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Texas Instructional Leadership

The TIL Approach

Texas Instructional Leadership is a program through which we provide training and support to campus and district leaders on their ability to build the capacity of educators that they manage. It consists of a suite of trainings intended to foster continuous improvement by helping campus and district administrators grow concrete instructional leadership skills in the areas of observation and feedback, schoolwide culture routines, and data driven instruction.

TIL trainings are aligned with many of the best practices described in the Effective Schools Framework, and ESCs that offer TIL trainings are among the approved vendors for schools seeking a technical assistance provider or capacity builder to support in the execution of a campus improvement plan.

Components of a TIL Training

 image of the TIL approach- face to face, implementation support and one on one coaching

Face-to-Face Professional Development

Education Service Centers across the state of Texas will be offering Observation & Feedback, Data Driven Instruction, Schoolwide Culture Routine, Lesson Alignment, and Formative Assessment trainings for campuses and districts looking to increase student achievement overall, and close gaps between student sub-groups. As with many other trainings offered at ESCs, Texas Instructional Leadership trainings have a face to face professional development component. Campuses and districts that choose to participate in a training will be part of a cohort of campuses that will meet together learn instructional leadership best practices, and have an opportunity to practice their new skills together in a low stakes environment.

Observation and Feedback

Observation/Feedback is intended to provide campus and district leaders opportunities to develop proficiency in establishing and coaching toward effective instructional practices in every classroom. Toward that end, it blends the practices and principles in Paul Bambrick-Santoyo’s Get Better Faster: A 90-Day Plan for Coaching New Teachers with the T-TESS appraisal framework.

It introduces a paradigm shift in the way we view teacher observation, and suggests that the primary purpose of observation and feedback is not to evaluate a teacher but to develop them. In Observation/Feedback, you grow educators by letting them See It, Name It, and Do It – see a model of success, name the bite-sized, yet highest leverage steps that led to growth, and practice doing those steps to develop skill.

Data-Driven Instruction

Data driven instruction is a highly effective, research-based training that guides teachers and administrators to spend less time teaching their students what they already know and more time on what their students need. It also answers the questions, “How do I know if my students are learning? And if they aren’t, what do I do? Based on the protocol developed by Paul Bambrick-Santoyo and described in his books Driven by Data 2.0 and Leverage Leadership 2.0, TIL DDI advocates for a deeper analysis of student work.

Schoolwide Culture Routines

Schoolwide culture is not formed by motivational speeches or statements of values on the wall. It is formed by the repeated practice of good habits, beginning with a vision of what a positive, inclusive culture looks like minute-by-minute. Leaders of schools with strong student culture don’t achieve it through sheer force of personality. They develop a vision for each part of the school day, and then bring their vision to life by building systems that enable teachers, students, and anyone else on their campus to know what they should be doing and when at all parts of the day with a high level of detail. They lead with their consistency and by modeling for staff how to maintain emotional constancy and reset expectations when procedures break down.

Lesson Alignment

Lesson Alignment is a training designed to support campus and district leaders as they lead teachers to practice high leverage instructional planning strategies. Leaders are trained to guide teachers in planning for and assessing student learning by answering the questions: What are students supposed to be learning and how do I know they are learning it? The training is rooted in the practices and principles of Paul Bambrick-Santoyo’s Leverage Leadership 2.0: A Practical Guide to Building Exceptional Schools as well as the work of Dylan Wiliam’s Formative Assessment, John Hattie’s Visible Learning for Teachers, and Mike Schmoker’s Focus.

Formative Assessment

Formative Assessment builds off of the work of Lesson Alignment and is designed to support campus and district leaders as they lead teachers to practice high leverage instructional monitoring strategies. Leaders are trained to guide teachers in assessing student learning by answering the questions: What are students supposed to be learning and how do I know they are learning it? The training is rooted in the practices and principles of Paul Bambrick-Santoyo’s Leverage Leadership 2.0: A Practical Guide to Building Exceptional Schools as well as the work of Dylan Wiliam’s Formative Assessment, John Hattie’s Visible Learning for Teachers, and Mike Schmoker’s Focus.

Implementation Support

 image of principal observing a classroom teacher

Unlike many of the other trainings offered by ESCs, Texas Instructional Leadership trainings also include two additional training components beyond the face to face professional development. The first of those components is implementation support. Following face to face professional development, trainers will observe participants attempting to implement their new skills on their campuses or in their districts either virtually or in person, and provide additional tailored support to ensure the skills are applied successfully.

One-on-One Coaching

Following implementation support visits, trainers will coach district administrators on how to best guide principals toward successfully integrating the instructional leadership best practices on their campuses, as well as provide one on one support to shape district practices and policies to make the work more sustainable.

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Evidence of Impact

“We piloted these practices in select districts across the state, and saw an incredibly positive impact on student achievement, particularly for campuses whose leaders trained with Relay Graduate School of Education or Teaching Trust, both of whom adhere closely to the practices on which TIL trainings are based.”

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Meet Our Team

Karen Aikman

Manager of Instructional Leadership Design

Karen joined the TEA TIL team in the summer of 2021 to enhance the effectiveness of the training and coaching of ESC TIL teams across the state of Texas. Karen facilitates one on one coaching and face to face professional development to TIL Leads, assists in the development of program and metric management tools and designs and delivers level II and III training to ESC TIL coaches. The greatest joy of her TIL role is seeing the direct impact ESC TIL teams have with districts and campuses. Prior to joining TEA, Karen spent 26 years in districts within Regions 10, 11, and 7. Leadership has always been her passion and after teaching for seven years, she spent five years as Assistant Principal, 10 years as Principal, and four years as a Principal Supervisor. Karen grew up the daughter of an Army officer and moved around the world prior to landing in Texas to attend Baylor University for her undergraduate studies and Texas A&M Commerce for her Masters. In 2003, she married an East Texan, Brandon. Karen spends her free time reading, volunteering, and trying to find extra space at home for more rescue pups.

