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Leading for Literacy: What Every School Leader Needs to Know

What every school leader needs to know about systemic literacy improvement including effective teaching, coaching, and teacher leadership.

In this professional learning for California based school principals and administrators, learn how to support literacy teaching in grades K–6.

See schedule below.
In-person in Fresno, California (exact location to be announced) & virtual
Grade Levels:
Leadership & Coaching
  • District & School Leadership
  • Literacy Coaches & Teacher Leaders
Non-credit; graduate credit available
  • Includes professional texts & materials
Course Description & Outcomes

Establish core values and beliefs about literacy teaching and learning that will be the foundation of your visionary leadership and lead to improved student outcomes for every child.

Learn how to develop a vibrant school culture that supports teamwork and continuous professional learning to get swift improvement in student outcomes. With a strong foundation in literacy processing, assessment, and research-based instructional practices, you will be able to support instructional coherence for every child in every classroom at every grade level.

In addition, you will learn how to promote shared ownership of data on student outcomes and address systemic structures that limit the learning of some students in the educational system.

Specifically, you will learn the essential elements of a variety of research based instructional practices:

  • Explicit, systematic phonics, spelling, and word study
  • Interactive read-aloud and discussion
  • Shared reading
  • Guided reading
  • Book clubs
  • Independent reading and writing
  • Interactive/shared writing
  • Guided writing
  • The structure of readers’ workshop
  • The structure of writers’ workshop

You will learn how to support teachers in using the Literacy Continuum to plan for and assess teaching and how to guide them in developing their knowledge of the specific scaffolds needed for English learners.

You will use observation tools for each instructional practice, so you can observe, discuss, and support specific elements of high-quality teaching. You will analyze and identify areas of strength and need in school interventions using principles of effective intervention. You will expand your use of precise language to support reflective teacher practice by analyzing videos of teaching to understand decision-making instructional practices that result in improvement of student competencies.

You will receive a variety of professional texts and materials, including the book, Leading for Literacy: What Every School Leader Needs to Know, by Irene Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell.

You’ll earn 24 professional development hours upon completion of this training, or you may take it for graduate credit. Please contact if you would like to take this course for graduate credit.


Irene Fountas, Director of the Center for Reading Recovery and Literacy Collaborative

Headshot of Irene Fountas

Irene is the Marie M. Clay Endowed Chair in Early Literacy and Reading Recovery, and is the author of many books. She is director of the Center for Reading Recovery in the Graduate School of Education at Lesley University. She has been a classroom teacher, language arts specialist, and consultant in school districts across the nation and abroad. Irene and co-author Gay Su Pinnell have published numerous books and resources with Heinemann. She has received numerous awards for her contributions to literacy.


Cynthia Downend, Associate Director, Literacy Programs

Headshot of Cindy Downend

Cynthia Downend has worked at the Center for Reading Recovery and Literacy Collaborative for over 15 years, serving in the roles of primary level literacy trainer and currently as the Associate Director for Primary Literacy Programs.

Cynthia has worked with many school districts across the United States to train and develop district level literacy staff developers, literacy coaches, classroom teachers, literacy interventionists and school administrators on a variety of topics related to improving literacy instruction.

Prior to her work at Lesley University, Cynthia held positions as a literacy coach, Reading Recovery teacher, and classroom teacher for over 20 years working in a variety of school settings including urban, suburban, and international schools.


This professional learning will start on-site in California for two full days, followed by five 2-hour virtual sessions in December 2023 to March 2024.

In-Person Sessions (on-site in Fresno, California):

  • November 6–7, 2023 at 9:00-11:30am & 1:00-3:30pm PST

Virtual Sessions (Zoom): 

  • December 7, 2023 at 9:30am–11:30am PST 
  • January 18, 2024 at 9:30am–11:30am PST  
  • February 1, 2024 at 9:30am–11:30am PST 
  • February 15, 2024 at 9:30am–11:30am PST 
  • March 7, 2024 at 9:30am–11:30am PST

Dates and times are subject to change.

Interested in professional learning at your school or district? Schedule a meeting with one of our faculty trainers.