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Our Approach for Improved and Inspired Learning

Please click on a section of the interactive framework below. First you will see more detail about each area and, by clicking again, you will be able to learn how Teachers21 approaches the work of helping educators to improve and inspire learning. 

Growth Mindset

What does growth mindset mean for a district?

A growth mindset is belief in one's ability to learn.

In schools and districts with a Growth Mindset…

  • There is a belief that all can learn and that it requires effort
  • There is a commitment from all to be continuous learners
  • There is an effort to turn challenges, disagreements and mistakes into learning opportunities
  • There is a willingness to take risks and try new things
  • There is a desire for feedback

Note: Growth Mindset is not possible unless the community’s members trust each other to feel safe enough to take risks.  Growth is accelerated via the social interaction of feedback and dialogue.


Research and Resources

What Matters Most: Teaching for America’s Future 

NCTAF’s first groundbreaking report, What Matters Most: Teaching for America’s Future (1996),  called for “competent, caring, qualified teaching in schools organized for success” and sparked a national dialogue about the importance of high quality teaching.

NCTAF's research has informed the growth of professional teaching standards, the birth of organizations that strengthen the teaching career from induction to mastery, and national discussions about methods to encourage and develop teacher knowledge and skills.

The NCTAF website has many more reports and resources.

National Commission on Teaching and America's Future. (1996). What matters most: Teaching for America's future.  New York: Author.


What mattes most in teachers' workplace context?


McLaughlin, M.W. (1993). What mattes most in teachers' workplace context? In J.W. Little & M.W. McLaughlin (Eds.), Teachers' work: Individuals, colleagues, and contexts (pp.79-103).  New York: Teachers' College Press.


Becoming a Learning School


This resource (available through Amazon) provides practical strategies and activities that can be used for transforming the culture of a school into one where everyone is a learner.  The chapters address logistical aspects that one can introduce to create a context that is conducive to multilevel learning.  These aspects include time, planning, data, designs for professional learning, teaming, and routines for evaluating professional learning.

Killion, J. & Roy, P. (2009).  Becoming a learning school.  Oxford, OH:  National Staff Development Council.


Organizational Learning


This resource  (available through Amazon) is a guidebook to establishing organizational learning-- as both a routine and a mindset-- in schools.  It not only explains clearly what organizational learning is/ can do and identifies 6 key conditions that foster organizational learning, but it offers practical strategies, suggests activities, provides reflection questions and presents illustrative examples.  

The six conditions are:

  1. Prioritizing learning for all members
  2. Fostering inquiry
  3. Facilitating the dissemination (sharing) of knowledge
  4. Practicing democratic principles
  5. Attending to human relationships
  6. Providing for members' self-fulfillment

Collinson, V., & Cook, T.F. (2006).  Organizational learning: Improving learning, teaching and leading in school systems.  Thousand Oaks:  Sage Publications, Inc.


Related Programs

Sample courses and workshops we offer on reflective learning culture

Rigorous Relevant Content

How are effective teaching strategies developed within a district? Skillful Practice

Improved and inspired learning for all requires leaders who are effective teachers.  But what are they "teaching?"

The specific CONTENT is different for each level of leadership:

  • classroom teachers
  • team members
  • principals
  • district leaders
The Learners Are...
The content might include...
classroom teachers students (children)
  • academics/ Common Core
  • social skills
  • character education
  • 21st century skills
teacher leaders teacher colleagues
  • content knowledge
  • how to effectively implement a wide repertoire of teaching strategies
  • how to manage and monitor student learning
  • how to use data to inform instruction
  • how to reflect individually and collectively
school leaders leader colleagues and teachers 

(in addition to the content of teacher leaders...)

  • how to align curriculum vertically
  • how to engage in school improvement planning
district leaders district leader colleagues, school leaders and teachers
  • leadership development of others
  • providing instructional leadership
  • managing operations
  • engaging family and community
  • creating a professional culture


Research and Resources

On Rigor:


Related Programs

Courses and Workshops for Skillful Classroom Practice

Courses and Workshops for Skillful Leadership Practice

Effective Teaching Strategies

How are effective teaching strategies developed within a district?Skillful Practice

Effective Teaching Strategies are Instructional strategies that are well-chosen for the present students, content and context, and implemented with a high level of skill and efficiency.

