The KIPP Framework for Excellent Teaching (Part Three): The top of the puzzle box

A while back I wrote about wasting planning time in a futile search for the perfect clip art.  Inevitably the development of the  KIPP Framework for Excellent Teaching involved a three month investigation/debate/nerdily deep dive into developing the visual that represents the framework.  Hopefully the debate about raised hands or clasped hands for classroom culture isn’t  an example of falling down the rabbit hole.  We were trying hard to get the big picture right.    There were arguments for a calmer, more corporate diagram, the kind that would fold gently into a Powerpoint.  However we strove for something big and bright and sticky because its endpoint is on the wall of a classroom reminding a teacher at a glance about the competency he is focusing on or a behavior she wants to practice.

Growth and achievement (the climb and the summit) are at the center of every transformative classroom.  An extraordinary fifth grade math teacher celebrates  kids who didn’t know their times tables and now roll numbers flawlessly and relentlessly pushes them forward knowing they need to be ready for algebra in three short years.  We choose mountains rather than a single summit because the experience of our alumni (and all of us) is that high school and college are not final destinations.  We do not want kids to believe that college is the Big Rock Candy Mountain (

There are four elements in the KIPP Framework that combine to fuel transformative, long term student growth and achievement.   At various times we have called these four buckets, arenas, and heavenly bodies (at one point the Framework looked like the solar system).  We landed on elements because of the stickiness of the analogy when talking about the elements forming compounds and the behaviors being molecules and not as a nod to strange Bruce Willis sci-fi flicks.

The Framework is big. The four elements of The KIPP Framework for Excellent Teaching contain competencies.  Each competency breaks down into observable behaviors.  There are  twenty one competencies with over  130 observable behaviors and there probably isn’t a teacher who unfailingly demonstrates every one of them.  However we believed that establishing the aspirational vision of excellent teaching is the first step towards building the tools and mindsets that help novices become solid, and solid teachers become extraordinary.  The sheer size of the Framework can lead a rookie (or even mid-career) teacher down two mental paths.

A.  This is ridiculous and way too hard.

B.  Wow.   I could teach for a long, long time and still have a lot to learn. Cool.

It’s up to principals, coaches, and instructional leaders of all stripes to cultivate the second mindset.

In upcoming posts I will dig into each of the four big elements of the KIPP Framework for Excellent Teaching.  If you are on KIPP Share you can download the Framework; if you are outside the network please let me know if you would like to see a copy.


2 Responses to “The KIPP Framework for Excellent Teaching (Part Three): The top of the puzzle box”

  1. Janice Says:

    I am fascinated to learn more about the framework. I’m left most curious about how this connects with TFA’s rubric (admittedly far more targeted towards the beginning teacher) and Doug Lemov’s ‘Teach Like a Champion’. How do teachers use all of these to drive their instruction, how do they build off one another, and how would one go about using these outside the KIPP network to develop new teachers? I’m guessing many of these questions may be answered when I take a deeper look.

    Thanks for sharing!

    • mrdolan Says:

      You can download the framework on KIPP Share. I’d love to hear what you think.

      The big divergences from the TAL are

      1. Transformative life outcomes require long-term commitments to students and the profession.
      2. Excellent KIPP classrooms and teachers operate as part of high performing schools and as part of a K-12 continuum. This means part of being a great teacher is being a great teammate.

      I hope all is well. See you in two weeks in the peanut field.

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