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Knowledge Representation Essay

The literature surrounding 21st century learning and instructional leadership are

foundational to understanding my research interest of supporting 21st century teaching and

learning practices within schools. Figure 1 demonstrates the ways in which the intersection of

these fields can be interpreted in the context of my research. The 21st century research is a

growing base of knowledge that must first be known and defined by school instructional

leadership in order to influence the practices within classrooms (Voogt & Roblin, 2010;

Kereluik, Mishra, Fahnoe & Terry, 2013). The literature that aims to define 21st century skills are

both divergent and convergent and while the terminology and framing in current use differs, it

does not seem that this should serve as an obstacle for implementation and practice (Kay &

Greenhill, 2011; Kay & Greenhill, 2012; Luterbach & Brown, 2011; NRC, 2012). Currently,

standardized assessment and rigidly based measures of primarily content knowledge influence

how we interpret student success and outcomes, but a refocus on a 21st century framework would

serve to deemphasize the role of testing as an influence on instructional practice (Au, 2007).

Once instructional leaders develop an understanding of a 21st century framework, they can

engage in practices to promote implementation, assessment, and professional development to

promote the use of these skills (Neumerski, 2012; Collinson, Cook, & Conley, 2006). Through

these methods of support, and through reflexive feedback from teachers on how this plays out

within the classroom, instructional leaders can work to meet the needs of their teachers and help

promote authentic and relevant pedagogy and promote the organizational learning of the school.

It is within this realm of organizational learning and reflexive instructional leadership

practice that my research question is situated: How do instructional leaders respond to teacher

support needs for 21st century skill implementation? While the three mechanisms of instructional

change are demonstrated in the theoretical model (Figure 1), I posit that teachers themselves,

through their direct interaction with the curricular reform, would also specify needs for support

from their instructional leadership outside of these mechanisms. The teacher-reported

instructional support needs for implementing a 21st century learning reform currently represent a

gap within the literature base that I aim to explore in the future. Teacher perceptions and the

subsequent administrative responses could be captured through qualitative analyses, including in

depth interviewing of both teachers and administrators involved in 21st century skill


Figure 1. Instructional Leadership for 21st Century Skills



Au, W. (2007). High-stakes testing and curricular control: a qualitative metasynthesis.

Educational Researcher, 36, 258-267.

Collinson, V., Cook, T., & Conley, S. (2006). Organizational learning in schools and school

systems: Improving learning, teaching, and leading. Theory Into Practice, 45, 107-116.

doi: 10.1207/s15430421tip4502_2

Kay, K. & Greenhill, V. (2011). Twenty-first century students need 21st century skills. In G. Wan

& D. Gut (Eds.), Bringing schools into the 21st century (pp. 41-65). Netherlands:

Springer. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-94-007-0268-4_3

Kay, K. & Greenhill, V. (2012) The leaders guide to 21st century education: 7 steps for schools

and districts (pp. xiii-23). New Jersey: Pearson Resources for 21st Century Learning.

Kereluik, K., Mishra, P., Fahnoe, C., & Terry, L. (2013). What knowledge is of most worth:

Teacher knowledge for 21st century learning. Journal of Digital Learning in Teacher

Education, 29, 127-140. doi: 10.1080/21532974.2013.10784716

Luterbach, K. & Brown, C. (2011). Education for the 21st century. International Journal of

Applied Educational Studies, 11, 14-32.

Neumerski, C. (2012). Rethinking instructional leadership, a review: What do we know about

principal, teacher, and coach instructional leadership, and where should we go from here?

Educational Administration Quarterly, 49(2), 310-347. doi: 10.1177/0013161X12456700

National Research Council (2012). Education for life and work: Developing transferable

knowledge and skills in the 21st century. Committee on Defining Deeper Learning and

21st Century Skills, J.W. Pellegrino & M.L. Hilton (Ed.). Washington, DC: The National

Academics Press.

Voogt, J. & Roblin, N. (2010). 21st century skills. (Discussion paper). Enschede, NL: University

of Twente. Retrieved October 11, 2015, from



Voogt, J. & Roblin, N. (2012). A comparative analysis of international frameworks for 21st

century competences: Implications for national curriculum policies. Journal of

Curriculum Studies, 44(3), 299-321. doi:10.1080/00220272.2012.668938