Horizontal Education

Our Mission:

Cultivating Ideas in Education.

Horizontal Education shares innovative ideas, structures and systems that have proven to impact student success. This platform attempts to efficiently package ideas being implemented in one school and share them to the broader education community without impediment of agenda, cost or expectation. This site is the inevitable evolution of the values, ideas and systems of the Denver Green School



Shared Leadership

As a teacher, even before leadership introduces a new initiative, I have buy-in. I know whatever we do at our school has been discussed and refined by a team of teachers and administrators I trust. All stakeholders have been accounted for. Everything connects to mission, vision and values. Teacher voice has been heard. Really, it is just a better leadership product. Things simply work around here.
— Jessica Krichbaum, Denver Green School, 2nd Grade Teacher

Here is a detailed explanation of the resources that power shared leadership.

An investment in shared leadership in education is the commitment to take the decisions that are traditionally left to the principal to a broader team of educators in the school. Sure, the emergency du jour may be handled by administrators, but the important decisions, the ones that really move the needle for student success are proposed, discussed, refined and executed by a designated team of school leaders that include teachers. This team of leaders can tackle important topics like the focus of next summer's professional development, the budget priorities for the upcoming school year or the key moves to close the opportunity gap. Of course, time must be set aside for this group to meet. Protocols for what the team focuses on and how decisions are made must be identified. 

Shared Leadership Resources

Strategic Planning Document: A document to support the transformation of your school's Mission, Vision, and Values into specific goals with supporting resources. Contains both a template and an example.

Leadership Hub Template and Example:  The primary document to promote  proactive leadership planning, organize leadership tasks, allow your leadership team to dialogue offline, and ensure efficiency during leadership meetings.   

Leadership Meeting Template and Example:  This agenda grounds the team in values, sets tasks and promotes systematic communication while keeping the leadership team organized.

Staff Newsletter Template and Example: A weekly format for ensuring transparent and effective communication to your staff.

Sample Norms: Adapted Norms of Collaboration for a school community.

Leadership Planning Template and Example: A document for organizing, planning and executing leadership initiatives.


Formative Data Teams

For a data system to work, the focus has to be on planning moves that respond to student need, not the analysis itself. Formative data teams make the analysis work easy, simply sorting students based on similar needs. From there, teachers work in teams to identify instructional moves that make sense. Honestly, weekly formative data meetings are the most impactful move we make at The Denver Green School and a primary reason we have the highest academic growth in the state.
— Prudence Daniels, Lead Partner, Denver Green School

Here is a detailed explanation of the Formative Data Process and the template that organizes it.

An investment in formative data teams is an investment in responding to student need in a timely manner. Formative data has numerous advantages to summative data, namely, it is easy to collect, allows for teacher response in a timely manner and supports a more targeted response. Most schools are aware of these advantages and sing the praises of formative data, but still focus on antiquated summative data dives that leave teachers with too many needs to respond to and often after the skill has been instructed. With this view in mind, a school that invests time into any data analysis system, essentially has a choice to make, are they going to focus on formative data or are they going to stick with interims and other pieces of summative data. At Horizontal Education, we recommend the former (pun intended). 

Formative Data Team Resources

Formative Data Team Meeting Template and Example: The Formative Data Team Meeting Template identifies the questions and records the actions steps that are the basis of data team conversations. The video above, "Detailed Explanation of Formative Data Process" provides an in-depth explanation of this template. 


Teacher Empowerment

Being empowered as teacher, having a degree of control in my classroom as well as participating in school leadership, are the reasons I am still in this profession. More importantly, this feeling pushes me because I have no excuses for my students’ success. I have been put in a situation to succeed and I will do what it takes to ensure my students reach their potential. I am accountable.
— Caitlin Graboski, 2nd Grade, Denver Green School

Teacher Empowerment Resources

Leadership Planning Template and Example: Document for organizing and planning leadership initiatives. 

For more possible resources see the Shared Leadership section above.


Three years ago, our standardized scores pointed directly to an opportunity gap that needed to be addressed. In response, The Denver Green School, made equity our school priority and have devoted significant time, energy and resources to address this critical issue. Our process has included looking at our biases as a staff, doubling down on relationships with our students and their families and developing partnerships with community organizations. As a result, we are seeing a concrete narrowing of this gap. Though addressing this issue in full will require continued work in the area of equity, we are eager to share the strategies that are proving effective.

Closing the Opportunity Gap

In all my years of being in education, I have participated in many conversations about how to close the opportunity gap. It wasn’t until I started working at DGS that the conversation turned from talk to action. Within three years of making this a school priority, we are starting to see the gap closing in. Our PARCC outcomes certainly show this, but you can also feel it in our school community. Our relationships with kids, our community partnerships, and the ways we look at our data have all evolved into a more authentic and impactful dynamic.
— Erin Miller, SPED Teacher, Denver Green School

Our Equity Panel is a great in-depth conversation focused on Closing the Opportunity Gap. It also makes for a turn-key professional development at your school.