Instructional Leadership in Action

Meeting the Challenges of the Next Decade

by Stephen Fink on Mar 9, 2012

Stephen_FinkAs CEL embarks on its next ten years, we are mindful that the persistent achievement gap in the midst of severe school district budget reductions poses enormous challenges for educators.   With the risk of another generation of high school dropouts being relegated to a permanent economic underclass, the call to provide equitable, high-quality learning for all students is greater than ever.

Seizing upon our learning from the last ten years, CEL will answer this call in service to teachers, principals, coaches, and district leaders across the country.  Knowing that student learning cannot increase until the quality of teaching improves, CEL will continue to provide teachers and school leaders with rich, on-site, job-embedded, professional development aimed at deepening their understanding of high-quality teaching practices.  To support this professional learning, we will build on our rigorous, research-based instructional framework, the 5 Dimensions of Teaching and Learning.  CEL is in the process of launching:

  1. Online learning courses that will help teachers deepen instructional practice
  2. A teacher evaluation rubric aligned to the 5D framework that will support school leaders as they work to improve the evaluation process
  3. An instructional audit tool that will help school district leaders assess the quality of instructional practices across the school district

We will continue to provide in-depth leadership coaching to school and district leaders, helping them to capitalize on their emerging vision of high-quality teaching with new leadership strategies and actions.  To this end, we are developing an extensive, research-based suite of tools aimed at supporting central office leaders as they guide and support school principals’ instructional leadership efforts.

Over the last ten years, we have also learned much about how to support classroom teachers.   CEL’s subject matter content coaches will continue to work side-by-side with teachers and instructional coaches in specific subject matter disciplines.  And our coaches will help teachers become more adept in:

  1. Adapting curriculum and lessons to standards, including crafting high-cognitive demand learning targets
  2. Planning instruction based on each student’s strengths and needs
  3. Administering, collecting, interpreting, and responding to formative assessment data on student performance
  4. Collaborating with peers to improve instruction and student outcomes.  

CEL faculty and staff never waver in advocating for sensible public policy aimed at developing the teaching and leadership expertise necessary to provide equitable learning opportunities for all.  We will be steadfast in our voice and actions and hope that, on our 20th anniversary, we will celebrate a multitude of students, once left behind, as they march to the podium to pick up their diploma, armed with the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed as global citizens.

Topics: School Leadership, District Leadership, Teaching Effectiveness

About the author: Stephen Fink

Dr. Stephen Fink is affiliate professor of educational leadership and policy studies in the University of Washington College of Education. He served as the founding executive director of the University of Washington Center for Educational Leadership (CEL) from 2001 to 2018. Dr. Fink is co-author of Leading for Instructional Improvement: How Successful Leaders Develop Teaching and Learning Expertise.

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