ISL Module Expectations

ISLCP Core Program

Module 1: Principal Leadership for School Improvement

“School leaders are the connection between teachers, students and their parents or guardians, the education system and the wider community in which a school exists. Because their central role is combined with rising expectations of schools and schooling in a century characterized by technological innovation, migration and globalization, we understand that school leaders can no longer be simple managers …. many regard instructional leadership as the most important professional responsibility with which principals are entrusted.” OECD 2014 

In this module participants will

  • examine attributes of an effective school leader for 21st century teaching and learning using international leadership frameworks
  • explore the management versus instructional leadership dichotomy within the context of national and international schools
  • enrich the understanding of the common elements of effective school leadership as identified by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OCED), the Wallace Foundation and Council of International Schools (CIS) Characteristics of Accredited Schools
  • examine the leadership research of Ken Leithwood, Michael Fullan, Andy Hargreaves, Lyn Sharratt, Avis Glaze, John Hattie and Karen Edge
  • examine components of instructional leadership including setting vision, creating a safe and orderly environment, developing other leaders, improving instruction and managing people, data and processes within a diverse school
  • understand dimensions and capabilities outlined in Viviane Robinson’s Student Centred Leadership research
  • utilize a self assessment tool for personal reflection on leadership strengths and areas for growth
  • explore Michael Fullan’s research on the three roles of the instructional leader that maximize impact – lead learner, system leader and change agent
  • examine the research of Ana Maria Villegas and Tamar Lucas about cultural responsive pedagogy (institutional, personal and instructional) including the mindsets of culturally responsive educators and
  • explore practices to build intercultural competencies within national and international schools.


Module 2: Characteristics of Effective Schools and Systems

“It is not just that the goal is to achieve new effectiveness across the whole larger system, but rather that the strategies involve system components at all three levels working in two-way and multi-way partnerships. One is, indeed, heading toward greater comprehensiveness, greater focus, more capacity building, and greater precision in zeroing in on core goals of literacy, numeracy, and high school graduation. The next phase should accelerate our learning and knowledge with regard to school and system effectiveness.” Fullan, 2010.

In this module participants will

  • review and examine the effective school research from McKinsey & Company, Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), Washington State University, Larry Lezotte and Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)
  • identify characteristics of effective schools that support 21st century teaching and learning, using national school effectiveness, private, and international school accreditation frameworks
  • explore key characteristics of the world’s best school systems according to OECD
  • identify characteristics of effective schools that build intercultural competencies and global citizenship skills
  • increase the understanding of components for effective schools including focus on learning, student voice, monitoring and assessment, strong home-school relationships, high expectations and clear mission and vision
  • understand characteristics of effective learning organizations based on the research of Peter Senge
  • understand the role of school and system leaders in developing and sustaining effective schools and systems and
  • review key actions of leaders of high performing school and systems that set them apart from others.


Module 3: Building Relationships and Developing People

“Their [school leaders] primary aim is capacity building; however, building not only the knowledge and skill staff need to accomplish organizational goals but also the dispositions to persist in applying their knowledge and skills. Both collective and individual teacher efficacy are arguably the most critical of these dispositions and a third source of motivation in one widely regarded model of motivation. People are motivated by what they are good at. And opportunities to become more skillful at a valued task are the most powerful sources of efficacy. So building capacity leading to a sense of mastery is highly motivational, as well. Trusting relationships provide the foundation required by most people for engaging in the risks required to both learn and try out new practices.” Leithwood, 2012.

In this module participants will

  • explore emotional intelligence and cultural intelligence and identify strategies that maximize performance when interacting with teachers, students and parents in diverse school communities
  • examine personal leadership resources that leaders draw upon to enact effective leadership practices in national and international schools
  • understand the importance of building relational trust in building a learning community through authentic leadership
  • develop an understanding of a professional learning community as a structure that develops collaboration, improves instruction, increases student achievement and builds school and organizational capacity
  • explore strategies to build professional capital and collective efficacy to increase motivation and increase student achievement
  • identify how to develop instructional and intercultural school capacity with teachers, students and parents
  • understand the impact of collaborative learning communities and networked learning communities to build lateral capacity with other schools and systems and
  • enrich an understanding of clear communication, effective problem solving and meaningful meetings to increase focus and attainment of student achievement.


