Admin Help Admin: Instructional Leadership

Admin Help Admin: Instructional Leadership

Written by: Laura Christie

April 14, 2023

Entering into a building leadership role is a wonderful challenge! Educational leadership does not have a Teachers Pay Teachers site to help you generate ideas. Celebrating the role of administrator, requires a focus of “Admin Help Admin” with the area of instructional leadership. Dive into these ideas further with the companion slide deck.

Instructional Leadership is the Why to Better Student Learning

Being a leader requires the ability to guide professional growth. Leadership changes the focus from self to collective growth. Capturing this ideal is the quote from Jack Welch, former GE CEO, “Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.” A staff who is learning together will grow together.

“A staff who is learning together will grow together.”

Growing Alongside Staff through Book Clubs

When leaders provide opportunities like book clubs for staff to read and discuss professional resources, classrooms will benefit from new instructional practice. When teachers are encouraged to develop personal professional growth goals, their students gain new opportunities to learn. Teachers who are professionally growing develop into instructional leaders. Here are the three book clubs we supported this year:

  • Shifting the Balance by Jan Burkin and Kari Yates
  • Supporting Struggling Learners by Patricia Vitale-Reilly
  • The Metacognitive Student by Richard K Cohen, Deanne Kildare Opatosky, James Savage, Susan Olsen Stevens and Edward P Darrah

Teacher Driven Professional Growth

Teachers and Admin in a meeting
Photo by Getty Images on Unsplash+

One of the joys of leadership happens in the conversations with teachers as they set goals for their own professional growth. The evaluation process offers the ability to coach teachers as they learn, try out new craft, and use research to help students grow. There is pleasure in also reading the books your staff is selecting so you can best serve as a thought partner. In working with teacher goals we wanted books and podcasts that allowed us to hear from the experts we were reading. Below are my favorite reads our teachers were focused on this year:

  • Bringing Words to Life by Margaret McKeown
    • Teacher driven goal to improve vocabulary. Through this book study, she has tried new engaging strategies to help her students grow. The strategies support word selection for study, word knowledge, and schema for better reading comprehension. Along with the study, the teacher appreciated a podcast that supports the book.
  • Social Emotional Learning and the Brain by Marilee B. Sprenger
    • Teachers help develop a sense of well being, a space of self-awareness, and strategies to model empathy all through brain based approaches. Learn more from the author with this podcast episode.
  • Building Thinking Classrooms in Mathematics by Peter Liljedahl
    • Teacher driven goal to improve mathematical thinking in the classroom. A team of teachers decided to study this book together to impact student driven thinking while taking on a new math curriculum. Along with the study, the teacher appreciated a podcast that supports the book. (Keep Indiana Learning is hosting a Building Thinking Classrooms conference this summer.)
  • Productive Math Struggle by John SanGiovanni, Kevin J. Dykema, and Susie Katt
    • Teacher driven goal to improve productive struggle especially in a high ability setting. The goal is to increase perseverance while solving complex problems and explaining mathematical thinking. The resource contains an abundance of resources online with purchase of the book. In addition, listen to this podcast featuring Kevin J. Dykema to learn more about implementing productive struggle into the math classroom.
“One of the joys of leadership happens in the conversations with teachers as they set goals for their own professional growth.”

Hot Topic

Leaders must continue to be aware of the educational movements of the time. The big movement now is the Science of Reading. Are you interested in a resource that can help you with developing a deep understanding of teaching reading?

  • Teaching Reading by Douglas Fisher, Nancy Frey, and Diane Lapp
    • Resource can help with PD
    • Clear guide into the complex teaching of reading
    • Depth in areas like phonemic awareness, word study, fluency, comprehension, and more.
    • Want to learn more quickly? Watch the webinar available on the book.

Leadership Books

Leaders who continue to learn have a greater impact on the school community and can empower staff. Sometimes you study a book on your own or join the district level leadership team to study together in a book club.

  • How Leadership Works by Cathy Lassiter, Dominique Smith, Nancy Frey, and Douglas B. Fisher
    • Leadership that focuses on ten mind frames to effectively lead. The resource shares information on maximizing leadership skills to build a strong learning culture.
  • I Love It Here by Clint Pulver
    • Leadership team book club choice to focus together on creating the best work environments for retention written from the business perspective.

See my collection of professional books and links in the companion slide deck. Come back in early summer for another Admin Help Admin blog!



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  • Laura Christie is an educator in her 21st year who desires to see all kids engaged in classrooms where learning allows for variabilities and student agency. She believes in developing bonds with students and helping them find their passion. Laura has presented at IACTE on Student Led Passion Projects. She holds credentials in UDL, Universal Design for Learning, and uses the UDL guidelines to guide instruction. Her passion is curriculum with technology integration and helping lead educators to grow in their craft. Currently, Laura serves as the ELA RtI Coordinator in her school and the Data Analytics Committee at the district level. In 2020, Laura is a IU Jacobs Educator recipient to help support technology integration in Indiana. Laura’s background is in Elementary Education with a Special Education minor from Ball State University. Additionally, Laura obtained a Masters in Educational Administration at Butler University, EPPSP, while teaching 5th Grade Humanities at Sand Creek Intermediate in Hamilton Southeastern Schools.

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