The purpose of the UIC Lawndale Leaders for Literacy (LL4L) project is to provide leadership development support to seven North Lawndale elementary school principals to improve their leadership for literacy learning in grades P-3. Four of these schools are participants in the Children’s Literacy Initiative North Lawndale Reads project that Steans Foundation Supports. The seven principals have remained intact over a 4-year period and have formed a Networked Improvement Community that supports its members in their leadership development. LL4L began in 2016 as a collaboration between the UIC Center for Literacy and the Center for Urban Education Leadership in collaboration with UIC colleagues in educational leadership, until the passing of the Director of the Center for Literacy, Professor William Teale.
Under the leadership of the Center for Urban Ed Leadership, the focus of LL4L has remained consistent: improving P-3 literacy learning by improving organizational and instructional capacity in each school. The research-based theory at play is that building organizational capacity is necessary to build instructional capacity in each classroom. The seven principals have created or modified their instructional leadership teams to more routinely and effectively: a) identify problems of leadership and instructional practice that they believe are significant for improving P-3 learning outcomes, including problems that reside in wider school culture, climate, and organizational routines that include families and community as part of the wider school community; b) engage ILTs in cycles of inquiry at the school level to address those problems of instructional practice, focusing on P-3 level to improve instructional practices in early-learning classrooms. The project has instituted a number of collaborative routines to achieve its goals, including;
- The seven LL4L principal engage in quarterly NIC meetings with the UIC Hub to use cycles of inquiry to plan, implement, assess, and improve early literacy instruction and outcomes in their schools at the P-3 grade levels.
- Principals collaborate with the UIC hub to identify specific EOY outcomes in organizational and instructional practices, as well as student outcomes, to which principals and UIC agree that the project should be held accountable
- Each LL4L principal receive monthly visits from UIC leadership coaches for 1-on-1 leadership practice discussions of P-3 literacy practices—and problems of practice—in the schools.