Sustainable Leadership Pipelines


SEN’s leadership programs helps attract and retain top talent in the district by providing successful early career teachers with recognition while highlighting the pathway to future career advancement.  Establishing tiers in the career ladder creates a school based leadership lab through which principals and the district can identify candidates who are able to achieve positive results, and gradually teaching them to share their skills and knowledge with a growing set of peers.  Lead teachers are introduced to coaching, working with a single peer while continuing to perfect their classroom practice.  Master teachers work with a cohort of teachers and begin to develop group leadership skills by leading staff PD and leading teacher teams.  Small Learning Community Leaders are take on the full set of administrative responsibilities for a subset of the school, managing instruction, culture and discipline as we'll as operational decisions.  The career ladder is structured like a pyramid with the greater number of participants at the bottom level, allowing only the strongest performers to be selected to move on to the next level, strengthening the overall leadership pipeline.


Lead Teachers are high performers, typically early in their career, hungry to continue to improve their own teaching practice and ready to learn to coach their peers.  Lead teachers spend 75% of their time teaching, continuing to perfect their craft, and 25% of their time coaching a peer teacher.  



Master teachers are typically more experienced teachers who have consistently achieved excellent student outcomes and have some experience leading adults.  Master teachers spend ~20% of their time leading a model classroom and the remainder of their time developing their skills in instructional leadership. In addition to coaching peers Master teachers are instrumental in helping to set the agenda for the Turnaround plan and leading groups of teachers in developing best practice through PD and critical friends groups.


Small Learning
Community Leaders

Small Learning Community Leaders are experienced educators ready to lead turnaround teams in struggling schools.  The SLC leaders are coached to be the instructional leader for the staff and the cultural leader for the community.  SLC leaders have a  vision for quality instruction and the ability to inspire community stakeholders in the value of the turnaround plan.  Successful SLC leaders are prepared to be school principals in the next step of their development.

Recruitment and Selection

SEN employs a rigorous search process to identify educators who are proactive, visionary leaders that take personal responsibility for teacher actions and student results.  This thorough vetting process identifies leaders with a clear vision for what will make their school special and successful, based on deep knowledge and evidence-based best practices and a proven ability to lead adults to collectively improve student outcomes. Our programs provide ongoing direction and support to help participants formulate and bring to life their school turnaround vision, and maintain positive momentum in the face of the inevitable challenges they will encounter in their new roles.

Instructional Leadership Teams

School leaders cannot affect change on their own.  We teach school leaders to build consensus and gain buy in as part of our program, but their chances of success increase dramatically when they start their leadership work with a few allies in place.  Once the most promising individuals have been selected, SEN’s development program groups them in instructional leadership teams and places them in school turnaround settings, where their critical mass will allow them to have significant immediate impact on school culture.

SEN gave me clarity on having a streamlined and systemic plan for how to actually coach and develop a teacher.
— Jay Hafner, Assistant Principal @ Denby High School

Programs and Curriculum

The SEN Leadership Institute (SLI) curriculum develops leaders to guide their faculty in enthusiastically embracing the vision for improvement. The development program centers around two essential challenges of turnaround work:

  • Students must be taught grade appropriate, standards-aligned work that puts them on a path for college and career readiness. However, many students in turnaround schools are several grade levels behind their peers, and have little experience with the habits and approach required to be successful in a rigorous school.  The challenge is to maintain standards while providing students the targeted support needed so they are not set up for failure.
  • Students and staff should enjoy coming to school.  A positive school culture focused around celebration is a must for building momentum in a turnaround setting. However, students attending turnaround schools have often spent years without clear expectations for behavior, or positive relationships with adults in a school community. Students will require redirection as standards for a culture of learning are established. The challenge is to create a family-like school atmosphere in which students are taught to meet expectations over time without alienating students and families through repeat suspensions and a culture of punishment.

The SLI curriculum addresses these challenges with:

  • a focus on an aligned instructional approach across classrooms that starts with planning from the standards
  • a data driven approach that identifies and adjusts to student learning gaps in real time
  • a school design in which every student is well known by an adult advocate
  • extended learning time and individualized support for those that need it
  • school culture systems that center around relationships, personal responsibility and an orientation to build on the positive.  

After conducting recruitment and selection during the fall, we work with selected leadership teams to establish a vision for their school and a strategic implementation plan.  Special emphasis is placed on crafting summer PD designed to introduce core values, foundational expectations and the accompanying systems and structures to staff before the start of the year.

Once teams are in place, coursework and coaching continually refine focus, adjust plans to clear site specific hurdles and keep schools moving towards their improvement goals.  Listed below are some of the high leverage topics in the school leader and MTLT programs.

 SLC/Principal Program Master and Lead Teacher Program
Programmatic components - Coursework
- One-on-one coaching
- Coursework
- One-on-one coaching
Topics covered in coursework - Vision setting
- Strategic planning
- Distributive leadership
- Defining School Culture
- Planning and Facilitating Quality PD
- Teacher Collaboration
- Rigorous Unit and Lesson Planning
- Developing and Supporting Quality Instruction
- Data-Driven Instruction
- Academic support/RTI
- Social-Emotional Support
- Operational support for Turnaround vision and goals
- Relationship Building and Restorative Practices
- Vision setting
- Supporting the vision as part of a team
- Observation & Feedback
- Designing and Facilitating PD
- Influencing Others
- Rigorous Unit and Lesson Planning
- Planning and Implementing Classroom Strategies (i.e. Differentiation Instruction, Increasing Rigor, Literacy Across the Curriculum)
- Curriculum Oversight and Feedback
Coaching Activities - Strategic Planning and progress monitoring on school goals/benchmarks
- Reviewing systems (i.e. observation/feedback, grade level meetings, Instructional Leadership meetings)
- Co-observing classrooms
- Observing PD/PLC meeting
- Observation of Leader leading a feedback meeting
- School walk-throughs
- Co-observing classrooms and planning feedback
- Observing and providing feedback on Master/Lead teacher’s teaching
- Observing PD/PLC meeting
- Observation of MT/LT leading a feedback meeting
Bi-weekly Time Commitment - Full day coaching at schools with full leadership teams including two hours of individual coaching for school leader
- 2 – 3 hour course work
- Full day coaching at schools with full leadership teams including one hour of individual coaching for each Master and lead teacher
- 2 – 3 hour course work


Participants in our programs are expected to produce tangible, measurable results for their schools beginning in the first year of implementation.  With our programs in place we expect to see improvements in the following areas:

  • Success developing and implementing a turnaround action plan, built off of a formal needs assessment (conducted by SEN and district leadership).
  • Positive impact on teacher effectiveness: teacher growth in observation /evaluation ratings and teacher retention.
  • Positive impact on student performance on assessments at the school level, district level and national level. 
  • Impact on school climate and culture: improvement in student engagement in classrooms and increase in student on-culture behaviors outside classrooms. 
  • Portfolio assessments: products from the field (e.g. data analysis, lesson plan feedback).
  • Leadership rubric: evaluation of competency mastery, based on deliverables and in-school performance.
  • Teacher, student and community feedback: formal and informal