Leading for Professional Learning


By Anneke Markholt, Joanna Michelson and Stephen Fink With a Foreword by Stephanie Hirsh

208 pages
October 2018
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Leading for Professional Learning: What successful principals do to support teaching practice offers field-tested guidance to help school leaders more effectively support teachers’ professional development. Leadership is crucial to professional learning, providing the necessary systems and structures that enable teachers to improve their own practice and in turn, improve student learning. With an illustrative case study, this book provides invaluable guidance, packed with practical tools, processes, and expert advice.

Because each school differs in terms of strengths and needs, this book steers away from prescriptivism and shows you how to construct a support plan tailored to your unique context.   Specific teaching and leadership frameworks guide you through the process of examination, discovery, and execution, equipping you with the necessary tools and insight you need to make positive changes for your teachers—and ultimately, your students. A must-read resource for principals, administrators, and other school and district leadership, this book helps you set your school on the path to continuous improvement.

  • Determine your school’s professional learning needs
  • Leverage existing support structures for the greatest effect
  • Understand the role of leadership in sponsoring and following up on professional learning
  • Ensure intentional changes in teacher practice and student learning

Empowering teachers to improve their craft goes beyond merely offering opportunity; it requires collaboration with teachers every step of the way, a deep understanding of how best to support professional learning, a clear set of goals for both individual sessions and an overarching mission, and the necessary technical and relational support required to see these opportunities through. Written by experts from the University of Washington Center for Educational Leadership, Leading for Professional Learning provides real-world advice that has been proven effective in school districts across the nation.

Read the Foreword and Chapter 5 from the book


What educational experts are saying about the Book

"Markholt, Michelson and Fink offer many insights into how administrators lead professional development while also surfacing numerous school conditions necessary to fuel and spread teaching practice. This important book also raises the possibility of collective leadership by principals and teachers for next-generation school reforms that can better serve all students."

Barnett Berry
Founder and CEO
Center for Teaching Quality (CTQ)


"This book is exactly what both aspiring and practicing instructional leaders need.  Each chapter offers guidance on practical moves principals and teams can engage in that develop greater expertise through focused observation, targeted professional development and support for refined teaching practice – all designed to improve student learning. The anchor case describes a school context that is realistic. The authors emphasize key points through the experiences of a principal and her leadership team and make the team’s thinking visible."

 Ann O'Doherty, Ed.D.
Director, Danforth Educational Leadership Program
University of Washington College of Education


"I wish this practical, accessible book by Markholt, Michelson and Fink was around during my time as a principal. When it comes to school leadership, besides ensuring physical and emotional safety, I can’t think of a more important responsibility of leaders than ensuring impactful professional learning for adults. Every principal, teacher leader and instructional leadership team should read this book."

 Irvin Scott, Ed.D.
Harvard Graduate School of Education