Virtual School Meanderings

March 25, 2023

Meet our Team at Spring Events Next Week ūüĆ∑

An item from a K-12 blended learning organization.

Catch us in person & online at two March conferences

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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

  • School Redesign in Action session in Newport, RI on March 28
  • NCME Annual Meeting virtual session on March 30
  • Save the Date: 401Gives Weekend Edition! Consider donating to Highlander Institute from March 31 – April 3

Upcoming Events

Culturally Responsive School Change session at SRIA 2023

School Redesign in Action Session

We’re presenting at¬†SRIA 2023¬†hosted by Great Schools Partnership! Join Malika Ali & Shawn Rubin for their session “Culturally Responsive School Change” on¬†Tuesday, March 28 at 10:30AM in Newport, RI.

Collaborating with students, parents, and teachers within a school improvement process increases dialogue, improves solutions, and strengthens accountability across a building. Highlander Institute‚Äôs partnership with Baychester Middle School has provided a strong foundation for sustainable instructional shifts. Participants will learn how this school reflects on student experience data, co-constructs a culturally responsive vision, and implements high-leverage strategies at scale ‚Äď and how these moves have improved student experiences and academic outcomes.

Beyond Basketball & Bodegas: Virtual Session at 2023 NCME Annual Meeting

NCME Annual Meeting: Virtual Session

We’re helping to kick off the¬†NCME Annual Meeting¬†as part of their virtual session series! Hear from presenters Lauren Kendall Brooks (AERDF), Karina Rodriguez (Highlander Institute), & Teaira McMurtry (University of Alabama) for “Beyond Basketball & Bodegas: Pursuing True Cultural Validity in Formative Assessment” online on¬†Thursday, March 30 at 1:00PM CT / 2:00PM ET.

Tropes related to basketball, clothing, hair, and superfluous community contextual details permeate the narratives that constitute ‚Äúmulticultural‚ÄĚ test items from teacher-derived formative assessment to large-scale assessment tools. As instrument developers pursue inclusion and representation through test content, they walk a fine line between being complicit in using racist, ableist, and gendered language and creating a test environment that honors the linguistic and cultural heritage of its intended users. Through the eyes of a community of developers brought together for a new inclusive, equity-informed R&D initiative, this session will feature lessons learned from the implementation of a culture-forward approach to validity for K-12 formative assessment.

Save the Date: 401Gives Weekend

401Gives is in its 4th year! 2023 marks the debut of the Weekend Edition ‚Äď an amazing opportunity to unite our community around causes in which we truly believe and help nonprofit organizations connect to the larger community.

We hope you’ll consider donating to Highlander Institute from March 31 through April 3 to help us reach our overall goal of raising $1,000.¬†¬†

Stay tuned for the official launch of 401Gives next week. Thank you in advance for your support!

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March 18, 2023

Scaling For Impact: Highlander Institute Goes to Harvard

Filed under: virtual school — Michael K. Barbour @ 10:04 pm
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An item from a K-12 blended learning organization.

Takeaways from our team’s experience

 

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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.

Scaling For Impact

From L-R: Maeve Murray, Stephanie Castilla, Erin Brouillette, Malika Ali, and Shawn Rubin attend the Scaling For Impact program from March 8-10, 2023

Highlander Institute Goes to Harvard!

During the first week of March, a five-member team from Highlander Institute attended the Scaling For Impact program at Harvard Graduate School of Education. Over the course of three days, 18 teams in the education space from across the country came together to discuss case studies, explore frameworks and guidance for scaling, pitch our work and receive feedback, and hear from expert faculty and advisors. This was the first time the program has been held since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the palpable energy and excitement of the in-person learning experience was electric. In reflecting on this experience, our team highlighted the following takeaways:

  • Takeaway #1: Investing in Deep Work IS Scale
  • Takeaway #2: Stories Bridge the Individual Why with Collective Care
  • Takeaway #3: Critical Friends are Invaluable

Investing in Deep Work IS Scale

Prior to this experience, when hearing the word ‚Äúscale‚ÄĚ, our minds typically jumped to the idea of expanding our work to more schools, more students, and more geographies. But as¬†Chris Dede¬†framed for us in his session, the education system is not like a fast food franchise, and people are not french fries. In many instances, focusing on implementing your model in depth through aligned, multi-year partnerships is a dimension of scale in its own right, preparing you to meet the needs of a local context.

