Mar 25, 2024

Make My [Coherent] Day!

Chris Dwyer
Capacity Building Lead
Student and teacher chatting

Do you sometimes have days when you are just jumping from one thing to another? “Ping ponging” from topic to topic? By the end of the day, you feel both exhausted and like you haven’t accomplished anything. Defeated!


Consider that some students may experience those feelings every school day—often as the result of well-meaning intentions to provide them with extra instructional support. Elementary and middle school students who are struggling may be pulled in and out of classroom instruction to receive tutoring support in reading and mathematics, participate in a small group intervention, and/or receive English as a second language instruction. In many cases, the opportunities created by pandemic-related federal and state funding dramatically increased the chance that some students would spend a portion of their school days receiving additional instruction. 


The impact of all the extra instructional time can be very beneficial for student learning but only if the adults involved are able to plan together to ensure that curricular expectations and materials are aligned and complementary. When individualized and small group support is coordinated with Tier 1 instruction, students can preview materials, prepare for learning to come, deepen their understanding, get a different perspective on important objectives, and gain extra practice with critical concepts.


If the adults who provide those instructional opportunities have not coordinated their lesson objectives and materials, students can readily become overwhelmed by too many concepts at once or even confused by different interpretations.


Educational Coherence is a collection of tools designed to help school leaders intentionally bring together instructional systems, programs, and educators for curriculum, programming, and staffing alignment to advance student learning and academic achievement and outcomes. In this collection, you will find:

  • An explanation of the concepts involved in education coherence along with its benefits
  • A short video from a students’ point of view about contrasting school days—one that lacks coherence and another that embodies it
  • Self-assessments designed for teachers and administrators to audit current practices associated with coherence
  • Tips for educators in different role groups, e.g., interventionists, classroom teachers, about how they can contribute to overall coherence
  • Guidance for scaling and sustaining coherent practices
  • Resources for further study


We suggest starting with viewing and discussing the video to acclimate your colleagues to the alignment challenges that may exist within your own setting.