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Instructional Leadership

Instructional Leadership
Creating Practice Out of Theory

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February 2020 | 176 pages | Corwin

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Bridge the gap between good intentions and real results

Instructional Leadership is one of the most researched and discussed leadership practices, but most school leaders don’t know where to begin or how to balance this role with all of their other responsibilities. Peter DeWitt’s Instructional Leadership provides practical tools for delivering lasting improvement through small, manageable changes over time.


This step-by-step, how-to guide presents the six driving forces of instructional leadership—implementation, focus on learning, student engagement, instructional strategies, efficacy, and evaluation of impact—within an easy-to-follow, multi-stage implementation model. It also includes:


·         Practical strategies grounded in research

·         “Entry point” sections highlighting the best places to start

·         Help working with PLCs, faculty meetings, teacher observations, and walkthroughs

·         Study questions


As a leader, you are the guide for your teachers, staff, and students. Let this book guide you to a vision of instructional leadership that really works.

About the Companion Website
Why this book?
This Book’s Features

Publisher’s Acknowledgments
About the Author
Tap Into Your True Inner Instructional Leader

Blog - Help! My Principal Says He’s an Instructional Leader!

Chapter One: Instructional Leadership: A Holistic Approach
What the Research Says About Instructional Leadership

In the End

Study Guide Questions

Chapter Two: The Logic Behind Implementation
What Is Program Logic?

From Program Logic to Implementation Cycle

Implementation Multi-Stage Model

In the End

Study Guide Questions

Chapter Three: A Focus on Learning: Deepening Our Impact as Instructional Leaders
Types of Learning: Knowledge vs. Skills

Levels of Learning: Surface, Deep, and Transfer


Knowledge Dimensions

In the End

Study Guide Questions

Chapter Four: Student Engagement: From Alienation to Social-Emotional Learning

Social-Emotional Learning

Five Easy Steps to Social-Emotional Learning

Enabling Conditions

Blog - Educators Need Mindfulness. Their Mental Health May Depend on It.

In the End

Study Guide Questions

Chapter Five: Instructional Strategies: Exploring Surface, Deep, and Transfer Learning
Academic Engagement

Blog - The Myth of Walkthroughs: Eight Unobserved Practices in Classrooms

Teacher Clarity

Classroom Discussion


In the End

Study Guide Questions

Chapter Six: Collective Efficacy: Easy to Define, Hard to Build?
Collective Teacher Efficacy: A Definition

Why Do We Need Collective Teacher Efficacy?

Blog - No Testing Week

No Testing Week

Leadership Efficacy

When Do We Build Collective Efficacy?

Why Is Collective Efficacy Hard to Build?

Collective Efficacy: A Program Logic Model

In the End

Study Guide Questions

Chapter Seven: Evidence: How Will You Evaluate Your Impact?
Evidence of Impact

Student Engagement Practices

Blog - Advisory Groups: Helping to Create a Positive School Climate

Instructional Leadership

In the End

Reflection Tool
Study Guide Questions


Instructional leadership is something that we strive to foster in ourselves as well as those around us because we know, as leaders, it is the type of leadership that leads to the most significant impact on student success. This is not an easy task, as many of us do not fully understand what it means to be an instructional leader or how to successfully grow in that area. In this book, highly acclaimed author and consultant Peter DeWitt guides readers down the path to understanding and becoming an instructional leader through ideas that are grounded in research and presented with the aid of outstanding practical examples and models. If you are ready to begin your journey toward instructional leadership, this book is an excellent place to start!

Heath Peine
Student Support Services Wichita Public Schools

DeWitt brings the heart of a true leader to every sentence in this book. He illuminates important leadership concepts about instruction, social-emotional learning, and collective efficacy with a humanity that allows us to see the potential we hold. DeWitt matches the courage to lead with the tools to do so and, in the process, lets readers see how coherence and clarity drive the growth of students and adults.

Nancy Frey
San Diego State University

Blending personal experience, research, and observations acquired through coach­ing others, DeWitt offers important insights and practical guidance to school leaders aspiring to improve their students’ life chances.

Kenneth Leithwood
Ontoria Institute for Studies in Education

DeWitt’s Instructional Leadership: Creating Practice out of Theory provides practical solutions to the challenges of being an instructional leader within an educational system not designed to meet the needs of all students. It provides a clear and concise program logic model that I will be using to broaden the impact of our initiatives. This book inspires us and gives us tools to engage teachers and students to co-create inclusive and supportive learning environments that will support our efforts to achieve equity in our schools.

Blanca Baltazar-Sabbah
Salinas Union High School District

Instructional Leadership provides actionable research-based methods to help teams move the needle as instructional leaders in a concrete way. It feels as though Peter is coaching you through the process as you learn to utilize the tools provided to make your schools successful. A perfect choice for principals, assistant superintendents, and superintendents!

Mary Ann Bryan
Weymouth Public Schools

Peter DeWitt’s conversational writing style will engage all leaders. He is knowl­edgeable and confident in writing about leadership, as he has been there, done the work successfully, and now writes about ‘living in’ the instructional leadership role. DeWitt challenges us to be reflective about the strategies that we collaboratively dis­cern make a difference to attain all students’ growth and achievement. His thinking is clear about what leaders must do to move all students forward. Most importantly DeWitt gives us the tools, like his comprehensive logic model, pithy myth-busters, real-life vignettes, reflective questions and mindful moments, to do the work together. This inspirational book is a must-read for all aspiring and seasoned leaders. DeWitt convinces us that leadership which makes a difference is doable, personaliz­ing his content with narrative from his own lived experiences as a leader.

Lyn Sharratt
University of Toronto

This book is well-timed in a world where school leaders are expected to be instructional leaders but also building managers. Peter understands that being an instructional leader is complicated, and this book has both challenged and reinforced my thinking around my leadership practices. His experience as a principal allows him to identify the many challenges and the important impact of instructional leadership on student achievement. He recognizes that, due to our competing responsibilities as leaders, we cannot be expected to focus solely on instructional leadership, yet we can set aside some time to focus on it. As leaders, we decide how much and when, but we need to commit to it to make it a part of our leadership time. This book helps identify the key components we need as leaders, as well as structures that will help us make a positive impact. It is a fantastic read if you are looking to find ways to balance the competing challenges of a leadership position. Thank you, Peter, for inspiring my instructional leadership as I begin my 17th year as a principal.

Dave Westway
Ontario Principals' Council

Peter DeWitt sets out to connect research and practice—and he has succeeded! The two are interwoven superbly, resulting in a book that is both practical and wise. The chapters dig deeper into the meaning and practices of instructional leadership in ways that are relevant to an international readership.

Elaine Munthe
University of Stavanger

From his personal experience and urgency,  Peter wrote this wonderful book about Instructional Leadership, as a practical ‘how to achieve the necessary impact’, with very helpful Program Logic Models. I especially loved the Mindful Moments and the Student Voice Questions, because this is how I came to know Peter: a person with a very large focus on the impact on students learning. To wrap it all up this books gives you a Reflection Framework to keep you going. 

Monique van den Heuvel
Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences

In his latest book, Peter provides practical ideas for how to implement instructional leadership strategies in a school, for principals with all levels of experience. It is a go-to resource that everyone should have on hand. Instructional Leadership is full of concrete ideas to start implementing instructional leadership the way it should be, with the ultimate goal of improving teaching strategies and having an impact on student learning.

Marie-France Crête
École Catholique Pape-François

Sample Materials & Chapters

Table of Contents


Chapter 1

For instructors

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