Flip the Script

The Journey to Finding an Instructional Leader

Innovative Instructional Leaders

Leaders are important and principals can have a lasting impact on their school site. They help build and promote school culture and cultivate innovative teachers.


I recently found out that my site would soon be looking for a new school leader and wondered what we would be looking for. After careful consideration and thinking about processes that are in place, I realized that this journey to find the right person might be harder than it seems. Especially if you are in search of an innovator.


In his blog post from 2014, George Couros describes the 8 Characteristics of the Innovative Leader. Here is what he prescribes:


Visionary

Empathetic

Models Learning

Open Risk Taker

Networked

Observant

Team-builder

Focused on Relationships

Now What?

It's a freakin' great list. Think about the people you know who possess these traits. You may not know many, but you know who they are.


So, I started wondering how you find such a leader. What kinds of questions do we ask people to find out if they are the right person for your team?


I started by googling typical questions asked principals during interviews. And I found them to be, well, not very innovative. Here are the most popular I found...


1. How would you describe your leadership style?

2. What are some ways you have dealt with challenges and what were the solutions?

3. How do you use data to promote student achievement?

4. How would you build a positive school climate?

5. How would you improve student achievement?


I suppose they aren't a bad start, but they certainly don't take much effort to answer. These questions won't give us insight about how a leader fosters and encourages innovation.

Flip the Script

Are current interview questions outdated? Probably. If we haven't updated the questions we are asking to fit in with today's innovations in the classroom, then how will we know an instructional leader is up to the task?


So I asked around. Well, I sent out a tweet. But I sent it out to some of the innovative leaders in education that I respect (and want to be like when I grow up). If they had just ONE question to ask a prospective instructional school leader, what would it be? And here are the answers I received, in no particular order...

The Ultimate Interview?

Question 1 (Jon Corippo, @jcorippo): WHAT IS YOUR VISION?


Question 2 (Lisa Delapo, @LisaTeachesTech): HOW DO YOU KEEP MOTIVATED AND ENGAGED IN YOUR FIELD?


Question 3 (Bill Selak, @billselak): HOW DO YOU SHOW YOUR WORK?


Question 4 (Tim Goree, @timgoree): HOW DO YOU HELP EVERYONE AROUND YOU FOSTER A GROWTH MINDSET?


Question 5 (Jeff Kubiak, @jeffreykubiak): WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF?


Question 6 (Steve Trotter, @PrincipalTrots): AS A SCHOOL LEADER, HOW DO YOU FOSTER A SCHOOL CULTURE ROOTED IN EMPOWERING PASSIONATE AND INNOVATIVE TEACHERS?


Question 7 (Colleen Hutchinson, @smile_more_): HOW DO YOU PLAN TO BUILD POSITIVE RELATIONSHIPS WITH ALL STAKEHOLDERS?

How About You?

So what about you? If you had ONE question to ask a potential instructional leader what would it be? How would you get to the heart of how they would foster innovation and build relationships with teachers, students, and parents? Let's start asking these questions and flip the script on what has been done in the past. It is an important step to building and fostering innovation in education.

By Meghan Cannon-Johann

And thanks to everyone I stalk on Twitter for your input and insight. You are all my EduHeroes! And to those who do not follow them on Twitter, get going.