On June 30, 2018, Dr. Stephen Fink, executive director of the University of Washington Center for Educational Leadership (CEL), transitions leadership of the Center to Max Silverman, currently the organization’s deputy director. In this interview, Dr. Fink reflects on the past 17 years and the continuing mission of teachers and leaders everywhere to eliminate the achievement gap.
Do we really believe all students can achieve to high levels of success? Are we willing to confront issues of inequity and bias? How far are we willing to go to ensure every voice is heard? In the Newhall School District, we have answers in the power of a personal story, or in this case, three stories.
In the March/April 2018 issue of Leadership Magazine from the Association of California School Administrators, Jeff Pelzel and Patty Maxfield describe the importance of developing a culture of learning and collaboration across schools to address specific learning needs of students. They show how to use an instructional leadership inquiry cycle and other structures to build the capacity of school leaders to target the ultimate goal of eliminating achievement gaps.
Teachers learn all the time: from students, from trial and error, and from each other. We know that as teachers strive to create powerful learning experiences for all the students in front of them, they are constantly questioning and experimenting with their teaching practices.
Despite the overall strong performance of Oregon's West-Linn Wilsonville School District in 2011, everyone knew that the work of closing achievement gaps was not complete. For Superintendent Bill Rhoades and his leadership team, the path forward began with a theory of action.
In the February 2018 issue of Learning Forward's The Learning Professional, Sharon Williams and Karen Cloninger write about the power of a theory of action to help take the West-Linn Wilsonville School District from good to great. They describe how to develop a theory of action starting with the articulation of specific problems of student learning and the contributing problems of teaching, school leadership, and central office support.
Photo courtesy of West-Linn Wilsonville School District
Used with permission of Learning Forward, www.learningforward.org. All rights reserved.
We just returned from leading a really rich learning session with the first cohort of the AASA National Principal Supervisor Academy. We have the honor of providing the professional learning for this academy as well as for principal supervisors in several districts throughout the country. What a remarkable group of educators! They have embraced this new work, and we are thrilled to support them as they help principals to become expert instructional leaders who can improve the quality of teaching in their schools and improve learning outcomes for students.
We have three great sessions on Thursday and Friday for superintendents and principal supervisors at the AASA National Conference on Education in Nashville. Check them out!
For the 2018-2019 school year, AASA, the school superintendents association, has again partnered with the University of Washington Center for Educational Leadership to bring CEL's Principal Supervisor Professional Development Program to all central office leaders who support principals' instructional leadership growth as their primary responsibility.
The content for the AASA National Principal Supervisor Academy is based upon the Council of Chief State School Officers Principal Supervisor Standards, the latest research on adult learning and leadership development, as well as promising practice from districts across the country. Academy participants work from problems of practice, use cycles of inquiry, learn from case studies, and utilize virtual professional learning communities and virtual individual coaching.
It’s a new year and you have made a resolution to create plans and work with teachers to improve teaching and learning. That excitement quickly turns to focused determination as you remember all of your other responsibilities as a school principal. You ask yourself, “How can I get into classrooms more and plan supports for teachers?”
One idea you have is to form an instructional leadership team (ILT) of teacher leaders to identify teaching and learning challenges in your building and support teachers to solve these challenges. You imagine that leading a team in this sort of work will build their instructional leadership skills and expand your capacity to provide the kind of support that your teachers and students need and deserve.
CEL's timeless article, "How to help teachers find an area of focus," topped the most-read list in 2017.
Helping teachers determine the right instructional practice goals, linked to student learning, is often a top priority for school leaders. How can school and district leaders support teachers in creating goals that will positively influence their practices?
In the blog post, CEL Project Director Joanna Michelson takes you step by step through a process that helps identify an area of focus aligned to student and teacher growth and promotes meaningful goal setting. Read again or for the first time, How to help teachers find an area of focus. And consider attending a Creating Focused Goals Institute where CEL experts will lead you through the process from start to finish.
With 2017 drawn to a close, I hope you can pause for a moment and celebrate a year filled with inspiration, growth and success in your practice.
The New Year brings a time of transition here at the Center for Educational Leadership. I will be officially stepping down from my role as executive director on June 30, 2018. After 17 years at the helm of CEL, it’s time for me to pursue some other life adventures. It’s been a deeply rewarding journey, and I have been blessed to have worked with so many incredibly smart, dedicated and passionate educators along the way.