Our Work

Since 2007, Highlander Institute has worked to support and empower students and schools -- particularly those from marginalized populations -- through innovative and impactful instructional frameworks.

2020 has illuminated and intensified the structural inequities present in our education system. In response we’ve:

  • Re-centered our pedagogical framework on instructional equity.
  • Elevated the voices and power of students and families.
  • Designed leadership development models that support enduring school improvement.
  • Provided ongoing professional development that elevates anti-racist principles.

We will be feeling the impact of the global pandemic on the education system for years to come.  Highlander Institute is ready and able to work with your school or district next year to meet your local needs and challenges.  Our approach leverages transformative frameworks to drive instructional equity. Learn more about our menu of offerings below.

Our Pedagogical Framework

Implemented through an equity lens, our Culturally Responsive and Sustaining Pedagogy (CRSP) framework drives academic improvement. Persistent achievement gaps are the result of deficient systems, not deficient students. Our instructional approach begins with awareness, encouraging teachers and leaders to recognize how current systems undermine student confidence and under-develop cognitive processing skills. Our progression of high-value teacher moves is aligned with student data and paves the way for improving student engagement, elevating higher order thinking skills, and nurturing self-directed learners -- resulting in enhanced achievement and empowered students.


Our Approach

Our approach is differentiated to meet teachers and leaders where they are and move them forward at a productive cadence. Teachers and leaders build awareness and knowledge collaboratively through professional development sequences, professional learning communities, and embedded coaching cycles when they are ready to deepen their practice. While tackling challenging and complex topics head on, our combined focus on instruction and change management is infused with hope and focuses on specific, actionable levers that yield big change. Throughout our process, the rationale behind the big picture is clear and well-supported while classroom action steps are concrete and adaptable to local contexts.

Our Offerings


Through our Professional Development series, Teachers and Leaders participate in an overview of the CRSP framework for instructional equity. The series offers opportunities for reflection and discussion, introducing high impact instructional moves across the four domains of Awareness, Community Building, Cognitive Development, and Critical Consciousness.


Through facilitated Professional Learning Communities, groups of committed Teachers and Leaders can gather to discuss and reflect on CRSP content. Teachers share lessons, practice new instructional strategies and engage in implementation activities, while Leaders share ideas, implement new leadership routines, and facilitate school-level data analyses.


Through 1-on-1 Teacher Coaching, teachers who are ready to lead implementation efforts within their building receive individualized, embedded support to help grow their practice. Coaching efforts center on knowledge building, self-reflection, student feedback, and the strategic implementation of CRSP practices. Emerging best practices are codified and shared with the larger faculty.


Through 1-on-1 Leader Coaching, leaders receive personalized and structured support, focusing on managing sustainable change, advancing instructional equity, and enhancing family engagement. Coaches help leaders grow in their roles as instructional leaders, organizers, consensus-builders, communicators, and problem-solvers as defined by their school context & conditions.

Ways to Engage


When partnering with us, you can choose your level of engagement based on your current context and capacity. Explore our Culturally Responsive & Sustaining Pedagogy framework as a full faculty in Professional Development; develop internal change agents through the facilitation of a CRSP Professional Learning Community; establish implementation expertise and best practices through 1-on-1 Coaching of teachers and leaders; or connect implementation more fully with leadership moves to support whole school change.


Learn More

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