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Leadership Development

Our Approach

Our approach to leadership development recognizes the importance of practice and competency development and understands that active learning designs are essential for these purposes.  We recognize that a variety of learning experiences hold value for development. Thus we design, delivery and/or deploy a range of learning experiences including professional development, networked learning communities, and leadership coaching. Our impact-oriented learning designs identify what will be impacted through learning and data are collected to consider progress and, as necessary, adjust learning designs.

Cultivating PK-12 Leaders
LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT EXPERIENCES

We design leadership development experiences for teacher leaders, administrative leaders (school, network, and system-level), and school and system-level leadership teams.

Networked Learning Communities
LLIFT P-3 Networked Improvement Community

CUEL has launched the LLIFT P-3 Networked Improvement Community (NIC)  of 12 UIC EdD leadership program graduates, now school and system leaders, to explore how leaders can disrupt the impacts of high churn school environments through a focus on leadership of early childhood education P-3, and specifically the improvement of literacy outcomes. LLIFT P-3 leaders are engaged with a continuous improvement methodology focused at both the school and system levels to learn how school leadership can be developed and supported to more effectively serve high-churn elementary schools in such areas as: leadership for P-3 literacy instruction; families and communities as partners; and leadership for equity and resilience. NIC leaders presented their findings from the first year at a symposium in June 2019  for feedback and input from stakeholders. 

This initiative is expected to contribute to the improvement of leadership preparation and development programs and P-3 leadership policy at local and state levels. It is funded by the McCormick Foundation with additional support from the Steans and Stone Foundations. 

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High School Chiefs Networked Improvement community

Funded by an anonymous local foundation, the newly-formed Chicago Public Schools (CPS) High School Chief Network is working in partnership with CUEL to explore how to reorient CPS network leadership, supports and resources to enable leadership learning at the school level in support of improved student achievement outcomes. Guided by the principles of improvement science, the initiative aims to engage Network Chiefs in a peer learning community to model how they can engage the principals they supervise around peer-networked improvement activities across schools. The initiative is committed to using data and evidence to inform practitioner inquiry.

Professional Development
Decatur, IL – District 61

UIC CUEL Staff are providing professional development to Decatur Public Schools District 61. The plan is to incorporate professional development for continuous improvement of school and district administrative leadership practices and school outcomes.  This collaboration will focus on developing multiple levels of professional teams for effective adult learning at the levels of central office, school principals, and teachers. The central outcomes will be a) improvement of student learning outcomes district-wide, and b) intentional and explicit development of effective leaders for school and district positions.  UIC will therefore collaborate with district leadership to establish a culture of professional learning at two levels: district office and school building leadership. This collaboration will provide:

    • Leadership for district-wide capacity to understand and implement a culture of continuous improvement, using Improvement Science methods as articulated by Bryk, Gomez, et al., in Learning to Improve (Harvard, 2015);
    • Professional development supports to enable District 61 to implement nested learning teams of professionals at two levels:  Central office administrators and school principals
    • Regularly scheduled meetings with district leadership, monthly for the first three months and less often thereafter as determined by joint decision, to ensure effective leadership of the Principal Networked Improvement Community (NIC);
    • One full year of on-site visits from the UIC team;
    • Regularly scheduled meetings with principal NIC sub-groups so they can begin incorporating Improvement Science practices in their own leadership, with district principal supervisors learning to lead these principal NIC meetings over time;
    • Development of an archive of materials and resources for principals to use in improving their schools, including self-diagnostic materials that principals can use in identifying key problems of practice in their schools and protocols for addressing those problems;
    • Engagement of principals in development of new organizational and instructional routines such as a) effective instructional leadership teams, b) formal Instructional Rounds, and c) collaborative inquiry cycles in each school;
    • Regularly scheduled collection of assessment evidence of the effectiveness of the work above throughout the collaboration.

 


Elgin, IL – District U46

The UIC CUEL collaborated with the leadership of School District U46 to incorporate professional development for continuous improvement of school and district administrative leadership practices and school outcomes. This collaboration foregrounded five domains of district capacity development in service of improving measured student learning outcomes. These domains of capacity development include system-wide improvements in: 1) School improvement Planning, 2) Reflective Learning, 3) Efficient use of resources, 4) Data analysis and application, and 5) Communication.

