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.
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. […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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. […]