Beyond NTAC 2021 Thrive Forward

August 17, 2021

This past year has made clear that the future for our students demands resilience and action. Success for our students means providing them with the opportunity to develop skills, mindsets, and creativity, so that each and every young person can access the opportunities they deserve. At Beyond NTAC 2021, educators in our network met that challenge head on. After four days of learning and connecting around resources and ideas that promote passion, compassion, growth, and curiosity, NTN students and educators are better positioned to Thrive Forward into the new academic year.

Day One

Dr. Abdul El-Sayed started the week off with his keynote address Keep Em Growing:Post Pandemic Growth. His insights focused on how we can use our assets to empower students to achieve post-traumatic growth, which included a focus on emotional management, narrative development, and service. The entire keynote can be accessed in the NTN Help & Learning Center. 

NTN’s Lens on Learning session headlined the afternoon, where network members reconnected around the purpose of the New Tech approach, and previewed the big ideas and learning for the week ahead. This included time considering the many ways our students’ opportunity is shaped and impacted in our society, and consideration towards how NTN schools can design learning environments that afford each and every student opportunity. In this session, Network members were promoted to:

Design with those farthest from opportunity 
Adopt an asset-based mindset
Apply an equity lens to project design

The day wrapped up with dedicated Team Time for school teams to meet, debrief, and strategize for the week ahead. 

Day Two

The day began with the Voices of Our Network, which featured students from across our network. First, we heard from Iziah Salas, Ashley Uvina, and Isaiah Caban from Irvin Rocket New Tech- about what they need from their school experience so that they can Thrive Forward. Then, New Tech Network’s Director of District and School Development Alan Veach moderated a school system panel discussion with educators from Reynoldsburg City Schools. The conversation included perspectives from across the district – student, teacher, coach, principal and district administrator, all centered on Reynoldsburg’s commitment to students experiencing deeper learning in every classroom, every day

Then conference attendees moved into two rounds of  Learning Sessions, 75-minute deep dives into unique topics and specific NTN resources. Network members had a lot to choose from, with topics that included:

  • Breaking Down the Buzzword: The What and Why of Social Emotional Learning with Alexandra Zocco 
  • Feedback vs Advice: How Teachers can Help Students Grow and Thrive with Kevin Gant 
  • Inviting Student Voice into Classroom Culture Plans with Gaylen Brannon
  • Leading Your Way Back into In-Person PBL with Alan Veach and Lee Flemming
  • We are Family: Building Genuine, Lasting Partnerships between Home and School with Jenny Krystopowicz
  • Exploring Systems of Power with Young Learners (elementary) with Agnes Gomez

Those who wanted to dedicate some time Reflect & Renew throughout the day on Tuesday were welcomed to explore the day’s resources that focused on Self Care. These carefully curated readings, prompts, and podcasts offered ways for network educators to thrive, by paying close attention to their mind, body and spirit.

Day Three

Dr. Gholdy Muhammad’s keynote address ignited passion that was palpable across Slack! Drawing from her critically acclaimed book Cultivating Genius: An Equity Framework for Culturally and Historically Responsive Literacy, Dr. Muhammad’s address offered concrete ways NTN educators can design learning that includes the identities, and fosters skills, intellect, and criticality for each and every student. 

NTN’s Director of Equity José Garcia then led a Connecting Session using the Conversation Cafes protocol. Network members shared ideas on how to best support each other and our communities for the start of the school year. Another round of Learning Sessions followed, with topics that included:

  • Breaking Down the Buzzword: Using the NTN Culture Cards to Support Social Emotional Learning with Exploring Systems of Power with MS & HS Learners
  • NTN Principal Panel with Steffany Batik
  • Inviting Student Voice into Classroom Culture Plans with Gaylen Brannon
  • Leading Your Way Back into In-Person PBL with Alan Veach
  • NTN Principal Panel with Steffany Batik

With so much learning and so many resources, the day ended again with dedicated time for school teams to meet, debrief, and strategize for the week ahead.

Day Four

It might have been our last day, but it wasn’t short on learning! With many learning sessions being offered twice across the four days, Day 4’s session lineup meant that network members could catch that one session they had been hearing so much about. With two blocks of Learning Sessions, there was a lot to choose from, including:

  • Bookend Lessons: Teaching to the Learning Outcomes in Your Daily Instruction – Kevin Gant
  • NTN Model Project & Echo Overview – Nick Kappelhof
  • Exploring Systems of Power with MS & HS Learners – Matt Thompson
  • Exploring Systems of Power with Young Learners (elementary) – Agnes Gomez
  • Feedback vs Advice for School Leaders – Alan Veach
  • Learner-Centered Practices: Scaffolds that Work for MS & HS Ages – Gaylen Brannon
  • The Anti-Racism Journey in School Communities: A Panel Discussion with Washington Elementary with the staff from Washing Elementary – José Garcia

We closed out the week the only way we know how: Centering on the voices and experiences of our Network members. Seven educators from across the country convened for a conversation about how they intend to take what they had learned throughout the week and implement it into practice,  so that they and their students can Thrive Forward.

Beyond NTAC 2021 focused on a fundamental reality:  Our society and world is rapidly evolving to meet the moment where we collectively find ourselves. As the academic year begins, New Tech Network schools and educators are ready to resist a return to the status quo for the students  and communities that they serve. Together, we are committed to transforming teaching and learning so every child – regardless of race, ethnicity, ability, or income status – has access to a meaningful, equitable and inclusive learning environment focused on preparation for college and career. Together, as a national network, we can foster a nation where all students are able to Thrive Forward.