Professional Development at Research for Better Teaching

Skillful Leadership

Early in its history, RBT realized that our efforts to improve teaching were doomed if schools and districts did not have skillful leaders who deeply understood instruction and were expert in a variety of tasks and skills to ensure the constant improvement of teaching. As teacher evaluation takes center stage in schools across the country, it is even more imperative that leaders develop a common language and concept system, inter-rater reliability, and skills for data use and conferencing.

In successful schools, especially those that succeed for children living in poverty, leaders set in motion a deliberate and causative chain:

The framework below maps the tasks that school leaders need to accomplish and the skills that will enable them to do so – if their efforts are to lead to greater student achievement. The 15 high-leverage tasks that are central to a good school are illustrated in TK. The face of the leadership pyramid describes the skills that it takes to accomplish these tasks.

Skillful school leaders, like skillful teachers, are made, not born. Critical to their development are skillful district leaders, who supervise principals and support them in mastering these skills and tasks. These district leaders become co-learners with their principals as they all master these skills and tasks. RBT offers an array of products and programs as well as customized consulting aimed at helping schools and districts develop skillful instructional leaders.

“We have never seen a school that achieved anything significant for students without a good leader.” 

Milbrey McLaughlin and Joan E. Talbert, Building School-based Teacher Learning Communities: Professional Strategies to Improve Student Achievement (2006)