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ANet is a nonprofit dedicated to the premise that every child in America deserves an excellent education and the opportunities it provides. We pursue our vision of educational equality in America by helping schools boost student learning with great teaching that is grounded in standards, informed by data, and built on the successful practices of educators around the country.

Developing Leaders to Develop Teachers

When leaders commit to their own professional grwoth, they can better support their teachers' development.

Developing leaders to develop teachers

Leader learning means stronger support for teachers

When coaches and leaders are busy developing their teachers, it can be easy to forget just how important your own development is, too.  We know that the strongest teachers are the ones who never stop learning--and that holds true for leaders, too. When school leaders commit to their own professional learning, they gain deeper content knowledge and expertise that enables them to offer more practical instructional support. 

Watch this video of Isaac Castelaz, an AUSL school leader in Chicago, IL, talk through how he supports math teachers by focusing on developing his own understanding of math content.


In math, strong leader preparation can be summed up in three steps:

  1. Start by studying the lesson in order to identify the learning goals and draw connections to the standards. Review the language of the targeted standards and check to ensure that the rigor of the standards is represented in the lesson.

  2. Next, problem-solve like one of your students. Pick up a pencil and complete the learning tasks students will face to familiarize yourself with the content and experience the content teachers will teach and the thinking students will do.

  3. As you work through the learning tasks, identify the points where students will likely struggle and think about how your teacher might offer strategic support.

“Focusing on preparation [for lessons] has completely changed the way I go about coaching teachers,” says Isaac, a school leader with the AUSL school management organization. “In the past, visiting classrooms was sort of like going to the movies: I had a general sense of what was going to happen; I knew the characters; but I had no idea how the movie would end. Studying a lesson ahead of time, completing the learning tasks in the lesson, and talking with the teacher helps me become more than simply an audience member.”

—Isaac Castelaz, AUSL school leader


As leaders develop their own understanding of the expectations of the standards and the instructional strategies that can help teachers support students in meeting these expectations, the ripple effect is powerful. Teachers develop at an accelerated rate when their leaders face the challenging work of planning and instruction head-on, and aren’t afraid to open themselves up to learning.

Not only do teachers benefit from having a leader that is a well-informed partner— when it comes time for that leader to give feedback, it carries more weight. Feedback channels are strengthened when teachers trust that their leaders are knowledgeable and have an informed opinions about teaching and learning. Then, leaders can provide deeper insights and, ultimately, more powerful feedback to teachers in post-observation conversations.

Use this guide to build your knowledge and expertise when it comes to math instruction so you can offer stronger, more informed support for your math teachers.