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Leading for Instructional Improvement: How Successful Leaders Develop Teaching and Learning Expertise



Leading for Instructional Improvement: How Successful Leaders Develop Teaching and Learning Expertise


Leading for Instructional Improvement

Educational experts agree that quality teaching is the single most important factor in improving educational outcomes for all students. Teaching is a highly sophisticated and complex endeavor requiring deep expertise on the part of teachers and school leaders. This book shows how teacher, school, and district leaders can cultivate the expertise of teachers to deliver high quality instruction for all students. Leading for Instructional Improvement captures the nationally acclaimed work conducted by the Center for Educational Leadership at the University of Washington in its effort to improve the quality of teaching and leadership in schools across the country. The book provides extensive practical guidance grounded in theory and research, along with powerful stories and examples from classrooms, schools, and districts. Many of the tools, protocols, and frameworks contained in this book can be accessed electronically by visiting the Center for Educational Leadership website at

Praise for Leading for Instructional Improvement

"This book offers insights that are invaluable to educators who seek to enhance teacher effectiveness now. The ideas presented are practical and applicable to schools in a variety of settings."
—PEDRO A. NOGUERA, Ph.D., Peter L. Agnew Professor of Education, Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Development and executive director, Metropolitan Center for Urban Education

"A deep and thoughtful look at how the issue of expertise is cultivated. Seizing upon their Center's research-based instructional framework, the authors provide important insights and tools."
—DR. BEVERLY HALL, superintendent, Atlanta Public Schools

"In this age of intense focus on how we evaluate teachers, we have to remember that any evaluation is only as good as the evaluator. This extremely useful book provides an excellent roadmap for how principals can become more effective in the most important aspect of their work, instructional leadership."
—JERRY D. WEAST, Ed.D., superintendent of schools, Montgomery County Public Schools, Maryland

"Fink and Markholt offer practitioners a guide to effective teaching. Leading for Instructional Improvement asks us to heed the lessons within and support the kind of teacher education that will improve student achievement for today's schools and those of tomorrow."
—BARNETT BERRY, president, Center for Teaching Quality

Foreword ix

Acknowledgments xiii

Introduction xvii

The Authors xxvii

About the Center for Educational Leadership xxix

PART ONE Making the Case for Instructional Expertise 1

ONE The Leader’s Role in Developing Teacher Expertise 3

It Takes Expertise to Make Expertise 5

Building Shared Understanding 16

Conclusion 19

Discussion Questions 20

PART TWO Developing an Expert Instructional Eye 21

TWO The Five Dimensions of Teaching and Learning 23

Purpose 26

Student Engagement 29

Curriculum and Pedagogy 34

Assessment for Student Learning 37

Classroom Environment and Culture 41

Conclusion 46

Discussion Questions 46

THREE Applying the Five Dimensions of Teaching and Learning 47

Analysis 52

Conclusion 84

Discussion Questions 84

PART THREE Leading for Instructional Improvement 85

FOUR Observing Classroom Practice 87

Leadership Begins with Purpose 87

The Learning Walkthrough 89

The Goal-Setting and Implementation Walkthrough 106

The Supervisory Walkthrough 114

Conclusion 121

Discussion Question 122

FIVE Responding to Observations 123

Observations, Interpretations, and Feedback 125

Classroom Observations and Honest Conversations 129

The Development of Shared Vision: A District Case 134

Organizing Thinking: A Middle School Case 142

Conclusion 146

Discussion Questions 147

SIX Orchestrating Professional Learning 149

Leaders as Conductors 151

Orchestrating Professional Learning 173

Conclusion 186

Discussion Questions 187

SEVEN Coaching to Improve Practice 189

What Is Coaching? 190

Why Does Coaching Matter? 191

Modes of Coaching 192

Peer Coaching and Mentoring 193

Cognitive Coaching 194

Instructional Coaching and Content Coaching 197

Expertise in Content Coaching 199

Research-Decide-Coach 205

Conclusion 217

Discussion Questions 217

PART FOUR Embracing New Opportunities for Leading and Learning 219

EIGHT The Leader’s Role in Improving Teacher Practice 221

Reciprocal Accountability 221

Leading with an Inquiry Stance 230

Conclusion 240

Discussion Questions 240

NINE A New Vision for Improving Learning for All 241

Discussion Questions 246

Appendix A: 5D Framework 247

Appendix B: Types of Classroom Observations 253

References 257

Index 263