Virtual School Meanderings

June 12, 2021

Celebrating Pride Month with Reflection & Resources

Filed under: virtual school — Michael K. Barbour @ 10:12 pm
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An item from a US-based K-12 blended learning organization.

Leveraging the ‘Unveiling Stories’ routine to learn more about LGBTQ+ history

 

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Join the conversation as we partner with communities to design and implement school-based change.

In This Week’s Issue

  • Exploring Culturally Responsive & Sustaining Pedagogy with the School Committee from Norwood Public Schools
  • Celebrating Pride Month with Reflection & Resources

Note: You may have noticed that due to Dana Borrelli-Murray’s departure as Executive Director, this newsletter is now being sent from Highlander Institute directly. To ensure that you continue receiving all Highlander Institute content, please add the email address info@highlanderinstitute.org to your contacts. Thank you!

Exploring CRSP with Norwood’s School Committee

This week, Highlander Institute wrapped up professional development sessions with the five members of Norwood Public Schools’ School Committee. After Norwood’s administrative council participated in our Culturally Responsive and Sustaining Pedagogy PD series earlier this school year, the School Committee was interested in growing their own understanding of the framework and discussing action items that would ensure they are supporting the work with aligned policy and budget decisions to move the district forward.

Managing Partner Malika Ali shared examples of practices from each framework domain, connecting these practices back to Norwood’s Educational Equity Policy and Strategic Plan, and inviting School Committee members to consider how practices might translate into guidance for the superintendent and other district leaders, support the district’s narrative and messaging around educational equity, help reflect and share the values of the community, and shape guidance for professional development for the district’s faculty and staff.

Examples of Practices:

  • Develop awareness about expectations of cognitive lift
  • Engage families as partners
  • Use thinking routines to scaffold thinking and make it visible
  • Support students to act in ways that promote justice

School Committee members appreciated the opportunity to discuss together and felt it was helpful to begin developing common language with their admin team. The committee is energized to dive deeper into Norwood district data as it pertains to change management. Highlander Institute looks forward to ongoing work with Norwood Public Schools including sharing the CRSP professional development series with all staff in the school year ahead. We would like to extend a special thank you to Norwood Public Schools for such an enriching partnership!

Celebrating Pride Month

This week, Mike Miele led our coaching team through a learning session to process the history behind what we now recognize as Pride Month. Using the thinking routine Unveiling Stories from Project Zero, we reflected on the many layers, voices, missing pieces, and lingering questions over 50 years after the Stonewall Uprising.

As we work to support educators and students around instructional equity, celebrating the LGBTQ+ community and making this history visible is more important than ever. In particular, we continue to educate ourselves about the corporate appropriation of Pride and the erasure of BIPOC trans and queer racial justice organizers across our country.

For teachers interested in learning more about bringing these conversations to your classrooms, we recommend the following resources. Happy Pride!

Highlander Institute thanks our Mission Sponsors for their generous support:

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June 10, 2021

Time for Transition: A Look Back at a Leadership Journey

Filed under: virtual school — Michael K. Barbour @ 11:06 pm
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An item from a US-based K-12 blended learning organization.

Dana Borrelli-Murray stepping down as Executive Director after nine years

 

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Join the conversation as we partner with communities to design and implement school-based change.

You may be reading this because you’ve attended a free webinar, received coaching in your classroom, or partnered with Highlander Institute on national initiatives. As the Board of Directors, we’re extremely proud of how this team has supported the mission – creating more equitable, relevant, and effective schools – through a pandemic and beyond. We thank you for your continued partnership!

It is with great appreciation and anticipation that we share this news. After nine years as Highlander Institute’s Executive Director, Dana Borrelli-Murray is stepping down. She is ready to embrace new adventures and to spread her wings.

Under Dana’s leadership, Highlander Institute has grown from a program of the Highlander Charter School in Rhode Island to an impactful, national organization. The Institute has also refined its strategy and worked closely with its partners to increase the positive impact on students. Even through the pandemic, the Institute continued to work to improve student outcomes and to ensure the financial strength of the organization.

Dana’s energy, enthusiasm, and general positivity for the work has helped to forge new partnerships while creating a culture of continuous improvement. In her own words, she has never settled for good enough, and believes deeply in the mindset of running a ‘learning organization’ that is always looking to iterate and grow.

