A Complete Professional Development Solution for Teachers, School-Based Instructional Leaders, and Senior District Leaders


Designing Engaging Virtual Learning

for classroom teachers & instructional staff

Virtual Instructional Leadership Challenge

for school-based instructional leaders

Instructional Framework Development Institute

for senior district leaders & coaches

How Instructional Leaders Align Teacher Practice & Improve Remote Learning

Teachers and leaders are rapidly discovering what works and what doesn't in remote learning. This professional learning is happening at an unprecedented speed—but too often, it's happening in isolation, so it's not leading to organization-wide learning and improvement.

While educators need a high degree of autonomy to respond to changing circumstances, they also need something only senior leaders can provide: coordination. This is no time for educators to operate in silos. 

Time is of the essence: students need us to get virtual learning right, and that requires two things.

First, it begins with effective instructional leadership—building on both the timeless fundamentals and the most effective new strategies for leading in virtual/hybrid learning contexts. 

Second, teachers need to master virtual instruction together—immediately—so sub-par materials and strategies don't become the norm. Practice makes permanent, after all. 

In the Virtual Learning Framework program, your district will rapidly build the professional capacity for sustained excellence in virtual, face-to-face, and hybrid teaching and instructional leadership.

Imagine if teachers across your organization were working from a shared framework that they helped develop.  

And what if this framework was already starting to emerge—just waiting to be noticed and articulated under the guidance of your instructional leadership team?

Right now, administrators and instructional coaches are struggling to provide support and feedback, using rubrics and expectations developed for a world that no longer exists. 

At least for now, virtual learning is here to stay—and we have a short window of time in which we can:

  • Turn pockets of excellence into the standard for all students
  • Prevent mediocre resources and practices from becoming a permanent part of our curriculum and pedagogy
  • Develop a shared Virtual Learning Framework to align and accelerate our work in support of student learning

The Virtual Learning Framework program will guide your instructional leadership team through an evidence-driven organizational development process, culminating in a lean, actionable framework teachers and leaders can use together to improve virtual instruction.

Here's what your team will do in the Virtual Learning Framework program to rise to the challenges and make the most of the opportunities of virtual/hybrid instruction. 

First, Find The Bright Spots

The seeds of your Virtual Learning Framework are already sprouting in classrooms across your organization. Teachers are experimenting moment-by-moment, figuring out what works for their students. 

In times of change, the role of instructional leaders is not to issue top-down mandates, but to notice what's working—to recognize the "bright spots"—and spread the word, so excellence can become the norm for all students. 

The Virtual Instructional Leadership Challenge will train your instructional leadership team to use the 8 sources of evidence of to identify best practices and drive improvement for virtual, in-person, and hybrid teaching. 

Next, Make Sense of Teacher Practice

Gathering evidence of teacher practice isn't enough— instructional leaders must also engage teachers in conversation about their practice to understand their thinking and decision-making.

The Virtual Instructional Leadership Challenge will walk your instructional leadership team through a structured cycle of 1:1 conversations about practice, gaining direct insight into teacher thinking and decision-making—the heart of professional practice. 

The traditional observation cycle—pre-conference, observation, post-conference—overlooks some of the most important sources of evidence in a virtual learning context.

By engaging teachers in deep, meaning-making conversation about richer sources of evidence—from teacher-created resources to student work to video clips of lessons—leaders will develop a nuanced, up-to-date perspective on teachers' current practice and best next steps. 

Then, Outline Your Best Practices

As you discover what's working for your students, you'll start to draft your Virtual Learning Framework—first as individuals, then as an instructional leadership team. Then, with feedback from teachers, you're ready to put it into use as a living document. 

This is a reversal of the usual "research into practice" approach, because there's far too little existing research—and no time to waste. A massive experiment is underway across our profession, and we have the opportunity to learn from practice now, rather than wait to implement theory developed in the future. 

In the Virtual Learning Framework program, you won't have to wait years for researchers to identify best practices for virtual learning. Your teachers are already developing them, and in this program, you'll document these practices, make sense of them with teachers, and rapidly make them the norm across your organization. 

