Challenges of instructional and curriculum leadership

I was asked to answer some questions around the challenges of my current role as Curriculum Coordinator. I though I would post my responses here to be able to reflect on them when I have been on the role longer to see how my thoughts and perceptions may develop and change.

What are the main challenges faced by curriculum and instructional leaders?

Multiple & conflicting goals School priorities – schools can often have a range of strategic goals they pursue and these can be conflicting goals. For example, curriculum goals can compete with other goals and lose the focus required to achieve them.

Developing a focus for school improvement – identifying and implementing strategies for school improvement that are focussed enough to have an impact. Can be easy to try and improve too many things and then not really have an impact on any.

Time and resources to implement strategies – schools and teachers are extraordinarily busy and implementing strategies that can have an impact and also work within the busyness of the school is a particular challenge. Most strategies will require collaborative work in faculties and across faculties and scheduling this time can be problematic and a barrier to successful implementation.

Demands of the role – (depending on teaching allocation and role description)- curriculum leaders role can be a very busy role with a high administrative component. Curriculum and instructional leadership is easy to be lost as a focus as the high demands of the administrative component are more pressing. The leadership aspect has the potential to make a far bigger difference but is the easiest to overlook.

Ongoing professional learning – the role requires an ongoing commitment to learning and the development of knowledge, skills and understanding of the latest research and its impact for learning. The busy nature of the role can make this difficult to prioritise.

Developing a strategic plan for school development – teaching and learning is complex and there is no simple formula for improving the learning outcomes of all students. Developing a strategic plan and implementing this over the long term can be challenging. Well researched and intentioned strategies may not have the impact desired and there is always risk in any strategy that is implemented. Deciding on the strategy and implementing it effectively is therefore a considerable challenge.

What do you consider to be the most important attributes, which a curriculum leader should possess if she or he is to be effective?

Learner – continually seeking information, evidence and research to support current practices or develop new approaches within the school.

Strategic thinking and long term vision – the ability to step out of the busyness of school and the role of curriculum leader to assess where the school is at and what long term initiatives will have an impact on improving student learning.

Relational – ability to develop effective relationships with teachers, students, leadership and other stakeholders to be able to work effectively and communicate with all groups within the school. This is essential for any strategy to be implemented well.

Action based – the ability to make decisions and act on them. Having knowledge is important but unless we act on this knowledge than it is pointless. Developing plans and actions that are implemented is crucial to being successful.

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