Building a National Community
January 8, 2021
There are times when we, as an organization, feel it critical to speak out and grapple publicly with you- the classroom educators and school leaders in our community- so that you might feel better equipped to support your students and families in the sense-making following an event such as the one Wednesday in the attack on the US Capitol.
At New Tech Network, we believe all students are capable of great achievements and acknowledge that schools, by design, play a critical role in creating the conditions for student success. We know that disparities in student outcomes are primarily the result of unequal or inadequate educational opportunities.
As we reflect on our organizational equity beliefs and commitments, we want to reiterate our desire to build and nurture a community where everyone who is part of our network feels supported, encouraged to speak their truths, seen, and valued. This drives everything we do.
We want to acknowledge the responsibility- even burden- placed on teachers to make sense for your students when events like the attack on the Capitol occur. The NTN Practices Cards offer useful resources to engage with your students. The entire Culture Practices section contains cards that focus on fostering equitable opportunities through a safe, inclusive, and emotionally supportive culture. Three specific cards we recommend are the Incredible 5-Point Scale, Community Circles, and Restorative Circles. All of these work well in virtual or in-person classroom settings. You can view these cards in the NTN Help Center.
We are living in traumatic times which means finding ways to connect with each other and to support one another are especially important. Thank you for all the ways in which you provide your students with what they need most.
Barbara Jordan, the first woman from Texas elected to serve in Congress, and the first African-American woman to be elected to Congress from a southern state, said: “What the people want is very simple – they want an America as good as its promise.” I still remember listening to her speak at the democratic national convention in 1976 and being moved to tears. Ms. Jordan called for building a national community and her call to action is as prescient today as it was then: “We are a people in a quandary about the present. We are a people in search of our future. We are a people in search of a national community. We are a people trying not only to solve the problems of the present, unemployment, inflation, but we are attempting on a larger scale to fulfill the promise of America. We are attempting to fulfill our national purpose, to create and sustain a society in which all of us are equal.”
Onward and with tremendous appreciation for you,
President & CEO
March 25, 2020
Dear NTN Educator,
We recognize that the COVID-19 crisis is challenging all of us on personal and professional levels. Here at NTN we care about attending to your changing reality. We humans are communal by nature, and young people are not made for isolation. As you “return” from spring break to face school closures, new distance-learning offerings and a myriad of community needs, we are asking ourselves: “How can we ensure we are placing our human needs first? What can we do together to address our learner and educator social, emotional and academic needs?” Have ideas? Drop me a line (LDobyns@newtechnetwork.org). Here are updates we’d like to share today:
The NTN national organization is open and working; as a predominately virtual
organization, we are accustomed to distance collaboration and utilize multiple platforms to
manage projects, streamline communication and foster staff community.
Lean on us to help you.
The earliest we anticipate resuming school visits is May; however we continue to provide
virtual coaching and
virtual school workshops. Contact your NTN school coach for details.
Opening a new school in 2020? We’ve got you covered and are ready to continue our support virtually or (when safe) onsite for students in the fall. Contact your NTN cultivator, or reach out to Nick Kappelhof (NKappelhof@newtechnetwork.org) with any questions.
Echo is a great resource for distance learning. Curious about ways to leverage more of Echo’s features? Reach out to Paul Curtis, who leads the Echo team at PCurtis@newtechnetwork.org.
At this time, there are no changes to NTAC 2020 or Leadership Summit in Detroit; we are currently assessing the status of these events.
My personal intention right now is “Let me be grace under pressure with everyone I encounter.” We can guess that you are inundated with tips, offers and online resource suggestions, and we will keep the communication channels open while not overwhelming you. If we have a “wish” during this time it is that we care about each other and act in ways that help students make sense of their world in meaningful ways. When you have a few minutes, I’d like to hear from you. What’s bringing a smile to your face? What are your challenges? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet me @LydiaDobyns.
President and CEO
New Tech Network
April 6, 2020
Dear NTN Educators,
First and foremost I want to acknowledge the unprecedented nature of K-12 education in the time of an active pandemic. Your care for your students inspires. Your juggling efforts are herculean. It is our honor to support you in any way we can. It was with this reality in mind that we were eager to see you at the New Tech Annual Conference (NTAC) planned for July.
Unfortunately, due to the ongoing COVID-19 reality we have made the difficult decision to cancel NTAC 2020 in Detroit, Michigan. For many years now, the New Tech Annual Conference has been the place our network goes each summer to reflect on our practice, renew our connection to a sense of purpose, connect with other educators committed to their craft and get inspired for the coming school year. While we are disappointed that the current conditions no longer make a large in-person conference possible for 2020, we are more committed than ever to creating spaces, virtual and otherwise, where you and your school team can access reflection, renewal, connection and inspiration.
Today we want to share some of the ways we intend to learn together:
- NTN will host a virtual learning conference during the week of July 13-19, the originally scheduled dates for NTAC.
- The NTN Leadership Summit originally planned for July will be held virtually during the fall semester (dates to follow).
- NTN 101 for New Teachers will be offered as a virtual cohort designed to take place throughout the upcoming academic year.
- NTN staff have created new virtual and onsite school-based professional development options as ways to access the learning that typically happens at NTAC.
Look for more detailed information later this week from Jim May, NTN’s Chief Schools Officer, on the options available to support your school.
During this time of social distancing, and real-time adaptations for distance learning, we think it’s critical that as a Network we learn “distance socializing”. Our driving question in developing alternate pathways continues to be: “How can we facilitate adult learning, deepen relationships among school leaders and classroom educators and forge meaningful ways of working together to better serve students?” Please know that we look forward to learning together with the passion and compassion that sits at the heart of our network.
