The Office of K-12 Outreach of Michigan State University’s College of Education is enjoying the seventh year of the successful Fellowship of Instructional Leaders program. The Fellowship provides educators tools they need to foster systemic improvement in their schools. Through the Fellowship, instructional leaders build their capacity to develop and focus substantive initiatives that improve student achievement.
The Fellowship program is based on Michigan State University’s Leadership for Coherence Framework, which draws on research related to school improvement and organizational development from a systemic perspective. The framework is designed to help school leaders focus on the quality of classroom practice—i.e., the instructional core.
The instructional core consists of the interactions of teachers and students in the presence of academic content. This relationship among the three components is represented in the diagram as the red triangle. Systematically improving the quality of instruction – the instructional core—is the only way to increase student learning over time (Elmore, 2008).
It is common for schools to address only one element of the core, such as implementing a new curriculum. But as the diagram shows, all three components are interrelated; changing one effects the others.
Using research-based practices, the Fellowship assists leadership teams in diagnosing their own building-level issues and identifying clear and measurable goals. Using a series of protocols and activities, the Fellowship guides leadership teams as they examine their school’s data and programs to ensure that they are focused on key instructional initiatives that improve student achievement. This often means training leadership teams in the use of data to identify, plan, monitor and assess changes in the components of the instructional core. Here are some key concepts used in the Fellowship program based on the work of Victoria Bernhardt, noted data-use and school improvement expert:
- Data must drive all school improvement measures.
- Multiple types of data must be used.
- For data to be used to impact classroom instruction, there must be structures in place, to implement a shared school-wide vision; help staff review data and discuss improving processes; and have regular, honest collaborations that cause learning.
Another key aspect of the Fellowship program is the use of Instructional Rounds.
For more information regarding the Fellowship of Instructional Leaders program call (517) 353-8950.