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Lindyn Kish

Director of Instructional Leadership

Lindyn has led the Instructional Leadership team since August 2020 after six years of non-profit work training and coaching principal supervisors, principals, and campus leadership teams in the areas of data practices, schoolwide culture, instructional alignment, and team effectiveness, primarily in North Texas. Prior to that, Lindyn was an elementary principal with Uplift Education and began her career with Teach For America in Miami, Florida. The most motivating part of her work is getting to help leaders reimagine the power of instructional leadership and to push the bounds of what they might initially think is possible - both for themselves and for the districts and campuses they work with. Lindyn is an Oklahoma native but now resides in Austin where she spends all of her free time outdoors with her two boys, Walter (4) and Willem (2), husband, Rob, and shih-tzu, Winston.

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Ashley Prevost

Assistant Director of Instructional Leadership, Content

As Assistant Director of Instructional Leadership Ashley oversees the design and management of all of the TIL Trainings, and supports with coaching TIL Team Leads. Her favorite part of working on the TIL team is the commitment to continuous improvement demonstrated by all of the ESC coaches and TIL Leads. It is so inspiring to see best practice grow and spread! Prior to joining the TIL team in 2018, she worked for a total of ten years as a middle school science teacher and middle school administrator, during which time she earned her M. Ed. from the University of Houston. Ashley grew up in southern Wisconsin and North Texas, and graduated with her Bachelor’s degree from UT (Hook 'Em!). She is married to her high school sweetheart, Chad, and loves spending time with her two kids, Olivia (9) and Ian (4), and her pup, Wilhelmina. Outside of spending time with her family, Ashley loves to read and bake, is active in her church, and volunteers often with Austin Parks Foundation.

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Kristi Michaels

Manager of Instructional Leadership Design

As Manager of Instructional Leadership Design Kristi collaborates with other teams at the Texas Education Agency to ensure alignment across teams and supports with executing and designing TIL training at Education Service Centers. One of her favorite aspects of the work is the opportunity to collaborate and learn about different initiatives across the agency. Recently Kristi has supported instructional coach work on the CRIMSI (Covid Recovery Instructional Materials Support Initiative) pilot which has given her the opportunity to support instructional coaches across the state in their implementation of THL (Texas Home Learning) products. Prior to joining the TIL team in June, Kristi worked as a middle school principal for 5 years where she led the implementation of high quality instructional materials and restorative practices. The middle school was recently named as one of Top 10 Charter Middle Schools in Austin by Newsweek. Kristi grew up outside Cleveland, Ohio and graduated with her masters and principal certification from University of Houston. In her free time she loves to run, read, and spend time with her wife and two dogs in the beautiful Austin weather.

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Mary-Luisa Berges

Instructional Leadership Specialist

Mary-Luisa joined the Texas Instructional Leadership team in August 2021 after 15 years working as a school leader and teacher. In her capacity as an Instructional Leadership Specialist, Mary Luisa is charged with the procurement and vetting of resources for the Effective Schools Framework Library as well as leading communication with Vetted Improvement Programs. Additionally, Mary-Luisa executes and designs TIL training for ESCs. Prior to joining TEA, Mary-Luisa served as an Assistant Principal of Instruction with IDEA Public Schools, San Antonio. She was the proud principal of Visible Men Academy in Bradenton, FL. While there, the campus earned an “A” distinction under her leadership. Mary-Luisa loves all things transformational change, particularly building strong relationships with adult learners and coaching them to achieve impressive results. She is a graduate of Southwestern University in Georgetown, TX and earned a Masters degree in Organizational Leadership from Teachers College, Columbia University. In her free time, Mary-Luisa enjoys cooking with her husband Aveion and teaching their daughter, Ava, how to be the feistiest toddler.

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Chris Vargo

Assistant Director of Instructional Leadership, Coaching

As the Assistant Director of Instructional Leadership, Chris oversees the job embedded professional development experienced by our TIL Leads. In addition,he facilitates training to ESC based TIL coaches and oversees a number of school improvement initiatives including the ESF Model Resource Library and Vetted Improvement Programs. Chris enjoys thinking strategically and relationally, and his favorite part of working on the TIL Team is learning alongside incredible leaders across the state of Texas. Prior to joining the TIL Team in 2020, Chris worked as a middle school science teacher, an instructional coach, a manager of instructional coaches, and director of new teacher inservice training. During that time, he earned his M.A. in School Building Leadership at Teachers College, Columbia University. Chris grew up in Boston, MA and earned his B.A. from Columbia College, Columbia University. Chris currently lives in Austin, and he has lived and worked in New Orleans, Atlanta, Houston prior to moving to Central Texas. Chris enjoys playing guitar and hiking with his wife Dana in Texas’ beautiful state parks.

Shaleka Boone

Instructional Leadership Specialist

Shaleka joined the Instructional Leadership team in July of 2020. Prior to that she worked as a lower elementary teacher in the Central Texas area for 6 years. She fell in love with the classroom while pursuing a career in occupational therapy. She received her alternative certification from Huston Tillotson University and recently received her M.ED. As an Instructional Leadership Specialist, she facilitates and designs TIL training, oversees logistics for training of trainers, and manages materials on the TIL website. Her favorite part of the TIL work is the opportunity to learn with educators across the state of Texas by sharing the transformative work of TIL through the facilitation of training. She has lived in the Austin area for 7 years and enjoys spending time with her husband, Brandon and her two pups , Lady and Brooklyn.

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Texas Instructional Leadership's approach was based on the exemplary training models of...

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Relay Graduate School of Education


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Uncommon Schools