Instructional Leadership in Action

Your Leadership Lights the Way Forward

by Max Silverman Jan 12, 2021

Dear partners and colleagues,

This January has opened as an intense continuation of a year like no other in our collective memory. “Relentless, exhausting and humbling” is how many of you have described 2020.

But when I consider your leadership this past year, very different words come to mind: AWE and ADMIRATION. 

Early on, regardless of how you personally felt, you pulled resources together on behalf of your students. Overnight you became internet providers, nutrition programs and full-time social service centers for your communities — all while keeping your day jobs as initiators of courageous conversations and leaders for student learning.

[Continue Reading]

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.

[Continue Reading]

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™.

[Continue Reading]

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.”

[Continue Reading]

What's Next: Schooling or Learning?

by Greg Sommers Mar 31, 2020

Our current wave of school closures is yielding an unprecedented shift to online and distance learning.

Some are meeting this shift with a surge of enthusiasm for innovation. Others are approaching it more cautiously. I wonder — for my own children and for kids around the country — what the students’ experiences will be like on this frontier. Will education leaders aim only to reproduce their current experiences, or will leaders empower educators to use this opportunity to revitalize learning?

[Continue Reading]

Principal as the Turning Point: EduTalks 2020

by UWCEL Mar 20, 2020

While the impact teachers make on learning is well-understood, there’s less appreciation for how principals can foster learning environments that empower students. 

In this six-minute video, Joanna Michelson, director of teacher leadership and learning at the UW Center for Educational Leadership (CEL), shares insights from the work she does with principals and district leaders. Drawing examples from the transformational leadership improvements at the rural Blaine School District in Washington state, she invites the audience to recall their own experiences as students — and to consider how much adult learning impacts student learning.

[Continue Reading]

CEL's Summer Reading List

by UWCEL Aug 20, 2019

In preparation for this new 2019-2020 school year, University of Washington Center for Educational Leader (CEL) experts kept up with their summer reading and shared six educational book recommendations. With a focus on equity, courageous leadership and student-centered learning, these books should be on your reading list as you enter the school year.

Let us know your favorite educational reads on Twitter @UWCEL.


[Continue Reading]

What successful principals do to support teaching practice [Podcast interview]

by UWCEL Nov 28, 2018

In a new podcast episode from Principal Center Radio, Justin Baeder interviews the Center for Educational Leadership's Anneke Markholt and Joanna Michelson about their new book, Leading for Professional Learning: What Successful Principals Do To Support Teaching Practice.

How do you improve the quality of learning opportunities for all students, particularly those students who have historically been marginalized? That is the central question galvanizing a vision around teaching practice and leadership practice.

Markholt and Michelson talk about what it takes to be a principal who strives to keep students at the center of teacher professional learning efforts. The discussion touches on how to land on very specific outcomes for teacher practice and student learning; the leader's role in assessing what is happening with instruction in a school; and building a leadership team of teachers. They make the case that professional learning is not an event; at its best, professional learning is an ongoing part of how people operate in their school.

Listen to the interview at Principal Center Radio.

[Continue Reading]

We hope to see you at the Learning Forward 2018 Annual Conference

by UWCEL Nov 26, 2018

Faculty from the University of Washington Center for Educational Leadership will lead three sessions at the Learning Forward 2018 Annual Conference in Dallas. These sessions are ideal for anyone involved with designing or leading professional learning.

The Principal's Role in Leading Professional Learning
Monday, December 3rd, 2018, 2:30 pm to 4:30 pm

Joanna Michelson, co-author of the new book, Leading for Professional Learning: What successful principals do to support teaching practice, will lead a breakout session titled, "The Principal's Role in Leading Professional Learning." How do principals play a pivotal role in supporting teacher learning in the spirit of reciprocal accountability? Learn about key frameworks and practical tools designed to guide leaders’ work in observation, determining the need, sponsoring and following up on teacher professional learning. Leave with an analysis of your existing professional learning leadership practice in relation to a middle school case study that identified how the school principal successfully supported teacher learning. Audiences: District Level Professional Development Leaders, Principals, Assistant Principals, Superintendents, Assistant Superintendents.

Who Is Your Learner? Supporting Leadership Through Inquiry
Tuesday, December 4th, 2018, 8:30 am to 10:30 am

CEL's Sandy Austin, and Sharon Williams, previously with CEL and now chief academic officer at Holmes County Consolidated School District in Mississippi, will lead a breakout session titled, "Who Is Your Learner? Supporting Leadership Through Inquiry." Learn how the school support and improvement department of a large urban school district aligned its support of principals through the development of guiding principles and pivotal instructional leadership practices. Learn about the professional learning path that is leading to sustainable changes in leadership practice. Develop a plan to establish guiding principles and pivotal instructional practices that guide the development and learning of leaders at all levels of the organization. Austin and Williams will be joined by Sito Narcisse, chief of schools of the 88,000-student Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS), Adrienne Battle, community superintendent with MNPS, and Michelle Maultsby-Springer with MNPS. Audiences: District Level Professional Development Leaders, District Office Personnel (Directors/Consultants for Instruction, Technology, Curriculum, Human Resources, and Assessment), Superintendents, Assistant Superintendents.

Examining Teacher Learning Culture: Leadership Reflection and Planning
Tuesday, December 4th, 2018, 9:30 am to 11:30 am

Joanna Michelson and Jennifer McDermott will lead a breakout session titled, "Examining Teacher Learning Culture: Leadership Reflection and Planning." Research continues to highlight that formal teacher professional learning rarely reaches the classroom in ways that make an impact on student learning. Join this session to interact with the Center for Educational Leadership's latest thinking about leaders' roles in fostering both culture and strategy for successful teacher learning. Use tools to analyze the culture for teacher learning in your system and strategize about next steps to address it. Audiences: District Level Professional Development Leaders, Principals, Assistant Principals, Teacher Leaders/Mentors/Team Leaders.

[Continue Reading]

New book: Leading for Professional Learning - What Successful Principals Do To Support Teaching Practice

by UWCEL Oct 3, 2018

We are thrilled to announce the release of a new book  from Anneke Markholt, Joanna Michelson and Stephen Fink of the University of Washington Center for Educational Leadership.

Leading for Professional Learning offers field-tested guidance to help school leaders more effectively support teachers’ professional development.

Leadership is crucial to professional learning, providing the necessary systems and structures that enable teachers to improve their own practice and in turn, improve student learning.

With an illustrative case study, this book provides invaluable guidance, packed with practical tools, processes, and expert advice.

Learn more, read a sample chapter, and download a free tool

[Continue Reading]

Subscribe to CEL's blog