Kalman R. Hettleman writes in EdWeek, “It’s the Classroom, Stupid.” She’s right, instructional management is a big deal and often poorly managed.  Here’s her three reasons:

First, predisposition. The personal temperament of educators and their professional culture of insularity predispose them to be weak managers.

The second basic reason educators mismanage classroom instruction is their lack of management skills.

A third reason such mismanagement persists is that most reformers, across the ideological spectrum, don’t pay much attention to it.

That’s why I like charter management organizations–they are systems designed around instructional management.  It’s ironic that an outsider like Eva Moskowitz, Harlem Success, is one the best instructional leaders I’ve observed.  Achievement First is probably the best in the sector.  KIPP (more of a franchisor than a CMO) takes a more hands off approach, but has a great framework, leadership selection and knowledge sharing process, and high bar for remaining in the network.  All have extremely high aspirations for students and staff, are relentless with data, and serious about execution.

It’s really more than management–it’s building an aligned instructional system: execution around curriculum, assessment, and professional development.

Districts evolved; CMOs were purpose built.  It makes a difference in the classroom.

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Tom Vander Ark is author of Difference Making at the Heart of Learning, The Power of Place, Better Together, Smart Parents, Smart Cities and Getting Smart. He is co-founder of Getting Smart and serves on the boards of Education Board Partners, 4.0 Schools, Digital Learning Institute, Latinx Education Collaborative, Mastery Transcript Consortium and eduInnovation. Follow Tom on Twitter, @tvanderark.


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