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Implementing Guided Math, Effective Leadership

“It is this quality–the ability to lead people–that true leaders
consistently demonstrate.”
(Sammons, p 27)

I’m excited to kick off this book study of Laney Sammons’ new book, Implementing Guided Math: Tools for Educational Leaders. The format of the book study makes it easy for you to jump in at any time.

This post contains affiliate links, which simply means that when you use my link and purchase a product, I receive a small commission. There is no additional cost to you, and I only link to books and products that I personally recommend.

Reading schedule

Join the slow Twitter chat

If you have participated in Twitter chats, you know they are typically regularly scheduled events, taking place once a week on a certain day and time. Depending on the chat, they can move pretty quickly! I participate regularly in #elemmathchat on Thursday nights at 8:00 CST. Twitter chats are a wonderful way to collaborate with other educators and become part of an online professional learning network (PLN).

A relatively new twist on the Twitter chat is the slow chat. Rather than having a scheduled time to show up and chat, questions are posted throughout the week and participants respond at their leisure. It’s a much more relaxed way to participate in a chat. For our slow Twitter chat, we will use the hashtag #ImplementingGM. I plan on posting questions each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday throughout the book study, however you can respond to the questions at any time. Search on the hashtag to read the questions that have been posted and add your comments. We will use the standard Q & A format–questions will be tagged Q (Q1, Q2, etc.) and you tag your response with an A (A1, A2, etc.). Don’t forget to tag your response with #ImplementingGM so it will show up in the search. You can also use the hashtag to share what you’re doing in your classroom related to Guided Math. That’s how the PLN grows! It’s one-stop professional development, and you are now part of a learning community.


What brought you to this book study? Maybe you keep hearing about Guided Math and you’re hoping to learn more. Or perhaps you’re looking for ways to better meet the needs of the students in your classroom. Or are you are a campus or district administrator wondering if Guided Math could help boost student performance in math? Whatever the reason that brought you here, I’m confident you will benefit from this book.

The Introduction outlines the components of the Guided Math framework:

  • Creating a classroom environment of numeracy
  • Math warm-ups
  • Whole-class instruction
  • Small-group instruction
  • Math workshop
  • Math conferences
  • Assessment

If you are new to the Guided Math framework, Laney’s original book, Guided Math: A Framework for Mathematics Instruction, goes into detail about each of these components.

Sammons points out on page 13 that the power of the framework is its flexibility. Guided Math will not look the same in each classroom or even from day to day in the same classroom. But at the heart of the framework is small group instruction, which creates an environment where “…students not only act as, but truly become mathematicians.” (pg 20)

Chapter 1, What Is Effective Math Educational Leadership?

I love this chapter! Sammons could easily have left the word “math” out of the chapter title, because it is just a phenomenal description of the many hats educational leaders wear and the importance of effective leadership. Check out this great quote from Leithwood et al.:

“Leadership is second only to classroom instruction among all school-related factors that contribute to what students learn at school.” (pg 26)

And if you consider how educational leaders impact classroom instruction–through, for example, hiring, teacher development, curriculum implementation, and change management–doesn’t that really put leadership first?

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words, so I created a word cloud with the leadership functions Sammons describes on pages 26-35. With the exception of the word leadership, which I emphasized, the size of the other words was completely random, which brought to mind a great discussion item–if you had to prioritize the functions, what would your top 3 or 4 be? I imagine your response might depend on your current situation. For example, if you are in a well-managed school, you probably take that function for granted. If, on the other hand, you are in a school that is a bit chaotic with haphazard management, you might move managerial leadership up on your list.

ImplementingGM Leadership Cloud

Since this book focuses on implementing change, I was particularly interested in the Change-Monitoring Leadership section. I’m sure we’ve all been involved in changes that simply didn’t stick, and we know the frustration that can result. Sammons points out that not only do effective leaders monitor change, but they must act on the results of the monitoring process. If the change is not being implemented, what is the reason? If the change is being implemented, are the desired results being achieved? Let’s say, for a minute, that you are not an educational leader, but a teacher implementing Guided Math in your own classroom. Doesn’t change-monitoring still apply to you? Of course it does!

The table on pages 35-37 summarizes the leadership functions and lists specific responsibilities related to each function. What a great tool this would make for educational leaders to use for self-reflection!

I’m excited for the coming chapters where Laney begins to lay out the blueprint for effective change!

Join the conversation by adding your comments to this post. Then head on over to Twitter at 8:00 PM CST and check out the first discussion question.

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  1. I am not familiar with the Guided Math framework and I am very excited about this book, it had me at the Forward. I also love chapter 1. When new things are implemented in a school, too often the step of thinking through how we can lead teachers to “buy in” isn’t given enough thought. So far, this book is more than i expected!

    Question- Anyone out there implemented this in a middle school? This framework is so far from how our 7/8th grade teachers instruct.

    1. I’m glad you’re enjoying your introduction to Guided Math. If you need more detail about the components, but sure to pick up the original book.

      I hope you get some feedback on using it in middle school. If you’re a Twitter user, I posed this question using the Hashtag #ImplementingGM. Let’s see if we get some responses. 🙂

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