Virtual School Meanderings

January 28, 2023

Launching a New Way to Tackle Human Capital Challenges 📢

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We’re seeking 5 innovative school or district partners in the Northeast


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Highlander Institute: Leveling the Field for All Learners

Join the conversation as we partner with communities to design and implement culturally responsive school change.

Request for Partners to Build a Community Educator Network

WHAT: We’re excited to announce the launch of Highlander Institute’s Community Educator Network, a 14-month funded partnership to explore how Community Educators can support multiple school goals through purpose-driven roles. We believe that when we activate community educators who share identities and lived experiences with the students they serve, we can:

  • Address teacher shortages, learning gaps, and mental health issues
  • Improve school culture and support higher levels of student engagement
  • Accelerate learning, particularly for students from historically marginalized populations
  • Create a more diverse educator workforce

WHO: We’re looking for 5 innovative school and/or district partners in the Northeast who want to break down the barriers between home and school, increase the number of adults in their buildings who are members of their school neighborhoods, and alleviate the staffing tensions caused by increasing teacher responsibilities. Together, we’ll work directly at the intersection of culturally responsive schools and community educator empowerment. Each site will receive personalized support to assess current strengths, needs, and opportunities, leading into a full school year of free technical assistance from the Highlander Institute team.

BENEFITS: All sites will launch their own localized and specific community educator strategy. Tailored services may include:

Tailored Supports for Partners



January 22, 2023

Join Us: The Art of Blended Learning (Thursday, March 23rd, 3 pm. PST)

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Note this upcoming event.


As educators, we are all aware of the heavy workload that teachers face on a daily basis. With so many competing demands for their time and attention, it can be difficult for teachers to prioritize their own needs and those of their students.

That’s why I am excited to announce that starting in March, I am partnering with RocketPD to offer a comprehensive 8-session virtual professional-learning experience called “The Art of Blended Learning.”

This program is designed to help teachers and instructional coaches implement blended learning strategies that will empower students to take ownership of their learning while freeing up teachers’ time to focus on the areas that matter most.

Throughout the program, we will explore the benefits of blended learning, introduce teachers as “architects of the learning experience,” and test three proven blended models: station rotation, flipped classroom, and playlist. We will also delve into student agency and differentiation, and learn how to shift feedback and assessment into the classroom.

If you or your team have been thinking about how to save teachers’ time, or if you’ve struggled to engage students in the learning process, I encourage you to consider joining us for this collaborative professional-learning experience. You can learn more about it and sign up here, and be sure to act quickly as we plan to close registrations by January 30th.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions or want to discuss the program further. I hope to see you at our kick-off on Thursday, March 23rd at 3 pm PST.

– Catlin


View Online | 113 Cherry St #92768, Seattle, WA 98104-2205

January 21, 2023

Join Us in February at the NEW Summit

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Sessions & spotlights from our partner community

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Highlander Institute: Leveling the Field for All Learners

Join the conversation as we partner with communities to design and implement culturally responsive school change.

In This Week’s Issue

  • Will we see you online at the Next Education Workforce Summit in February?
  • Spotlight on our partners at Fenton Community High School
Next Education Workforce Summit 2023 session promo graphic featuring Malika Ali and Karla Arevalo

Upcoming Session: Next Education Workforce Summit 2023

Help build a more diverse, team-based education workforce that delivers on the promise of deeper and personalized learning for all students.

We’re excited to partner with our colleagues at Central Falls School District to present at the Next Education Workforce Summit at the beginning of February. Hosted by Arizona State University’s Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, this virtual conference includes sessions from experts from K–12, research, policy, government, advocacy, nonprofit, edtech and business.

You’ll have two chances to catch the session led by Malika Ali (Highlander Institute) and Karla Arevalo (Central Falls School District). Read on for more details and RSVP by clicking on the button below.

Partnering with Communities to Address Complex Student Needs

  • Option #1: Wednesday, February 8, 2023 from 3:15 – 4:00PM ET
  • Option #2: Wednesday, February 8, 2023 from 4:05 – 4:50PM ET

Description: Since 2020, Highlander Institute has piloted several new partnerships activating community educators, substitute teachers, and paraprofessionals. We’ve learned about the entrenched challenges districts face related to human capital and recommended ways for leaders to take a more active role in the design of new staffing models. In this session, learn how we’re centering the experiences of students and community members to support SEL and academic growth both inside and outside of school systems.