Module 4: Setting Goals and Expectations Using Data Informed Decision Making

“On the road to improved student achievement – whether in the classroom, school or district – it makes intuitive sense that an accurate roadmap is an essential tool. We need to know where we are now, where we want to be, and what key barriers and opportunities lie between those two points. At the same time, and despite the fact that evidence-based decision making has become a familiar feature of the education landscape, the research confirming the connection between student achievement and data use is surprisingly thin. What this suggests is that, while we acknowledge the value of data, much remains to be done in building our capacity to gather, analyze, interpret and use it to support improvement.” Ontario Leadership Strategy Bulletin 5 Ideas Into Action, Fall 2011.

In this module participants will

  • examine characteristics of a collaborative school culture in which teachers share responsibility for student learning and school improvement based on student needs and school/ system priorities
  • understand terms used in school improvement planning – data, objectives, results, indicators and results-based plans
  • differentiate between a target and an indicator in a school improvement plan
  • distinguish between developing a plan based only on objectives and one based on results
  • understand the importance of collecting and analyzing student achievement data, demographic data, intercultural competency data, program data, perceptual data and system data, with teachers
  • understand how to work with teachers using a variety of data to inform decision making, influence the direction in school improvement planning and lead ongoing monitoring and evaluation of school improvement plan
  • explore qualitative and quantitative indicators of success and growth with teachers in terms of student achievement and intercultural competency and
  • examine structures to engage teachers in the cyclical review of school data and the school’s improvement plan.


Module 5: Leading Improvement in Classroom Instruction: Meeting the needs of all learners

“An instructional leader knows how to analyze student performance data and determine which areas of the curriculum need attention. Such a principal recognizes good classroom instruction in all core subjects (whether or not he or she is licensed in the content) and can assess the quality of instructional materials. The principal regularly coaches staff with a focus on student learning, rather than only occasionally “observing teaching” for purposes of an annual evaluation of the teacher. Finally, the principal regularly evaluates the entire instructional system — curriculum, instruction, standards, assessments, and safety nets — to assure that it is aligned with the school’s mission.” Switzer, 2007.

In this module participants will

  • examine conditions to ensure high expectations for all students
  • gain strategies for working with teachers to understand the relationship between self-regulation, learning skills and readiness for learning
  • explore various learning styles and instructional strategies to meet the individual needs of all, including the Teaching-Learning Critical Pathways as a tool to organize actions for teaching and student learning
  • examine teaching strategies to build intercultural competencies and global citizenship in the classroom
  • identify the unique needs of learners such as English as a Second Language Learners, English Language Learners and students with special education needs
  • understand backwards planning, the universal design for learning and differentiated instruction
  • explore Marzano’s Nine Instructional Strategies for Effective Teaching and Learning
  • utilize inquiry-based learning strategies to engage students in higher order thinking
  • identify assessment “for, as and of” learning and how each informs teacher planning and instruction providing descriptive feedback to scaffold student learning and
  • understand how to monitor the quality of teaching through classroom walkthroughs and challenging conversations.


Module 6: Instructional Leadership Project Plan: The application of theory to practice

“It is not that the research literature is unhelpful but rather it needs to be put into perspective so that individual change leaders can learn to become more effective in practical, meaningful ways. Our intent is to place the leader in the driver’s seat, in charge of their own learning while collaborating with others.” Fullan, 2012

In this module participants will

  • develop an Instructional Leadership Project Plan focused on a real instructional issue identified within their school.

The Instructional Leadership Project Plan must address these areas:

  1. The Focus

What specifically is the instructional leadership focus? How do you know this is an issue that needs to be addressed? What information has been analyzed?

  1. The Goals

What are the goals for the project? How does your project align with the school and system improvement plans? How is building the intercultural competencies of others embedded in the plan?