Note: There are two ways people approach "effective teaching."  

  • One is to define it by the inputs (as we have here).  This involves thinking about whether the strategies are well-chosen given what is known about the student, content and context, and whether there has been high-quality implementation of the strategies.  We could call this "strong performance of promising practices" or a "professional standard of care," (as in medicine where the best known solutions are expected to be applied, and anything less is "malpractice"). 
  • The other is to define effective teaching by the outputs.  This involves determining, "Did student learning result from the teaching strategies?"  Of course, many factors influence the extent to which a student successfully learns from "effective teaching strategies," and a student who demonstrates an output of knowledge and skill may have acquired those knowledge and skills elsewhere.  In the T21 Framework, effective teaching output, or student learning results, are captured in the Continuous Improvement Process.


Research and Academia

Improved and inspired learning for all requires leaders who are effective teachers. The strategies they use will depend on if the learners are:
  • children
  • adult peers
  • adults in a hierarchical relationship

Strategies for Teaching Adults (Hierarchical Relationship)

These frameworks and rubrics are for teaching situations involving evaluation and judgment.

How to Make Teacher Evaluations Accurate, Fair, and Consistent By Kim Marshall (EdWeek, Jul 19, 2013)

Strategies for Teaching Adults (Peers)

There are many frameworks for this. We recommend:

Strategies for Teaching Children

There are many frameworks and rubrics for defining and evaluating the strategies for teaching children.

Yardsticks:  Children in the Classroom, Ages 4-14-- reference book supporting educators to understand the unique cognitive, physical, and socio-emotional needs of each age from 4 to 14. (in Amazon) (see book website)


Related Programs

Courses and Workshops for Skillful Classroom Practice

Courses and Workshops for Skillful Leadership Practice


Resource Optimization

What does great resource optimization mean for a district?Strategic Alignment and Coherence, T21 Framework

Resource Optimization is a process of ensuring that even in a climate of limited resources, individuals have what they most need to do their work well.  It requires difficult decisions that must be made with a central focus on the vision.

In schools and districts with Resource Optimization

  • There is a recognition that the allocation of resources (time, people and money) reflects the priorities, vision and core values
  • There is a commitment to maximizing efficiency and eliminating waste
  • There is an effort to identify and capitalize upon resources in the community (incl. through partnerships)
  • There is attention to seeking technology solutions that can improve effectiveness and/or efficiency
  • There is recognition of expertise as the community’s most important resource for improving teaching and learning

Note:  A determination of resource allocation as “optimal” should be made relative to the community’s vision and core values.  Since everyone within the community uses resources, resource optimization is a shared responsibility.  


Research and Resources

Building a New Structure for School Leadership by Richard Elmore

Schools need to think more strategically about how they are allocating leadership resources in schools. Insufficient resources are currently focused on instructional improvement.

"Unless there is a radical change in the structure of school leadership, few schools will be able to rise to the challenge of enabling all students to meet high standards, says Anrig Professor of Educational Leadership Richard F. Elmore. With accountability standards creating more public scrutiny than ever before, educational leaders must focus their efforts on instruction if they are to thrive and survive in the current conditions. "

Full Text (40 pages)

Abridged Version

The Paradox of Innovation in Education by Richard Elmore 

(Research Literature)

One problem in schools is that we don't know how to identify and capitalize upon what we already know.  When we do know it, we don't know how to scale it up or make that knowledge available at a higher level, to more people.  Another problem is that we're fooled into thinking we're maximizing resources simply by taking advantage of what's available.  That can lead to the tail wagging the dog.  Instead, organizational learning around the mission should drive our actions and resources should be a support. 

Elmore, R. (1997).  The paradox of innovation in education:  Cycles of reform and the resilience of teaching.  In A.A. Altshuler & R.D. Behm (Eds.), Innovation in American government (pp. 246-273).  Washington, DC: Brookings Institute.

Purchase the book on Amazon (Chapter 11)


Related Programs

Contact Us to find out about programs we offer related to optimizing resources and strengthening strategic alignment and coherence.