Posted on 10/01/2018 at 07:51 AM by Dr. Dan Cox

Iowa’s AEAs support the leadership development of school administrators as part of their core delivery services. The nine AEAs will team together to offer the McREL Balanced Leadership to 450 Iowa principals and superintendents, beginning in June of 2019, at a reduced rate. Initially, there will be three sites offered: one each in Eastern, Central, and Western Iowa. If there is enough interest, a fourth site will be added.

Liz Determan, communications director at Northwest AEA, will collect RSVPs shortly. More information will be shared at the monthly superintendents’ meeting on October 4 in Le Mars. A detailed description of the program can be found below.

Balanced Leadership Program Description

The Balanced Leadership for school improvement program is intended for leadership teams to attend.

Session One: Balancing leadership for better school performance

 In this half-day session, participants will gain in-depth understanding of McREL’s research-based findings that link school leadership practices with higher student achievement and what it means to balance the leadership roles of 1) articulating a vision, 2) building cohesive teams, 3) objectively analyzing performance, and 4) clarifying expectations and driving performance. Specifically, this session will help participants to

•       Develop new insights into the ways in which school leaders positively impact student achievement and school performance

•       Reflect on their own strengths as leaders and opportunities for professional growth

•       Experience, and prepare to engage others in their schools, in a structured dialogue process for identifying shared moral purpose―a first step to creating “hopeful urgency.”

Session Two: Focusing on the right work

As documented in McREL’s research, at times, even strong leaders can have a negative effect on student achievement if they fail to focus their schools on the right, high-leverage improvement efforts or change professional practices in meaningful ways. During this one and a half-day session, participants will explore the What Matters Most pathways and assess where their own schools are on the pathways in order to identify key next steps for improvement. They will also explore research on effective professional learning and learn how to design inquiry-based learning experiences for teachers that change professional practice. As a result of this session, participants will

•       Understand research on effective schools so they can identify what matters most right now for their own schools to improve student outcomes

•       Learn how to fulfill research-based leadership responsibilities that sustain school focus on doing the right work

•       Develop plans for effective professional learning that ensures teachers transfer new learning into changes in professional practice

Session Three: Inspiring and leading change

Any change worth making requires people to alter behaviors, routines, and habits, and thus, tend to encounter resistance. Thus, even the best laid school improvement plans can go awry if leaders don’t know why people resist change, how to inspire them to change, which leadership behaviors to emphasize to overcome resistance to change, or how to help people avoid sliding back into less productive habits. This two-day session will help participants anticipate obstacles to change so they can proactively manage change to achieve better results. Specifically, participants will

•       Learn the difference between first- and second-order change

•       Understand and practice leadership responsibilities related to these different types of change

•       Gain new insights into the four phases of change

•       Develop action plans for monitoring implementation of change initiatives and proactively overcoming resistance to change

Session Four: Developing a purposeful community

The idea of principals, teachers, and community members joining forces to improve student achievement is not new. Indeed, researchers have found a strong link between the level of collegiality and professionalism in a school and student success. When school communities coalesce around shared purposes, they are more likely to sustain change and forward momentum. In this highly interactive two-day session, participants engage in a variety of hands-on learning experiences that promote a deep understanding of the importance of creating a purposeful community.

Specifically, through this session, participants will

•       Develop a deep understanding of the four key elements of a “purposeful community” and how these elements combine to increase student achievement

•       Better understand the leadership responsibilities associated with building a purposeful community and how leaders create a purposeful community in their schools

•       Understand the power of asset-based thinking and quick wins in order to develop plans for creating a positive school culture that’s committed to continuous improvement

Iowa Leadership Academy Participant Sessions 2019-20 SY

The Iowa Leadership Academy – Balanced Leadership for School Improvement will be held for participants across Iowa in 3 locations (Eastern, Central, and Western) with the possibility of a fourth location if there is enough interest. The Academy is designed to be delivered throughout a school year, as two sets of 2-day sessions, and two sets of 1-day sessions.  The first two 2-day sessions would be during the weeks of June 17, 2019 and August 12, 2019.  (Remember that SAI is earlier next year and will be held on July 31 & August 1, 2019.)

Participant Sessions

Proposed Timeframe

# of Days


Week of June 17, 2019



Session 1: Balancing leadership for better school performance Session 2: Focusing on the right work



Week of August 12, 2019


Session 3: Inspiring and leading change


Jan/Feb 2020


Session 4: Developing a purposeful community (Day 1 of 2)


June 2020


Session 4: Developing a purposeful community (Day 2 of 2)



Total # of Days







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