Dealing with resistant teachers while maintaining the vision: How novice social justice leaders “do” instructional leadership

  • Colette Cann
  • Janette Hernandez


This research examines how novice social justice leaders provide instructional leadership to underperforming, resistant teachers in urban schools. Using a critical race theoretical framework, we analyze seventy-five oral stories told by novice leaders during a leadership support program. We find that these leaders, limited in their repertoire of strategies and motivated to quickly improve the classroom experiences of their youth, define instructional leadership as monitoring and “evaluating out” teachers who do not meet their expectations for instruction. Such instructional leadership results in what we term “hyper-bureaucratized” actions and a lack of emphasis on relationship building with teachers. This compromised conception of instruction leadership, though, allows them to continue to advocate for students even when their own lack of experience impedes their ability to support underperforming teachers to improve classroom instruction. Thus, novice social justice leaders are buoyed in their work and commitment to transformative leadership, even as they struggle to support underperforming teachers.