Instructional Leadership in Action

Improving practice, inspiring growth

by UWCEL Jul 21, 2017

Close to 150 educators from across the country came together for the University of Washington Center for Educational Leadership’s annual institute for school and district leaders. The Summer Leadership Institute focused on helping principals, superintendents and other central office leaders improve their instructional leadership practice and learn new ways to inspire growth in others, while offering new ideas and insights for transforming traditional professional learning with the ultimate goal of providing equity for all students.

Read about one of the district success stories on the UW College of Education website. 

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We're featuring school district success stories at the Summer Leadership Institute 2017

by Sheeba Jacob May 31, 2017

In addition to the Summer Leadership Institute's keynote presenters, we have lined up a dynamic trio of speakers who will share success stories from their school districts. Chuck Ransom, Stacy Thomas and Sharon Griffin are instructional leaders who inspire us, and we think each will inspire you with stories of how their districts solved challenging problems we can all relate to.

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Introducing our keynote speakers for the Summer Leadership Institute 2017

by Sheeba Jacob Mar 1, 2017

Wondering how to engage your system in instructional improvement? Our acclaimed keynote presenters and thought leaders will inspire your thinking about where to begin and what to focus on to improve student achievement.

Don't miss a perfect opportunity to bring your team together for three days of learning, collaboration and planning that will set your course for 2017-2018 and beyond. Seats are filling up quickly. Register before March 31 to save $110 per person.

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CCSSO puts a spotlight on the Commissioner's Leadership Academy in Florida

by UWCEL Jan 4, 2017


The Council of Chief State School Officers produced a three-minute video showing how Florida better prepares school leaders through the Commissioner's Leadership Academy. The yearlong professional development program  was designed by the Center for Educational Leadership to help principals, principal supervisors and education leaders to become stronger and more effective instructional leaders. Based on widespread acclaim for the program in Florida, CEL is now offering this professional learning program directly to school districts and states across the country.

School districts and states interested in bringing the Instructional Leadership Academy to their system can contact CEL by going to the Academy website and filling out the free estimate form.

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Florida school leaders use job-embedded PD for real learning and growth

by Anneke Markholt Nov 8, 2016

When Catherine G. Atria, the principal of P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School in Florida, observed her teachers at work this year, it was with a new lens.

Watching teachers in action, Atria carefully collected data on everything from how many students asked questions or closely read the text of a book, to the number of closed or open-ended questions a teacher asked. Atria didn’t opine on whether students were engaged or not, or note techniques a teacher could have used, but didn’t.

And when meeting with a teacher afterward, Atria didn’t list a prescription for improvement. Instead, she presented the factual data and asked careful questions about why the teacher took a particular approach. Then she asked the teacher to think about ways to make small improvements to boost existing strengths.

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CEL launches new Instructional Leadership Academy

by UWCEL Nov 8, 2016

The Center for Educational Leadership (CEL) is launching the Instructional Leadership Academy, a yearlong professional development program that CEL delivers directly within a school district. Through the academy, a school district’s principals, instructional coaches, teacher leaders, and central office leaders become stronger and more effective instructional leaders.

Based on the CEL-led Florida Commissioner's Leadership Academy, the in-district leadership and learning community has received positive reviews from participants and is now available nationwide. “I have been in education 24 years, and this is probably the best PD I have ever done. It’s not just another professional development that you go to ... I really believe in this program,” said Lori Duckstein, a principal with the Hendry County District Schools.

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Aspiring Leaders program prepares Central Louisiana educators for leadership positions

by UWCEL Sep 28, 2016

In Central Louisiana, 139 educators have begun a three-year journey that will prepare them for leadership positions in their schools and school districts. The educators started Aspiring Leaders, a leadership institute administered by The Orchard Foundation and funded under The Rapides Foundation’s Education Initiative. The Aspiring Leaders curriculum was developed specifically for Central Louisiana by the University of Washington’s Center for Educational Leadership (CEL).

The Rapides Foundation's Education Initiative seeks to increase the level of educational attainment and achievement as the primary path to improved economic, social and health status. At the core of the initiative is its continued effort to build leaders in the field of education by offering a variety of institutes for Central Louisiana educators.

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Want to become an expert school leader? Ask more questions.

by Sheeba Jacob Aug 30, 2016

Why should you be stuck without a bed if I’ve got an extra air mattress? Today, the answer to this question is worth $30 billion.

The meteoric rise of home-sharing site AirBnB is driven by many factors, but it started with the founders Joe Gebbia and Brian Chesky asking a series of questions that helped them uncover new opportunities.

In A More Beautiful Question: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas, Warren Berger takes an in-depth look at how asking ‘why’, ‘what if’ and ‘how’ drove the early success of famous tech start-ups like AirBnb or Netflix. His insight: We are all born with a billion-dollar app — our aptitude to ask questions.

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To improve district leadership, we need to learn and share

by Krista Parent Aug 16, 2016

My first teaching job was in the South Lane School District in Cottage Grove, Ore. Today, more than three decades later, I’m still in the same district, having served as the superintendent for the last 16 years.

To be completely honest, I’m not exactly sure how I ended up as a superintendent because, at heart, I’m still a teacher. I view my work through a teaching lens, which, coupled with my long tenure, has really helped me go deep in my work and analyze what it is that makes systems drive instructional improvement.

What I’ve learned is that good teaching and learning is not just a teacher issue. True, students need effective teachers. But effective teachers need good principals. And good principals need support from the central office. Unfortunately, it’s the last part of this chain where the system often breaks down.

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Celebrate the power of coaching

by UWCEL Jun 28, 2016

Improving teaching and learning is a complex task. Shifts in instructional models, new standards and a lack of time drive educators and school districts to find new ways to help teachers grow their practice.

Rebekah Kim, principal of Midway Elementary School in the Highline Public Schools district in Burien, Wash., faced a similar challenge: How to maintain the sacredness of her time with teachers, while providing meaningful, personalized feedback to grow teaching practice.

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