  1. The Context

What is the context of your project? (school, staff, community, culture, length of tenure in current role, etc.) Who will serve as your site mentor/coach?

  1. The Leadership

How does the proposed project directly reflect the role of a school head, deputy, principal (head) or vice-principal (deputy)?

  1. The Literature

What concepts, theories, and ideas presented in earlier ISL modules will influence your actions? What school and system documents or guidelines will influence your actions? What additional readings have you identified to support your project?

  1. Actions and Timelines

What are the specific plans, with time estimates for your work? Will the project require a minimum of 60 hours of your time? How will this project provide opportunities to work with students, teachers, other leaders, parents, and members of the community?

  1. Assessment of Project Impact

How will you assess the impact of your project?

  1. Assessment of Your Leadership

How will you assess your leadership skills in executing the project? What information will you collect? What leadership framework will be used to analyze the information?


ISLCP Elective Program

Module 7: Planning, Executing and Monitoring School Improvement

“School improvement planning is a process, a management tool and a discipline. It includes investigating school strengths and challenges, planning effective strategies for improvement, implementing strategies and evaluating results. School improvement planning is a powerful means of engaging staff and the broader school community in a process of continuous school improvement. It is also an effective management tool, integrating many of the tasks of instructional leadership and school management into a coherent whole.” EQAO, 2005.

In this module participants will

  • develop an appreciation for the critical role of school improvement planning
  • examine and understand key components of school and system improvement plans
  • explore needs assessment strategies, the creation of SMART Goals, identification of strategies and actions
  • understand effective monitoring, the use of Instructional Rounds and components of the evaluation cycle
  • review key components of an implementation rubric
  • understand the concept of Fidelity of Implementation and its application to the assessment of implementation
  • apply knowledge of Fidelity of Implementation to the task of developing an implementation rubric and
  • assess and expand the understanding of school improvement processes, structures and products within the context of current practice.


Module 8: Resource Management for Improved Student Learning

“Most schools have development plans that set out their aims and objectives and the activities that will enable them to meet these objectives. A well-developed plan will help target resources efficiently…the best school development plans will include the resource implications of the proposed activities, and will:

  • cost all significant activities in every year of the development plan;
  • include the staff costs for all significant development plan activities;
  • cover a significant proportion of the school’s overall annual budget;
  • reflect the priorities of the school and determine its financial strategy;
  • provide a basis for monitoring progress during the year; and
  • have strong links to the multi-year budget.” Audit Commission, UK 2009.

In this module participants will

  • understand financial responsibilities assigned to school leaders
  • establish strong connection between the school improvement plan and budget
  • explore the meaning and importance of resource management strategies in improving student achievement
  • examine how the three E’s (economy, efficiency, effectiveness) of Value of Money should be considered when dealing with challenging financial circumstances
  • understand resource management principles for the purpose of improving student achievement
  • understand effective practice in deployment of human and capital resources for improved student learning
  • apply the new knowledge to the analysis of their practices and
  • review areas for potential change in practice to improve student achievement.


Module 9: Personal Qualities, Competencies and Problem Solving

“Over the years, many of you have heard me emphasize the point that we must continue to hone our skills, keep our sense of agency alive, and become unyielding in our resolve to make our schools the best that they can be…. As true professionals, we cannot rest on our laurels…Knowing thyself … that is the essence of good leadership … people who can reflect on their values, their beliefs, their attitudes, their biases, dispositions, EQ, leadership style and the impact it is having on others.” Glaze, 2012.

