Instructional Leadership in Action

Max Silverman

Max Silverman is the executive director of the University of Washington Center for Educational Leadership (CEL) where he provides leadership for improving school systems focused on equitable outcomes for students.
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Recent Posts

[Interview] Pushing for productive struggle and student learning with Superintendent Joseph Davis

by Max Silverman Apr 8, 2019

In this latest installment of the Throughline, Max Silverman speaks with Superintendent Joseph Davis about his commitment to changing educators’ mindsets to enable the creation of rich and challenging learning environments featuring strong content for all students — especially students of color.

Dr. Joseph S. Davis has been the superintendent of the 11,000-student Ferguson-Florissant School District in Hazelwood, Mo. since 2015. A former middle school and high school math teacher, Davis previously served as the superintendent of the Washington County school system in North Carolina and was also the deputy chief of schools for the Chicago Public Schools. He has earned two master’s degrees in education and holds a doctorate in administration, planning and social policy from the Harvard University Graduate School of Education.

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[Interview] Striving for deep and rich student learning experiences with superintendent Jennifer Cheatham

by Max Silverman Feb 25, 2019

In this latest installment of The Throughline, Max Silverman speaks with Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham about how to create deep and rich student-centered learning experiences, as well as meaningful professional development for teachers in a school system approach based on equity.

Jennifer Cheatham is the superintendent of the 27,000-student Madison Metropolitan School District in Wisconsin. Cheatham specializes in creating systemic improvements in urban districts through the development of instructional alignment and coherence at all levels of a school system. Previously, Cheatham was the chief of instruction for the Chicago Public Schools, leading the central office team to support schools in instructional improvement and was the executive director of curriculum and instruction for the San Diego City Schools.

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[Interview] Elliot Washor discusses ways to put students at the center of their own learning

by Max Silverman Jan 14, 2019

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[Happy New Year!] What unites us – A limitless future for all children

by Max Silverman Jan 3, 2019

On behalf of all of us at the University of Washington Center for Educational Leadership, I am writing to wish a happy and peaceful new year to all of our partners, peers and supporters. The past year has been an exciting one for us, and we expect an exciting one for you as well. We have focused most of our effort on supporting teachers and principals, and the wide range of leaders you can find everywhere across school systems, from classrooms to the central office and beyond. We are continually humbled by what it means to partner with such committed educators. 

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[Interview] Gia Truong on her commitment to equitable education systems that provide all students with the skills they need to thrive.

by Max Silverman Dec 6, 2018

In this latest installment of The Throughline, Max Silverman speaks with Gia Truong about ensuring that all students, regardless of background, experience a rigorous education, free from bias.

Gia Truong is the chief executive officer at Envision Education, a mission-driven organization based in Oakland, Calif., that is transforming the lives of low-income, first-generation, college-bound students. Envision operates charter schools in the Bay Area and provides training and consulting services to schools and districts all over the country. Truong leads Envision with a strong commitment to educational equity and a focus on providing enhanced rigor and deeper learning opportunities for students. She is a Leading for Equity Fellow with the National Equity Project, is a member of Education Leaders of Color, and is the former executive officer of California’s Oakland Unified Schools’ Department of Curriculum and Instruction.

Max Silverman: Gia, we both have the honor of leading organizations with deep equity agendas. In your day-to-day work, how do you define equity?

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Is your approach to student progress data-centered or student-centered?

by Max Silverman Nov 20, 2018

Too often, we as educators confuse talking about student data and progress on key data benchmarks with actually talking about how students are progressing as learners and young people. This point is most easily seen when groups of educators are huddled around spreadsheets or elegant data arrays puzzling over how to best move a group of students over a data hurdle. No doubt this scene is one of progress from when broad groups of students were dismissed as unable to make significant progress. However, our evolution as student-centered educators requires us to make a critical shift from talking about student data to talking about students.

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An interview with Ellen Dorr about her strong commitment to educational equity and system design

by Max Silverman Sep 27, 2018

In this inaugural interview of The Throughline, Max Silverman speaks with Ellen Dorr (@ellenjdorr) about her strong commitment to educational equity and system design.

Ellen Dorr serves as the chief technology officer for the Renton School District in Washington, where she oversees technology services including customer service, infrastructure and digital learning. She leads the team to provide the resources and supports to empower educators to create inclusive, equitable instruction in classrooms as well as increase efficiency and effectiveness across the district.

Max Silverman: Ellen, as you know, here at CEL (the University of Washington Center for Educational Leadership) we focus on how adults in schools – and the central office where you work – create learning environments for students that are inclusive, engaging and ultimately lead to student ownership of their learning. Describe for our readers what you would love to see when you walk into a classroom or learning environment that has these characteristics.

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Is student-centered the latest catchphrase? Not if we can help it.

by Max Silverman Sep 25, 2018

Lately, I have been getting very excited as I hear more and more leaders and organizations talk about “student-centered initiatives.” Often I hear this phrase about putting students in the center only to later feel disappointed when the follow-up conversations are really about putting student data in the center or, worse yet, launching another professional learning initiative masquerading as student-centered.

Are we making the idea of being student-centered as trite as the other catchphrases that came before? Can it be that the new student-centered miracle is actually the same one that was Common Core-based, or focused on personalized learning, or a must-have for your teacher accountability system? I don’t raise these questions to demean the great work that many in the education field are doing to ensure that improvement efforts remain focused on students. Instead, I want to push for the term student-centered to have real meaning. Our field’s understanding of student-centered should be powerful enough to change how students learn and what we accept as outcomes not only for students, but also for teachers, school leaders, and central office leaders.

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Central Office Needs to Support, Not Just Manage Schools - Here is How You Can Help

by Max Silverman Mar 16, 2016

The work of educators is changing. First, teachers had to adapt to new classroom expectations and accountability requirements. Next, principals had to think beyond just managing a school and become instructional leaders. Now, central office needs to take up the challenge and offer new approaches to help principals and teachers improve instruction.

Over the last three years, the Center for Educational Leadership together with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has worked with central office leaders to find new ways to support principals as instructional leaders and improve student learning.

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Closing the Achievement Gap Requires Closing the Gap Between Schools and Central Offices

by Max Silverman Mar 9, 2016

In many ways the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) marks a departure from No Child Left Behind (NCLB). But at least in one way it stays the course: the notion of school turnaround is alive and well.

Under ESSA, the federal government still requires states to identify their worst-performing schools and come up with a plan to make them better. If ESSA plays out like NCLB, then schools and districts will be working mightily to stay just above the line that triggers a turnaround — an aspirational low bar for sure.

As part of these efforts, schools and districts will be reaching out for the helping hands of a variety of newly minted — or as is often the case, re-minted — programs and solutions.

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