Our Culturally Responsive School Change Model has been evolving, becoming more comprehensive since 2019. The disruptions brought on by the pandemic shifted our capacity but did not shift our values and our commitment to centering student experiences, shifting instruction through an instructional equity lens, and elevating stakeholder voices in decision-making. And as showcased in our 2022 Annual Report, this model is working, with our most successful stories of impact yet. Our approach is complex and purposefully aims to work amidst multiple layers (classroom, school, district, student, family, and community). It felt exciting to see this vision validated as we continue to build momentum.

Click the button below to read the full blog post.

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February 25, 2023

One Week Left to Apply!

Filed under: virtual school — Michael K. Barbour @ 10:07 pm
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An item from a K-12 blended learning organization.

Check out the Community Educator Network application with your team today

 

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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

  • Apply by March 3 to participate in our Community Educator Network project
  • Celebrating Black History Month: Rhode Island
  • Transformation Specialist job opportunity at the Rhode Island Department of Education
Community Educator Network: We're looking for innovative school/district partners. Apply by March 3!

1 Week Left to Apply!

As you may have heard, Highlander Institute is launching a new initiative called the Community Educator Network, with generous support from the Carnegie Corporation of NY.

We are in the recruitment phase for this project, seeking 5 school/district partners in the Northeast who want to design and build inclusive, sustainable human capital models that activate community educators (in roles like tutors, mentors, student success coaches, etc.).

Our application deadline of March 3rd is approaching! Help us spread the word by sharing our informational page linked here or connecting us with any school/district partners in your network that might be a good fit.

Black History Month 2023

Celebrating Black History Month: Rhode Island

After past Black History Month features centering on¬†relearning¬†and¬†rest as resistance, we’re focusing this week’s spotlight on our home state of¬†Rhode Island.¬†Join us by exploring the resources below featuring local history and incredible members of our Rhode Island education community. Please reach out to share any ideas we might have missed:

  • Join the¬†Rhode Island Black Heritage Society¬†& U.S. Senator Jack Reed for a Celebration of Black History Month & Community Conversation on Teaching Black History in Our Schools (Monday, 2/27 at 9:00 a.m. at Rhode Island College).¬†RSVP Here
  • Explore¬†lesson plans¬†from the Rhode Island Historical Society and¬†text resources¬†on the Rhode Island Department of Education page related to the Underground Railroad, slavery, emancipation, the Gilded Age, civil rights, Black Power, and current events
  • Help support the mission of¬†Rhode Island School for Progressive Education¬†(founded by¬†Christine Alves), by¬†volunteering,¬†donating, or¬†recommending a candidate¬†for their certification programs
  • Take action through youth-facilitated conversation & workshops from the experts at¬†Diversity Talks¬†and purchase a copy of the new book¬†Terms & Conditions¬†by founder & CEO¬†Dr. Kiara Butler
  • Connect with¬†Freedom Dreams¬†(founded by¬†Simona Simpson-Thomas) for strategic thought partnership, new student pathways, and tailored coaching, all rooted in passing down the spirit of resilience, joy, and hope to our future generation of Black and Brown students

From Other Organizations

Rhode Island Department of Education logo

Job Opening: Transformation Specialist

RIDE is seeking a Transformation Specialist in the Office of School and District Improvement to support the development and implementation of continuous improvement efforts in the lowest performing schools and districts in the state. Applicants should have an understanding of grant management, strong communication skills, a detail-oriented and collaborative workstyle, and an understanding of continuous improvement science.

Additionally, the Specialist will work collaboratively to assist school and district leaders as they implement the requirements outlined in the Education Accountability Act of 2019. This includes, but is not limited to, assisting in the design and launch of a state-wide Strategic Planning System, providing technical assistance on school and district planning, and working in tandem with multiple RIDE offices to provide guidance and assistance that is responsive to the field’s needs. We are looking for applicants who are eager to join an innovative team, focused on meeting the unique needs of our schools and districts, in order to improve outcomes for our students and school communities.

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February 18, 2023

Successful Strategies for Family-Teacher Partnerships

An item from a K-12 blended learning organization.

Download our new white paper

 

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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

  • NEW! White paper focuses on successful strategies for family engagement in elementary settings
  • Apply by March 3 for our Community Educator Network funded partnership
  • Celebrating Black History Month: Rest
The latest from Highlander Institute. Getting on the Same Page: 4 Ways to Promote Successful Family-Teacher Partnerships at the Elementary Level

4 Successful Strategies for Family-Teacher Partnerships

White Paper focuses on Getting on the Same Page at the Elementary Level

The time leading up to February break is often ideal for reflection, prioritizing, and fresh starts. At¬†Highlander Institute, we have found compelling reasons to redesign parent engagement strategies with the schools we support. Research shows that strong family-school partnerships positively impact student grades, test scores, student perceptions of their own competence, and student motivation to learn, while lowering drop-out rates (Henderson & Mapp, 2002). However, many parent engagement approaches fall short of a ‚Äúpartnership‚ÄĚ ‚ÄĒ where¬†student learning¬†and¬†school improvement¬†are viewed as a¬†shared responsibility¬†between parents and teachers.