Now, Use Your Framework to Drive Improvement

Ultimately, your Virtual Learning Framework will serve as the "third party" in your feedback conversations with teachers—providing the standard of excellence against which all practice is gauged. 

Your Virtual Learning Framework is a rubric describing teacher practice in specific areas, with levels of performance to create a roadmap for improvement. Because teachers are involved in creating this framework from their own best practices, buy-in is automatic—and best practices can rapidly become the standard in all classrooms.

But your Virtual Learning Framework is also a living document—as new best practices emerge, you'll have a repeatable process and organizational habits in place to update your Framework, so it continues to serve as a touchstone for practice across your organization.

This Framework will be the scaffold for unprecedented improvements in teacher practice—not just in the future, but within the current school year.

Finally, Return To A Better Normal

To some extent, virtual learning is here to stay, and even when schools fully return to in-person learning, best practices will live on—such as smarter use of learning management systems. 

But using your Virtual Learning Framework to drive improvement this year will also build your organization's capacity for self-improvement long into the future. 

When you break down the silos between classrooms, departments, and schools, working toward a shared vision of professional practice becomes the norm. 

When you get teachers talking about student work, examining standards, and curating the most effective resources to help students master essential knowledge and skills, their ability to improve increases dramatically, and becomes a norm across the culture of your district. 

In addition to the Virtual Learning Framework program, you'll get our complete Instructional Framework Development Program, which will help you design other types of frameworks of shared expectations—now and in the post-pandemic future. 

Program Timeline: Starting October 2020

Beginning in October 2020, the Virtual Learning Framework program will guide your team through the process of:

  • Holding focused 1:1 conversations with teachers about key practices
  • Examining 8 sources of evidence of practice, giving you the rich information you need to make decisions—even when you can't get into classrooms for traditional in-person observations
  • Training all staff in the 6 Essential Elements of Engaging Online Learning, including the Online Unit Design Plan Template
  • Developing protocols for looking at student work in each subject area and grade level

Participating districts are free to use all program materials as they see fit. Here is a suggested rollout plan:

October 2020:

  • District leaders consult with The Principal Center to develop a detailed timeline
  • School-based instructional leaders complete the Virtual Instructional Leadership Challenge and begin cycles of 1:1 conversations with teachers

November 2020:

  • Teachers begin Designing Engaging Virtual Learning training and start to identify best practices
  • School-based instructional leaders begin using alternate sources of evidence to complete feedback cycles

December 2020:

  • District leaders consult with The Principal Center to organize best practices into draft Virtual Learning Framework
  • Teachers and school-based leaders provide feedback on draft framework

Early 2021:

  • Teacher professional development builds on Virtual Learning Framework to share best practices across the district
  • School-based instructional leaders continue cycles of feedback conversations with teachers based on Framework

Summer 2021: 

  • School and district leaders continue to use the included online professional development programs to deepen their practice
  • District teams make revisions to instructional frameworks as needed

Core Programs

The Virtual Instructional Leadership Challenge is the latest iteration of our #1 program. With more than 10,000 alumni in 50+ countries, the Instructional Leadership Challenge has helped administrators and coaches change teacher practice more than any other professional development program in existence.

The all-new Virtual edition builds on the core practices of the Challenge, while introducing forms of evidence beyond direct classroom observation, and addressing other challenges of leading instructional improvement in virtual contexts, including:

  • How to make time for individual feedback conversations
  • How to drive improvement when teachers are dividing up the workload and using existing resources in new ways
  • How to provide feedback when you can't observe classes directly

...and much more. We recommend that all administrators and coaches complete the VILC as a first step in the program. 

