Principals of small rural schools as instructional leaders for special education.
Principals have many responsibilities and priorities daily. For principals serving in small rural schools, their role as instructional leaders can be even more challenging. Given the complexities of their job, principals are charged with ensuring that all students are safe and receive the required instruction, supports, resources, special education, and other special programs, which involves intentionality with collaboration, communication, and trust equally interfaced with all stakeholders. The purpose of this qualitative multiple case study was to elucidate the experiences of how principals structure services of special education for students with disabilities and support instructional practices of special education teachers in the small rural context. Four principals from small rural schools participated in this study and were selected using replication logic. The findings yielded 10 instructional leadership practices. Three of the instructional leadership practices emerged from two principals fundamentally different from their peers and aligned with continuous improvement school models and inclusive models of practice. The macro tasks include establishing a vision for learning, planning for instruction, and system innovation.