(To hear directly from Dana regarding this transition, check out her blog post by clicking here)

This news also leads us to a big announcement regarding the Institute’s future. Beginning June 1, Shawn Rubin transitioned from Chief Education Officer to Interim Executive Director of Highlander Institute. Shawn is a visionary, exceptionally talented at creating systems for educational change, and is a renowned national thought leader. After years of collaborating and co-leading the Institute with Dana, it is a natural fit for him to assume the Interim Executive Director role.

Please join us in congratulating both of these exceptional talents. We wish Dana the very best on her new adventures, and look forward to Shawn’s leadership as the Institute heads into a new chapter.

John Muggeridge, Board Chair

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June 5, 2021

Nurturing Critical Consciousness through Project Based Learning

Filed under: virtual school — Michael K. Barbour @ 10:09 pm
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A weekly feature from this US-based K-12 blended learning organization.

Spotlight on our partnership with Woonsocket High School

 

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Join the conversation as we partner with communities to design and implement school-based change.

In This Week’s Issue

  • Spotlight on the PBL Cohort at Woonsocket High School
  • Apply Today for our Partner Position

Nurturing Critical Consciousness through Project Based Learning

Over the 2020-2021 school year, our team members Meg Smallidge and Heidi Vazquez have worked with a cohort of teachers at Woonsocket High School to implement Project Based Learning (PBL) around the following goals identified in their XQ+RI redesign plan:

  • All students are seen and known by a caring adult
  • Expand opportunities around what’s possible for students 

Teachers met in a collaborative cohort to plan, share, and receive feedback around PBL opportunities as well as 1-on-1 with their Highlander Institute coach to develop their projects in more detail. During the May statewide professional development day, teachers and students shared their projects with 50 of their colleagues. To further disseminate best practices, district coaches compiled session & project highlights into the weekly newsletter distributed out to the entire Woonsocket school district, concluding with an opportunity to meet with the coaches to learn more.

Click the button below to check out these amazing, purposeful projects in more detail. Each project aims to elevate student voices and connect learning to real world essential questions including:

  • How can I share my ideas about where I live using poetry and photography?
  • How can I deepen my sense of self and increase my appeal as a viable job applicant to businesses?
  • How effective were France, Morocco, Algeria, and Senegal in pandemic-related issues (school closures; distance learning; mental health; re-openings; student engagement) & how did their approaches compare to the United States?
  • Why and how is the study of heredity important for understanding human health?
  • How can I be empowered to prevent hate crimes and what actions can I take when a hate crime occurs?

Thank you to the Woonsocket High School and district teams for such a productive partnership this year!

Apply Today for our Partner Position

Highlander Institute is seeking a Partner to support Coaching & Change Management, ideally starting in July 2021. We are open to candidates nationally and have preference for candidates in the Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and New York City areas. If you or someone you know has previous K-12 classroom experience, coaching experience, and a passion for building capacity around culturally responsive & sustaining pedagogy, then we want you on our team!

Highlander Institute is an equal opportunity employer. To apply, please send a resume and cover letter to Kaiya Letherer, our Chief of Staff at kletherer@highlanderinstitute.org. Resumes without a cover letter will not be considered.

Highlander Institute thanks our Mission Sponsors for their generous support:

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May 29, 2021

Invest in Instructional Equity & Student Outcomes

An item from a US-based K-12 blended learning organization.

Check out our new engagements brochure & help us spread the word

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Join the conversation as we partner with communities to design and implement school-based change.

In This Week’s Issue

  • New Engagement Offerings for SY 21-22
  • Join our team! Learn more about our new position
  • Early bird registration now open for RISTE Summer Institute

Invest in Expanding Instructional Equity & Improving Student Outcomes

Emerging from the pandemic, our schools are facing intense pressure to address unfinished learning as well as the trauma and disengagement experienced by many students this year. Highlander Institute offers a research-based approach that integrates critical social, emotional, and academic supports. Partner with us to fundamentally improve instruction, engagement, and student success. Our delivery models are designed to flexibly fit your local strengths and needs. Click below for more information and to access our downloadable brochure of offerings for the 2021-2022 school year.

