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Advice for School Leaders Eager to Improve Teaching and Learning

Central-office administrators responsible for improving principal performance found some useful insights from an authority at Friday afternoon’s AASA conference session.

Max Silverman, deputy director of the Center for Educational Leadership in Seattle, Wash., engaged attendees in the use of assessment results to raise the level of instructional expertise among school leaders.

Silverman’s nonprofit service helps district leaders and principals develop the vision for high-quality instruction in every classroom and processes for addressing that vision.

Useful feedback that principals provide can support teachers through professional learning and development in their own schools. The session involved a lot of discussion among the participants.

Silverman explained the foundation behind his ideas. Teaching is a highly complex and sophisticated endeavor, so improving practice in a public setting requires reciprocal accountability and trust.

“Give anybody 25 or 30 students and get them all to standard grade-level by the end of the year,” he said. “That’s almost the definition and example of complex and sophisticated work.”

The rest of the session covered the type of expertise principals need and how central administrators can support them in developing that expertise.

“No matter how engaged the students were, no matter what questions the teacher asked, those students were never going to learn algebra from that teacher unless that teacher began getting that feedback and support on how to teach,” said Silverman.

To support his example, Silverman said expertise can be developed through well-structured learning experiences and practice. The 4-D instructional leadership framework that his center created can identify a vision of the skills set that every principal needs. The 5-D instructional leadership framework he also described lays out a vision for high-quality teaching and five ideal characteristics of classroom instruction.

More details about the center’s work can be found at

(Victoria Leuang, a senior journalism major at Middle Tennessee State University, is an intern with Conference Daily Online.)

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