What We Know

The IFL's work with educators is rooted in theories of education and in theories of organizational change. Our theory of action considers the contexts of classrooms, schools, and districts, and the challenges of providing high quality instruction for all students. Four fundamental ideas drive the IFL’s work with educators:

We know that high achieving students...

  • act on the belief that with hard work and dedication, they can accomplish difficult tasks.
  • learn to read, write, think, talk, inquire, and reason like experts within each content area.
  • work on challenging, discipline-specific texts, tasks, problems, and projects.
  • gain knowledge and develop conceptual understanding of the core concepts of each content area; use their knowledge to argue, solve problems, and create new knowledge.
  • learn to synthesize multiple sources of information; solve high-level tasks; analyze and interpret difficult texts; construct reasoned explanations and arguments orally and in writing; test and apply their understanding of concepts; and conduct and explain research to answer questions and solve problems.
  • assume responsibility for their learning.

We know that effective teachers...

  • act on the belief that all students can learn and succeed.
  • have deep content knowledge and knowledge of best practices in their content area.
  • apprentice students to read, write, think, talk, inquire, and reason like experts in each content area—like scientists, mathematicians, historians, readers, and writers.
  • consistently provide all students with opportunities to gain knowledge and develop conceptual understanding of core, content-specific concepts.
  • consistently provide all students with opportunities to engage with cognitively demanding texts, tasks, problems, and projects. They scaffold students' learning without doing the cognitive heavy lifting for them.
  • encourage students to take risks, seek and offer help, ask questions, reflect on their learning, and learn from one another.
  • understand that talking through problems is a core act of learning. They make student talk and collaboration key learning routines.
  • make assessment part of teaching. They consistently check for student understanding and use data to guide instruction.
  • value the diversity of their students and work hard to make their classrooms safe and inclusive spaces where all students can learn and succeed.
  • work hard and consistently to improve their own teaching.
  • learn, work, and plan with other educators in professional learning communities.

We know that effective school and district leaders...

  • act on the belief that all students can learn and succeed.
  • know what high quality teaching and learning looks like in each content area, and collaborate with teachers to establish a shared vision for instruction and performance.
  • align instructional materials, programs, and expectations for practice to support this shared vision.
  • monitor and assess teaching and learning. They ensure that teachers receive feedback about the quality of their instruction measured against agreed upon expectations and the shared vision.
  • align organizational structures and resources to make sure teachers have what they need to be effective, including access to high-quality curricula, ongoing professional development, and allocated time to learn, work, and plan with other educators.

We know that effective professional learning communities...

  • require that all members engage as learners.
  • work on substantive issues that will impact teaching and learning. They study how students learn particular content and concepts, analyze evidence of student learning, plan and revise lessons based on student work, and discuss best teaching practices in particular content areas.
  • seek opportunities to extend their content knowledge and knowledge of best teaching practices in their content areas.
  • work from curriculum, standards, data, and best practices in the content areas.
  • promote inquiry, collaboration, and collegiality.
  • meet regularly and have short and long term goals.