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How Leadership Works - Book Cover Look Inside

How Leadership Works

A Playbook for Instructional Leaders

By: Cathy Lassiter, Douglas Fisher, Nancy Frey, Dominique Smith

This easy-to-use playbook prompts educators to clarify, articulate, and actualize instructional leadership goals with the aim of delivering on the promise of equity and excellence for all.

Product Details
  • Grade Level: PreK-12
  • ISBN: 9781071871058
  • Published By: Corwin
  • Year: 2022
  • Page Count: 200
  • Publication date: April 20, 2022

Price: $32.95

For Instructors

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Sharpen your instructional leadership skills and guide your school toward equity and excellence for all.

Just think about how great schools could be if every instructional leader exercised their influence to create change—maximizing the efforts of others and mobilizing those efforts to work toward a shared goal.

How Leadership Works: A Playbook for Instructional Leaders walks educators through the processes of clarifying, articulating, and actualizing instructional leadership goals with the aim of delivering on the promise of equity and excellence for all. Grounded in Visible Learning® research, the exercises in this easy-to-use playbook illuminate the essential mindframes necessary for effective instructional leadership and prompt veteran, new, and aspiring educators to identify challenges and determine next steps. It includes:

  • Ten essential mindframes for leaders, together with the leadership practices that illustrate each mindframe in action
  • Teaching practices, such as teacher clarity or student engagement in learning, that support teachers in delivering quality instruction, along with tools to document the impact of those practices on learning
  • Strategies for leading learning, including establishing school culture, utilizing feedback, and supporting professional learning communities as a pathway to building collective teacher efficacy.
  • Tools for applying the principles of change, conducting an initiative inventory, and implementing and de-implementing initiatives

Exercise-by-exercise, educators and front office staff will deepen their knowledge, frame their priorities and practices, and gain new tools for supporting the instructional focus and initiatives designed to support learning at your school.



Cathy Lassiter photo

Cathy Lassiter

Cathy Lassiter, Ed.D., is an international consultant with over 35 years of combined experience as a public-school teacher, principal, central office administrator, and consultant. Her areas of expertise are in Visible Learning, Teacher Clarity, and all aspect of school leadership. Cathy is the author of Everyday Courage for School Leaders, published by Corwin in 2017 and in 2022 she co-authored How Leadership Works and Leader Credibility with Doug Fisher, Nancy Frey, and Dominque Smith. In addition to serving in the roles as Executive Director of Middle Schools and Senior Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Staff Development, Cathy was a successful middle school principal and was named Virginia’s Middle School Principal of the Year for the success of her school. Cathy has served as an adjunct professor for The George Washington University, teaching graduate courses in educational leadership.

Douglas Fisher photo

Douglas Fisher

Douglas Fisher, Ph.D., is professor and chair of educational leadership at San Diego State University and a leader at Health Sciences High and Middle College. Previously, Doug was an early intervention teacher and elementary school educator. He is the recipient of an International Reading Association William S. Grey citation of merit and an Exemplary Leader award from the Conference on English Leadership of NCTE. He has published numerous articles on teaching and learning as well as books such as The Teacher Clarity Playbook, PLC+, Visible Learning for Literacy, Comprehension: The Skill, Will, and Thrill of Reading, How Tutoring Works, and How Learning Works. Doug loves being an educator and hopes to share that passion with others.

Nancy Frey photo

Nancy Frey

Nancy Frey, Ph.D., is a Professor in Educational Leadership at San Diego State and a teacher leader at Health Sciences High and Middle College. She is a member of the International Literacy Association’s Literacy Research Panel. Her published titles include Visible Learning in Literacy, This Is Balanced Literacy, Removing Labels, and Rebound. Nancy is a credentialed special educator, reading specialist, and administrator in California and learns from teachers and students every day.
Dominique Smith photo

Dominique Smith

Dominique Smith, Ed.D. is Chief of Educational Services and Teacher Support at Health Sciences High and Middle College in San Diego, CA. He is passionate about creating school cultures that honor students and build their confidence and competence. Smith's major area of research and instruction focuses on restorative practices, classroom management, growth mindset, and the culture of achievement. In addition to his school leadership responsibilities, Smith provides professional learning to K–12 teachers in groups large and small, on many topics that address classroom and school climate and organization. He is a regular presenter at many conferences, including Empower (ASCD's annual conference). Smith holds his doctorate in Educational Leadership from San Diego State University with a focus on equity and a Master's degree in social work from the University of Southern California. He also holds credentials from San Diego State University in administrative services, child welfare, PPS, and attendance. He is the winner of the National School Safety Award from the School Safety Advocacy Council. He delivered a TED Talk in 2018 about building relationships between students and teachers.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents



Module 1: Mindframes for Leaders

The Work Ahead - Part 1: Leading Teachers

Module 2: Demonstrate Instructional Leadership

Module 3: Support Teacher Clarity and Promote Student Engagement

Module 4: Investigate the Impact of Teaching

The Work Ahead - Part 2: Leading Learning

Module 5: Build a Learning-focused School Climate

Module 6: Empower Professional Learning Communities

Module 7: Ensure Growth-oriented Feedback

The Work Ahead - Part 3: Leading Change

Module 8: Manage and Lead Change

Module 9: Engage in De-Implementation

Module 10: Utilize Implementation Science

The Work Ahead