Fenton PLC Member Testimonial

Spotlight: Fenton Community High School Professional Learning Community

We’ve had the good fortune of partnering with a dedicated group of coaches and teachers at Fenton Community High School over the past ten months. In our last PLC session, participants shared powerful reflections and commitments:

“I used to think that most students were not invested in their own learning and would not notice our attempts to become more culturally responsive. Now I know that they are very aware of it and have shared how important it is to them.” 

“I used to center lessons on what I believed to be most important; now I think more about others, their backgrounds, and the importance of discussion.”

Thank you to the Fenton educators and leaders for your growth mindsets, willingness to engage in difficult conversations, and interest in bringing relevant examples and learning experiences to all students. And a special shout-out to our Instructional Equity Partner Danielle Lavoie for shepherding this work!


January 14, 2023

Windows & Mirrors

An item from a K-12 blended learning organization.

Listen to the latest from the Education Suspended podcast, featuring Malika Ali


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Highlander Institute: Leveling the Field for All Learners

Join the conversation as we partner with communities to design and implement culturally responsive school change.

In This Week’s Issue

  • Chief Innovation Officer Malika Ali featured on the Education Suspended podcast
  • APPLY BY January 19 deadline for our Director of Program & Implementation role
  • Case Study: CA District’s Grow-Your-Own Residency Targets Teacher Diversity
Education Suspended Episode 49: Windows & Mirrors with Malika Ali

Windows & Mirrors: Malika Ali featured on Education Suspended Podcast

Malika Ali joined hosts Jessica Pfeiffer and Steve Graner for Episode 49 of Education Suspended, a podcast focused on exploring, engaging, and dialoguing with those in education who are passionate about changing the status quo and evolving the archaic system we have inherited.

The episode explores Malika’s transgenerational story, which is rooted in the pursuit of education and drives her own desire to empower students. Malika discusses the importance of instruction that is relevant to students and curriculum that provides both windows and mirrors — for students to see themselves in lessons and better understand how they fit into the world.

“Relevance is about: 1) Not just having the learning be abstract; and 2) Not just centered on dominant groups…We have everyone look at their curriculum, audit it for relevance, see does it affirm student identities and elevate non-dominant perspectives, and create space for students to have the windows (to see other cultures and ways of being) and mirrors (to see themselves reflected in the curricula).” – Malika Ali 

We hope you’ll take some time over the next few days to listen to this inspiring conversation, learn more about Malika’s background, and understand more about her vision for our work with schools. Thank you to the Education Suspended team for this opportunity!

We're Hiring! statement displayed above the Highlander Institute logo

Seeking: Director of Program & Implementation

DEADLINE: Please submit applications by Thursday, January 19, 2023 at 11:59PM

ABOUT THE POSITION: This dynamic role involves coaching in schools/districts and leading a team of instructional coaches to support our growing portfolio. Reporting directly to our Chief Innovation Officer, Malika Ali, this position is responsible for management of a caseload of schools and management of a team of Instructional Equity Partners including professional development, coaching, implementation support, and creative problem solving to address issues as they arise with implementation.

LOCATION: This is a hybrid position that will require approximately 2-3 days of travel per week for in-person school support as well as travel to the Rhode Island headquarters for occasional staff meetings. The remainder of the week may be spent working from a home office in Rhode Island or Massachusetts, when in-person collaboration is not required.

SALARY & BENEFITS: $95,000 – $144,000, compensation is commensurate with experience. The role is a full-time, salaried position with full benefits (medical, dental, and vision) and a 403(b) plan with 5% contribution after 6 months of employment. Highlander Institute also provides a monthly home office and cell phone allowance, as well as a generous PTO policy.

If you are passionate about empowering students through a culturally responsive and sustaining approach, collaborating with families and community members, and supporting educators to understand their roles in disrupting systemic inequity, then we want you on our team! Click below to learn more, apply, or share with your network.

From Other Organizations

A group of 6 elementary school-aged children sit on the carpet while 2 adults read them a picture book, the logos for The 74, The Learning Accelerator, & Lindsay Unified School District are superimposed on the lefthand corner of the image

Photo credit: Allison Shelley/The Verbatim Agency for EDUimages

Case Study: CA District’s Grow-Your-Own Residency Targets Teacher Diversity

The Learning Accelerator (TLA) has been examining the deleterious effects of the past few years on adult well-being in schools, as well as the positive potential for grow-your-own residency programs to address the overwhelming need to improve teacher recruitment, the capability and expertise of novice educators and retention — particularly in communities of color.

