What we do

Building Leadership Capacity

At CEL, our mantra is: “You can’t lead what you don’t know.” Educational leaders must understand what good teaching is before they can foster best practices in classrooms and raise the bar for student performance. That’s one of our primary jobs at CEL:  to help district leaders and principals develop the vision, the language, and the tools to observe, analyze, and lead for high-quality instruction in every classroom.


  • Walkthroughs, coaching, and professional development for district, building, and teacher leaders in the 5 Dimensions of Teaching and Learning™ instructional framework
  • Assessing and developing instructional leadership skills such as observing and analyzing evidence of instruction, providing targeted feedback, and planning for professional learning
  • Content-based demonstration teaching, studio classroom residencies, coaching, and in-depth subject matter study for teachers of math and literacy
  • Coaching and professional development for school leaders, coaches, and teacher leaders to improve teacher professional learning
  • Professional development and coaching for supervisors of school building leaders
  • Coaching on strategies to focus and align central offices on leadership for student learning

CEL’s services are customized for each partner, though we find that districts benefit most when they make a long-term, comprehensive investment in our services. Working from classrooms to boardrooms, we can help the entire district get smarter about how to sustain quality instruction and maximize the impact of our programs. Visit the Services section of our website to learn more about how CEL can support you.

Our Theory of Action

CEL’s work rests upon the critical assumption that the single most important factor in supporting student learning is the quality of classroom instruction. We know that in order to support excellent teaching, school leaders and teachers need to acquire and develop expertise about what constitutes high-quality instruction.  To achieve that goal, CEL develops the leadership skills, content and instructional knowledge and abilities of teachers, school administrators, and district leaders. 

Our Track Record

CEL has commissioned research through the UW Center for the Study of Teaching and Policy to analyze the impact of CEL’s professional development work with school districts.  As a result of these studies, we have learned that:

  • Principals and district coaches improve in their ability to analyze instruction and provide specific and meaningful feedback to teachers;
  • Teacher practice improves when administrators and coaches support and model quality instruction;
  • Student learning increases when schools and districts have focused and intentionally developed instructional leadership.

To learn more about CEL’s research briefs, access our Case Studies page.