Our Culturally Responsive School Change model explores the conditions that help produce strong partnerships between families and schools. Within our elementary school projects, we have found that getting on the same page around four key elements sets the stage for success:

  1. Help students manage difficult emotions
  2. Develop persistence in students
  3. Focus on core learning objectives
  4. Communicate as a partner

For more information about these strategies, check out our new blog post and download our full white paper: Getting on the Same Page: 4 Ways to Promote Successful Family-Teacher Partnerships at the Elementary Level (February 2023).

Community Educator Network: We're looking for innovative school/district partners. Apply by March 3!

Are you interested in building more inclusive human capital solutions? We’re currently recruiting¬†5 innovative school and district partners in the Northeast¬†to explore how community educators can support multiple school goals. Project work includes funding to support partners as they design, implement, and evaluate customized community educator strategies, helping them build sustainable solutions to current staffing challenges.

Black History Month 2023

Celebrating Black History Month: Rest 

Amidst another challenging school year, stress and feelings of burnout are natural. Education is one layer of a system designed to be inequitable, and the work of disruption can be both inspiring and draining. We recognize that this work places a particular burden on Black minds and bodies. Who in our society can access the privilege of rest and recovery? How can we meet this moment in ways that fill us up and renew our sense of purpose?

This Black History Month, we’re turning to the work of Tricia Hersey, founder of The Nap Ministry. In her book, Rest is Resistance: A Manifesto, Hersey encourages us to reframe our relationship to productivity, reassess what makes us feel whole, and embrace the revolutionary power of rest as we work toward a more just world. For this week’s theme, join us by exploring the resources below from Black creatives, activists, and speakers. Please reach out to share any ideas we might have missed:

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February 11, 2023

Apply Now for the Community Educator Network!

An item from a K-12 blended learning organization.

Are you an innovative school or district in the Northeast looking to diversify your educator workforce?

 

No images? Click here

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

  • Be part of the Community Educator Network. Apply by March 3!
  • Celebrating Black History Month: Relearn
Community Educator Network: We're looking for innovative school/district partners. Apply by March 3!

Apply Now to Be Part of the Community Educator Network

Highlander Institute is recruiting 5 schools and districts in the Northeast as we launch a 14-month funded partnership.

Each partner will collaboratively design and implement a community educator strategy, drawing on Highlander Institute professional learning, technical assistance, coaching, and consultation to support the effort.

Community Educators have a unique stake in schools, as members of school neighborhoods who are trained and deployed in purpose-driven roles within buildings. Community educator strategies may help:

  • 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 backgrounds
  • Create a more diverse educator workforce

The Community Educator Network project will help us identify successful conditions, key barriers, innovative school roles, and required resources to build and sustain these inclusive human capital solutions within schools and districts.

Application Deadline: Friday, March 3, 2023 at 11:59PM ET.

Questions? Direct inquiries to our Communications Manager, Maeve Murray, at mmurray@highlanderinstitute.org

Black History Month 2023

Celebrating Black History Month: Relearn 

Our instructional equity framework begins with Awareness because we are committed to continually deepening our understanding of ourselves, the world around us, and the forces that have shaped where we are now. This work is not possible without acknowledging the dominant narratives influencing our curriculum and teaching practices. Whose stories are told? Whose voices are elevated and celebrated? Whose histories remain hidden? When certain perspectives are not included, what messages does that send?

We’re celebrating Black History Month by diving into resources that help us relearn and expand our awareness, exploring Black stories of past, present, and future. Join us by engaging with the ideas below, and please reach out to share any of your favorites:

  • MasterClass has made its¬†Black History: The History You Weren‚Äôt Taught in School¬†course free for the entire month of February. Watch video lectures from historians, authors, and activists.

  • ARD continues its annual tradition of highlighting¬†28 Days of Black History. If you‚Äôre interested in learning how you can support equity and social justice in your daily life, consider¬†subscribing¬†to their regular year-long newsletter as well.

  • The¬†1619 Project¬†is now available to view as a docuseries on Hulu. Originally a publication from The New York Times by Nikole-Hannah Jones, the content has been reimagined and expanded into a six-episode program. Be sure to check out the¬†viewing guide¬†on the accompanying education materials website.¬†¬†

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