Center for School Improvement Leadership Institute

The Center for School Improvement Leadership Institute is the AFT’s premier professional development and technical assistance opportunity for strengthening collaboration skills with district and school improvement teams to improve student achievement. Teams attend this four-day national institute. In some cases, the AFT will host this professional development program onsite for large teams of educators in locals or states.

For more information, e-mail

The Institute is organized around four interactive modules focused on the work of improving schools including:

1. Data analysis for comprehensive educational planning

Institute participants learn about the relationship of data collection and analysis to the planning process. In this session, participants:

  • Analyze data and interpret findings to make informed decisions for student achievement.
  • Examine key components of comprehensive planning.
  • Use strategies and techniques to develop an effective school improvement plan.
  • Reflect on current local planning processes while considering options for reform.

2. Skills and structures for effective communication

Institute participants focus on the necessary skills and structures for effective communication to accomplish meaningful reform. In this session, participants:

  • Complete a personal profile to discover and reflect on their own communication strengths.
  • Learn to understand and value the communication style of others.
  • Practice using the skills they acquire to become more flexible communicators.
  • Examine and refine communication structures within their school/district/local community.
  • Apply communication skills to foster effective, productive teamwork in school and district improvement efforts.

3. Professional development to support student achievement

Institute participants examine research-based practices in professional development that produce evidence of student achievement.

  • Identify and examine attributes of effective professional development and professional learning communities.
  • Access current professional development practices in their school and district that link to the Common Core State Standards.
  • Design professional development practices and structures that support student achievement and enhance teaching quality.

4. Team building: Getting the job done

Institute participants develop skills for conducting productive team meetings. In this session, participants:

  • Practice effective agenda building.
  • Use meeting roles to ensure effectiveness and efficiency.
  • Streamline meetings by using appropriate tools for analysis and decision making.
  • Apply these strategies to establish a balance between attention to task and respect for relationships.

Action planning

Throughout the Institute, teams reflect and engage in action planning together. Each day ends with team time. The Institute provides teams with a structure for this process, asking focused questions for assessment and planning in the areas of:

  • Curriculum and instruction.
  • Student support services.
  • Community and family involvement.
  • Professional development.
  • School culture and climate.

Sessions are highly interactive and present practical strategies that teams can use directly in the work of improving schools for students. Each session ends with team meetings guided by focused questions to help teams reflect and respond on how they will bring what they have learned back to their colleagues. Teams leave with the tools to complete a sequential action plan in each of these areas. Overall, teams learn to:

  • Develop and follow an agenda.
  • Use meeting roles to ensure effectiveness and efficiency.
  • Establish analytic and decision-making processes.
  • Rely on active participation of all team members.
  • Focus on tasks and also build respectful relationships.

The Institute was developed and is delivered in collaboration with the UFT Teacher Center in New York City. The UFT Teacher Center supports high standards for students by promoting the professional growth of teachers and other educators; it is staffed by veteran educators with many years of experience providing high-quality professional development.

The Center for School Improvement Leadership Institute On-Site for Locals

In some instances, where a large team or teams within a district or local want to attend the Institute, AFT, with UFT Teacher Center partners, can bring the Institute onsite to locals. Part of the goal of such work includes building capacity within districts to share the information in the Institute. In a few committed districts, AFT and UFT Teacher Center staff members have worked to train trainers within districts to deliver the Institute. Listen to Toledo talk about the on-site Institute.

Is your team ready to attend the Center for School Improvement Leadership Institute?

AFT strongly encourages school improvement teams with labor and management members to attend the Institute. Buy-in from all parties involved—union leaders, members, teachers, parents, administrators, and community partners—is essential to improving schools. For more on the importance of buy in, read "The Importance of Staff "Buy-In" in the Selection of Proven Programs."

Ideas on funding your team's attendance at the Institute