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It's all about leadership.


(808) 778-6378

                                                                                                                                              LEADERSHIP BY DESIGN

Hawaii Center for Instructional Leadership


Insight and Wisdom for School Leaders in 2022

“Our lives follow a pattern.

For most of us, that pattern was set a long time ago.  We chose to embrace a story about compliance and convenience, the search for status in a world constrained by scarcity. 

The industrial economy demands it.  It prods us to consumption and obedience.  We trust the system and the people we work for to give us what we need, as long as we’re willing to continue down the path they’ve set up for us.  We were all brainwashed from a very early age to accept this dynamic and to be a part of it.


The deal is simple:  follow the steps and you’ll get the outcome the system promised you.  It might not be easy, but with effort, just about anyone can do it.


So we focus on the outcome, because that’s how we know we followed the steps properly.  The industrial system that brainwashed us demands that we focus on outcomes to prove we followed the recipe.


That priority makes sense if the reliable, predictable outcome really matters and a payoff is truly guaranteed.  But what happens when your world changes?


Suddenly, you don’t always get what was guaranteed.  And the tasks you’re asked to do just aren’t as engaging as you’d like them to be.   The emptiness of the bargain is now obvious:  you were busy sacrificing your heart and your soul for prizes, but the prizes aren’t coming as regularly as promised.


The important work, the work we really want to do, doesn’t come with a recipe.  It follows a different pattern.


This practice is available to us – not as a quick substitute, a recipe that’s guaranteed to return results, but as a practice.  It is a persistent, stepwise approach that we pursue for its own sake and not because we want anything guaranteed in return.


The recipe for recipes is straightforward:  good ingredients,  mise en place, attention to detail, heat, finish.  You do them in order.  But when we create something for the first time, it’s not as linear, not easily written down.


This new practice takes leadership, a creative contribution – something that not just anyone can produce, something that might not work but that might be worth pursuing.  It’s often called “art.”


The industrial system we all live in is outcome-based.  It’s about guaranteed productivity in exchange for soul-numbing, predirected labor.  But if we choose to look for it, there’s a different journey available to us.  This is the path followed by those who seek change, who want to make things better.


It’s a path defined by resilience and generosity.  It’s outward focused, but not dependent on reassurance or applause.


Creativity doesn’t repeat itself, it can’t.  But the creative journey still follows a pattern.  It’s a practice of growth and connection, of service and daring.   It’s also a practice of selflessness and ego in an endless dance.  The practice exists for writers and leaders, for teachers and painters.  It’s grounded in the real world, a process that takes us where we hope to go.” 

Excerpt from The Practice (2020) by Seth Godin

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Using CliftonStrengths 34 or Strengthsfinders Top 5 and Gallup's Q 12 for performance, engagement, and well-being.  Click here for list of schools engaged in training.

See Strengths Gallery Below


  • CliftonStrengths 34

  • Distance Learning PD

  • Comprehensive Needs Assessment

  • Systems Analysis

  • WASC Accreditation

  • Schoolwide PD Planning

  • Standards Based Grading/Valid & Reliable Grading

  • High Performance Teams, Data Teams, and PLCs

  • Formative Assessment

  • Common Formative Assessments 2.0

  • School Leadership Team

  • Principal Coaching & Mentoring

  • Covid-19 Principal Support

Read More >

Leadership MENTORING

Instructional leadership coaching and mentoring for principals and vice principals including CISL interns 

Leadership By Design 3000 PLC (SY 2020-21 & 2021-2022)

Supporting the next generation of high performing principals in Hawaii through no cost mentoring and coaching for interested vice principals and principals.


Professional Development for school leaders and teachers featuring top thought leaders and educational experts.

See Picture Gallery Below

George Couros & Weston Keishnick

Leadership By Design Conference on April 6, 2019

About HCIL

By design ... and not by chance.

The Hawaii Center for Instructional Leadership was formed in 2014, focusing on supporting the instructional leadership of principals,vice principals, and teacher leaders in Hawaii's public, private, and charter schools. HCIL promotes high performing schools through leadership excellence, trust and culture, strengths based leadership, high performing teams, collective efficacy, and assessment capable learners.