In this module participants will

  • recall the leadership practices and behaviours that impact student achievement and how different countries have captured this research into leadership frameworks and standards
  • understand how knowledge, values and personal qualities impact the effectiveness of leadership practices, and examine how these are represented in the leadership frameworks and standards from several jurisdictions
  • understand the importance of self-awareness of personal qualities, strengths, weaknesses and how this awareness can be deepened
  • examine research related to principal problem solving and use various theories, models, and strategies for effective problem solving and decision making
  • develop “ethical fitness” by examining ethical dilemmas and proposing possible resolutions
  • understand why leaders can become vulnerable and wounded and how they can learn from such experiences
  • discuss the importance of sharing power and developing an ethical culture that engages employees in decision making and problem solving
  • explore aspects of communication that are critical for educational leaders and identify commonly made communication mistakes
  • examine components of the performance appraisal processes for principals based on practices, competencies, standards and how they contribute to long-term development and growth and
  • understand the importance of self-assessment, growth plans and their relationship to school improvement plans.


Module 10: Mentoring and Coaching

“Coaching and training provided to all of the mentors and many of the mentees comprised the pivotal element that inspired a genuine change in leadership practice for mentors, mentees, and the steering committee members. Reflective practice, active listening, thought-provoking questioning and deliberate humility were the competencies that participants highlighted and believed accounted for the positive influence of the program. The effect was not solely directed toward the mentoring/coaching relationships, but towards the leadership expertise that was adapted and utilized in daily practice, both inside and outside the school environment.” Robinson, 2013.

In this module participants will

  • examine mentoring and coaching from an academic and implementation perspective
  • explore the types of mentoring and the benefits of mentoring to the mentee, mentor and organization
  • understand both the roles and responsibilities of the mentee, mentor and organization in a successful mentoring culture
  • explore the components of successful coaching
  • understand that self-reflection of strengths and areas for growth is key to successful mentoring and coaching
  • identify the goals and processes associated with the four phases of the mentoring cycle: Preparing, Negotiating, Enabling and Coming to Closure
  • understand the components and process of setting up a successful mentoring and coaching program
  • understand that mentoring and coaching will significantly enhance the learning relationships and conversations and build capacity of school and system leaders in the areas of communication, knowledge building, intercultural competencies, problem solving, decision making and establishing accountabilities
  • engage in “challenging conversations” to experience the process as a support for evaluation and profession growth and
  • identify effective performance appraisal system as an integral part of a continuum of professional learning that supports effective teaching, learning, and assessment practices, identifies opportunities for additional support and provides a measure of accountability to the public.


Module 11: Parent and Community Engagement

“Building relations with families is encouraged by evidence demonstrating the very large contribution to student achievement of family or home characteristics (for example, parental expectations), the increase in public accountability of schools to their communities through current educational accountability policies and the growing need for schools to build public support.” Leithwood, 2012.

In this module participants will

  • examine the research about the importance of parent and community engagement as an integral component of effective school leadership
  • understand the connection between increased parent engagement and increased student achievement
  • identify and explain the Six Types of Parent Involvement (Parenting, Communication, Volunteering, Learning at Home, Decision-making, Collaborating with the Community) as identified by Joyce Epstein
  • examine current practices in the context of the new conceptual understanding and identify of areas for growth and innovative new practices
  • identify and understand the barriers to meaningful parent and community engagement and generate potential solutions
  • explore the challenges associated with increased parent and community involvement
  • understand characteristics of a welcoming school environment and the role of administrators and teachers in creating this environment
  • identify school and district structures and practices that engage a diverse parent and community, develop intercultural competencies and sustain engagement and
  • examine tools for measuring and resources to support parent and community engagement.


Module 12: Instructional Leadership Project

“Leadership development programs have the following features: they should be long-term rather than episodic; job-embedded rather than detached; carefully planned with a coherent curriculum; and focused on student achievement. Programs should also emphasize reflective practice, provide opportunities for peers to discuss and solve problems of practice and provide a context for coaching and mentoring.” Leithwood, 2004.

In this module participants will

  • execute the plan previously developed in Module 6: Instructional Leadership Project Plan and
  • report on the execution of the plan with a time/activity log, a reflective journal and a summative report.

Time/Activity Log

The participant will keep a record describing and documenting the implementation of the project, including the dates and duration of all activities.

Reflective Log (10 major entries)

The participant will keep a journal that will detail the reflections on professional learning throughout the experience. The ISL Image of an International School Leader should be used in the reflections, as well as other information contained in the modules.

