This paper reports on the ways in which teaching principals in rural schools in Alberta, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan, Canada enact instructional leadership within the five leadership domains conceptualized by Robinson, Lloyd, and Rowe (2008). Although participants suggested that they were “not where they wanted to be” in their efforts to enact instructional leadership, their actions demonstrate exemplary practice in this regard. The nature of the discourse perpetuated by leadership groups and teachers’ associations that equates instructional leadership with classroom visits only has the effect of decreasing teaching principals’ self-efficacy as instructional leaders. We argue for recognition of these leaders’ efforts to support learning, and a reconstitution of the role of the teaching principal such that instructional leadership expectations are realistically manageable for leaders in small rural schools.

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