Join Our Team

Highlander Institute is seeking a Partner to support Coaching & Change Management with a start date of July 2021. We are open to candidates nationally and have preference for candidates in the Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and New York City areas. If you or someone you know has previous K-12 classroom experience, coaching experience, and a passion for building capacity around culturally responsive & sustaining pedagogy, then we want you on our team!

Highlander Institute is an equal opportunity employer. To apply, please send a resume and cover letter to Kaiya Letherer, our Chief of Staff at kletherer@highlanderinstitute.org. Resumes without a cover letter will not be considered.

From Other Organizations

Registration Open for RISTE Summer Institute 

How will you be teaching this fall? Let RISTE help you build the skills and strategies you need. Our traditional summer learning is going virtual. Spend July 14-16 with some of Rhode Island’s best educators and trainers in best practices for blended, personalized, or distance/hybrid learning. Sessions are designed for everyone across K-12, all content areas, support staff, etc.

Early bird registration is open now through June 30 and includes 9 learning sessions and 3 support sessions spanning 3 days for $150. More à la carte options are available on a session-by-session and daily basis. Click below for more information.

Highlander Institute thanks our Mission Sponsors for their generous support:

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May 22, 2021

Highlander Institute is Hiring!

An item from a US-based K-12 blended learning organization.

Apply now or help us spread the word

 

No images? Click here

Join the conversation as we partner with communities to design and implement school-based change.

In This Week’s Issue

  • We’re hiring! Apply now for the Partner-Coaching & Change Management position
  • Sharing our work & research at the 2021 Strategic Data Partnership Convening
  • Takeaways from BLiCSS 4.0 with Mike Miele

Highlander Institute is looking for a Partner to support a growing portfolio of schools through teacher coaching and change management.

The primary responsibilities of this full-time position are supporting classroom, building, and district-level educators in the planning, design, and implementation of high-quality, culturally responsive personalization efforts utilizing the Institute’s theory of change for pedagogy and change management.

Previous K-12 classroom teaching experience and teacher coaching experience are required. Successful candidates will also demonstrate a recognition of the ways in which systemic inequities undermine students’ natural abilities and the belief that, through culturally responsive teaching, we can restore students’ natural confidence and competence.

For more information, including how to apply, please see the full job description here. Highlander Institute is an equal opportunity employer.

Sharing Our Work at the SDP 2021 Convening

The Highlander Institute team has responded to the pandemic-related void around student assessment data by developing a student survey – the Student Experience Survey (SES). The tool is centered on social emotional learning elements and aligned to our Culturally Responsive and Sustaining Pedagogy framework. Join us to explore data from the SES and discuss how insights generated by the tool are supporting the intentional development of academic mindset, sense of belonging, and critical consciousness in students.

Our session at the Strategic Data Project 2021 Convening featuring presenters Karina Rodriguez, Vera De Jesus, and Christina Corser will take place virtually on Monday, May 24 from 1:15-2:45PM ET.

Takeaways from BLiCSS 4.0 

Earlier this month, Mike Miele from our team spoke at the 4th annual Blended Learning in Catholic Schools Symposium (BLiCSS 4.0). The BLiCSS conference team recently recapped the event with main takeaways on their blog, including a section featuring Mike’s remarks:

“Our schools were all in very different places. The pandemic has held a mirror up to those inequities, and one thing we know about systemic inequity is that it breeds disengagement, underdevelops our students’ natural cognitive skills, and undermines their confidence. We know that we can restore those skills through the best strategies, rooted in culturally responsive and sustaining pedagogy…Instead of starting with the strategy, like ‘station rotation,’ we started first with building some awareness of what students are talking about [with regard to social issues/justice], our own awareness and biases… The school we’re opening in 2021 is not the same school we opened in 2019.

We can help you set up your Google Classroom, but if you don’t know the instructional ‘whys’ behind it you’re going to have the same issues over and over again. If you’re not working toward developing students’ cognitive skills, then you’re just putting a list of stuff on virtual paper versus putting it on paper.”

If you missed the live event, read more through the link below. Thank you to the Alliance for Catholic Education at the University of Notre Dame for inviting us to present!

Highlander Institute thanks our Mission Sponsors for their generous support:

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