NTN Teachers Leading for Deeper Learning

January 5, 2015

My final site visit of 2014 was highlighted by receiving Solution Tree’s work hot off the press. As I excitedly flipped through the pages I was refreshed to see that the various works that compose the book offer a shift in the discourse on Deeper Learning, as it begins to dive into how we support adults and school structures to truly foster this type of learning. While I love and admire the DL framework for what it is I also appreciate what it isn’t-an overly prescription model, definition, or process. However, I find that many of those that cross my path don’t find this little triangle as comforting as I do, but rather experience it as a source of frustration-what do the terms mean, what do these ideas look like, and ultimately, how do I do it? I think one of the first steps in unpacking this framework is to think about how we foster the knowledge, skills and attributes necessary to support the Deeper Learning Teacher and Leader.

At NTN we believe in developing schools as Learning Organizations that engage in collective learning. One of the ways we support schools in brining this framework to life is through building the capacity of teacher leaders through a process called Train the Trainer (TtT). Doing deeper learning is no small task and it truly requires an “all hands on deck” approach. The responsibility for fostering deeper learners cannot fall on the shoulders of one teacher or one director; nor should it if our schools are truly places of distributed leadership. Teacher leaders, as members of site leadership teams, can aid in rethinking and supporting the necessary structures for healthy adult learning in a building;structures such as those discussed by Drago-Severson or Callier and Riordan. These structures play a pivotal role in allowing teachers to learn together, collaborate, support one another and prepare for creating deeper learning experiences for their students. Without these opportunities teachers function on an island, and this work is too important for us to be stranded all alone!

This week NTN will launch our application for NTN Trainer Certification. In the coming months site leadership teams-consisting of Train the Trainer (TtT) candidates, School Directors, NTN Coaches and other adult leaders will come together to reflect on how best to support adult learners at their site. This launches an expedition of learning for 30 individuals across our Network. Truthfully, it is the highlight of my year and I couldn’t be more excited. I will work closely with these individuals to ask the tough questions-how do I lead the courageous conversations necessary to push for Deeper Learning? How do I help teachers who are exhausted, afraid to be vulnerable or not fully ready to dive in to deeper learning? How do I support the development of adults’ mindsets to facilitate deeper learning? Now that I have developed skills to diagnose systems and challenges how do I act when it feels paralyzing? How do I develop myself to be the type of leader to lead the work of deeper learning? What is my role in building equitable schools that prepare all students for college and career? The short and skinny: How do I help us attain our vision?!

These questions, deep connections with adults leading this work, so much learning, thinking and much more…stay tuned my friends!