Teaching in a virtual/hybrid context is about more than teaching the same lessons over video, or using an LMS instead of paper and pencil. In Designing Engaging Virtual Learning, teachers will discover the 6 Essential Elements of Engaging Online Learning:

  1. Engagement with content: challenging, built upon standards and learning goals, relevant to students
  2. Scaffolds: built in scaffolds to support all students (especially students receiving ELL & SPED services)
  3. Real-world connections: Time spent off of computer, exploring, using fine motor skills, reason to care about content, connection to “real world” and addresses a real-world problem
  4. Active inquiry: students are making sense of content, learning from their peers, reflecting on what they have learned
  5. Feedback and Assessment: equitable, clear, and timely formative and summative assessments are built into the unit
  6. Relationships: with teacher, among peers, with content

In addition, teachers will receive the Online Unit Design Plan Template.

The Instructional Framework Development Institute will help your team articulate a clear, shared vision for teaching and learning, in both traditional and virtual/hybrid contexts. 

Instructional Frameworks are leveled rubrics for specific areas of professional practice. These rubrics:

  • Create a shared vocabulary, anchoring conversations about practice in common expectations
  • Define levels of performance for making evidence-driven decisions
  • Describe growth pathways in specific areas of practice, so teachers know exactly what improvement looks like

You no doubt already have some instructional frameworks in place—such as your teacher evaluation criteria and curriculum-based frameworks.

While these pre-made frameworks may be high in quality, they're often lacking in relevance to your organization's unique vision, and to the changing circumstances of virtual/hybrid learning.

In the Virtual Learning Framework program, your instructional leadership team will first articulate your vision for virtual learning, so you can create immediate alignment and ensure high-quality instruction district-wide. 

You'll also get our complete Instructional Framework Development Program, which can help you design other types of instructional framework for post-pandemic improvement goals.

Pricing & License Details

The Virtual Learning Framework program includes a district-wide license covering all staff. We'll work with you to make the most appropriate resources and sessions available to each group of leaders and instructional staff at the right time. 

The cost to register your district—which includes direct consulting support and lifetime access to all program materials—is a one-time fee of $40,000, regardless of district size. 

Pre-registration discount: districts that issue purchase orders by Friday, October 9 can register at a reduced flat rate of $32,000. On Monday, October 12, the regular price of $40,000 takes effect. 

Because this is a district-level program, it is not available to individual schools within a district. Pricing is the same for any portion of a district—a flat rate of $32k through Friday, October 9, and $40k thereafter. 

Small districts (under 4,000 students) and independent schools—request a quote

Evidence-Driven Instructional Leadership Professional Development for Your Team

Download Our Brochure »

Participating organizations gain full access to our entire suite of instructional leadership PD programs:

THE high-performance instructional leadership certification

($1495/person value)

Our flagship program on changing teacher practice features 8 modules on evidence-driven feedback:

  1. The Power of Professional Conversation
  2. High-Performance Habits for Getting Into Classrooms
  3. The Classroom Connection: Understanding Instructional Improvement
  4. Seeing Deeper with Learning Dynamics™
  5. The Power of A Shared Instructional Framework
  6. Gathering, Discussing, and Using Evidence from Classroom Observations 
  7. High-Performance Formal Evaluations
  8. Go and See: Fueling Organizational Learning

THE Organizational Learning Intensive

($1495/person value)

Discover how to create sustainable improvement by following the Evidence-Driven Roadmap for Change:

  1. Find Your Bearings
  2. Map The Improvement
  3. Help People Change at the Right Time
  4. Get Close to the Work
  5. Protect & Accelerate the Work
  6. Learn through Evidence-Driven Inquiry

THE Instructional Leadership Association with new content through june 2022

($564 per person per year value)

As a member of the Instructional Leadership Association, you'll gain access to our Repertoire feedback app, plus our weekly and monthly resources to help you advance through the High-Performance Instructional Leadership Roadmap. Access to new content through June 2022 included.

About Your Facilitator

In the Virtual Learning Framework program, your senior leadership team will work directly with Dr. Justin Baeder, Director of The Principal Center. A former principal in Seattle Public Schools, he is creator of the Instructional Leadership Challenge, which has helped more than 10,000 school leaders in 50 countries around the world:

  • Confidently Get Into Classrooms Every Day
  • Have Feedback Conversations That Change Teacher Practice
  • Discover their best opportunities for school improvement

Dr. Baeder is the author of Now We're Talking! 21 Days to High-Performance Instructional Leadership (Solution Tree).

