Principals are in a prime position to drive better instruction at their school. But they can't do it alone. Central offices need to give them the support they need to be successful.
CEL recently hosted 70 central office leaders from across the country for the Leading for Effective Teaching Fall District Leadership Summit in Scottsdale, Ariz. The summit helped participants zero in on an important national conversation on how central offices can better support principals as instructional leaders.
Apart from Common Core, nothing has changed the face of education in this country over the past few years quite as much as the drive to evaluate educators and hold them responsible for results. Since 2009, over two-thirds of states have made significant changes to how teachers are evaluated.
From a focus on teacher performance the spotlight quickly moved to principals and their role in supporting teacher practice. Recently, we have seen increasing recognition of the fact that principals often don’t have the tools and support to help teachers — shining a light on central offices and their support for principals’ instructional leadership efforts.
When teachers return to their classrooms in fall, one question at the top of their minds is this: How do I know where my students’ skills are, and how can I adjust my instructional practice to meet their needs?
Setting professional goals anchored to the needs of students — what we call "finding an area of focus" — is a difficult task. As we work with districts on establishing professional goal-setting processes, we often hear from teachers and principals that they are unsure about what kinds of formative assessments of students’ learning they should use to set and assess their professional goals related to instructional practice.
Researchers from Vanderbilt University and the University of Washington have received a grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences to refine and expand the use of the Center for Educational Leadership’s (CEL) 5D Assessment tool. When finished, the newly developed and validated online tool will measure school leaders' capacity to observe and analyze the quality of classroom instruction, provide feedback to teachers, and plan professional development for teaching staff.
Participants in CEL’s 5D Assessment currently watch a video of classroom teaching and then write a response to three questions about their observations and interpretations, and their thinking about professional development. This response is scored by CEL raters and reported to school districts.
Giving targeted feedback is a powerful skill and an important support for helping teachers grow their practice throughout a school year. At this year's Targeted Feedback Institute (October 27-28 in Renton, Wash.), principals, instructional coaches, teacher leaders and central office leaders who supervise principals can learn and practice how to provide the kind of feedback teachers can implement immediately and independently.
The Center for Educational Leadership has been training teacher, school and district leaders in targeted feedback work for the past several years. In this updated version of the institute, participants will learn the characteristics of effective targeted feedback and how to engage in feedback cycles with their teachers that result in improved student outcomes.
The University of Washington Center for Educational Leadership (CEL) will host the Area of Focus Institute, a new professional development event for teams of principals, coaches, teachers and teacher leaders, on September 23, 2015 in Renton, Washington.
New teacher evaluation systems are prompting teachers to formalize their goals for student learning and their own instructional practice – and to collect data to assess progress toward meeting them. This process of goal-setting requires developing an area of focus.
After several months of intense planning, the Center for Educational Leadership (CEL) this week and next is hosting 50 principals from around the country for a summer training institute in Denver, Colo.
The institute kicks off an intensive principal training effort that is part of a large-scale, randomized controlled trial evaluation of principal professional development. Conducted in partnership with other research and education institutions and funded by the U.S. Department of Education's Institute of Education Sciences, the study will provide the most rigorous evaluation to date of principal professional development's impact on principals, teachers, students and schools.
Novice principals often struggle with transferring what they learned in their preparation program to a completely new environment. It is especially hard for principals because their role is complex and can differ from district to district. An approach that worked well in one setting may fail when applied in another environment.
In this blog post, Ann O'Doherty, director of the Danforth Educational Leadership program at the University of Washington, argues that we shouldn't leave the success of a first-year principal to chance and encourages principal preparation programs to follow Danforth's lead in offering a leadership performance guarantee. This guarantee, developed in partnership with the Center for Educational Leadership, offers side-by-side coaching and other professional development work at no cost to the district or the graduate, if the new principal or district leaders notice that he or she is not demonstrating the exit standards in certain key competency areas.
Teachers have always set goals for their students and for their teaching. But what used to be a fairly open-ended conversation in the principal's office or staff room has now become a critical component of a teacher's professional development. Driven by student and teacher growth-oriented evaluation systems, many districts have formalized the process and now require goal setting at least once a year.
But how can teachers authentically set these goals and find the right area of focus for the goals? And how can school and district leaders support teachers in creating goals that positively influence student learning and their own practices?
Before outlining a process that helps identify an area of focus aligned to student and teacher growth and promotes meaningful goal setting, let's first understand what "area of focus" means. An area of focus is what teachers choose to work on in their instructional practice based on the learning strengths and challenges of students in relationship to their teaching.