community members. At the same time, school leaders are tasked with maintaining a focus on instructional leadership to close opportunity gaps that may have been exasperated due to the pandemic. One way to increase sustained improvement efforts is to maximize the impact of Middle-level Instructional Leaders (MILs) within the district. Yet, research on MILs is grim and rarely attends to cultivation of learning for these varying roles. In order to address this gap in research, the purpose of this study is to understand how MILs pursue and make sense of instructional leadership during a time of crisis. Through an analysis of 10 semi-structured interviews, two observations and a document review, this qualitative case study presents the perspectives of MILs within a single district, capturing a description of two Communities of Practice (CoPs): District MILs and school-based MILs. Findings indicate that MILs’ individual investment on vision and goals can supersede that of hierarchical accountability structures. In addition, the social-emotional well-being of students and teachers was an emergent and conflicting priority with instructional leadership. Workplace experiences and collaborative, experiential practices are amongst the exemplary practices that develop the capacity of MILs. However, limited enrollment capacity, lack of frequency of experiences, and ambiguous role expectations hinder the ability to develop the practice of MILs. These findings have implications for how to best maximize MILs to pursue instructional leadership, and identify additional areas to consider for future research.