Close this search box.

Our Network

Network Voice

Leadership Summit 2024: Why Adult Learning is Critical to Achieving Better Student Outcomes

At the end of February over 150 educators convened in Cincinnati at the 2024 Leadership Summit with an ambitious goal: to give leaders a thorough platform to dig into adult learning’s ins and outs and its vital role in education. 

Through our time together, we hoped to help participants understand powerful adult learning strategies better, create chances for thoughtful reflection, plan tailored strategies for their unique educational situations, and build collaborations to strengthen connections among educators.

The experience kicked off on Tuesday with an intentional connection exercise to set the foundation for Wednesday’s anchor session. In his anchor session on Wednesday, NTN Co-CEO Jim May stressed how important it is to design educational systems that effectively meet students and educators “where they are” and grounded participants in three key points for adult learning:

  1. To be a system that meets people where they are, the system must see where people are and go beyond surface-level signals to understand and make meaning. The system must be more curious than evaluative.
  2. There is a sharp distinction between training and development – we need both, but they are fundamentally different. Development prepares for complexity, analyzing reality, producing insights, and taking action on those insights. Training is an event designed to replicate a set of pre-determined behaviors. 
  3. Leaders must be environmental architects, designing systems that are supportive and demanding while understanding the development and well-being of adults necessary for adult learning.

The significance of adult learning in improving student outcomes was a recurring theme, highlighted by shared experiences from leaders across the educational network. Leaders from Danielson Middle School shared their adult learning plan, aligned to the NTN School Model, and tied to their campus motto, “Invest, Encourage, and Impact.” Leaders from Legacy Prep emphasized adopting an asset-based perspective of students to ensure inclusive educational experiences that cater to diverse needs.

The Leadership Summit was grounded in NTN’s adult learning principles, focusing on emotional connections, purposeful learning environments, self-direction among educators, and learning internalization through reflection and application. These principles aim to create a learning culture that prioritizes improvement and mastery over time.

“Being able to analyze the larger system and then re-analyze it through an empathy lens of an adult leader vantage point is a unique aspect of Leadership Summit,” explained Sarah Leiker, NTN Leadership Development Specialist. “Participants were able to create a visual empathy map of their school’s adult learning journey and really drill down on how to better support and respond to staff needs.”  

Val Grijalva, NTN School Development Coach, reflected on the unique and impactful nature of Leadership Summit. “There are so many things that are awesome and beautiful about this event – leaders across the country are taking time to pause and reflect and gather together for a common goal around supporting students. Throughout the week, they begin to realize that they are all facing similar challenges, and there is comfort in knowing you’re not alone.”

“But it’s not just about gathering leaders together and providing space,” continued Grijalva. “NTN is extremely intentional about modeling what it means to create a safe, inclusive, and reflective space for all participants, illustrating the transformative power of such gatherings in supporting leaders and, by extension, their students.”

For over 12 years, Leadership Summit has served as a crucial platform for educational leaders to explore, understand, and apply adult learning principles in their contexts. Through insightful keynotes, shared experiences, and structured reflection, the 2024 Summit equipped leaders with tools to enhance educational environments and fostered a sense of community among educators dedicated to growth and development for themselves and their students.

Interested in experiencing a New Tech Network event? Join us for NTAC 2024!

Sign Up for the NTN Newsletter