In partnership with California’s Lindsay Unified School District, TLA evaluated the first year of their grow-your-own residency program. The district partnered with Alder Graduate School of Education and Marshall Teacher Residency to design a residency program based on Bank Street College of Education’s Prepared to Teach framework. Lindsay recruited from within the community to attract future educators who understood the district’s unique instructional practices and — most importantly — the experiences of its students. Through the program, residents gained content knowledge as well as hands-on experience by working alongside a mentor for an entire school year. Findings largely mirrored the recent Rand study but identified additional factors to improve recruitment and retention. While the factors mentioned in the report are critically important, we see them as just the beginning.

January 10, 2023

TLA Update: Setting the Direction for TLA’s Next Five Years

An item from the folks at The Learning Accelerator.

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TLA Strategy Update Video from Beth Rabbitt
Colleagues and friends:

As I shared in a recent newsletter, the TLA team has been working over the last six months to take stock of progress and look forward to the future. Weaving together feedback, planning insights, and lessons learned, the team has been setting goals for the future. As we kick off the new year, we’re putting this evolved plan into place. I’m excited to share where we’re headed in our five-year plan with this 10-minute video update.

Over the next few months, we’ll be sending more updates on specific projects and our learning agenda, as well as about the impact we’re celebrating a decade in. In the spirit of offering the big headlines, here are our four big commitments for 2023 and beyond.

  1. Advance a vision for equitable, effective, and engaging learning — for students and the sector — and ensure decision-makers and practitioners can act upon it. Powerful, research-informed learning is personalized to the uniqueness of the student, focused on mastery-based outcomes and progress, and comprehensively developing. We’re continuing to make that vision — and the knowledge that exists for enacting the practices and conditions needed to achieve it — actionable and openly accessible for decision-makers, communities, and organizations across the nation.
  2. Address persistent challenges to collective learning and action. Most of the solutions that we need exist in the knowledge and capacity of the thousands of organizations already tackling the development of new approaches. But our sector’s work is hampered by a lack of collective understanding, resource inequities, fragmentation, and over-emphasis on single-point solutions. Broader, sustained (and equitably distributed) progress demands coherent, coordinated collective investment, action, and knowledge-sharing across a complex ecosystem. Overcoming these shared ‘learning challenges’ to accelerate learning across the sector is TLA’s unique role and purpose.
  3. Harness the ‘urgent’ to realize the transformational. Education leaders are navigating what feel like competing priorities across multiple time horizons. Through our learning agenda, our team will help leaders link urgent needs and initiatives to the demands of the proximate and future, building bridges between educators and the knowledge, tools, and networks they need to move forward in the ‘now’ but doing so in ways that put our educational systems on a pathway towards more resilient and equitable change. For those ready to leap forward, we’ll be working alongside to catalyze the closure of gaps in knowledge, resources, and action as well as provide foresight for the challenges ahead.
  4. Lead and contribute in partnership. Too often, education organizations are asked how their work will uniquely ‘scale’ to transform K-12 learning. True system change will require many organizations to work in complementary ways to achieve this goal. Further, it will require listening and collaborating humbly with those closest to the challenges we’re trying to solve. Given this, we’re focusing on maximizing partnership and getting great at cooperation, offering expertise and distinct learning and intermediary services we’ve honed over the years in the form of research and measurement, network development and facilitation, insight and knowledge capture and codification, and landscape assessment and program strategy and support. By bringing our skills to the table — with a commitment to learning proximately and making all knowledge universally accessible — we’re leaning in hard as a partner to aligned organizations in this next phase of work.

Thank you in advance for holding us true to these commitments and for leaning in with us! If you’ve read this far or gotten a chance to check out the video, please shoot me a line with feedback or thoughts. Better yet, let us know how we can work together to accelerate individual, organizational, and sector learning to ensure every child gets the engaging, effective, and equitable education they need to reach their full and unique potential. We’re so excited to partner with you in our next chapter.

With gratitude for your partnership,

Beth Rabbitt

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