Instructional Leadership and School Improvement

Instructional leadership and school improvement start here. Principals and school leaders charged with developing a student-focused environment face more challenges than ever before. Our articles below contain insights, strategies, and tools designed to support principal and leader development in driving teacher effectiveness and student achievement.




school improvement failure quote

Why Do School Improvement Plans, Initiatives, and Implementations Fail?

By Don Marlett / August 25, 2021

Educators believe in the importance of learning from our mistakes and failures, and it isn’t uncommon to hear conversations about how we should support and maybe even celebrate failures. Students should understand that mistakes and failures are an integral part of learning and growing. But as educators, do we really embrace the same mindset for…

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supporting new teachers

How to Support New Teachers (When You Have Limited Time)

By Learning-Focused / July 30, 2021

According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the annual turnover rate for teachers is about 16% a year; 8% leave the profession and another 8% move to other schools. This turnover has dire consequences for a school, including decreased school achievement, financial burdens, and operational disruptions. One of the most frequent reasons teachers…

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How does School Culture Extend to PLC and Faculty Meetings?

By Don Marlett / May 5, 2021

In the book, the culture code, by Daniel Coyle, he describes a contest that was created by Peter Skillman. Each team’s mission, if they chose to accept it, was to build the tallest structure possible with the following materials: Twenty pieces of uncooked spaghetti 1 yard of transparent tape 1 yard of string One standard…

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Effective Teacher Professional Development: Why Teacher Coaching Is the Missing Piece

By Lindsey Hampton / September 11, 2020

According to Joyce and Showers (2002), less than 10% of what teachers learn in traditional professional development is transferred into classroom practice. When teachers are asked why it is so challenging to implement new learning, they tend to have the same responses: a lack of time, resources, and practice. And while all of these do…

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10 benefits of an instructional framework

10 Benefits of an Instructional Framework

By Don Marlett / May 27, 2020

Exemplary schools understand that teaching effectiveness is the first and foremost factor associated with student achievement. Typical schools usually adopt a framework of practices to guide them toward their goals. Most of the frameworks that schools choose broadly define what to do and often include the targeted artifacts of successful implementation. These frameworks are essential…

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3 Reasons PD Flops, and What you can do to Prevent It

By Learning-Focused / October 19, 2018

We’ve all been there — full-day professional development workshops that give lots of information in a short period of time, and then a wave goodbye and a wish for good luck. Research is clear that these type of sit-and-get trainings aren’t effective, and often leave teachers more overwhelmed than overjoyed. Why does traditional professional development…

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The #1 Element of Effective Teacher Professional Development

By Don Marlett / October 10, 2017

It takes more than one-and-done professional development to make a true impact. The goal of all effective teacher professional development is for educators to acquire new knowledge and skills, and most importantly, translate their new knowledge and skills into classroom practice. Clearly, without classroom implementation, there is no impact on student learning. Unfortunately, professional development…

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monitoring student learning

How Do You Monitor Student Learning? (Implement This Today)

By Don Marlett / August 15, 2017

How is student learning monitored for flexibility and connections to real life? Monitoring student learning is an ongoing challenge. Students can complete an assignment, but still not be flexible with their learning. They have trouble making connections or explaining a task in a different way other than the examples you have used. For example: When asked…

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Classroom walkthrough tips

Classroom Walkthrough Tips for Focused Support

By Don Marlett / June 18, 2017

How do you narrow the focus of walkthroughs? Typically when principals plan for and schedule walkthroughs, they are looking at teachers and for best practices. Moss and Brookhart (2013), however, suggest that a better plan is that they begin to observe what’s happening in the classroom from the students’ perspective rather than just checking off…

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