Just released: Professional Learning Conditions and Practices

Professional Learning Conditions and Practices

Introducing the Instructional Leadership Levers

After years of working alongside school leaders to strengthen instruction, we’ve identified three key levers that educators can use to raise the level of instruction and drive student learning:

  1. High-quality materials create the foundation for grade-level content. 
  2. Effective professional learning supports teachers in providing access to grade-level content in a way that meets the needs of all students.
  3. Data provides lines of sight into what’s working and what needs to be adjusted to support students and teachers.   

Our Curriculum Support Guide provides a pathway for leaders looking to select, implement, and support lever 1: materials. Building on that work, we designed the resources below to help leaders implement lever 2: professional learning that is purposeful, worthy of educators’ time, and effective in improving student outcomes and experiences.

Why Professional Learning?

Given the impact of interrupted schooling over the last two years, we know that now more than ever, teachers need professional learning that allows them to address a wide range of learning needs.

The problem?

The factors that make professional learning effective can feel abstract—hard to pinpoint, and even harder to monitor and strategically improve.

To support teachers’ ability to plan and deliver great learning experiences grounded in high-quality materials, leaders first need clarity on the school conditions and leadership practices that matter most—and a way to improve and monitor them.


Check out our professional learning rubrics and explore the full set of PL resources below. 

About the resources 

We’ve worked with hundreds of school leaders across the country to support professional learning, and, over the last two years, we piloted a new set of leadership resources with 16 schools. Based on everything that we learned, we isolated the leadership actions that we found matter most and created resources that strengthen two professional learning structures: 1) collaborative planning and 2) observation and feedback. 

Here’s what you can do with these resources—on your own or with your leadership team:

  • Measure current conditions for your professional learning structures
  • Follow concrete action steps to optimize conditions for teacher and leader learning
  • Implement key professional learning practices
  • Monitor progress toward your intended outcomes


Note: We know that the term “professional learning” may conjure up images of teachers sitting in a workshop, receiving training on a specific strategy or set of content. We have not found that kind of one-off professional learning creates meaningful change in instruction. Though some initial training can be useful when launching a new curriculum, instructional support is best implemented through these two ongoing, job-embedded professional learning structures.

Choose your focus

Given your school’s context and priorities, which professional learning structure will lead to the greatest impact for your teachers and students right now?

Collaborative planning

Teachers need time to reflect, share, and prepare to teach—ideally with colleagues in the same grade band, using the same materials. Effective collaborative planning ensures that teachers have the time they need to get clear on lesson outcomes, anticipate and adjust their instruction to meet unfinished learning needs, and improve their practice in a specific focus area.

Take me there

Observation and feedback

All teachers need clarity on where to focus their improvement efforts so that they can strengthen instruction. Effective observation and feedback led by instructional leaders provides that clarity—leading to clearer instructional expectations across the school and, ultimately, better outcomes for students.

Take me there

Not sure where to start?

If you already have both professional learning structures in place, ask yourself: Which structure is positioned to gain momentum more quickly? Start there.   

If you’re not sure which professional learning structure in your school is better positioned for improvement, our professional learning snapshot assessment can help.


Want all the tools?

Before digging into the resources, we recommend choosing a structure above and using our interactive rubric to better understand your areas for improvement.

If you want to skip the interactive rubric and download all the resources, click the link below.

Download resources