Instructional Leadership in Action

When students feel happy and proud — the Student Experience Story Guide

by UWCEL Dec 3, 2020

“My favorite day of school was when it was my birthday because everybody said hello to me, and I wish that happened every day.” 

— a Seattle-area student, when asked to reflect on their best school experiences

 

For years, CEL has had frameworks around practice, knowledge, leadership and mindsets for adults. But we’ve never had a student-facing framework. When we revamped the Four Dimensions of School LeadershipTM to center student experiences in school, we knew we needed to bring students more directly into our work.

Jenn McDermott, director of innovative initiatives at CEL, spearheaded the effort to do just that. Jenn and CEL colleagues invited K-12 students from three Seattle-area school districts — then later on, students from across the country — to collaborate.

And the team learned that the adults at school really need to listen hard — because what adults focus on to make a better school experience? It’s not the same as what students say they want and need.

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Watch now: How we lead for equity

by UWCEL Oct 22, 2020

"We don’t believe that equity lives in a dimension on its own. As an effective leader, you don’t just lead for equity when you craft a vision and mission — it affects everything you do."

- Michele Mason

 

You believe in equity-driven leadership.

But how do you turn equity work into a practice that's integrated with your instructional leadership? And what does this kind of leadership look like when its implemented across a school system?

Over 500 leaders dove into those questions when they attended Leading for Equity: Equity-Focused, Learning-Centered Leadership live on October 8. Good news: you can still find the answers by tuning into the webinar recording — and it's available free on EdWeb.

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My role as a leader has changed — and needed to change. Here’s why.

by Max Silverman Oct 15, 2020

“I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.”

 - Maya Angelou

 

I have a confession to make: I didn’t get into education because I was excited to be a teacher. I went into education because I was eager to work for change in communities, and I believed that working with young people was the best way to do that. Lucky for me, I also happened to really enjoy teaching. Ultimately, teaching was my way of working toward social justice.

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The Pandemic Revealed Inequities — and New Ways to Address Them

by UWCEL Aug 18, 2020

In a “normal” school year on a “normal” school day, Stacy Thomas, the executive director of teaching and learning for Blaine School District, bounces between each of the district’s schools, which are housed on one campus. Blaine is a district in rural Washington near the Canadian border, and the close-knit campus empowers Stacy to support principals and improve instruction.

Of course, this year has been anything but normal.

We spoke with Stacy about her experiences this past spring: the shift to remote learning, how it’s exacerbated extant educational inequities and how teachers and families have both stepped up during a trying time.

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The Importance of Relationships During Distance Learning

by UWCEL Jun 15, 2020

 

As schools began to transition to a new system of distance and remote learning, the initial focus was naturally on the nuts and bolts: How will we ensure students have access to the technology they need? What video platforms and tools should we use? What’s the right amount of screen time?

Once the reality of distance learning set in, however, educators like Sean McKenna, the principal of Vale Elementary in the Cashmere School District, found that addressing students’ and parents’ emotional needs was just as important.

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The Surprising Possibilities of Virtual Team Collaboration

by Max Silverman Jun 4, 2020

In schools and classrooms, societal inequities play out every day. So, from our inception, the team at CEL has believed in supporting educational leaders to improve their practice as a path towards racial equity. 

Teachers, principals and central office leaders are showing up every day to do their very best for students. We share this blog post in acknowledgment of how leaders are doubling down on their commitments to their students. And we, too, are deepening our commitment to help leaders.


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Bringing Teams Together to Get Better - No Matter What

by UWCEL May 26, 2020

The COVID-19 crisis has illustrated just how vital a focus on the student experience and open lines of communication are — so student learning can continue, even with the disruptions. And that starts with our leaders at the top — leaders like Jeff Pelzel, the superintendent of the Newhall School District in Santa Clarita, California.  

Jeff spoke with Dr. Anneke Markholt, associate director of the Center for Educational Leadership, about what it means to lead a district at this time, how he's remained focused on his vision for student learning, and how he's planning for the school year.

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How Coaches are Improving Teaching in a Virtual Environment

by UWCEL May 18, 2020

The transition to distance learning has been unquestionably daunting for students, parents and educators. One side effect of the transition from chalkboards to Zoom or Teams screens has been a feeling of isolation for teachers, who are trying to navigate new educational norms without an in-person network of colleagues, mentors and coaches.

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What matters most to students and teachers for learning right now

by UWCEL May 4, 2020

In recent months, educators have had the daunting job of asking and answering, "What does teaching mean now?" They've had to make many impactful decisions and make them quickly — all while working together and teaching remotely.

Jody DeGroot, assistant principal at Bellarmine Prep High School in Tacoma, Washington, has similarly faced ongoing concerns about engaging students, assessing their learning, and supporting teachers with the right resources during the Covid-19 school closures. How has she navigated the situation? By asking guiding questions aligned with the 5 Dimensions of Teaching and Learning™.

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Ways to Lead for Instruction Right Now

by Max Silverman Apr 20, 2020

As schools have changed dramatically over the past month, we have been inspired by what educators are doing to continue leading for instructional improvement. I spoke recently with Chris Lennox, the superintendent of Mounds View Public Schools in Minnesota. Like other districts, Chris and his team went from planning to delivering remote instruction in two weeks, and he shared what that experience was like. “Once people realized a virtual classroom was the only classroom,” he said, “our teachers were amazing in making the shift.”

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