Instructional Leadership in Action

Rapides Foundation report highlights CEL's work in central Louisiana

by UWCEL Oct 27, 2014

Over the past few years, the Rapides Foundation and its local education fund, the Orchard Foundation, have worked with the Center for Educational Leadership (CEL) to help emerging and current instructional leaders in central Louisiana learn how to recognize highly effective practices within the classroom, and how to coach other educators to implement those practices.

The foundation's recently published 2013 annual report highlights this professional development work and gives some educators the chance to talk about their experience. One example: in school districts like Allen and Grant parishes, teachers conduct peer observations to learn from one another and students are engaged in the learning process. "It has helped teachers feel like they have more support. If they are struggling they can say ‘I need help’ and they will get help. They don’t feel isolated," said Rebecca Reeder, elementary supervisor for the Grant Parish School District.

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This School District Tackles the Achievement Gap With Equity

by Anneke Markholt Jan 14, 2014

The Big “Aha”: CEL Brings Equitable Learning Strategies to Small District With Stark Gap

As she scans student faces during classroom discussions, Michelle Rooks constantly asks herself “Who is being left behind? Who needs support to access the conversation?” The middle school instructional coach describes these as “gut questions” – questions planted by University of Washington Center for Educational Leadership (CEL) experts who, over the past three years, have brought powerful equity-driven instructional and leadership strategies to a Wyoming school district with a stark and striking achievement gap.

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Keys to Effective Teacher Feedback at the CEL Summer Leadership Institute

by UWCEL Jul 15, 2013

What is the role of an instructional framework in teacher observation and feedback? How should principals and teachers structure targeted feedback cycles around an area of focus? How can school districts modify and apply a replicable feedback process to their own context? These were some of the questions tackled by 150 principals, teachers, district administrators, and educators at the University of Washington Center for Educational Leadership’s Summer Leadership Institute, held July 9-10, 2013.

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Instructional Leadership, Not Evaluation, Will Improve Teaching

by Stephen Fink Apr 24, 2013

Our January 2013 newsletter focused on teacher evaluation, which continues to occupy a significant part of the education reform landscape. However, as school leaders become more proficient in the use of new teacher evaluation instruments, their work will have just begun. In other words, being able to rate a teacher’s performance with increased accuracy does nothing (in itself) to actually improve that teacher’s performance. The improvement of teaching practice is a much larger piece of instructional leadership — an important construct that has gained much attention in recent years.

Within education circles it’s commonplace now to hear talk that the quality of teaching is the number one variable impacting student achievement, with the number two variable being the quality of instructional leadership. In fact these are two of our foundational beliefs here at the University of Washington Center for Educational Leadership. It certainly makes for a strong theory of action: If we want to improve student learning then we must improve the quality of teaching; and if we want to improve the quality of teaching then we must provide the leadership necessary to build teacher capacity.

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Flipping the Old Approach to Teacher Evaluation

by Anneke Markholt Jan 14, 2013

As a district or school leader, how do you take the opportunity presented by a new teacher evaluation model to truly marry growth with accountability in teacher practice? We believe by taking the old notion of teacher evaluation and flipping it 180 degrees.

Unlike the traditional evaluation process where principals may only evaluate teachers once a year or in some cases every couple of years, with very little feedback on practice between evaluation points, today’s evaluation means all day, every day.

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Teacher Evaluation for Continuous Growth and Improvement

by Stephen Fink Jan 14, 2013

In this age of political disagreement, most would agree that the main purpose of newly adopted teacher evaluation instruments is to help teachers improve their teaching effectiveness. However, a policy disconnect stands in the way of how these new evaluation models can lead to improvement in teaching practice. To understand why, let’s take a look at the genesis of the recent teacher evaluation movement.

When President Obama signed into law the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the federal government aimed to stimulate the economy, support job creation, and invest in critical sectors, including education. The Recovery Act provided $4.35 billion for the Race to the Top Fund, a grant program designed to reward states for education reform. The first round of grants sought to ensure that states were serious about teacher accountability. In order to receive funding, states had to enact sweeping changes in how teachers were to be evaluated.

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Two Powerful Sessions for Superintendents and School Leaders

by UWCEL Nov 29, 2012

The Center for Educational Leadership presented two sessions at the Learning Forward Annual Conference in Boston, held December 1-5, 2012. Max Silverman and CEL faculty partner Meredith Honig presented "Central Office as Leaders of Principal Professional Development," and Anneke Markholt and Jennifer McDermott presented "Knowing Strong Instruction When You See It." In addition, CEL staff hosted a booth in the exhibit hall to help attendees learn about CEL resources and services supporting instructional leadership and teacher effectiveness.

Learn more about services for District Leadership.

Learn more about services for Teacher Evaluation.

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Purpose is the Foundation for Both Leadership and Instruction

by Stephen Fink Aug 28, 2012

One thing is true for successful school leaders and teachers: both are intentional and explicit about the purpose of their actions, be it a school improvement strategy or a classroom lesson.

In high performing school districts, purpose permeates the system. At every level there is a clear understanding about intended outcomes and viable strategies to achieve those outcomes – the end game being student achievement.

But all too often, in school after school, district after district, we see a plethora of initiatives and practices that lack a clear purpose and connection to improving the practice necessary to increase student learning.

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Powerful Learning at the CEL Summer Leadership Institute

by UWCEL Jul 16, 2012

A theory of action. A framework for teaching and learning. Strategies for providing feedback to teachers. These were just a few of the “take aways” for more than 180 educators and administrators who convened for the UW Center for Educational Leadership’s Summer Leadership Institute, held July 9-12, 2012.

Attendees came to Seattle from across the U.S. and abroad, representing more than 35 school districts, universities and education organizations. After four days of intensive interactions focused on developing greater expertise in leading for instructional improvement, they returned to the students that they serve with the inspiration, knowledge and energy that could make a difference for the whole school year and beyond.

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Leading for Teacher Effectiveness

by Stephen Fink May 11, 2012

Stephen Fink Anneke Markholt Sandy Austin

Recently we celebrated the 10-year anniversary of the University of Washington Center for Educational Leadership (CEL). Our mission a decade ago, as it is today, was to support school and teacher leaders in the challenging work of eliminating the achievement gap among students. When we began this ambitious journey, high school seniors in the current 2012 graduating class were in second grade.  

Today, our nation’s education system continues to face stagnating achievement gains, despite nearly 10 years of federal education reform efforts. The once-bright promise of those reform efforts has faded as we recognize that too many of the students who were in second grade in the spring of 2002 will not be graduating with their class of 2012 this year.

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