By Roger Riddell &Linda Jacobson

PRINCIPALS’ roles are changing. Most are now expected to spend a greater portion of their time focusing on instructional issues and supporting and observing teachers.

More than 79% of principals who responded to the 2018 National Association of Elementary School Principals’ survey, for example, said there has been a moderate to large increase in the time they spend on areas such as using assessment data for instructional planning, developing the school as a professional learning community and ensuring teachers are using effective instructional practices.

In order to be strong instructional leaders, however, administrators might have to let go of some non-instructional tasks. After all, there’s really no such thing as a “superstar” principal, said Scott Thompson, the former deputy chief for innovation and school design with the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS), during a forum earlier this year sponsored by New America.

“Those people just don’t exist, and they can’t do that work for 100 hours a week for 10 years,” he said.

Some districts have created new administrative roles, such as a director of school operations within DCPS, and school business managers within Atlanta Public Schools. And in other districts, teachers are taking on school leadership responsibilities and adopting hybrid roles — which can also allow principals to be more involved in issues related to teaching and learning.

We asked seven leading principals across the country this question: Given the increasing focus on instruction in principals’ roles nationwide, how have responsibilities been redistributed in your building, and has this facilitated more bottom-up leadership opportunities? Here are their answers.

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