Every community has inherent strengths to build upon for even greater impact. Years of partnerships and the research on professional learning have helped us distill those characteristics that make some school systems more successful than others at reaching strong teaching and leadership at scale. We call these resources the enabling conditions.
Strengthening the System
Unlike typical professional development, our approach takes context, culture, and resources necessary for lasting change into account. As we partner, we use an evidence-based development continuum to assess six conditions that are key to strong professional learning systems and set goals.
These conditions aren’t a checklist—they require ongoing focus and development at all levels of the school system.
Schools have a cogent vision for teachers to lead instruction beyond their classrooms. There are formal and functional instructional roles that have dedicated resources including support for teachers to develop instructional leadership skills that advance college and career readiness standards. School leaders consider teacher input when making decisions about instruction.
Schools have an instructional leadership team that includes teachers and that meets regularly. This team includes teachers who represent core content areas, teachers of students with exceptionalities, and teachers who mirror the range of social identities reflected in a school’s students, staff, and surrounding community.
A school’s instructional leadership team determines the instructional materials used in their school. Members have strong knowledge of content area standards to ensure all curricular resources align to college and career readiness standards.
Teachers primarily use core and supplemental instructional materials that the instructional leadership team has determined to be high-quality. The team monitors how well and how often aligned materials are being used in practice.
Teachers have access to formative, interim, and summative student assessment data that are timely and useful for ongoing instructional planning. Teachers and school leaders consider disaggregated student achievement data when making decisions about instructional priorities, curricular choices, and planning.
Interim assessments are highly aligned to college and career readiness standards. Formative assessments, including those that teachers have developed, also address college and career readiness.
The master schedule ensures release time for all teachers to do individual planning and to meet for collaborative, content-specific professional learning and practice. All teachers also have adequate time outside of content team meetings to receive feedback and support from their team leader.
Teachers leaders have sufficient time to plan, facilitate, and follow up on professional learning. When emergencies or conflicts arise, there are alternate plans to protect teachers’ collaboration time.
Schools have a set of focused instructional priorities that guide student interventions and teacher professional learning. Before taking on new initiatives, leaders consider opportunities against school-wide instructional priorities and decline those that will strain capacity.
Teacher leaders have sufficient capacity to take on leadership responsibilities. Teachers do not feel overwhelmed by the number of initiatives being implemented or by their leadership responsibilities.
School teams and their LE partners rate school conditions twice per year on a three-point scale ranging from “not at all true” to “completely true”. The average ratings correspond to four stages on our development continuum:
How We Support
Leading Educators uses a range of connected strategies to support partners to develop their conditions including:
- outlining a gradual implementation process and strategically selecting schools for participation,
- conducting ongoing assessment of school conditions,
- designing targeted conditions development plans,
- coaching school leaders through implementation of a customized conditions development plan,
- and sharing ideas, strategies, and resources across networks of schools.
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