We reimagine and design professional learning for principals and teachers—within schools and across the district.

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Schools receive three years of customized coaching from organizations with expertise in supporting staff who work with over-age, under-credited students.

The instructional coaching cycle is a goal-based, data driven and replicable approach to building teachers' capacity for reflective classroom practice. Implementation includes:

  • Observing classroom practice

  • Modeling and co-teaching new practices

  • Facilitating feedback and debriefing sessions, leadership walk-throughs and planning

  • Collecting and analyzing data to provide evidence of changes in teacher practice and student outcomes


The systems/structures design methodology is a process using improvement cycles over time that helps educators change a system or structure that supports the school’s instructional goals.

Examples of design projects:

  • Improving a school’s existing assessment tools and procedures

  • Identifying a lesson’s focus skills and designing a measurement rubric

  • Creating a new protocol for providing students with constructive feedback

  • Designing and testing an internal method of reporting student progress that supports a school’s grading policy

School improvement research shows that significant shifts in teaching and learning require broad systemic shifts that support instructional change. Our schools receive coaching in both instruction and designing school-wide systems and structures.

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teachers taking notes


Professional learning is not limited to instructional coaching.

Our district-level network leverages the learning of participating school teams during five carefully planned events throughout the year, including two principal meetings, 2 full-day professional learning symposia, and several cross-school site visits.

Events are structured so school teams can:

  • Collaborate on common instructional goals

  • Build shared knowledge

  • Explore new possibilities

  • Build consensus on vital questions and challenges of practice.

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Annually scheduled, network-wide activities provide opportunities for schools to share work and leverage the learning and expertise of peers working on similar topics.



Ongoing leadership development and support enables principles to create and sustain the conditions needed for their work to flourish.

District leaders and coaches serve as thought partners for principals as they:

  • Articulate a clear vision of their school’s philosophy of how students learn
  • Identify instructional goals that support school-wide improvement goals and a high-leverage system or structure that will support meaningful instructional change

  • Create space and time for teachers to work consistently with coaches 

  • Attend all Professional Learning Community events with their teacher teams

  • Encourage teachers to collaborate with one another to share practices, problem solve, and scale their work

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Principals play a critical, active role in designing and advancing their school’s Institute work. Building from their school-wide improvement goals, they identify one instructional goal and a new system or structure that will support meaningful change.
teacher studying presentation

The Institute’s own action research, coupled with larger research in the field, has surfaced several practice areas that are proven to be high leverage with over-age, under-credited youth:

Speaking and listening skills as a pathway to improving academic discourse and writing;

Placing student feedback at the center of teaching and learning as a vehicle for addressing student gaps in knowledge and skills;

Mastery-based learning as a system for increasing learning opportunities by meeting students where they are.  

Strengthening persistence in math and beyond by integrating the academic behavior of persistence into classroom practice.

Each school that applies to the Institute articulates how their work fits into one or more of these areas and the work is framed through the school's lens, rather than as a prescriptive set of practices.

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 Each participating school centers on a single focus area of work that they identify based on their instructional goals. Schools are then grouped according to common areas to form a peer network.