UIC collaborated with district leadership to establish a culture of professional learning at three levels: district office, school building leadership, and teachers. This collaboration provided:

    •  Leadership for district-wide capacity to understand and implement a culture of continuous improvement, using Improvement Science methods as articulated by Bryk, Gomez, et al., in Learning to Improve (Harvard, 2015);
    • A maximum of three years of visits from the UIC team focused on building a Networked Improvement Community (NIC) of U-46 school principals;
    • Regularly scheduled meetings with U-46 leadership, monthly for the first four months and less often thereafter as determined by joint decision;
    • Professional development supports to enable U-46 to implement nested learning teams of professionals at three levels: U-46 Central office administrators, school principals, and teacher teams;
    • Leadership development structure to construct a leadership development plan for teacher leaders to access administrative positions;
    • Regularly scheduled meetings with selected principal groups so they can begin incorporating Improvement Science practices in their own leadership, with the intention that U-46 cabinet members can learn to lead these principal NIC meetings over time;
    • Development of an archive of materials and resources for principals to use in improving their schools, including self-diagnostic materials that principals can use in identifying key problems of practice in their schools;
    • Engagement of principals in development of new organizational and instructional routines such as a) effective instructional leadership teams, b) formal Instructional Rounds, and c) collaborative inquiry cycles in each school;
    • Regularly scheduled collection of assessment evidence of the effectiveness.

If new levels of performance from U-46 teachers, principals, and principal supervisors are expected, then it is critical for the district to create the opportunities for personnel to learn their way into new practices. The approach outlined here develops the capacity of U-46 District Administrators to bring principals together in a Networked Improvement Community (NIC). This requires a “network hub” of researchers and leaders from the UIC Ed.D. Program in collaboration with district leaders from U-46. The theory of action is that through a structured set of meetings of the Principal NIC, broken into subsets of principal teams for purposes of “starting small and learning fast,” principals can identify and address problems of leadership practice that are organizational and instructional in nature. The chief learning objective is to establish, monitor, and improve the kinds of organizational and instructional routines that will lead to whole-school teacher learning and whole-school student learning. Key organizational routines include effective Instructional Leadership Teams, high-fidelity Instructional Rounds, and effective teacher teaming for data-based cycles of inquiry. Improved instructional routines address student engagement, instructional rigor, and teacher mastery of formative assessments. For principals to learn such leadership, new learning is necessary at the level of the District Cabinet as well, hence the early emphasis on central office meetings. Finally, all of this organizational learning is done within a clear framework of Continuous Improvement.

 


North Chicago, IL – District 187

 The approach CUEL designed for North Chicago Schools was to bring together SD187 principals together in a Networked Improvement Community (NIC) around a “network hub” of researchers and leaders from the UIC Center for Urban Education Leadership in collaboration with district leaders from SD187.  The theory of action was that through a structured set of meetings of the Principal NIC, broken into two grade-level principal teams, principals can identify and address problems of leadership practice that are organizational and instructional in nature.  The chief learning objective was to establish, monitor, and improve the kinds of organizational and instructional routines that will lead to whole-school teacher learning and whole-school student learning. Key organizational routines included effective Instructional Leadership Teams, high-fidelity Instructional Rounds, and effective teacher teaming.  Improved instructional routines addressed student engagement, instructional rigor, and teacher mastery of formative assessments. All of this organizational learning was done within a clear framework of Continuous Improvement. This is not a one-year-and-done for SD187. Although we propose no commitment to UIC assistance beyond year one, this model does presuppose a continued improvement effort by SD187 next year and beyond.  SD187 will have to examine the data collected in year one and make informed decisions about next steps.

 

Among the premises for the design of professional development for North Chicago were:

    • The most cost-effective way for N. Chicago school principals to improve their leadership performance will be to provide supports for them to learn their way to new understanding and practices;
    • Principals learn best when they are engaged with peers in structured analysis of data around their problems of practice, co-constructing understanding of the causes of those problems, collaboratively planning and testing solutions, and collaboratively analyzing the data for those initiatives;
    • The most effective way for principals to engage in sustained peer collaboration that will enable them to focus collaboratively with peers on key problems of practice will be to formalize teams of principals to do so;
    • For principal teams to function optimally, SD187 needs to support a structured process of inquiry for each team; 
    • The principal NIC would require external leadership from a partner able to lead and facilitate the NIC in collaboration with district leadership, and a clear Improvement Science structure guiding the process;
    • Start small and learn fast (Bryk & Gomez): By focusing the entire NIC on key levers of organizational and instructional change, such as Instructional Leadership Teams and Instructional Rounds, principals can produce data on where the greatest development needs of each school are—as well as where their own needs are evident.
Leadership Coaching