Summative Report (10- 15 pages double spaced)

  • Introduction
  • Description of Project
  • Description of research conducted
  • Statement of sources and collection of data – to support findings etc.
  • Results & recommendations
  • Relationship to the role of principal
  • Benefits to school community
  • Connection to school/system initiatives
  • Benefits to one’s professional learning
  • Demonstration of the application of theory to practice
  • Links to improving teaching & learning
  • Use of effective practices – what seemed to work? How do you know?
  • Evidence of effective Leadership – Was I successful as a leader? How do I          know?
  • Conclusion
  • Bibliography


Module 13: Master’s Dimension – Instructional Leadership Project

“Leadership development programs have the following features: they should be long-term rather than episodic; job-embedded rather than detached; carefully planned with a coherent curriculum; and focused on student achievement. Programs should also emphasize reflective practice, provide opportunities for peers to discuss and solve problems of practice and provide a context for coaching and mentoring.” Leithwood, 2004.

In this module participants will

  • report on the execution of the plan with a time/activity log and a reflective journal and
  • prepare academic reports on the execution of the Instructional Leadership Project Plan.

An Academic Advisor, who holds a Doctorate and has extensive school leadership experience, will be assigned to each participant. The Academic Advisor will support the participant in writing the Instructional Leadership Project Reports: Summative Report and Personal Reflections Report described below. These academic papers must demonstrate effective writing skills and the application of APA standards, while linking theory, research and practice. The Academic Advisor will be responsible for evaluating the papers.

       Summative Report  

  1. Introduction
  2. Description of Project
  3. Review of research conducted on related legislation and policies, information & literature – cite
  4. Statement of sources and collection of data – to support findings etc.
  5. Results & recommendations
  6. Relationship to the role of principal (head) – reference to literature
  7. Benefits to school community – cite data
  8. Connection to school/system initiatives
  9. Benefits to one’s professional learning – reference a leadership framework
  10. Demonstration of the application of theory to practice – emerges from the specific literature selected (literature says this, did this, had this result)
  11. Links to improving teaching & learning – cite evidence
  12. Use of effective practices – what seemed to work? How do you know?
  13. Evidence of effective Leadership – Was I successful as a leader? How do I know?
  14. Conclusion
  15. Bibliography (6 to 8 substantive references)

Personal Reflections Report

  1. Introduction
  2. Reflection on personal leadership style – draw on literature to structure the analysis
  3. Understanding of the effects & needs of personal leadership style – draw on the literature
  4. Reflection on strengths & areas for growth – draw on literature, data collected & other evidence from the practicum
  5. Reflection on difficulties – draw on leadership literature as well as literature on change, communication etc.
  6. Appreciation & understanding of the role of principal (head) and/or vice-principal (deputy)– What did I learn about the role? Draw on role definitions & other resources to probe.
  7. Reflections assisting in the evolution of a personal philosophy of education: How has this experience affected my philosophy?
  8. Conclusion
  9. Bibliography (6 to 8 substantive references)


Module 14: Becoming a Facilitator for the International School Leadership Program

“Awesome principals are not only intra-school leaders. They actively participate in district networks of peers and have a strong sense of two-way partnership with the district. They use these networks, selfishly so to speak, to develop their own schools through exploiting the pressure and support of collaborative competition (Boyle, 2009; Fullan, 2010). They also, through peer and vertical bonds (with the district) develop extremely powerful mutual allegiances that strengthen the district culture and beyond.” Fullan, 2009.

In this module participants will

  • recognize and understand the unique characteristics and needs of the adult learner
  • conceptually understand the importance of facilitation as an integral skill necessary to work collaboratively, lead others in the change process  and for successful and sustained implementation of content
  • explore transfer theory and strategies to foster transfer
  • understand the three stages of workshop facilitation
  • identify the processes and skills associated with the four roles of a workshop leader
  • understand and experience a variety of instructional strategies for future applications and
  • complete individually/pairs or group a mini-presentation on a component of ISL program.


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