Instructional Leadership in Action

Empowering all students takes courageous leaders: CEL’s new vision for student experiences and a mission to get there

by Max Silverman Jun 24, 2019

In this latest installment of The Throughline, Max Silverman uses his final blog post of the school year to share CEL's new vision and mission.

In their recent book, Leading for Professional Learning, my colleagues Anneke Markholt, Joanna Michelson and Stephen Fink begin by acknowledging that, “Our nation has work to do. Deep and historically entrenched economic, political, and social chasms continue to create systemic barriers to student learning that result in educational disparities, dividing our nation’s children along the lines of race, class, and language.”

As alluded to, these societal chasms have been a part of the education landscape for generations and continue to be persistent obstacles to achieving equitable outcomes for too many students. In fact, not too long ago — roughly half a generation — my friend and mentor Stephen Fink courageously launched the University of Washington Center for Educational Leadership with a dedication to eliminating the achievement gap.

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Leading for a new student experience in schools

by Max Silverman Jun 10, 2019

In this latest installment of The Throughline, Max Silverman reflects on a year of conversations with leaders who are pushing for a new school experience for students.

As a leader, you are continually pushing for a new set of outcomes for students, new experiences for leaders in classrooms and schools, and ultimately, new paradigms for schooling.

Over the past seven months of interviews in The Throughline, you have joined me in hearing the best ideas for improving the student experience put forward by education leaders from across the country. These are leaders whom I admire and who have influenced our work at the Center for Educational Leadership — people who illustrate what a new vision of schooling can be about. Each one of these leaders is transforming schools and school systems from a vision that is based on their deep beliefs in the intellect, curiosity and ability of each of their students.

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[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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[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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