Focus on Learning

Translating Student Outcomes into Instruction & Assessment


Program Overview:

In order to successfully meet the demands of a changing educational environment, schools and districts must be prepared with the knowledge, skills and expertise to effectively adapt and transform their organizations. As educational institutions, schools can no longer afford to ignore the challenge of preparing every student to be a successful participant in their own future.

The Focus on Learning program provides schools with an opportunity to acquire the tools and strategies of an adaptive organization, the resources to facilitate needed changes and the capacity to lead their institution into the 21st century. Life Long Learning & Associates believes that by focusing on the teaching and learning process, schools and districts will become the highly effective institutions our communities have come to expect.


Program Outcomes:

  • Alignment of curriculum, instruction and classroom assessment practices to improve student achievement.
  • Development of a shared conceptual model of “powerful teaching and learning” and strategies for using this model to improve achievement.
  • Development of internal support structures which incorporate observation, reflection and feedback through the cognitive coaching process.
  • Integration of an assessment and accountability system to provide feedback for the curricular and instructional decisions.
  • Building of the staff’s capacity to examine and utilize student work as data for monitoring, adjusting and improving student learning opportunities.
  • Institutionalization of continuous improvement as a process for building organizational capacity and sustaining momentum towards improvement efforts.
  • Documentation and completion of the school’s accreditation report, program quality review document, or strategic plan.


Program Delivery Systems:

The metamorphosis of schools into dynamic student-centered collaboratives can be accomplished utilizing either a whole school approach or leadership team delivery system. Either structure provides a viable option for schools or districts seeking systemic change and ongoing improvement for the organization.


Whole School Model

Working collectively with teachers, students and parents our work has proven to be effective at building a shared vision for the school which is reflected in the curricular and instructional decisions made daily in the classroom. Our program is highly successful at shifting the focus of school improvement efforts from procedural and/or structural modifications in the system to changes which result in improving the quality of the teaching and learning process.


Leadership Team Institute Model

Schools within the same district or schools within a network may wish to consider a team approach to this process. Leadership teams will attend intensive in-services in an institute setting designed to build the capacity of the team to effectively lead their organization. School teams will participate together in five core experiences during the first year. These experiences will provide the foundation for work at the individual sites along with school coaches ready to assist leadership teams, individual teachers, or departments as needed. The Focus on Learning program incorporates a cognitive coaching component to ensure the work at the site is consistent with the organization’s vision for students. It is recommended that the school team includes parents, students and at least one site administrator.


Administrative Support

Life Long Learning & Associates welcomes the opportunity to work directly with school and/or district administrators in building the organization’s capacity to ensure all students are successful. Our consultants represent committed professionals with a broad range of experience ranging from building level administrators to assistant superintendents. We can provide personal coaching and assistance to one or several administrators working to improve the instructional program at their sites. Our past experience includes working with large groups of school and district administrators, involved leadership programs such as the California School Leadership Academy, Utah’s Principal’s Academy and the Superintendent’s Leadership Program sponsored by the California State Department of Education. Our consultants are willing to provide technical assistance in guiding schools and districts through meaningful and significant organizational change which will positively impact student achievement.


Program Highlights:

The following core experiences represent areas for collective study over the course of two or three years. They should not be viewed sequentially or as individual in-service programs. Rather, each experience represents a thematic unit of study which has been thoughtfully crafted and interwoven with other core experiences to create a compelling vision for schooling. Taken individually, each provides a point of entry for engaging school commitment in taking collective action


Core Experience # 1: A Vision of the Future

  • Articulating a shared vision of schooling in the 21st century
  • Exploring effective collaborative work cultures
  • Establishing norms of collegiality within the organization
  • Assessing the climate and culture for change
  • Understanding the change process
  • Forming agreements on a set of schoolwide learning outcomes
  • Strategic planning for the future


Core Experience #2: Examining Best Practices “Powerful Teaching”

  • Developing a conceptual model of Powerful Teaching and Learning
  • Using indictors of Powerful Teaching to inform instructional decisions
  • Designing powerful learning experiences for students
  • Analyzing student work for evidence of powerful learning
  • The power of student voice in the learning process
  • Practicing what we preach…becoming instructional leaders
  • Using cognitive coaching to refine the art of observation, reflection, and feedback


Core Experience #3: Classroom Assessment Practices


  • Aligning student achievement goals and assessment tools
  • Using assessment to improve student achievement
  • Transforming classrooms with the “J” curve
  • The power of rubric development as a teaching strategy
  • Examining student work to inform instructional decisions
  • Exploring and creating performance tasks and assessments
  • Articulating standards, criteria, and indicators for student achievement


Core Experience #4: Extending & Refining Learning


  • Strategies and tools that promote critical thinking and problem solving
  • Instructional strategies that create collaborative learning environments
  • Teaching to the diversity of learners in the classroom
  • The power of integrating curriculum as a teaching and culture building process
  • Using technology to support Power Learning Experiences
  • Piloting innovations – Teacher as Researcher – Action Research