Leadership at the Center2018-10-18T13:46:52+00:00

Leadership at the Center is written primarily by Center executive director Richard Lemons.  Through this
blog, Richard will share resources, tools, and research relevant to leading organizations, prompting
large-scale instructional improvement, and disrupting inequity.  Leading at the Center will also share
updates on the work of the CT Center for School Change and provide vignettes of leading practice across
the state and nation.

Making Sense of It All

It is June 3, 2020.  Days into protests across the nation and world, human beings are angry, confused, frustrated, and in pain.[i]

Today I sat down to pen a statement on behalf of CT Center for School Change, but I struggled.

During the last several days, I’ve used writing as a source of sense-making, a way of puzzling through my thoughts and feelings.   Writing has proven useful, though difficult.  My thoughts are jumbled.  My feelings are in flux.   […]

June 3rd, 2020|Categories: Leadership at the Center|

Myths of the Pandemic: Education and Schooling in the Context of COVID-19

Over the last several weeks, I’ve partnered with numerous districts, schools and leadership networks.  I’ve watched and listened carefully as they make sense of the pandemic and its impact on schooling.  And as the father of two teenagers, I’ve watched my own district plan and re-plan how they will best meet student needs in a distance learning reality.

Simultaneously, I’ve watched the media, community members, and pundits discuss the pandemic’s impact on schools.   As I’ve listened, I’ve heard and […]

April 28th, 2020|Categories: Leadership at the Center|

Leading Distance Learning: Lessons from Virtual Principals and Research

School leadership matters, and though it can come from different sources and be distributed across the organization, we know that school administrators are essential for creating a school vision, supporting high-quality teaching and learning, developing educator capacity, fostering a strong culture, and driving improvement. Over the past few decades, thousands of articles and books have been written on the essential elements and practices of effective instructional leadership.

And, seemingly overnight, the context of all that research changed. The old […]

March 27th, 2020|Categories: Leadership at the Center|

No Miracles in Learning Guitar or Improving Schools

Inspired by the music lessons my daughter and son were taking a few years back, I decided to pick up guitar.   In that first year I made steady progress under the tutelage of a guitar aficionado half my age.  I built greater finger strength and dexterity, developed a modest sense of music theory, learned my way around the fingerboard, and locked certain songs into muscle memory.  Unfortunately, my teacher then moved out of the state.

I still play guitar.  […]

January 27th, 2020|Categories: Leadership at the Center|

Tipping Point or Temporary Uptick: Observations on District Equity Efforts in CT and Across the US

On November 16, 2019, I had the honor to co-present at the annual CABE/CAPSS Convention with three remarkable educators on the topic of equity efforts in Naugatuck, CT.  Superintendent Sharon Locke, Naugatuck Board Vice Chairperson Ethel Grant, and partner/consultant Kathy Turner told a compelling story of the intentional efforts to create a culture of equity.  It is a remarkable tale, and I hope they continue to share this important story so that others can benefit from the lessons […]

December 12th, 2019|Categories: Leadership at the Center|

Making your Mediocre Strategy Matter:  Strategic Implementation

I’d much rather you implement a mediocre strategy well than a “perfect” strategy half-heartedly. 

This may seem like heresy in the modern era of research-based interventions and metanalyses that show effect sizes, but I’ve been saying this to district leaders for years, and I still believe it.   Recently, while facilitating a district back-to-school administrative retreat this August, I was asked to say more about the idea.  Since it is early September, and district and school leaders are busy […]

September 10th, 2019|Categories: Leadership at the Center|

Richard Lemons’ Contribution to CT Viewpoints in CT Mirror

CT Center for School Change’s Executive Director, Richard Lemons wrote a commentary about the higher education scandal which was published in the CT Viewpoints section of the CT Mirror on Friday, March 15, 2019.  Read the publication below or click here to read it on the CT Mirror website.

Privilege games the system in K-12, too
On Tuesday evening I watched as broadcast news programs and panel discussions on 24-hour cable […]

March 15th, 2019|Categories: Leadership at the Center|

Repeat After Me: Strategy Before Plan

As I write, policymakers and professional educators in CT are debating the opportunities and challenges of district consolidation.  At the federal level, we’ve just learned that the President has proposed a 10% reduction in Department of Education spending, an elimination of well-established funding streams (Titles II and IV), as well as a new set of fiscal priorities (tax-credit scholarships to attend private schools).

I have strong thoughts about both of these ventures, but this blog is not about those […]

March 12th, 2019|Categories: Leadership at the Center|

Getting Micro: Leadership, Dialogue and Moments

Over the course of five hours, I had the opportunity to shadow a leader I have long admired.   I sat in this superintendent’s meetings, followed her as she strolled corridors, observed her conversations with educators, and listened to how she spoke with leadership teams.   It was mesmerizing.   While this leader has granted me permission to write this blog, she asked me to keep her name protected (perhaps out of a sense of modesty).  Let’s refer to her as […]

February 8th, 2019|Categories: Leadership at the Center|

Taking Instructional Improvement to Task (Part 2 of 2)

Thank you!

Before the holidays I posted a blog about the importance of academic tasks within classrooms.  Drawing from both learning theory and research on improving instruction, I argued that there tends to be wide variation in the cognitive demand asked of students in the tasks provided by their teachers.  To quote that blog: “The single most consistent pattern I observe in classrooms is variation—wide variation—in the cognitive demand expected of students.” To read the earlier blog in its […]

January 18th, 2019|Categories: Leadership at the Center|

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