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Skillful Practice

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The knowledge and skills to teach, team, lead and learn.

Professionals must demonstrate Skillful Practice by knowing the technical aspects of their role, being able to adapt their teaching strategies to meet the needs of learners, and teaming collaboratively to maximize impact.

Framework Learning Series: Skillful Practice

There are three broad areas in which practitioners in nearly any endeavor need to develop expertise:

  • What to do and why? (Rigorous, Relevant Content)
  • How and when to do it? (Effective Teaching Strategies)
  • Working with others who are involved or impacted? (High Functioning Teams)

The specific practice is different for each level of leadership, whether classroom teachers, school team members, principals, or 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


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.

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.


High Functioning Teams are pairs or groups of people working with efficiency and effectiveness toward a clear, common goal.


The learners are...

The teams might include...

classroom teachers students (children) all students (classroom, grade-level, school), cooperative learning teams, etc.
teacher leaders teacher colleagues grade-level teams, department teams, district level teams, mentoring pairs, etc.
school leaders leader colleagues and teachers whole school, whole faculty, instructional leadership team, administration team, etc.
district leaders district leader colleagues, school leaders and teachers superintendent's cabinet, district office team meetings, teacher advisory board, all-school conferences, etc. 


Sample Professional Development Programs

CONTACT US to discuss what we can do to support skillful leadership and classroom practices in your school or district.