School Leadership

Looking Back to Lean Forward: CEL’s 20-Year Journey

Dear partners and colleagues, In 2003, I was a second-year principal. At the time, my school was best known for its low standardized test scores and discipline rates. I thought that my general leadership ability was sufficient to lead a dramatic school turnaround....

Celebrating Growth and Courage

As the year-end approaches, we’re sharing stories of the growth we observed in our partners — even as they grappled with intense day-to-day demands on their time and energy. This post is the second in a series of three stories.

Small Moments, Big Growth: A Year-End Reflection

This past year demanded growth, from technical skills to mindsets, from virtually everyone in education. As the year-end approaches, we’re sharing stories of the growth we observed in our partners. We’re particularly excited to spotlight the shifts and new choices that may appear small, but signaled breakthroughs.

What Centering Student Experience Looks like

What does centering students look like in action? What characteristics should a leader look for as evidence of equity and learning-centered practice? In this excerpt from a recent webinar, Jose Rivera, assistant superintendent of Grandview School District, Wash.,...

Getting Better to Lead for Equity, a Webinar

We don't yet know what far-reaching impacts the COVID-19 pandemic has had on students. What we do know is that classrooms need to be as equitable as possible — and support rigorous learning — now. But what does that look like, especially with ongoing and sometimes...

Listening to Center Student Experience

After embarking on creating a “framework” that centers the experience of students, the CEL team learned that the adults at school really need to listen hard. What does listening hard look like in action? Watch this video to learn more.

Your Leadership Lights the Way Forward

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...

What the Four Dimensions of School Leadership Looks Like in Action

Brandon White is the chief academic officer at South Bend Community Schools in Indiana. When working with school leaders, his approach is that "we as educators must be involved in learning ourselves." Lisa Rooney, director of framework development and support, spoke...

Watch now: How we lead for equity

"We don’t believe that equity lives in a dimension on its own. As an effective leader, you don’t just lead for equity when you craft a vision and mission — it affects everything you do." - Michele Mason You believe in equity-driven leadership. But how do you turn...

My role as a leader has changed — and needed to change. Here’s why.

“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,...

The Pandemic Revealed Inequities — and New Ways to Address Them

In a “normal” school year on a “normal” school day, Stacy Thomas, the executive director of teaching and learning for Blaine School District, bounces between each of the district’s schools, which are housed on one campus. Blaine is a district in rural Washington near...

What matters most to students and teachers for learning right now

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...

Ways to Lead for Instruction Right Now

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...

Principal as the Turning Point: EduTalks 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...

Acknowledging Courage on Display

CEL's mission is to support the work of courageous education leaders across the country. The leaders we work with show their courage each and every day in classrooms, schools and school system central offices. Over these past couple of weeks, I’ve observed with awe...

Building Leadership Capacity

By DICK FLANARY, Senior Director of Leadership Programs and Services at the National Association of Secondary School Principals. Accountability is the mantra for today’s schools. Expectations for schools are ever increasing, and sanctions for poor performance include...

Recent Posts

Creating Conditions for Effective Instructional Coaching

Over my years working with instructional coaches and principals in school districts across the country, I have learned that the role of the instructional coach changes from district to district and even from school to school. I’ve observed coaches address practices...

Growing instructional leadership and sharpening the equity lens

Leaders at the Medford School District have been working with CEL to improve their instructional leadership and sharpen their equity lens since 2022. Through the Instructional Leadership Academy (ILA), leaders are learning more about gathering non-judgmental classroom observation data, understanding the current state of teaching and learning, and giving strengths-based, actionable feedback to teachers.

Building a vision for student learning

CEL’s yearlong, contextualized Leading for Teacher Learning helps leaders assess their current state of teacher learning and better understand what teachers need in order to improve students’ experiences. Throughout the leaders’ learning with CEL, we explore the...

The Power of Centering Student Voices

As the academic year draws to a close, the arrival of summer offers us the opportunity to breathe and reflect. It has been a year filled with unprecedented hardships for school communities nationwide, leaving educators, administrators, and leaders feeling drained and...

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