He is the host of Principal Center Radio, a weekly podcast featuring education thought leaders, and The Instructional Leadership Show, a weekly video podcast for K-12 leaders. 

Dr. Baeder holds a PhD in Educational Leadership & Policy from the University of Washington, where he studied principal productivity with a view toward helping school leaders make a habit of visiting classrooms daily. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What teacher evaluation systems are compatible with this program?

Your Virtual Learning Framework is designed to work in concert with your existing teacher evaluation system, not replace it. While we recommend a leveled teacher evaluation rubric like Charlotte Danielson's Framework for Teaching, we'll work together to develop rubrics for specific practices of focus, regardless of your evaluation criteria.

What specific professional development programs are included?

The Virtual Learning Framework program includes direct consulting support from The Principal Center, as well as three all-new programs:

  • For teachers: Designing Engaging Virtual Learning
  • For school-based instructional leaders: Virtual Instructional Leadership Challenge
  • For district leaders: direct consulting support in developing your Virtual Learning Framework

You'll also get an organization-wide license to our complete suite of evidence-driven leadership professional development programs, so you can provide high-quality professional development without the need for in-person training:

  • Instructional Leadership Association membership (a $564 value), including new content through June 30, 2022
  • The Repertoire feedback app (part of ILA membership) through June 30, 2022
  • The High-Performance Instructional Leadership Certification Program ($1495 value)
  • The Organizational Learning Intensive ($1495 value)
  • The Ascend Masterclass ($1495 value)

Senior leaders such as Superintendents, Area Directors, and Heads of School also receive membership in the Instructional Leadership Directors' Roundtable, our monthly online gathering of authors and executive thought leaders from across the education profession.

How does the consulting aspect work?

You'll work directly with Dr. Justin Baeder in private Zoom video calls. Onsite consultation and professional services are available by special arrangement.

Can individuals register?

At this time, the Virtual Learning Framework program is available only at the organization-wide level, e.g. local school district. If you are in an independent school or geographically distributed school network, contact us for a custom quote.

Is the Virtual Learning Framework program available to regional agencies/service centers?

Yes, this program is open to regional service centers, education cooperatives, and professional development agencies serving multiple districts in a given geographic region. Contact us for details, pricing, and a customized plan.

Is the Virtual Learning Framework program open to higher education faculty?

While our individual programs are available to higher education faculty who work in principal preparation, teacher education, and related fields, the Virtual Learning Framework program is limited to K-12 school districts, independent schools, and regional agencies serving local school districts at this time.

If you are an education researcher or university faculty member interested in discussing any aspect of this program, please contact us.

Who will have access to the included programs?

Your license covers all district staff. We'll work with you to determine the most appropriate rollout plan for teachers, administrators, and other staff.

What if my school has multiple campuses?

Independent schools spanning multiple physical campuses (e.g. Upper School and Lower School) are covered under a single license.

Districts with multiple schools or campuses are also covered under a single license.

For information on options for regional agencies/service centers, contact us.

Can I register just the part of my organization that I oversee?

Yes, if you oversee a part of your district—for example, a feeder pattern or region within your district—you can register just the schools you're responsible for.

Because the Virtual Learning Framework program is offered on a district license basis, you're welcome to include other regions or feeder patterns within your organization at no additional charge.

How long will we have access to the program materials?

Access to all current program materials does not expire—it's a one-time purchase with lifetime access for participants. Our program that includes new content every month, the Instructional Leadership Association, will be available to district staff through June 30, 2022, as will the included Repertoire app.

What payment options are available?

We accept purchase orders as well as direct credit card payments. We can accept international payments via SWIFT wire transfer or credit card, and domestic (US) payments via check or credit card. We invoice on Net 30 terms, and payment in full is required within 30 days of registration.

Please contact us with any questions regarding the vendor approval process in your organization. Vendor information including our W-9 form is available here.