Thank you for all you are doing.
President & CEO
New Tech Network
May 5, 2020
Dear NTN Teachers,
Teacher appreciation in 2020 feels particularly meaningful to us. With all of the disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic I have marvelled at the care, compassion, and dedication that you’ve brought to your distance learning efforts. You are striving to maintain emotional connections with your students and with your fellow teachers. We get to witness this when we are lucky enough to visit your schools; getting glimpses of this happening from your homes is heartwarming. Thank you from all of us at New Tech Network.
More than ever, your students, and their families, need your presence in their lives, whether that is through Zoom, messages on Echo, or phone calls. A hallmark of a New Tech school is a strong community, a positive culture, and the willingness both teachers and students have to engage in deeper learning– and you’ve just carried that into your homes. We hope you are able to find meaningful connections with other teachers in the Network, so that you know you are in great company surrounded by kindred spirits. Have you checked out the resources posted on the NTN Help Center?
We’ve embraced the challenge and opportunity to create a meaningful virtual summer conference for you this summer. Look for more information coming your way on Beyond NTAC, taking place the week of July 13.
We are humbled by all you do and, once again, send our deep appreciation for you.
President & CEO
New Tech Network
May 21, 2020
Dear New Tech Network educators,
Summer for NTN typically includes creating meaningful learning for teachers, administrators and district leaders, largely accomplished through our mega event the New Tech Annual Conference (NTAC). And while we won’t be able to meet in-person, we are all in for summer learning. You’re invited to join us at Beyond NTAC, a virtual gathering you can experience from your home or together with colleagues at your school, on July 13-16.
School as we know it has been disrupted, even challenged as viable in a COVID-19 reality. How do we want to reimagine school in 2020 and beyond? Join us over four days and let’s build together. We will combine keynote addresses with audience Q&A, deeper learning to meet your needs, ways to connect with other participants and practical approaches to plan for an upcoming academic year filled with uncertainties. Oh, and we intend for Beyond NTAC to feel personal and maybe sneak in a little of that joy and inspiration that are hallmarks of NTN gatherings!
The price for the 4-day event is $600 per attendee. For many NTN schools, your current agreement includes a number of conference slots that can be utilized for Beyond NTAC. Check with your school coach or email email@example.com if you have questions.
We think participating in Beyond NTAC with your school colleagues would enrich the experience. You’ll have opportunities to select the sessions that most interest you, join virtual Braindates and hear from fascinating keynote speakers.
While much of our “normal” world has been upended due to the COVID-19 impact, we believe the deep desire to engage in your own learning, to dream again about ways to better serve your students and to facilitate meaningful learning no matter what the circumstances lives within educators everywhere.
We hope you will join us as we, once again, create meaningful summer learning together.
President & CEO
New Tech Network
Dear New Tech Network Educators,
For months now, every one of you, along with your schools, have been adapting to the new reality caused by the global pandemic that is COVID-19. However, the killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor, along with the protests unfolding across our country, bring our attention back to a reality that has been a constant throughout the history of our nation: racial violence and injustice.
We are witnessing people who are pushed to the edge, who have run out of patience and are running low on hope that constructive, meaningful change will happen before more black lives are lost. Many of you feel the weight of these recent events deeply and personally. For some of you, these killings trigger memories of personal or past trauma. Some of your schools are in communities that have been directly impacted by these events, with protests and violence playing out just a few blocks from your school, and likely right in the midst of your students’ lives.
For years now, New Tech Network has made an effort to better understand our work through the lens of racial and educational equity. While we have not talked about it publicly, as an organization we have been engaged in an ongoing learning journey that has centered around the question, “What would it mean to commit New Tech Network to being an anti-racist organization?” This very real driving question has our organization engaged in a process that has been messy, slow and included more than a few missteps. And we are not writing with any pretense of having worked out the answer to this question.
That said, we have learned that racial injustice thrives when we are too timid to explicitly name its presence and reality. This has been a particularly poignant learning for a predominantly white organization like ours. And we also know that naming the overwhelming presence of racial injustice in all of our realities is insufficient.
Deeper Learning in general, and the NTN model in particular, is a pedagogy of humanity. It is a school model built to advance learning by engaging with one another, by struggling to make sense of the world, and when needed, by taking action to change it. We offer our network to be a place for collective grappling and sense-making for racial justice and our practice as educators. Even as we write this sentence we are not completely sure what that might look like.
In the days and weeks ahead we hope you will reach out to anyone at NTN and to each other if you have ideas about how to create meaningful space for such conversations throughout our network. While we know that this dialogue is not ours to lead we humbly offer the platform of our network to support it.
The most powerful path forward we can imagine is to practice what we so deeply believe about learning.
How can we possibly find the right words to welcome you to this new school year? And yet, we want to say we are here to support you, cheer you on, laugh with you, and maybe even cry with you. More than anything we want you to know our aim is to continue to provide relevant and rich resources to help you navigate teaching and learning during this unprecedented time.
Over the last months, we’ve been adapting our services and supports to work in a remote and virtual world. Lessons learned in producing the first-ever virtual NTN convening, Beyond NTAC, have inspired us to want to hold more virtual gatherings. And working with nearly 20 new schools who opted to stay on the path to begin the 2020-2021 year as a new NTN school fills us with awe and appreciation. We think about you and your students and welcome the opportunity to journey with you, facing each challenge with grace, agency, and a commitment to support each other along the way.
President & CEO