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 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|

Taking Instructional Improvement to Task (Part 1 of 2)

I live a privileged professional life.

Each year, I am invited to visit dozens of school districts and spend time in hundreds of classrooms kneeling next to students aged 4 to 20.  Whether through the formal process of Instructional Rounds or more casually dropping into classrooms, I am typically working with teachers and administrators who puzzle over how to improve student learning.

I count my blessings.  The conversations are intellectually challenging and they are anchored in a deep sense of […]

December 13th, 2018|Categories: Leadership at the Center|

Leading for Equity Principles: From the Minds of Educational Leaders

Over the last few years, the Center has cherished the opportunity to bring various educational leaders—superintendents, school administrators, students, teachers, community members, elected officials–into conversations and professional learning experiences about equitable leadership.

In these sessions, we regularly create moments where leaders can distill for themselves the most salient ideas.  Over the last month, in three different settings, I’ve invited leaders to share a “Principle for Equitable Leadership” as an exit slip.  On one occasion the exit slip followed an […]

November 28th, 2018|Categories: Leadership at the Center|

Dear Elected (and soon-to-be appointed) Officials, May I Offer A Few Suggestions?

Admittedly, I have come to be a bit—perhaps more than just a bit—skeptical about the prospect of federal or state policy significantly and positively influencing student learning and outcomes.  Of course, policy matters—it shapes the authorizing conditions within which schools and districts operate, offering supports and sometimes creating rather significant barriers.  Yet my years in schools and districts suggest that the grand aspirations of educational policy makers, on average, fail to fundamentally alter patterns of teaching and learning.  […]

November 8th, 2018|Categories: Leadership at the Center|Tags: , |

Two Seemingly Conflicting Principles for Educational Leadership

Last week a long-time colleague dropped this gem on me: “Most superintendents and principals who lose their jobs do so not because of their instructional leadership (or lack thereof).”  Let’s refer to this as Rule 1.  His point, I inferred, was that my intensity around helping educators become stronger instructional leaders was a bit misplaced.

This was not the first time I’ve heard this quip regarding why leaders lose their jobs.  Other colleagues have expressed similar ideas.  What these […]

October 31st, 2018|Categories: Leadership at the Center|Tags: |

Leadership at the Center Blog #2

Join our Reading for Leading Book Club

We at the Center like to discuss books.  This summer, if you had dropped by our office during the lunch hour, you may have overheard discussions of works by Edgar Schein, Michael Lewis, Ta-Nehasi Coates, J.D. Vance, Tara Westover, Michelle Alexander, or Peter Block.  It is within these works, along with novels and poems, that we find both inspiration for action and context for making meaning.

More enjoyable than our office book discussions […]

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