HCIL systems and leadership analyst, Darrel Galera, is a Gallup Certified Strengths Coach and facilitator.  A former teacher (1982-1991), principal (Moanalua High School 2000-2013), deputy district superintendent and educational specialist for PDERI, he was the Chairperson for the Hawaii High School Leadership Compact (from 2007 to 2014) and was Hawaii's 2010 National Distinguished High School Principal of the Year. He served as a member of the Hawaii State Board of Education and was the Chairperson of the Governor's ESSA Team responsible for the 2017 Hawaii Blueprint for Public Education.  He presently serves on the 2020-22 Governor's Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Fund Advisory Group and GEER Innovation Grants implementation team for the State of Hawaii.  His "Top 5" strengths are:  


Dr. Lissa Pijanowski & Darrel Galera

Leadership By Design Conference on December 1, 2018

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LBD Conferences Picture Gallery

HCIL Strengths Picture Gallery


HHow Does HCIL Support Schools and School Leadership                    "A system is perfectly designed ... to get the results it is getting."    Carnegie Foundation
Contact:        (808) 778-6378

The mission of HCIL is to synthesize the thinking of leading theorists, researchers, and practitioners into a framework of what to do and what not to do - specific solutions to common barriers and obstacles faced by schools to achieve success in student learning.



The implementation of Data Teams was mandated locally for schools more than a decade ago.    The 5 Step framework used was a thoughtful one from the Leadership and Learning Center.    The mandate was based on good intentions to integrate the use of data in teacher teams or professional learning communities (PLCs).   However, the mandate was supported by limited training and has resulted in a school process that is focused more on compliance and one size fits all templates.   In many schools today, the phrase “data teams” is not met with a positive or receptive response and implementation is inconsistent or non-existent.

HCIL provides support for schools by focusing on principal and leadership training on the concept of what effective implementation looks like.  Additionally, support is focused on teacher training on collective teacher efficacy, data and evidence analysis, and the purpose of data teams – which is less about data and more about improving pedagogy or classroom instruction.

Here is what HCIL support looks like.

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The history of grading reform in Hawaii can be best described as a series of start and stop efforts that has resulted in a new report card for elementary schools but confusion for secondary schools.   Leading educational experts have expressed that grading reform (implementing standards based grading or grading practices that do not harm student learning) is a complex and difficult challenge but one that is necessary and can lead to a culture of a growth mindset for learning and significant increases in student achievement.  There is guidance from the Board of Education in Policy 102-12 that states that “grades recorded by teachers must meet the dual criteria of validity and reliability.”  Here is the text of the policy:

“Periodic reports of student progress and achievement shall be provided to both students and parents. The involvement of the student in the evaluative process shall be considered essential, since it is the student's learning and personal growth that are being assessed. Involvement shall be determined by the student's maturity level.


The progress report shall involve an understanding of the instructional objectives and applicable standards appropriate for learning and achieving. The report shall be constructive, enabling the student to understand his/her responsibilities as they relate to performance and attainment of the standards.


The Department shall establish student progress reporting guidelines with the purpose of accurately communicating what each student knows, understands, and can apply. The guidelines shall address utilization of grading, student portfolios, and other measures of student progress.


Grades recorded by teachers must meet the dual criteria of validity and reliability. The test of validity is met when the grades have been based on the applicable statewide content and performance standards. The test of reliability is met when (1) there is sufficient evidence to indicate that a student has been afforded ample opportunities over a grading period to demonstrate competence; and (2) records are maintained accurately and legibly and support the grades given.


Student attendance and General Learner Outcomes performance ratings will appear in student evaluations, but reported separately from academic grades."

HCIL completed a report on grading practices a few years ago (2019) and identified the following:

  • Presently, there is no criteria or rubric of implementation levels set by the Hawaii Department of Education (DOE) to determine whether a school is implementing or is not implementing BOE Policies E-102 and 102-12, and standards-based grading.


  • Presently, there is a question as to the extent that DOE educators are aware of and knowledgeable of BOE Policies E-102 and 102-12 and standards-based grading.


  • The Hawaii DOE Pilot on Secondary Standards-Based Grading in 2017 was not successful in meeting its stated purpose and provides important lessons for future implementation.


  • Data indicates that there is evidence of a high percentage of traditional grading practices in secondary classrooms, and that such practices may not support nor be consistent with the policy requirements of validity, reliability, and accuracy in grading.


  • Data indicates that only about one-third of principals feel that they are currently implementing standards-based grading in their schools.


  • School principals and school registrars have identified many issues and concerns relating to the implementation of standards-based grading in the following categories:  system communication, professional development, alignment of procedures, parent communication, and others.


  • Research provides important insights and guidance relating to classroom assessment and grading:


  • Involving students in the assessment and grading process is essential. When schools and teachers have the capacity and skills to support students to become “assessment capable learners” they can more than triple the rate of student learning and student achievement.

  • Enhancing educators’ assessment literacy is considered by some experts to be the most cost effective way to improve student achievement.


  • Research informs us that one of the most complex and difficult of changes for schools to take on is grading reform.  Therefore, grading reform for Hawaii secondary schools will require thoughtful and intentional strategic and tactical planning, implementation strategies that are research-based and evidence driven, and the culture and conditions that support grading for learning.


