Frequently Asked Questions

What is Authentic Intellectual Work?
Authentic Intellectual Work (AIW) is a framework for ensuring that ALL students have access to intellectually rigorous learning experiences that have value beyond school.

What is the AIW Institute?
The AIW Institute partners with schools and districts to ensure that ALL students have access to intellectually rigorous learning experiences that have value beyond school. Guided by the AIW framework, we help develop and facilitate collaborative instructional teams as they analyze examples of instruction, teacher-created tasks and student performance.

What makes AIW Professional Development unique?

  1. AIW PD involves teachers from multiple content areas and grade levels working together to improve their instruction. The resulting conversations often give rise to collaborative and interdisciplinary learning opportunities.
  2. AIW rubrics and scoring sessions help teachers and administrators develop a common vocabulary around instruction. 
  3. AIW PD is designed to support instruction for ALL students, not just students within specialized academic programs (i.e. gifted, college-prep, ELL, remedial).
  4. AIW PD supports collaborative, collegial and reflective dialogues around instruction. It guides teachers to consider why they teach what they teach and how best to engage students.
  5. AIW PD assumes that teachers bring valuable experiences and expertise to the table; their expertise is an essential component of AIW team meetings.

We currently have PLCs in place. How does the AIW Institute support this structure?
The AIW Institute helps to provide a clear and specific focus for PLCs. Through the use of AIW rubrics and teacher-provided artifacts, teacher team members develop a shared vision of high-quality, rigorous instruction. 

Does AIW help schools address required local, state and national curricular standards?
Yes. In fact, AIW team meetings give teachers an opportunity to discuss which standards should be prioritized and how best to address key standards in intellectually rigorous, authentic ways that help students develop a deep conceptual understanding of course content. 

We already have a number of initiatives in place. Why bring in AIW?
The AIW framework helps provide program coherence throughout a school or district. During AIW PD, teachers across grade levels and subject areas zero-in on shared criteria for instructional rigor and relevance. 

We consider AIW to be “the umbrella” under which other initiatives can be strengthened. Many instructional and curricular initiatives do not provide sustained, focused support for teacher capacity-building; AIW does.

What role do the AIW coaches play?
AIW Institute coaches know how to build AIW from the ground up.  They plan and conduct 2-day kick-off workshops, facilitate AIW team meetings, help pilot teams build collective understanding of the AIW framework, help identify areas that may need redirection, and collaborate with building leadership teams to plan for ongoing implementation of AIW. 

What commitments is a school or district required to make if they partner with the AIW Institute?
School or district leaders organize teacher teams and set aside the time and resources necessary for these teams to engage in scoring sessions using the AIW rubrics.

School and district leaders provide ongoing support to teacher teams, which includes participating in scoring sessions.

School and district leaders communicate regularly with AIW Institute staff.

Read more about the AIW Institute PD process.

How much time is required to implement AIW?
Based on educational research, we know that deep changes in instructional practice take 3-5 years to occur.  As a result, we enter into new AIW partnerships with the assumption that these partnerships will last for 3-5 years. New schools are encouraged to provide AIW teams with  4-6 hours per month to engage in the AIW process.

Why do building leaders actively participate on AIW teacher teams?
Since implementing the AIW framework involves a shift in how teachers talk about and collaborate around their instructional practices, building leaders’ support and participation is crucial. Being an active team participant helps building leaders gain a deeper understanding of AIW and its processes. Active participation helps building leaders better understand the time and resources that need to be allocated for this work.

School leaders from our partner schools have reported that they gain valuable information about classroom instruction and student learning by participating in the team scoring sessions.

What do participating teachers gain from being part of an AIW team?
Teachers are given the opportunity to reflect and work on what is most important in their profession: their teaching practice. The AIW sessions are not evaluative in nature, and teachers have an opportunity to reflect honestly on their instruction with their colleagues. Teachers report that as a result of this work, they gain new ideas and are able to make immediate changes to their instruction. This work honors teachers’ professionalism.

How do we learn more about AIW?
Feel free to explore the AIW Institute website and contact us for more information.

AIW Framework