Instructional Leadership in Action

Your Teachers Know the Instructional Framework and Rubric. What’s Next?

by Joanna Michelson Aug 13, 2015

Teaching is a complex and sophisticated endeavor. It involves thousands of decisions every day and requires teachers to constantly adjust their instructional practices to meet the needs of their students. To help them with this challenging task, school districts have put in place instructional frameworks and rubrics.

These frameworks and rubrics are intended to capture the complexity and sophistication of teaching across grade levels and content areas and give everyone a common language when talking about classroom teaching. But as instructional leaders and teachers increasingly have a shared general understanding of what good teaching looks like and how it is evaluated, many are asking how to grow teaching practice — in particular, content areas like math, language arts, social science and others. They are asking about using frameworks in content-specific ways to develop content-specific thinking habits.

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New Podcast on Developing an Area of Focus

by UWCEL Aug 12, 2015

An area of focus is what a teacher chooses to work on in his or her instructional practice in relationship to the strengths and needs of students within the school year. In a new Principal Center Radio podcast, CEL Project Director Joanna Michelson and host Justin Baeder, director of The Principal Center, discuss some of the common problems in finding a good area of focus and how to solve them, including:

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Learn How to Give Targeted Feedback in Two-day Institute

by UWCEL Jul 9, 2015

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.

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New Area of Focus Institute for Principals, Coaches, Teachers and Teacher Leaders

by UWCEL Jul 9, 2015

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.

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Coaching Coaches Can Be More Effective with Teams

by UWCEL Jun 25, 2015

Teachers often become coaches simply because they were successful classroom teachers. But coaching is its own job with its own set of criteria and expertise. When this transition happens without support, coaches are left to their own devices to figure out what to do. No matter how successful they were as teachers, coaches need access to guidance or a mentor to be effective in their role.

Jennifer McDermott, CEL's chief of staff, made this transition herself with the help of a mentor and – through her work at CEL – has helped instructional coaches in several districts to develop their methods and strategies as they move into their new role. In this blog post, she explains in detail how she uses Teaching Channel Teams, a video-enabled, professional learning platform, for the development of coaching practice.

Read the post on the Teaching Channel blog.

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What is Targeted Feedback and When Do I Use It?

by Sheeba Jacob Jun 18, 2015

Over the past decade, there has been a significant transformation in the way principals interact with teachers. Principals are no longer just managers, they are also instructional leaders. More and more, they visit classrooms throughout the school year to gather data about teacher practice and student learning in order to improve student outcomes.

Principals are also learning how to support teachers in their practice and professional growth instead of just evaluating them. This kind of support can take many different forms:

  • Enlisting the help of an instructional coach
  • Structuring reflective conversations
  • Offering time for professional learning communities (PLCs)
  • Planning and providing professional development opportunities
  • Giving targeted feedback
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Are We Evaluating the Right Things in Schools?

by UWCEL May 10, 2015

For schools across the country, teacher evaluations are now part of the day-to-day work. This new reality brings many new questions. Are we linking the right data variables to teaching effectiveness? What's the future of teacher and principal licensure? How can decision makers best support teacher development and help new teachers see a sustainable and successful career path?

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How to Help Teachers Find an Area of Focus

by Joanna Michelson Apr 30, 2015

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.

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3 New Resources to Keep Your Teacher/Principal Evaluation System on Track

by Patty Maxfield Jan 5, 2015

A few months into the second year of statewide implementation of new teacher and principal evaluation systems, most educators in Washington state seem to know their way around the new approach to evaluation and professional development. In a statewide survey, almost 80 per cent of teachers said that they were very or somewhat familiar with the revised evaluation requirements. Among principals and district leaders, almost 90 per cent reported understanding the various components of the teacher evaluation.

As I travel around the state to coach teachers and principals on how to use and implement our 5D framework and 5D+ Teacher Evaluation Rubric, I'm excited to see so many educators embrace this new growth-oriented evaluation mindset.

We all know that improving instruction doesn't happen overnight, it's an intentional and lifelong process that requires constant attention and focus. To keep the new system on track, districts need to look beyond the initial implementation and plan for the long run.

Here are three short updates on new state guidelines and upcoming Center for Educational Leadership (CEL) resources that can help you with this important task:

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Now available: 5D+™ Stage II Online Training

by UWCEL Oct 30, 2014

Helping educators understand what good teaching looks like is at the heart of all our efforts to improve instruction. That’s why we are excited to offer 5D+™ Stage II Online Training, a new convenient learning tool for principals, principal supervisors and teacher leaders.

5D+ Stage II Online Training develops and deepens learners’ knowledge of CEL’s instructional framework, teacher evaluation rubric, and inquiry cycle. 5D+ Stage I Online Training introduced participants to the Classroom Environment & Culture dimension of the framework and rubric as well as the 5D+ Inquiry Cycle. 5D+ Stage II Online Training provides learners an opportunity to develop a deeper understanding of each of the remaining four dimensions. To get the most out of the new Stage I online training, learners should have completed Stage I, either online or in person.

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