Advancement Via Individual Determination

AVID is not another program....

From “The Power of Instructional Frameworks”

By Carol Gardner of Learning Focused


All teachers want to be the best they can be for their students. They want to be sure they are using the most effective strategies and practices to ensure that all of their students learn efficiently and successfully. They want their classrooms to be places where students are actively engaged in meaningful, relevant and challenging work every day. They want to be responsive to the wide range of learning needs of their students.


Being the best teacher consistently and pervasively is a daunting task, however. The challenge is that teaching is a complex endeavor. Teacher evaluation models detail dozens of strategies and practice that teachers should know and be able to do. With every new educational book, newsletter, journal article, webinar, course or professional development sessions, teachers learn more and more approaches they could be using to support students’ learning. With so many pieces in the “educational puzzle,” teachers can easily become overwhelmed, overloaded with information, and fragmented in their efforts. The solution to this challenge lies in utilizing an instructional framework.


Framework: an underlying structure that connects components to create organization.


Can you imagine trying to design, say, a kitchen without a framework to guide you? Where would you start? Would you just make it up as you went along? How would you choose among the thousands of building products available in a home improvement store? Would the “fad” of the day influence your design decisions? How would you make sure that your choices fit together to allow you to have an operational kitchen? How would you communicate your ideas to teachers or understand their ideas? What would ensure that your choices would remain functional over time, eliminating the need for a complete overhaul every year?


The same problems occur when a school operates without a common instructional framework. Teachers are left to figure out things on their own, select among the multitude of instructional strategies out there, and sort out how to work collaboratively with colleagues who may have a completely different mental “blueprint” of effective instruction. Improvement efforts become scattered and diffused over time, not to mention abandoned from year to year in favor of “the next best new thing.”


It is not surprising then that a pattern found in exemplary schools (and not very often in typical schools) is the use of a common instructional framework. This provides consistency, organization, and certainty that all teachers are planning and providing the most effective instruction. Schools are no longer swayed by whatever comes along because their work is grounded in a collective vision of good instruction. An instructional framework also supports effective professional learning because teachers can learn together, support each other, and focus on improving their practice over time. When schools use a common instructional framework so that all teachers have a common approach to teaching and learning, students achieve more and teachers teach more effectively (Robinson, 2011).


It’s important to understand that an instructional framework is not the same thing as a program. Consider the following quote from a remodeling magazine:


“All kitchens share the same purpose and elements. Refrigerators are for chilling, counters for chopping, sinks for cleanup, etc. So are all kitchens the same? Hardly. Like painters at canvases, kitchen designers make individual choices in layouts, colors, cabinets, and such. The best result comes when the design is tailored to the needs of a particular household.”

Remodeling Ideas for Your Home

Better Homes and Gardens Special Interest Publications

February/March 2005


Likewise, an instructional framework provides a cohesive structure made up of proven components, but it is adaptable to make it work for particular teaching styles, content areas and student needs (while maintaining the core structure of the framework). Teachers can unleash their creativity with confidence that their students are going to be successful. A program, on the other hand, says this is how to do it and you are required to do it this way regardless of the learners you might have. Just as kitchens must be tailored to meet a family’s particular needs, the most effective instructional frameworks are flexible enough that schools can focus on their specific goals.


An exemplary instructional framework . . . empowers teachers to plan to teach at their best and all students to reach their highest potential in every lesson. It allows members of a school staff to “row as one.” If we would never consider planning a kitchen without a framework, surely with something as important as teaching and learning, a common instructional framework should be of the highest priority.