  • Research informs us that principals are the most critical factor in grading reform.  The studies show that among school leaders, principals are the most critical actors in the grading reform process.  For improvements in grading policies and practices to occur, principals must remove existing obstacles to change and ignite the enablers to implementing effective grading practices.  Therefore, all efforts for grading reform need to include strong support for all secondary principals, and must focus on empowering and engaging principals to ensure that principals set high expectations for and have full ownership of the grading and assessment reform activities at their schools.


Success in grading reform is key in school transformation.   Assessment expert James Popham says,  “Improving the assessment literacy of educators is, hands-down, the most cost-effective way to improve the effectiveness of our schools."  HCIL provides support for schools on grading reform by focusing on principal and leadership training on assessing grading practices of teachers.  Additionally, support is focused on teacher training on “assessment for learning” (formative assessment) and “assessment of learning.”   Schools are encouraged to develop their own schoolwide grading policy as a key step to creating consistency and meeting the requirements for validity and reliability.

Here is what HCIL support looks like.

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The implementation of data analysis in many schools can often be described as surface level and driven by compliance and a deficit perspective instead of accurately identifying root causes and solutions.   Meaningful analysis begins with clarity of purpose for a specific strategy or program. This impacts the quality and usefulness of Comprehensive Needs Assessment (C.N.A.) reports produced by schools, which in turn, impacts the quality of a school academic plan. Effective analysis of evidence and data creates a foundation for high performing schools and for a high performing school system.

HCIL provides support for schools by focusing on principal and leadership training on what a “theory of action” or logic model is and how it defines the data analysis process.  Additionally, support is focused on:  (1) how data is collected, (2) how data is presented for analysis, and (3) how to create conditions for teachers to engage and collaborate in a process that is promotes trust, is strengths based, and is meaningful and useful for teachers.    A goal is to help schools to focus on a few high impact strategies instead of trying to implement an academic plan with dozens of initiatives.      This can allow for implementation that is deep and guided by fidelity and integrity.


Here is what HCIL support looks like.

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A traditional approach to data analysis is using only summary data.
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HCIL supports schools by helping to drill down beyond summary data. 


Creating the conditions for a strong and trusting organization culture is priority #1.  A school leader can write the most innovative plan, compile impressive financial resources, or select the most popular strategy but without trust and teamwork it will all be for naught.  The importance of this has been magnified by the Covid-19 pandemic.    Patty McCord from Netflix advises the following,

“There is a clear goal - build a high performance culture that can meet the challenge of today’s rapid pace of change; create a culture of great teamwork and innovative problem solving; all organizations must become great adapters.  Anticipate new demands.  Pounce on opportunities.  Or others will innovate faster … you will become more obsolete … you will not meet the needs of a changing world.”

One of McCord’s greatest insights in that it is not about empowerment.

“What we need to understand deeply and in a new way is that people have power.  An organization’s job is not to empower people; it is to remind people that they walk into the door with power, and then to create the conditions for them to exercise it.   If you do that, you will be astonished by the great work that they will do.”

In his acclaimed book, The Speed of Trust, Steven Covey says,

“There is one thing that is common to every individual, relationship, team, family, organization … one thing that has the potential to create unparalleled success and prosperity in every dimension of life.  Yet, it is the least understood, most neglected, and most underestimated possibility of our time.  That one thing is trust.”

Simon Sinek reminds us that psychological safety leads to trust.  And Gallup reminds us that we need to - 

“Be vulnerable not only about weaknesses but also about strengths - use strengths to build trust.”  


HCIL provides support for school culture by focusing on strengths based leadership, teacher engagement (see below), vulnerability based trust, identity and self awareness, and strengths based teaming.

Here is what HCIL support looks like.

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                                         Using research that involved 1.4 million people and over 50,000 teams in organizations,                                                                                                             Gallup identified that there was one clear question that predicted high performance or low performance -                                                           “At work, do you have an opportunity to use your strengths every day?”

While student engagement needs to remain a priority, it is equally important that school leadership focuses on teacher and employee engagement.  Schools should have timely, useful, and meaningful research and data to address this priority at all times and especially during a crisis like a pandemic.


The Gallup Organization defines "engagement" is this way:    "Employee engagement refers to how committed an employee is to their organization, their role, their manager (supervisor), and their co-workers.  Engagement drives performance.  Gallup research shows that more highly engaged employees give more discretionary effort at work and have higher productivity, profitability, customer service, as well as reduced employee turnover and safety incidents."

An effective way for schools to measure teacher (educator) engagement is by using Gallup's Q12 engagement assessment.   It is important to note that one of the key drivers of teacher engagement is the response to the question, "At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day."   These results help to indicate whether school leaders create the conditions where teachers can use their strengths each day at school to increase engagement, support well-being, and build resilience.

Here is an example of how HCIL uses the Q12 with Hawaii educators.

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